This month (April 26 2018) Cassava Republic Press will be publishing a ground-breaking new collection of 25 life stories from a diverse range of queer Nigerian women called, She Called Me a Woman: Nigeria’s Queer Women Speak.
It addresses the hardships of coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) in the Nigerian community. Around the subject of being LGBT, they are often judged as being outsiders.
“It’s against our culture.”
“It’s not allowed by our religion.”
“This thing isn’t in us – it comes from over there.”
“I’m an African and there are some things I can never accept.”
She Called Me a Woman: Nigeria’s Queer Women Speak is a book that addresses these comments and sentiments. It covers first-hand accounts that challenge stereotypes about the reality of being an LGBT woman in Nigeria, where same-sex relationships, as in several countries in Africa, are illegal. It also features women from a cross section of class, religion, region and educational backgrounds and gives a voice to women who have never been heard.
What are the stories about?
Through the true stories, it unveils the reality of being an LGBT woman in Nigeria where the ‘Same Sex-Prohibition Bill’ signed in 2014 criminalizes public displays of affection between same-sex couples and restricts the work of organizations defending gay people and gay rights.
Not only does it highlight the challenges facing LGBT women in Nigeria but most importantly, it’s also celebratory. Through the narratives, the joy and excitement of being in love comes through albeit in an often-hostile environment. This publication presents an opportunity to challenge the long-held belief that homosexuality is un-African and is only about violation and danger in Nigeria.
The main message of the collection is that love is never wrong. Nobody should have to live a double life to please their community and your sexuality does not define who you are. Raising this kind of awareness for groups of people who are often slandered for their sexuality is imperative to educate and garner positive reactions from the publication. It also includes the fact that not only have they lived their lives as LGBT, they have done so under a patriarchal system, making it all the more difficult to speak out.
One of the editors of the book, Azeenarh Mohammed, said: “This book is vital because queer people have agency and voice to speak for themselves and tell their story, unmediated. It shows us in our glorious humanity that people aren’t used to seeing. My hope is that in reading this book, people will understand that Nigerian queer women exist and we’re exactly the same as everyone else with dreams, hopes and aspiration to do well and be happy.”
She Called Me a Woman: Nigeria’s Queer Women Speak is edited by; Azeenarh Mohammed, Chitra Nagarajan and Rafeeat Aliyu
Published by Cassava Republic Press, £12.99, Available from 24 April 2018