The queer community makes history with the #QueerNigerianLivesMatter movement | #NonBinary #Intersectional
The #EndSARS/#EndSWAT protests was a landmark moment in Nigeria for so many reasons. It was the first time millennials and Gen Z, or should we say the “phone pressing and indomie” generation were actively involved in a nationwide protest. It was also historic as it was one of the rare moments that queer Nigerians actively spoke out about the brutality and aggression that they face regularly. Prior to these protests, there had not been an avenue for queer people to protest about issues affecting them apart from on social media.
The #QueerNigerianLivesMatter movement was a force that gained momentum when Matthew Blaise an openly queer, non-binary, Nigerian alongside other queer individuals openly chanted about police brutality against queer Nigerians in the streets of Lagos. This brave move prompted queer people in Abuja to also speak out about their struggles. This was unfortunately met with violence by their fellow protesters who were homophobic. They were quick to bounce back, however, making their voices louder.
The #QueerNigerianLivesMatter was such a huge force that it led to an uproar and conversations on social media. These conversations were centred on the rights queer people deserve and the brutality they encounter daily.
The Feminist Coalition, a force in the protests, was one of those who spoke up in support of the #QueerNigerianLivesMatter movement. Though their tweets were later deleted, it did serve as a turning point because a serious debate arose on social media as to whether queer people should have their own tag/movement or move along with the majority #EndSARS movement. Some felt the #QueerNigerianLivesMatter was a distraction while some felt it was a hijack by the ‘gay mafia’.
However, this was not the case because a simple analysis by anyone would have shown that queer Nigerians were simply asking for the same thing as everyone else- which was an end to impunity and police brutality. The reason why queer people came up with a simple hashtag for their cause was to highlight the peculiarity of the struggle queer Nigerians go through with the police. Why anyone would feel it was a hijack is quite baffling.
One thing remains sure; history will forever remember that queer Nigerians eventually had the courage to step out and speak on the violence they face daily, and it does definitely mark the beginning of a new era. The future of queer Nigerians and their rights is resting on this foundation that has already been laid. Hopefully, it will bring a new era where queer Nigerians can openly express themselves; talking about governmental and societal issues that foster acts of violence towards the queer community and homophobia, at large.
Toluwanimi Onakoya is a spirited writer, creative and videographer. Her biggest drive is to connect with people and depict tales using various forms of media.
Toluwanimi is available on Instagram and Twitter @nimi_onaks