I had started my project a while back, working on the template lazily, playing around with logos on Photoshop. My ex even told me over and over that I needed to get started with it, put it on my CV, get into it- but I wasn’t ready. I had too much in life going on to start putting time and energy into it. That all changed last week when the Nigerian Senate voted on the anti-gay bill, which I refuse to call a marriage bill because it’s actually not about marriage, no matter how much people want to pretend it is. The concept of being gay in Nigeria and pushing to get married is preposterous to me. If there are gay people in Nigeria who have gay marriage on the top of their priority list, please introduce them to me. I want to meet them so I can find out how they bypassed the eleven thousand other pressing issues that confront them as gay Nigerians and decided to settle on marriage. I want to meet their families and discuss whose village they’re having the traditional ceremony in- in fact, I want to meet their families because that would be not one, but TWO whole Nigerian families who are down to have a fabulous glitterified gay wedding for their children. Oh, you couldn’t find them? I thought as much.
You know what, I’m getting off topic. My original point was that I heard about this bill, which I’d actually done research on earlier in the year, and I knew I had to kick off my project. I didn’t have time for a fancy launch, for weeks building up to a great unveiling, I just went ahead and started. Gbam. No shaking. It’s called SOGI Naija, and that stands for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Nigerians. I kind of love the logo, I’m not going to lie.
The site is a space dedicated to sexual and gender minority Nigerians (ie gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, intersex, asexual, pansexual, questioning, queer, gender-non-conforming, etc). In a culture that is often hostile and oppressive, SOGI Naija celebrates who we are without apology. We provide relevant resources and news, creating a forum for community engagement and discussion. Whether you are at home or abroad, SOGI Naija is the place for you to connect and share who you are, as you are.
Now, as the founder and moderator of the site, my personal system is obviously going to influence how I run it. My thing is, I don’t like to argue. I’ve been blogging for the past 6-7 years, hopping from blog to blog, and the longest one I’ve kept open consistently is Leave In The Kinks. I used to argue with people there and cuss them out, even got a bit of a rep for being quite vulgar. Nowadays? I don’t have energy. I have strong opinions as a queer Christian, but I’m not a fan of entering theological debates because in the end, it’s between us and God, really. To be clear, SOGI Naija is definitely a space for discussion and debate...just don’t expect me to personally engage all the time #kanyeshrug. My opinions, along with those of allies and other queer Nigerians, will be featured on there in the form of articles and features, so if you’re curious to familiarize yourself with a different perspective, head on over.
I’ve been blogging as a queer and genderqueer Nigerian via The Feel Of Free for over a year now, and in that time, I’ve heard from several gay Nigerians around the world who reach out to me, we gist, we connect. They are the reason I started SOGI Naija, they are the reason I continue to be as out and vocal as I am, because I know I have already started making a difference. Also, I remember how lost I felt when I didn’t know any other queer Nigerians and I felt there was no one else like me out there. I’m fortunate enough to have my chosen family in New York include other queer Nigerians, and I believe we all have the right to community. So. Voila. SOGI Naija.
You can follow us on Twitter as well- @soginaija, feel free to drop a comment, share the link, gasp scandalously, tweet at us, the usual. We dey.