Experiencing IDAHOBIT as an LBQTI individual living in Nigeria

Every year, for the past 20 years, IDAHOBIT, which stands for the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism, and Transphobia, has been observed across the globe by members of the LBQTI+ community. This year, under the theme “NO ONE LEFT BEHIND: EQUALITY, FREEDOM, AND JUSTICE FOR ALL,” we come together to raise awareness of the discrimination, violence, and challenges faced by LBQTI individuals. This annual commemoration serves as a powerful reminder of our collective commitment to ensuring that everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression, enjoys equal rights and freedoms.

Being part of the community means facing tough situations because the law says it is wrong to be who you are and that society is against you. But the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism, and Transphobia, is an important day of the year when we reflect on the challenges we face as LBQTI individuals living in Nigeria. In a society where same-sex relationships are criminalized and LBQTI identities are often met with discrimination, violence, and social stigma, the journey for LBQTI individuals can be difficult. LBQTI individuals face significant obstacles in expressing their identities and living authentically. The legal environment fosters fear, secrecy, and vulnerability among LBQTI individuals, this makes LBQTI people scared to be themselves and they often hide who they are to avoid getting in trouble or facing violence from others.

But hey, today is IDAHOBIT and we’re all about shining light on the amazing resilience of LBQTI individuals in Nigeria and worldwide. We’re not here to dwell on the negativity, but we’re here to amplify their voices, celebrate their strength, and advocate for a world where everyone can live their truth without fear.

Regardless of the challenges LBQTI individuals face in Nigeria, IDAHOBIT is a beacon of hope for each and everyone, a reminder of our human rights and our fight for equality. Although the struggles of LBQTI+ individuals can lead to mental health issues as they navigate the complexities of their identities in an environment that fights to marginalize them. Despite the challenges, there’s a glimmer of hope. 

LBQTI individuals are standing up for themselves and demanding to be seen and treated with respect. It’s like turning up the volume of a song you love – their voices are getting louder, and more people are starting to pay attention and join in the chorus of support. Amidst these challenges, there have been small yet significant victories that highlight the resilience and strength of the LBQTI community in Nigeria. We know the journey to self-acceptance and identity affirmation can be a wild ride, full of twists and turns. But amidst the ups and downs, there are countless moments of sparkle and shine that deserve a big ol’ rainbow-colored celebration!

There have been initiatives by organizations that have been crucial in fostering a supportive network and enhancing mental health resources for LBQTI individuals. These efforts have provided safe spaces for expression and counseling, helping individuals cope with the stress and anxiety associated with discrimination. The creation of peer support groups and access to mental health professionals who understand the unique challenges faced by the community are steps forward in mitigating the negative impacts of stigma and prejudice.

These small victories might seem like tiny sparks, but they ignite a fire of self-love and acceptance that can burn bright for a lifetime. 

  • Coming out to yourself, because self-love is the best love.
  • Finding your tribe – your chosen family is out there.
  • Practicing self-care.
  • Challenging those pesky internalized phobias, by saying “bye, Felicia” to them.
  • Building resilience.
  • Creating art and expression.
  • Finding affirming healthcare for your body, your mind, and your fabulous self.
  • Surround yourself with love and support, because your chosen family is the best.

LBQTI individuals are standing up for themselves and demanding to be treated fairly. They’re speaking out, organizing events, and trying to change how society sees and treats them. These efforts, while small, are making a big difference in pushing for equality and acceptance.

Even though there’s still a long way to go, every little win in this fight for LBQTI rights in Nigeria shows how strong and brave these individuals are, and how important it is to support them in their journey towards acceptance and equality. The journey towards acceptance and equality is still ongoing, but every stride displays the strengths of the LBQTI community. By celebrating IDAHOBIT, we not only acknowledge the hardships but also the courage and perseverance of those fighting for their right to exist freely and authentically. As we continue to advocate for better policies and societal change, the small victories in mental health and identity battles remind us that progress, however incremental, is always possible. Together, through solidarity and relentless advocacy, we can envision a future where every individual, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, can thrive without fear or discrimination.

Remember, every small victory is a reason to twirl, spin, and strike a pose! So, let’s keep shining, keep sparkling, and keep celebrating our rainbow moments. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself and others, because we’re all in this together, and together, we can create a world that’s as bright and beautiful as a rainbow. Remember, love is love, and everyone deserves a chance to shine their light.

Written By: Victory Wekulom and Manuella Owukio