Pride 2022: Proud Against All Odds
In the early hours of June 28, 1969, after police raided the Stonewall Inn bar in New York City's Greenwich Village neighbourhood, a gay bar and recreational tavern. The gay people at the bar that day fought back, and their rebellion, now termed the "Stonewall Riots", is a cornerstone of the gay liberation movement and the fight for LGBTQ+ rights in America.
At the time, soliciting homosexual relations was illegal in New York City and many other parts of America. Gay bars provided community and served as a sanctum for gay people. Unfortunately, these bars were subject to frequent instances of police harassment.
Following a New York criminal statute that authorised the arrest of anyone not wearing at least three articles of gender-appropriate clothing, nine policemen stormed the Stonewall Inn on that day in June, arresting and roughing up several patrons with this law as justification. They also arrested the employees for selling alcohol without a license. The incident was the third raid on Greenwich gay bars within a short period.
Over the next five days, people protested the injustice of police brutality and social discrimination outside the Stonewall Inn. This spontaneous movement galvanised the forces of people with marginalised sexual identities.
Today, Stonewall remains a symbol of resistance, and we celebrate Pride to commemorate that iconic event. Even as capitalistic ventures and corporations co-opt the movement to advance their causes, gay people worldwide still hold on to this symbolic month to celebrate gay Pride.
Document Women put out surveys to queer Nigerians, asking them how vital pride is to them and if/how they celebrate it.
Editor's note: For safety, Document Women has withheld the respondents' identities.
To one cisgender pansexual woman, Pride means "being able to own my sexuality and live unashamed of it." She does not celebrate Pride because she is unable to. She says, "It's mainly because of circumstance; I live in Nigeria and with my parents. Those two factors are very limiting and do not allow me to express myself as I would."
"This is my first pride month with queer friends, and it feels like acceptance of self and being welcomed to a community where people understand me from the get-go; it means family to me. It also means celebrating my identity, "unbridled gay fun," said an asexual bisexual. "It is also an opportunity for me to look into queer history, at home and abroad, and draw from other people's experiences. Also, consuming as much queer media as possible."
To celebrate Pride this month, they plan to cook something nice for their queer friends and dress up.
To another queer person, Pride is the embodiment of happiness. "A month where you can be extra loudly gay & watch the community have happy cheeky fun. Fuck capitalism, but I also really like all the rainbow-themed things companies & governments do; it's cute."
"I know that pride month is much more than fun & rainbow themed fits & makeup, but my country isn't quite sane, so I don't feel the full effects of having an actual 'pride'. There are no pride events & really; if you get down to it, there is no pride to celebrate because we are way backwards in LGBTQ+ rights, which is largely the reason for pride month. Still, I like to find joy where I can, so I still celebrate Pride in my way."
Another queer person sees Pride as an opportunity to express themselves and celebrate their siblings in Pride but will not be celebrating because they are saddened by the lack of intersectionality in the community. They said, "Now it just breaks my heart because it's a constant fight to ensure there's an intersection of our community. There's no room for freedom and love for all of us if it doesn't include ALL of us."
However, they still intend to enjoy Pride, as we all should, "surrounded by queers, loving, laughing, dancing and marvelling."
On 29 November 2011, the Senate of Nigeria passed the "Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill, 2011". The bill was passed on 30 May 2013 by the House of Representatives of Nigeria. The bill prohibits marriage contracts or civil unions entered into between persons of the same sex and makes "void and unenforceable" a marriage contract or civil union entered into between persons of the same sex by virtue of a certificate issued by a foreign country.
The law also prohibits the solemnization of any marriage or civil union entered into between persons of the same sex "in any place of worship either Church or Mosque or any other place or whatsoever called in Nigeria".
LGBTQI+ status or conduct is still considered illegal in 70 countries around the world. Simply being lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, or simply gender non-conforming means that even the most basic of daily activities such as dressing the way they want result in violence, harassment and deep social exclusion.
In May, members of the LGBTQ community marched in Abuja, to protest a bill introduced by lawmakers in Nigeria's lower house of parliament last month seeking to ban cross-dressing. This protest followed an incident in Lagos where a transgender woman was beaten and stripped weeks after the bill was introduced.
Despite homosexuality being illegal in Nigeria, more LGBTQ+ people are finding the courage to celebrate during Pride month on social media and at private events. The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs) notes that in 2017, a poll found that 83 per cent of Nigerians would not accept an LGBTQ+ family member. Two years later, that number dropped to about 60 per cent.