Damilola from Nigeria

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Hi, my name is Damilola and I'm from Nigeria.

Growing up in my country isn't easy. There's the beatings, there's the name calling and many more. Sometimes I feel like we are all suffocated.

Growing up in my country as a bisexual or as a lesbian was and is hard and a bit traumatizing. Transgenders are not even spoken of. Different people have different view but they all agree on one thing and that is, if a guy looks or act feminine... trouble is heading his way. If a girl looks at another girl for too long...there is fire on the mountain.

Some countries are lucky enough to have LGBTQ+ activists and we do have, for example, Bob Risky and Bisi Alimi but the only thing they teach us is to run, none of them are welcomed into the country. They are seen as agents of the devil.

I remember when I was little, my parents and I were watching television and all of a sudden two guys shared a brief kiss. I remember asking my mum why guys are not allowed to do it where we are and the next thing I know, she used her slippers to beat me till I was tired.

We don't even talk about anything LGBTQ+ because who would listen to you? Who wants to spend 14 years in prison for listening to you? We can't be who we are because no one wants to spend 14 years in prison. Our voices are taken from us, we are being suppressed and taken to churches so that pastors and Reverends can wash away sinful thoughts and wants. We are abnormal.

Here in Nigeria, being gay, being a lesbian, being asexual, being pansexual, even if you're straight but you try to get people to understand that LGBTQ+ people are the same, that it doesn't matter what gender it is your son or daughter or friend likes, it gets you sent to prison or killed.

Just last Sunday, in church, our pastor said parents shouldn't let their kids watch cartoons that have gay characters in them. I didn't know what to think. I wanted to scream out, they're kids for crying out loud but everyone agreed, so like always I kept quiet. I remember not being able to smile or laugh that day because the bigotry is going to spread to kids.

Right now, it's quiet. No one speaks of it because they do not care to understand, they don't even try to understand. I am pretty sure, thousands of people are hiding and are losing faith daily but there's no one to help them, to help us. Nowhere is safe. Online, on social media, on dating sites. Schools, churches and even at home. You don't know who you can talk to because you might end up in spat upon.

Here in Nigeria, some of us are just existing, not living.

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