Photo illustration by MedPage Today.
BY EMMANUEL IKEDICHUKWU.
As my life went in a different direction, my only ally was my sister.
According to research conducted by the Pew research centre, 75% of gay teenagers in Africa are subjected to physical and mental abuse after been outed to their family, friends and/or community. Some are expelled from high school, expelled from college, thrown out of their home or even faced with more terrible situations like death by jungle justice, repeated bullying by peers, and conversion therapy.
My case wasn’t any different from other African gay teenagers when on the 28th of December 2020, I was outed against my will on @instablognaija and @lindaikeji after a video I made with a gay man was posted. I didn’t know this man had other intentions when we were making the video.
I knew I was in deep when my childhood friends and high school classmates began to call me, wanting to know if what they saw was real. I couldn’t go home out of fear, and I still can’t go home because my family found out. I was in a safe house when my eldest brother called. I tried denying it but it was obvious I was lying.
With everything happening and me losing my job, my home, and my mind, I felt peace when my sister called me. “It’s okay if you are gay,” she said.
“If you wanted to disgrace the family, you should have done so within. Now everyone knows what you are.” These were the last words I heard from my father. This was when I knew I could never go home because my only ally was my sister.
Back in the safehouse, I met Steven (not real name) who was expelled from school for having sex with the same-sex. “I wanted to burn down the school.” he said. “that was not the first time they caught someone having sex, but because mine was with a boy, they called in my parents and expelled me.”
I was sad after hearing Steven’s story because not only did it feel familiar, but it was like we all shared similar experiences.
Sometimes I ask myself if there is a line, a line they can never cross. But when I think about it, I know they have crossed every line.
I miss my home, my friends, and my old life. I wish things were different.
Emmanuel Ikedichukwu is a writer.