Nele's Thoughts

The Clique Business in Nigeria’s LGBT Community

In the article I didn’t write I was going to talk about our ever dynamic LGBT community, and its cliquey nature.

The ways that it can segregate, divide, withhold, complicate, implicate, and exist in various elitist, sometimes sectarian, and mostly inaccessible holds. In the beginning of the article, I was going to draw from Alexander Chee’s experiences with American LGBT/AIDS groups in the late nineties from his latest book, How to write an autobiographical novel. How I yearned for such radical sense of security, of action, and effective leg work in fighting erasure, misrepresentation, and governmental negligence; reality that fits into our present LGBT space.

In that article still, I intended to ask questions, to be bitter about the ways that the average gay person is locked out by few self appointed persons, of what seems like a conduit of activities behind a supposedly blank wall, activities so crucial to our mundane existence as to be treated with such subjectivity. I was going to question our efforts and talk about the nuanced fear some persons (comfortable and in top advocative seats) of us act out when we are referred to as a community, there is perhaps too much boldness in assuming or wearing that about proudly, or perhaps it just doesn’t feel true enough because we inherently know we aren’t ‘community’ enough, and it is not a fact anyone can evade. In that article that might have been nine hundred words or a little above, I was going to get angry and blast the spaces that aren’t there for everyday LGBT persons who go through challenges can run to, ones that do not physically nor virtually (as far as I know) provide a convergence ground for effective conversations, one that one can wake up in the morning and find courage to go on because there is a body behind our bodies.

But I am not going to do that. This is a good time for the Nigerian LGBT community (by precept still, when will it ever feel like one though?). Despite the latest case of the 100 and in ways that I hope will spur us, because of it.

This is time for us to do what exactly? Like is there a plan? (Sorry you’re not part of the hallowed faculty). Do we let it go again, like many others? (What is this one saying, whoever does anything?) I am sorry I wasn’t given a memo, so I am just going to go on with things as I see it.


In this article now, I am going to talk about the tasty privilege of being in one of the (can’t make the vaguest estimate) cliques myself, of how beautiful it is to (mistakenly or constructively, but rarely in response to an intentional mandate of inclusiveness) be a part of a community formed off another clique.

Maybe I haven’t subscribed to the memo, not that I know where or how to. In this article, I am supposed to be gay about being gay, to blanket everything nicely and call it a day against the backdrop of adrenaline and temporary hope. To call things nice and proclaim minding my business and looking for a safe corner to cook and dine with my grievances.

In this now, just support from the margins, let these things be handled by people with more geographical safety, this is Nigeria, I’ll get rich and afford to leave or concoct my own types of air.

That’ll be enough, and would settle at about 500 words.

Nice things come short.


A brief history of things I don’t exactly fancy:

Bad news.

Nigerian LGBT related bad news.

Bad news nobody does anything effective about.

Bad news that could have been worse (like what if I didn’t know this person or that? Oga you’re supposed to know, you’re just supposed to).

Unfruitful ranting (an indirect training at a classy, snobbish hatred that isn’t directly happening to us)


A community in the steady motions of here there, here now.

That I may just be around the same kinds of persons with their friends.

(But maybe a well set up community that bona fide LGBT members can get access to can provide that sense of kinship too)

That I, like a lot of other persons I know, know nothing about the breath that breathes for me.


Those are subjective, highly receptive to misunderstanding, argument, disagreement, and maybe even bewilderment, good. That last reaction is good, because it is how I feel most of the time about our ‘community’.


But in this article that I am writing, I am going to be inquisitive as to where this is coming from, a place of frustration and geographical misfortune perhaps, or an authentic fear that nothing is ever going to consciously change? Is it from a place that just cannot handle one person’s flawed social adaptation skills, or perhaps maybe a blindly followed precept. Maybe there are no cliques after all, maybe what I see as that kind of sectionalism is nothing but the normal body of friends (who cannot be faulted). This thought brewed in something almost virulent and stoked up by loneliness, paranoia, compulsive isolation, and a broad sense of discontent that feels unmistakably general.


Okay, maybe there really are cliques, but do they do damage to the movement? Is there a movement? Shouldn’t there be any? Should there be any? Is there a wave I am not catching?


In this also, I am going to question this notion’s sense of temporariness, how it feels like it would fade once I get invited to a private party, or an obscured hangout, and how at the same time it doesn’t seem so. I am going to wonder if it isn’t too much to ask for an inclusive background network that’d take bold steps, and be unafraid to demand exactly what we deserve, human rights and LGBT rights. I am going to try to offhandedly blame our undemocratic Nigerian spirit that has an immense disregard for (healthy and harmless) personal happiness, seeing that we live in a culture that threatens everything contrary to known statues with shame, and disgrace. Every homophobic assault behind the gore and gross inhumanity is an indirect message of mollification, a teaching that explains belittling the basic human worth on the necessity of shaming.

Our culture along with recent policies is at once selfish and protective of their concoctions of right and wrong, and yet also ignorant and resistant to the half-told truths of many in their midst, under their stoic breath.

It wouldn’t be outlandish to hold our space, unreceptive to proactive change, to bitter truths about our widely agreed sentiments, to the dangers that narrow minded and lethargic thinking is causing transitionally, accountable for making us believe that not all worthy fights are worthy to be fought, that not all that belongs to us naturally, should be relinquished, that agitation is just another business venture.


In the (hypothetical) version of this article that I eventually write, I feel better knowing that there are spaces turning up with the understanding of forming (from cliques, and walled associations) a strong, and expansive community on the basis of love and care in the numerous absence of any around us, a community with an aim to urge all that identify as LGBT into an amiable understanding, into a shield, a gradually realised strength.

Because above all, this is all that matters in taking the gradual transformative steps we are/should be taking-



And so does it answer the supposed imbalance of cliques? Please share your thoughts below.


Nele’s Thoughts is a column run by Nigerian Writer Nele Anju. Click here for more posts.

2 thoughts on “The Clique Business in Nigeria’s LGBT Community

  1. This is a tricky Situation. There are so many diverse views as to how queer Nigerians are to live. Some are okay, others are useful while most are outright crap.
    In the end, a community needs to be formed. We cannot continue to allow educated powerful illiterates own our narrative.

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