Richard Akuson @richardakuson is a writer and queer rights activist from Nigeria. Founder of the queer platform, @anastyboyng
On the quiet, promising first morning of June, I received a text message from my brother in Abuja, Nigeria. “Please, refrain from all these shameful acts,” he wrote. “Everyone is tired of you. Mummy is crying, Daddy is crying. If you don’t value relationships, we do!”
My brother had written after I had posted a picture on Facebook that showed me hugging a male friend. A mixture of anger, sadness and fatigue erupted in my body. “Block me if you are tired of my shameful acts,” I replied. “I won’t be the first or last person to be rejected by his family.”
I had the audacity to start a queer publication in Nigeria and was disowned by my country as a gay man, writer and activist. After a vicious homophobic attack in Akwanga, my hometown in central Nigeria, I moved to the United States and sought asylum here in the summer of 2018.
In a certain public rendering I could come across as a brave activist. But I have lived with intense private pain and discomfort after homophobic shaming from people like my own brother.
Social media can be a delightful way to connect with loved ones far away, but for me it has also become a space where my own family and friends have turned into censors, distorting my life, denigrating my being gay from thousands of miles away.
In Nigeria, I lived with the knowledge that my secret life as a gay man would eventually crumble under the weight of parental expectations. I could see clearly how it would pan out: After turning 30, I would have to marry a woman who might know I am gay but would prefer marrying me to being unmarried at a certain age. We would have three children in quick succession, as procreation is a duty I would be expected to fulfill promptly, duty being the bedrock of familial relationships. Read more via New York Times