Across Nigeria, mostly in urban centers, rings of women seeking women for love and sex are booming. In Lagos, Port Harcourt and Enugu, these rings are fast metamorphosing into burgeoning communities and are hardly distinct from your everyday bisexual prostitution rackets.
Operational modules include physical approaches and contacts through social media, especially Facebook messenger, Whatsapp, Instagram,etc. In fact, Social media presently accounts for more than 62% of the boom in the trade according to statistics obtained by Daily Sun in Lagos .
A sample of most of those interviewed who are not lesbians but who nonetheless, have been approached for lesbian acts confirms the statistics. Bimbo Talabi ( real names withheld),21, a beautician residing in the Surulere area of Lagos disclosed that her Messenger platform has at least six inter –exchanges weekly with lesbians seeking for her love and eventual sex. One of the messages which she displayed reads: “ Hi bae”
“Hi”( reply) “ How are you”
“You look good and pretty.” “Thanks” (reply)
“I would like to meet you. I am Jane. Where do you stay?” I stay in Ikeja.(No response)
“Can you find time this evening or tomorrow morning to meet me at Cason hotel (Bar)
And she promptly dispatches sexually explicit nude pictures of herself in self-fondling of breasts and genitals ( 3 in a row)
From an act that was done in the exclusivity of darkness and hidden from public glare, lesbianism in Nigeria has assumed a liberal proportion where even matchmaking as an added incentive is made and nurtured.
Hook –up takes the shape of the normal male- female love entangles, except that in most cases lesbians are faster, without regards to any considerations of physical attractions, compatibility or dressing. The supposed husband in a lesbian relationship showers the wife with gifts and love while the wife respects her and shows undiluted commitment to the affair.
In Nigeria, Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender ( LGBT) are constrained because of legal and social challenges. Nigeria does not recognize or allow their rights. There is no legal protection against discrimination. Culture and social mores prohibit it. Very few of them are open about their orientation, and violence, and stigmatization against them are frequent. For instance, Edafe Okporo fled Nigeria to the United States of America, USA to seek asylum based on his sexual orientation and was granted political asylum in 2017. Many other Nigerian lesbians are also fleeing to countries with better protection in laws.
A review of the 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Project shows that 97% of Nigerians believe that lesbianism is a way of life that must not be accepted. In 2015, a survey by an organization founded by a Nigerian homosexual activist based in London claimed this percentage has reduced to 94%. However, Bisi Alimi , a self – acclaimed homosexual says Nigerians who agree that they should receive education ,healthcare, and housing is a mere 13%. Alimi has since relocated to the UK claiming discrimination and death threats.
The first Nigerian lesbian wedding between Judith Ndukwu and Mona Nghixulifwa , a Namibian happened in the Hagues, Netherlands ( Beach Club Naturale, Scheveningen) far removed from the prying laws of Nigeria. Judith was the wife while Mona was the husband. Progressively, lesbians in Nigeria have continued to dig in, forcefully entrenching passive acceptance.
Last year, the first lesbian documentary, in the country “Under the Rainbow” by Pamela Adie was released to the shock and awe of many people. The documentary according to the theme “ celebrates resilience and the pursuit of happiness and delivers its message as a love letter”.
The documentary is a “visual memoire” about her personal journey of coming home to herself by walking the viewer through her experiences. She came to terms with her sexuality and shared it with her family. She struggled through a marriage, depression, loss, rejection from her family and their attempt to “cure” her of her sexuality. Storytelling, using herself is her own idea of advocacy.
Another budding lesbian, Dewy Oputa, is the daughter of maverick musician and rights activist, Charlie Boy. Disconcerted by her sexual orientation, Charlie boy got estranged with her, shunned her and blocked her on every social media platform.
Charlie boy, who has reactivated his fight for the acceptance of the LGBT community in Nigeria, ended his rationale for the renewed battle with “each on his own”. Like rabbits from a hole, more lesbians in Nigeria are getting increasingly bold, audacious and are crawling out to own up to their sexuality. Unoma Azuah,an acclaimed award winning writer has just released “ Embracing my shadow,” ‘growing up lesbian in Nigeria’, the first Nigerian lesbian memoir, which traces her challenging growth as a lesbian in Nigeria and how she navigated the paths of abuse, ethnic discrimination and homophobia in a hyper- religious and patriarchal Nigerian society.
Identity recognition for Lesbians
Lesbians usually thrust their tongue out to lure and seduce suspects, according to investigations by Daily Sun. When a lady in contact with, or meeting another lady thrusts her tongue out in a quick flash and there is a response, then a relationship is made.
Depending on the circumstances of their meeting and convenience, a partnership is quickly struck. A random survey also indicates that some Nigerian girls living in Nigeria claiming to be bisexuals are, in fact lesbians. They only claim to be bisexuals to conform to societal expectations of getting married to a man and thereafter continue to ply their trade.
Recently, a Nigerian Lesbian, Pamela Adie celebrated what she called “10 years of freedom. According to her, the occasion marked 10 years since she came out as a lesbian, divorced her husband and the perks of motherhood.. She noted that she would have been living as a closeted lesbian in her marriage.
She shared all her achievements within this period with the intention to inspire others. Her words: “By now, I would have had 3 children and would have been celebrating the 10th anniversary of the wedding to my ex- husband. Many would have clapped and congratulated me for having been married for so long. But I wouldn’t have been honest with myself and those celebrating me… no one would know that I am lesbian behind closed doors. But today, I celebrate my truth and my freedom”.
Another way of identifying lesbians who are married, it was discovered, is the continuous, unhindered denial of sex to their spouses. This group often resorts to seeking divorce on grounds of sexual dissatisfaction and irreconcilable differences. If, and when they obtain divorce, the women often display a non- chalant attitude to the children by not checking on them and are seen more in social circles in company with their female friends.
Again, conceited lesbians are hard to satisfy in bed, no matter the duration or the hardness of the penis, because the kind of orgasm they have while making out with their female counterpart is longer and more frequent and also does not happen due to penetration. The addiction to their same sex partners and the act will not allow penetration from a man give them orgasm.
Another mode of self- identity that is mutual and less overt is by fixing the second finger or index, which is also known as the pointer into the mouth on sighting a lady. Some flash broad sexy smiles to the fellow female or wink seductively at her. Usually, the opposite lesbian will return the gestures and a partnership is instantly struck.
However, it is pertinent to note that there are ways by which we can identify these people among us, among which include their mode of dressing ,attitude towards the opposite sex, behavior in the society especially in social gatherings, etc. Oftentimes, all they talk about are the females in their lives as they have more female friends than male friends and sometimes imagine themselves with these women instead of the other way around. In a gathering, they notice the feminine gender first before realizing that there is a male around.
Controversial Nigerian Lesbians and transgender elements
Aderonke Apata who was once married, later found out she had feelings for women and came out, declaring she wanted to live her life as a lesbian.
Allegedly, she suffered persecution, from friends and family, and then fled to the United Kingdom to seek asylum and has over the years become Nigeria’s most vocal lesbian. She was involved in a battle to stay in the UK after the authorities vowed to deport her back to Nigeria. She did everything to prove to them that she was truly a lesbian, including recording herself while having sex with her partner and even wanted to do same at the office. She later got married to her lesbian partner and was rewarded for her passion for LGBT in the UK.
After being expelled from Benue State University due to his homosexual tendencies, Clifford Oche, a Benue State born man, sneaked out of the country and for many years nobody heard anything about him till he surfaced as a woman known as Miss SaHHara. Before then, many Nigerians never thought one of their own could go that lane of transformation. She has gone on to win the Miss World Transgender Pageant.
Ms Mandy La Candy
Shortly after Miss SaHHara made her debut, another Nigerian man came out calling herself Ms Mandy La Candy, saying she also undertook the corrective surgery to become a woman after she was tired of living a fake life as a man.
Though nothing has been heard of the Canada based Ms Mandy Candy recently, she makes the list for her boldness in coming out of the closet.
A lot of Nigerians would not have cared about Stephanie Rose, who was another transgender born with the name Dapo Adaralegbe, until she took to social media to pour insults on Almighty God, calling Him all sorts of derogatory names such as foolish, maggot, wicked, idiot, among others.
All of a sudden, Nigerians got to know her and a look into her background revealed that he was a notorious homosexual studying Law at the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife before he was expelled in 2001 and then he fled to Holland where his lover paid for a sex change surgery.
She is now a non-conformist God-hater, who does not look back at any opportunity to attack the Almighty God. She is the author of the book en-titled: ‘Nobody Goes to Heaven Because Nobody Goes to Hell’.
How it all began
Lesbianism which is also known as sapphism or female homosexuality is the sexual desire between females. This is the act of two people of the female gender to have intense erotic or romantic attraction for themselves and become intertwined in a love triangle whereby they please themselves sexually. The history of lesbianism can be traced as far back to the last 16th century. Then, in the late 19th century, it became more pronounced when an association was formed with the tender passionate poetry written by Lesbian poet Sappho (610-c. 580BCE) to and about other women.
In the late 20th century Europe and North America, a lot of the issues faced by lesbians were not different from those that concerned either heterosexual women or other gay men. Just like the heterosexual women, lesbians were affected by issues such as equal pay. In the early 21st century, Europe and North America in particular adopted laws or constitutional provisions establishing the rights of same sex couples to marry.
In the year 2013, then President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan signed the Same Sex Prohibition Act of 2013 hindering the legalization of the same sex marriage between lesbians and between gay men. As at that time, the issue of lesbian and gay men marriage was becoming rampant as it had already been legalized in some western countries. This, however caused some stir in the world as people felt it was a hindrance on their right to marry whoever they wanted to marry. But this was also done to uphold the sanctity of our Nigerian customs which forbade it.
Currently in Nigeria, there are people who practice lesbianism and homosexuality, but majority of them hide under the cloak of fashion, saying their lifestyle is mainly for the purpose of entertainment or modeling as creative artistes as the case may be with cross-dressers.
A sizeable number of women are involved in it in Nigeria today, and though a lot of people think it’s a bad omen because of the belief that it is un-african, unhealthy and irreligious, some other people are also indifferent to it as they believe everyone is entitled to their own space to love who they want to and should not be punished for it.
They feel the emotion called love does not have any barriers and can come to whoever it chooses at any time for the person to show it to anybody of their choice. Therefore, people wanting to be with anyone of the same sex could stem from either a medical problem or it could be cupid at work in their lives.
In some cases, these women might be interested in both males and females alike. In this case, we refer to them as ‘Bi-sexual’. Bisexual women, though having interest in both genders still prefer one as against the other and in most cases, go for the same sex.
Before now, the issue of lesbianism or even the mere mention of it was like an abomination in our country Nigeria, but presently, it is funny how people do it without blinking an eyelid, to the extent that some people even sought the legalization of same- sex marriage to give them the right to be united legally with someone of the same gender whom they have romantic feelings for.
These days, you hear and even see women coming out to say they want to get married and stay together. A lot of people have said this is not part of the indigenous African culture. But the pattern of its adoption and its exponential grown defies the logic of its wholesale importation from western culture as our people say. Although it is regarded as an ‘abomination’ the shock of the act has reduced in proportion to when it started, creating the impression that it is being received on a wide scale.
Recently, there have been groups springing up to fight for these women, among which include the Women’s Health and Equal Rights (WHER)- Initiative. A group of women who were concerned about the marginalization of lesbians in sexual and reproductive health rights programming came together to form this group which is based in Abuja. It was found that some of the problems facing many lesbians, bisexual women and Women who have sex with Women (WSW) includes, though not limited to low level of literacy, high school drop-out and lack of sustainable employment.
However, according to Bisi Alimi, a Gay Activist, who was the first man to come out openly on television and declare his homosexuality, the idea that homosexuality is Western, is based on another western thought.
He said that while he was digging up facts about homosexuality because he needed to teach students about a history that was not written when he was appointed by Berlin’s Humboldt University to teach a course titled “Pre and post-colonial sexual orientation and sexual identity in Africa”, he found out that while many Africans say that homosexuality is un-African, African culture is no stranger to homosexual behaviors and acts.
He also stated examples to back up his claim, saying that in Yoruba land, the word for homosexual is adofuro which might sound insulting or derogatory, but the word was meant to describe the behavior and it was not a new word. He also made mention of the Hausa term yan daudu which was used to describe effeminate men who were considered to be wives to other men. The Yoruba word talks about behavior while the Hausa word talks more about identity and you have to look and act like one to be called one.
By Chidi Obineche, Tony Ogaga and Chidinma Adiele