I wanted stories on hope. Why? Because queer people do not get enough of that. They get pain, anger, sorrow, death and I know, those stories are important to highlight the struggles queer people face, but sometimes all a girl needs are hope. These stories of hope are just as important as all the others.
They are for people like my friend Lily from Ebonyi. When I asked her for her story of love, she said to me “This town (Ebonyi), especially if you grew up here is extremely cold and closed. Finding love here is like finding a needle in a haystack. All you have here are men who have planned on making you their wives as they rush through the dating phase so you do not see you are about to be shackled to weight all your life. They specialize in killing dreams and spirit.”
I want people like Lily to find hope in their own place. To believe that they too can get the kind of love they deserve. Sad stories are not all that there is to queer people. They have joy, family, friendship, and community. I know sometimes it is hard to think so, especially because everyone seems so against you, but happily, ever after is possible. Queer people are tired of hearing sad stories, and I especially am tired of telling sad stories.
James (He/Him), Ebonyi
I had just broken up with my then-boyfriend, and it was a really tough time for me. I needed more than anything to feel safe and secure. One of my friends at the time, she was just there for me. She held me and we cried together. At that moment, my pain was her pain and that was love.
Lilith (She/Her), Borno/Egypt
I live in Egypt and my girlfriend is in Nigeria. My sister and I live together and we have had to learn and unlearn a lot of things. My sister is the only member of my family I am out to, and every day she reminds me that she is there for me. In a place where your existence feels like an abomination, it is good to know you have one family member you can count on. Family means the world to me, and my sister is the center of that world.
Eli (They/Them), Lagos
Came out to my sister officially last year. Technically, I have been out all my life and did not think coming out was a thing until I actually started doing research on LGBTQIA+ stuff. She was the first family member I came out to, and she neither bat an eye nor looked at me differently. She just shrugged and told me “I know.” It was the most annoying thing because I thought there would be this whole ceremony about it, but it was not, it was normal. Since then, I had come out to her many times; as bisexual, pansexual, genderfluid, and non-binary.
I turned twenty last year and she made me a card and wrote me a poem. I carried the poem everywhere. She calls me by my name and uses my correct pronouns. Sometimes, when I get lost and everything is too much, she helps me see myself again (whoever that is). She is the best part of my coming out experience and our relationship has only grown stronger. I will never tell her this, but she is the best.
Michael (He/Him), Abuja
My mum is very religious and homophobic, so when I came out to her in 2016, I was not expecting acceptance but I got it anyway. She reassured me that I was still her son and she would love me anyway. After that, we both went to watch Suicide squad together to celebrate. It is probably the straightest movie ever (For God’s sake Cara Delavigne kissed a man. a man!!!!!!!!).
I also came out to my sister and one day while we were on the swing and talking about our future, she told me she doesn’t care if I marry a man. They may not be the best, but they love me, protect me and fight for me. I don’t think I could have asked for better.
C (She/Her), Lagos
I dated men for a while, and it felt weird. It felt incomplete somehow. The first woman I had some sort of relationship with, everything felt complete. She was not the love of my life or anything and I ended up changing schools anyway, but then loving women felt natural. It felt safe and whole. I still tried to date men after (curse compulsory heterosexuality), but then I am a woman that loves women and nothing has ever felt more right, and trying to date men only showed me that.
Zainab (She/Her), Benin City
I never knew what I identified as. I think now it still switches depending on my mood and the day of the week. Bisexual? Pansexual? Queer? Never can tell. I like anyone and everyone and that is me, but it was never that easy for me to say. I knew I liked women more than in a feminist way, but I thought everyone just felt the urge to kiss women. Apparently, we do not. I was lost. So so lost and did not know what to do. I had questions and it seemed like nobody had answers. I felt strange.
Well, strange until I joined twitter and found family. I found people that helped me discover myself. Seeing people live a truth you did not even know was yours is so powerful. It makes you want to live and well, accept yourself. That is what I did. They helped me come out to me and they have been there for the ride ever since.
Tayo (He/Him, She/Her, They/Them), Lagos
I thought I was the only queer person in school, and all it took was one twitter message to change that. I messaged someone and was trying to calm her down because she was stressed. After that, we found out we attended the same University. We decided to hang out one day. It’s not like we planned it beforehand. I was close to her faculty and we decided to just chill.
She told me we needed more queer people, and I swore they did not exist. In my head, I was the only queer person in that school. She told me that she knew one queer person, and if I knew another we could keep bringing them all and that’s what we did. It felt like a mini club. The first time we had a “meeting” was the first time I heard someone say homosexual out loud.
At first, I wanted to tell them to reduce their voice because I thought they were shouting, but I did not. Over time I had gotten used to it. To not feeling like some outsider. I had gotten used to having people I can call my family. People that have accepted me in every single way I presented myself. I had found a community of fellow queer weirdos and I have learned so much from them. Try explaining to the heteros that you are an Agender biromantic ace-flux. They would not get it. My chosen family does, and it makes me feel a love you cannot put down with words.
Queer people exist everywhere, they will continue to now until the end of time. Yes, even in countries extremely anti-gay, they exist. That is why this year, Pride is dedicated to them. To the dreamers and believers, and to those who are losing their hope. To family and community and all the love, they have found. This Pride is for all the members of the LGBTQ+ community, to those in the closet and those out. It is for all of them that feel so alone in this cold world. You are not and I hope in this you find hope that it will get better. You are queer, you are here, and please do not go anywhere.