TW: Homophobia, Queerphobia, Conversion Therapy
I am a Christian gay person living in an extremely religious country, with multiple, and sometimes contradicting religious practices. However, the one area that unifies all these different religion is their total agreement on their imposition of religious beliefs against the basic human right of humans getting to choose their preferences, be it in their sexuality or otherwise, and this imposition of religious beliefs on others alone is enough to force anyone to suffer from a conflict of the self with their religious identity. This alone can cause anyone to abandon their faith!
The persecution faced by the LGBTQ community in Nigeria is so severe that it often leads to a gay person being cast out by their family and friends, and in most African countries this is the life that most gay people have to live and deal with. Many of the most damaging issues comes when your faith community and leader openly preach that some there are probably going to burn in hell for eternity for God doesn’t condone anything less than being straight and being gay is contrary to everything he stands for.
Hearing that sort of condemnation from someone you really respect who is also a religious leader is like someone just basically breaking you down in more ways than you can imagine. But as a gay person who just wants answers to why you have a different sexual orientation than others, this internal struggle gies deeper. I came to my realization by understanding and accepting the fact that I was never going to be accepted by the people closest to me, so it’s up to me to accept and be at peace with myself, which has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with self acceptance, or in the worst-case scenario, like mine, wherein I choose to live a shadow life of a closeted gay person to spare myself the feeling of being hurt while avoiding being sent for a demonic deliverance in church.
I feel I should clarify this, being a gay person is synonymous as being possessed by the devil or having an evil spirit, in my community. This inevitably means most people who have come out as gay in Nigeria have had to endure some form of deliverance service or cleansing rituals to get rid of the supposed evil in them, yet the most traumatic aspect of the whole thing is seeing almost every gay person struggle with their faith, struggling and trying so hard to fit into faith communities which they are supposed to get comfort from, but this same community seems to not just turn their back on them but also makes them feel worthless in the process.
My question in those cases remains, then, why I’m I gay? Was I created this way by that same God who I heard will burn me in a fiery pit for being so different from the conventional, or am I really a demon sprung? These are the questions I kept asking myself. The answers I would get from my years of suffering from religious abuse from both my family and faith communities led me to understand that I was lovingly created by God and I know he makes no mistake seeing as everything he created is perfect that could only mean I wasn’t a mistake, and finally in my long quest and question to finding my faith while being gay, I learnt that God is love, and that he loves and accepts me the way I am. So what others may think or say doesn’t really matter so much to me. I have found peace and self-worth and kept my faith as a Christian, and everything in Christendom history only goes to prove this. Today I strongly believe in God, that he created me and that says I’m perfect just the way I am gay and all.