With the world still being in chaos and Miss Rona not being our pal and sashaying away, we’re still confined to the same 4 walls that are bringing us down, unless you’re Kiwi or Australian of course (lucky bastards). One year on and we’re still in this shitey situation of having our world turned upside down by some infection that has killed over 2 and a half million humanoids. Generally speaking, there’s been not many highlights or things of great excitement.
However, if there has been one highlight in this time it would be Tinder passport becoming free for a month in April 2020. One year later, again in the month of April, Tinder passport has become free once more for sexy yet sad humans like myself to spend their time swiping away on humans from around the corona filled globe. Buckle up readers of Loveable Loser, 24 Hours on Tinder is back with a vengeance!
Since 24 Hours on Tinder: Tanzania has been one of the most viewed articles in this illustrious series, looked at by so many Tanzanaians, I’m now a little nervous to visit the country one day however going back to Africa was the obvious first continent to virtually return to. Out of all the African nations Nigeria interests me the most, making it the obvious first choice for some self deprecation and attempts to impress people with my terrible version of a Nigerian accent.
Nigeria really interests me and has for many years, with my Dad previously having worked there and his current wife being born and raised in the nation. It’s a really intriguing country that has a huge contrast between the North and South although they do share the same high regard for religion and religious leaders; this despite their religous differences being the main contrast. Choosing a location to set myself in was a bit of a tough one especially when choosing what angle to come at this from, however I settled on the capital, Lagos, home to more humans than the number of 0’s in Elon Musk’s bank account. Lagos may seem the blatantly obvious choice with it being the capital city, but the decision was more because of my knowledge of the country being primarily routed in the South.
As I mentioned above, religion plays a huge part in Nigerian society. The South is predominantly Christian and by predominantly I basically mean all Christian, whilst the North is predominantly Muslim and again by predominantly everyone and their pets are Muslim in the North. Regardless of where you are in the country religion and religious leaders are of high significance, and the attitudes of people tend to be based around whatever really creative story book with terrific character development they’re into. Generally, Nigerians revolve around religion and the Christians love to get down for Jesus, creating an atmosphere in their services that any Polish football hooligans would be severely jealous of.
Obviously when there’s a heavy religious society there’s heavy conservative views on many topics that the wee story book doesn’t like, which is what makes Nigeria a very anti LGBTQ+ society; yay homophobia yay. Now thankfully Nigeria isn’t the worst in Africa for LGBTQ+ people, Uganda and my best gal pal Tanzania take the tiara in that category, but it’s still not that great for queer people in the country. Beatings, rapes and torturing has happened to many people, and the good old shunning from society is very common. The most famous incident of homophobia and one of my personal fave moments of bravery came when one of the countries national treasures at the time, actor Bisi Alimi, came out publicly as gay on national TV causing a huge up roar in the nation which ultimately lead to Bisi having to flee the country.
Nigerians are wonderful people who have this terrific joy for life and girl they can talk for days, but personally I just can’t get past the homophobia within the majority of people and the nation. So I, everyone’s fave chunky yet funky, queer yet still your dear failing writer set out to find out what life actually is like for LGBTQ+ Nigerians from the abundance of likes (humble brag) from queer men and straight women in Lagos.
Across the 2 rounds I got plenty of likes, Africa is usually a hot bed for people who fancy questionable Scottish people so whenever you need an ego boost, go bless the rains down in Africa via Tinder and you’re sorted. An abundance of likes didn’t equal many conversations, but I managed to really hit the contrast home with the people I did chat to. The first person totally emphasised how homophobic Nigeria is with her straight away saying “gays are bad and not allowed in Nigeria”. Pretty much the standard answer I was expecting until I asked how she would feel if they had someone she knew came out to her, to which she responded “lol, stone them to death”. Aye maybe not the best time to say ‘hiya pal I’m a queer as well and I love getting stoned’ so I patched the homophobic cow and ended the conversation there.
It really conveys how shit life is for LGBTQ Nigerians, and across the whole African continent. If you happen to be in a State in the country that abides under Shari’a Law then you can face the death penalty for just loving who you love. If in a non Shari’a Law State you can face up to 14 years in jail. To put it into perspective, 31 countries in Africa sentence LGBTQ people to a term of imprisonment, and a handful of nations have the death penalty for being LGBTQ. The fact Nigeria is one of the nations who invoke the death penalty (depending where you are in the country) upon people found to be Gay is awful and shows how quiet you have to be. Living openly is simply not a thing.
There is a small gay scene in the country, though by small we really mean small. From speaking to one gay man he made it apparent that there is a community of gay people that communicate and arrange meetings through What’s App, but it’s all very underground. Out of pure safety everything is done with caution, even when it comes to them campaigning online. They still can have some parties and moments of freedom but again these come with a risk of being raided by the police or a group known as Area Boys who coincide with the police (they’re complex, watch some documentaries on them).
The root of Nigeria’s homophobia lies within its deep love for religion. With virtually everyone in the country being religious whether it’s the primary two of Christianity and Islam or it be a minority religion in the country, the homophobia is deep routed amongst the population. Talking with some less extreme straight women it really was made apparent it’s their religious nature that’s behind the homophobia. Their first answer to my wanting to simply know their thoughts on gay people was always something related to that God fella. Thankfully these other women didn’t believe in such extreme punishments as death and prison time, but really believed in the ‘gay is a choice’ and ‘homosexuality is a demonic practice’ mentality. No matter if someone close to them came out as gay they’d want them to seek counselling and actively try not to love a bit of topless Jason Mamoa (impossible).
The amount of men I matched with who were open enough to talk to me said similar things and by simply showing face on Tinder showed there is a community of gay people existing inside a society that shuns LGBTQ people. You can exist in this society but you gotta be cutting about ninja style, leaving no traces or cute Cuban heeled boots behind. There’s no room for the sake of safety, security and being able to simply live peacefully, to live your best open life in Nigeria.
The unfortunate thing is Nigeria isn’t going to change any time soon, they’re always going to be a heavily religious society which is perfectly fine. A nation has every right to be religious and create a religious society, but it should also be a tolerant society which typically doesn’t go hand in hand with religion. Change is only going to ever come about when religious leaders and groups become more tolerant. Only then will the Nigerian LGBTQ population be able to blossom and be louder than the crying baby on a plane. For now it’s stay quiet, stay low-key and stay fierce.
Swankie – 24, Scotland. Loveable Loser.