LGBTIQ+ Nigerians benefit from the support provided by volunteer counselors via the Qtalk app. (Fifth in a series)
By Mike Daemon
Qtalk users’ names have been changed in the following writeups, contributed by the counselors who provide advice to LGBTQ+ Nigerians via the free Qtalk app:
HIV+ trans woman deals with family rejection after her status is revealed
Blessing, a young trans student who was arrested by the police, reached out for support after her HIV status was exposed and her family was informed.
“I am very depressed. I am a trans woman living in Port Harcourt. The police arrested me at a friend’s place who was accused of being gay. At the police station, I was interrogated and put in a cell. Because I am HIV positive, I needed my medication so I told them about my status.
“The arresting officer called my mother and told her everything. After I was released, my parents said that I was no longer needed at home”
In response to her issue, the Qtalk counselor who responded sympathized with her situation and was able to help her understand that what her parents and the police officer did was wrong — and that she had commited any crime.
She was referred to a safe shelter for trans women in Port Harcourt where she is currently getting some support. She has since remained in touch with the counselor; their conversations are ongoing.
Lesbian blackmails her partner to remain in a relationship with her
Victoria, a 23-year-old Nigerian lesbian, is no longer interested in continuing with an abusive relationship with her longtime lover, but she is now being blackmailed and seeks a way out.
She wrote: “I am so scared. I am 23 and a lesbian. I have been dating this lady for 3 years now. She is older and has been supporting me financially since I finished university. The problem is that I am tired. She beats me and verbally abuses me all the time. I tried asking for us to separate but she brought pictures of us being intimate and threatens to post them on social media. Since then I have been unhappy and scared of what will happen if I take a decision.”
Responding to Victoria, the Qtalk counselor, who is a legal expert, made her understand that blackmail in whatever form is wrong and that she could report it if she wanted to. However, while acknowledging that the nature of their relationship already puts her in a difficult place, the counselor suggested that Victoria could explore alternatives such as reporting the issue to a lesbian-focused organization that has experience with dealing with such matters.
Intersex trans woman worries about revealing her identity to her lover
Amaka, an intersex trans woman, is looking for how to tell her lover about her intersex identity.
“I was born intersex [with both male and female physical characteristics], but I now identify as a trans woman. I am a 28-year-old woman based in Lagos. There’s this guy that is interested in me and I love him too. We have been seeing each other but we have not been sexually intimate. I think I love him too but I am scared that he will leave me if I tell him that I was born intersex. Please, how can I tell him?”
After several sessions with Amaka, her counselor stated that it would’ve been better that she made it clear head on to ensure that there wasn’t any confusion going forward in the relationship. However, the counselor acknowledged that it could be tough for most people to reveal something so personal. The counselor stressed that lying or pretending was a bad idea and an irresponsible thing to do.
Going further, the counselor suggested that Amaka start a discussion with her boyfriend by talking about what he was expecting in a relationship and then lead ingthe conversation to where she could feel comfortable with disclosing her identity. Amaka was reminded that it is important for people to build relationships based on trust and honesty.
Married gay man distressed after wife discovers his sexuality
Femi, a gay man who married a woman for years to hide his sexuality, is confused about what to do after he was outed and set up by a guy he met online.
He wrote to a counselor on the Qtalk app.
“Hey, is there something you can do about my situation? My wife and 2 kids left me after they found out that I am gay. I was set up and blackmailed by some men I hooked up with online.”
“I miss my family. I am really confused and don’t know what to do. The worst part is that her family is threatening to report me to the police.”
Responding to Femi’s issue, his Qtalk counselor helped him to understand that he had the right to have access to his kids so as long as there was no court order restricting him from seeing them. If necessary, he could explore legal options, including getting a lawyer.
Another option that was suggested was that he leave his environment for a while and go to somewhere safe, so so he could think clearly about his possible next steps. He has remained in contact with the assigned counselor; conversations are still ongoing.
Gay man wants to marry a lesbian due to pressure from family
Gerald, a young gay man who is in a relationship with an older man, is concerned about his partner’s decision to marry a lesbian in order to reduce the pressure he is under from his family.
“What can I do? I think that I am about to lose my relationship. My boyfriend wants to marry a lesbian to please his family. I don’t want that because I fear it might cause us to live separately and I really do not want that.”
Responding to Gerald’s challenge, his Qtalk counselor helped him to understand that even though it wasn’t an easy decision, he has a choice to either stay or leave any relationship if he wasn’t feeling comfortable with his partner’s decisions. Relationships work only when both partners understand each other, the counselor said.
Gerald was encouraged to speak to his partner about how he feels about the decision and how it will affect him. He was encouraged to let his partner know that the partner doesn’t have to do what his family wants if he really does not want to.
To download the Qtalk mobile app, click HERE.
To support the Qtalk project financially, click HERE.