Nigeria's attitude towards homosexuals is infamous, but what would happen if your child turned out gay?
Everywhere you look, the global trend, especially in western countries, is that gay rights are finally being recognised and cast into law. But we know Nigeria isn’t joining that group anytime soon.
Here, homosexuality (and other related sexual orientations) is such a taboo that we discuss it either in hushed tones or with aggression and anger.
Many Nigerians cannot fathom the idea of being in the same room with a gay person, talk less of having one in their family.
But this doesn’t change the fact that more people are finding the confidence to come out of the closet and we have to learn to live with it or rip our heads off.
What would you do, for instance, if your first son came out as gay?
This was the question that a Twitter User asked this week and the reactions will you have you both ashamed and worried about what people are willing to do in the name of defending their morals.
Twitter user @OnimoleOfLagos tweeted “What will you do if your son comes out as gay”, and in no time, responses began to flow in.
A few of the comments suggested that some form of empathy would be shown, but the majority would rather have the child molested, tortured or killed.
One user, apparently in the belief that homosexuality can be cured through sex, said he would pay for his gay son to be raped by two women.
Another was clear that he would shut his doors to any gay child; “it’s not gonna happen in my house”, his tweet read, “it’s either you stay normal or leave my house. Nothing in this life will make me accept something that is disgusting to my nature”.
These users probably felt they were being a bit considerate compared to another user who was quite clear on what he would do.
“I kill him”, his tweet read, next to a sad face emoji.
Despite how gory these reactions are, they shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Nigeria’s homophobia doesn’t exist only on paper. It is a cultural phenomenon that is strengthened by religion, schools and even regular interaction so much that when we see any sign of homosexuality, the first impulse is not to understand it.
No, God forbid you to try to understand something when you can just snuff it out.
It is why on September 12, 2008, four newspapers published the names, addresses and photographs of the twelve members of the House of Rainbow Metropolitan Church, an LGBT-friendly church in Lagos.
As a result, some members were threatened, stoned and beaten.
We should keep in mind that homosexuality is a crime in Nigeria.
On January 7, 2013, former President Goodluck Jonathan signed the Same-Sex Prohibition Act into Law.
Apart from making same-sex marriage a crime, the law also carries a 14-year sentence for individuals and organisations who support homosexuality. Public displays of affection were also illegalized.
The law has been maligned both at home and abroad but the reality everyone is denying is that this is how most people feel about the issue.
In many ways, this law is a reflection of how the majority of Nigerians feel about homosexuality.
Still, something is changing, whether you like it or not.
In spite of this and the social suicide that can come from affiliating oneself with gay friends or fashion (or so much as holding hands with a male friend at Lagos Fashion and Design Week), many young people in Africa’s most populous nation are not as averse to homosexuality and the conversation surrounding it as their parents were.
Globalisation has exposed the millennial generation to information and perceptions of other cultures. Together with a healthy disregard for traditional institutions and beliefs, it may have made the biggest difference.
As the physical and social borders of the world get burred out by internet connectivity and trans-Atlantic cables, many of the beliefs and cultures that we used to see as foreign will find root closer to home than we expected.
It is not as case of America forcing you to be gay, as many think; it is a case of people who once felt left out, discovering that they are not alone.
Young homosexuals are learning about the courage of the gay rights movement in the United States, for instance, and the freedom that they enjoy.
It gives them the push to come to terms with their sexuality and come out in the hopes of finding that same freedom, mentally and otherwise.
NEWS FLASH !!! : As time passes, you’re going to live in a world where a fair number of people will be gay. However unlikely it may be, there is a chance that you will have a gay son or daughter.
While it is fair to not agree with that sexual orientation, torturing or molesting a child because you do not agree with or understand their sexual orientation is evil, at the least.
It also shows that we have a generation that will make following their wishes a matter of life and death; something we often accuse our parents of doing.
Worse, it’s a crime to do any of those things, which means you can end up going to jail for a supreme lack of common sense.
As parents, and as humans, we should try first to understand the situation for what it is. If perchance, you have a child who comes out as gay, you owe it to them to try to understand their decisions.
Ultimately, their happiness should be your priority.