Despite all the useful information surrounding sexuality and fluidity available to us these days, there are still a lot of negative ideas about LGBTQ+ individuals which are often rooted in stereotypes, intolerance and misinformation. While it is almost impossible to identify all of the nuances of discrimination experienced by the LGBTQ+ community, particularly in Nigeria, it is still important to challenge these outdated narratives and break through the fear and silence that still surrounds sexuality in Nigeria and the continent as a whole.
8 Nigerians shared some of the most common myths and misconceptions people have about the LGBTQ+ community with us:
For me, the most common misconception will always be that sexuality is a choice. Even heterosexual people didn’t wake up one day choosing to be straight. That’s simply not how sexuality or attraction works. You may have preferences or even a type but in the end, you like who you like. The only thing we are choosing is to no longer live in constant shame.
The biggest misconception is that we’re trying to encourage homosexuality, convert people, or take over media with “gay stuff” when in reality, it’s just about creating awareness and normalizing our existence and experience. It needs to be as normal as seeing a straight couple just enjoying life.
One of the biggest misconceptions people have is that they have to “like” our sexuality in order to treat us like human beings. Even the Bible doesn’t ask you to “like” your neighbor. We don’t expect everyone to like or accept us but we do deserve common decency and respect.
One thing that vexes me is when people say that God doesn’t love queer people or that we longer have a right to our faith or religion. According to who? I don’t know about anyone else but for me, nobody can question my relationship with God because nobody is God.
There’s this very dangerous belief that all lesbian women are manly and all gay men are womanly, which very untrue. I say it is dangerous because that’s how people also believe that if a woman presents herself in a more “masculine” way or a man in a more “feminine” way, then that automatically means that they are homosexual. It’s this same kind of backward reasoning that makes so-called police officers brutalize people based on appearances and assumptions.
A lot of people seem to think that the LGBTQ+ movement is just a phase or a trend. As if we are not people but creations of the modern age and TikTok. Yes, maybe more people are openly exploring their sexuality these days but that doesn’t mean it’s a new thing or something that will eventually go away. It might seem like all fun and games when you’re laughing at homophobic jokes in the comment sections, but in real life, we’re really fighting for our lives every day.
I know we live in a sex-driven world but it’s sad that people only view the LGBTQ community from a sexual perspective. Lesbians are fetishized and a lot of gay men are still treated as though they breed HIV! We are much more than our sex lives. We have social lives, goals and bills to pay just like everyone else. It’s funny how people always act like homosexuality is strange but they don’t think their obsessive interest in other people’s sex lives is strange!
I’m bisexual and one of the big misconceptions for me is that bisexual people are promiscuous or that we just want a reason to sleep with everyone. Just because we can be with any gender or sex, doesn’t mean we all sleep around. Promiscuity has nothing to do with sexual orientation.
*This article is based on real-life events. The names used are mere pseudonyms to protect the identities of the individuals mentioned in the article.
Nigerian Lives is a Culture Custodian weekly series where we hear from Nigerians who share tidbits about their experiences. It goes up every Monday.
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