Pride month is celebrated across the world every June to mark the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots in the USA, a watershed event for LGBTQI+ rights. This year, because of Covid-19 pride celebrations have been cancelled in most parts of the world and/or have gone online. We have gathered five stories of young LGBTQI+ activists from across the globe to showcase their resilience in the face of uncertainty and how they are celebrating pride during the pandemic.
This interview is part of our Pride 2020 series spotlighting LGBTQI+ Activists around the world. In this instalment, Aapurv and Jenny spoke with Mike Daemon from Nigeria.
Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your activism?
I am an out gay Nigerian journalist, activist and media consultant. In 2015 I founded NoStrings Development Initiatives, an LGBTQI+ human rights organisation working to promote LGBTQI+ equality and visibility in Nigeria using new media.
My work specifically focuses on telling impact stories about LGBTQI+ struggles in Nigeria. I currently work with the Saint Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, a U.S-based non-profit working on promoting LGBTQI+ visibility in Africa.
I am also a member of the Coalition for the Defense of Sexual Rights (CDSR) a coalition of human rights activists, groups and organisations in Nigerian working to protect the rights of monitories in the country.
What are the biggest concerns of LGBTQI+ communities in Nigeria?
At the moment, homosexuality is criminalised in Nigeria. Activists and members of the community are yearning for freedom. Since the anti-gay marriage bill was signed into law, there have been overwhelming reports of homophobic attacks and numerous arrests of LGBTQI+ persons in the country. Most LGBTQI+ persons who have the means, have fled to other countries where they can live their lives authentically and openly.
The attacks on the community by state and non-state actors are alarming and the community has suffered greatly.
The overall concern right now is to get the law repealed.
How has Covid19 impacted the LGBTQI+ communities in Nigeria?
Since the outbreak, the LGBTQI+ community in Nigeria have been severely affected. Most members of the community have lost their jobs, and suffered increased homophobic attacks and domestic violence.
There have also been reports about members of the community, who are living with HIV, being unable to access their medications due to imposed lockdowns in most states within the country.
How can International NGOs support LGBTQI+ communities in these times?
Funders and supporters can reach out to national and local organisations who are on the ground to learn about the specific needs of communities. They know best the support their community and their community members need. Each organisation has core focuses and I think that strengthening them to continue with their work is the best way to make progress. Capacity building and financial support is strongly needed by most organisations, especially grassroots groups who are struggling with getting funding support.
And how are you going to mark Pride month?
At the moment, we do not have any specific activities planned to celebrate pride. This is basically because we have got too much work to organise providing support already. As a small group, we don’t have capacity for more work.
Jenny is a passionate advocate for youth engagement, gender equality and LGBTQI+ rights.
Jenny grew up in London before studying African Studies and Politics at the University of Birmingham. After her studies, and a short stint working in pubs, Jenny moved to Tanzania, followed by Uganda to work with different community and youth organisations. On returning to London, she worked at Bond on campaigns and advocacy before joining AbleChildAfrica to support disability rights.
Jenny joined Restless Development in 2017 as Global Capacity Building Manager working on the MTV Staying Alive Foundation Programme. In 2019 she transitioned into the role of Senior Youth Engagement Manager where she has led our youth engagement consultancy services.
Outside work Jenny is studying for an MSc in Gender and Sexuality and enjoys supporting Queer arts spaces in London.