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Coming Out from the Shadows of Nigeria’s Prejudice

Nigeria continues to be largely homophobic, mainly as a result of cultural and religious conventions. Negative perceptions of homosexuality led to the criminalisation of same-sex relations in 2014. The Nigerian environment is therefore toxic for LGBTI people. They become easy prey to oppressive and exploitative state security apparatus. They are also vulnerable to public “moral police” who seek to make homosexual performance invisible and closeted. One may assume that the marginalised Nigerian same-sex community and its allies have conceded to the widespread societal ostracisation. But that would be to ignore the vigorous advocacies that have been going on in the country’s cultural production and on social media.  Films and literary texts have been the more studied genres where same-sex agency has been iterated and reinforced. In Nollywood – the country’s film industry – early depictions were constructed by non-LGBTI people who seemed to latch on public inquisitiveness for financial gains. More recently, however, members of the Nigerian queer community have taken over the task of shaping their public image and identity, to reasonable success, in these creative ventures. They have done so through movies as well as a growing body of literary writings. Social media, however, can be considered more potent as a medium which, to the authors of The Alternative Media Handbook, gives voice to “the socially, culturally and politically excluded”.