Their jobs lost. Their shops looted. Forced to beg in order to eat. LGBT Nigerians are frustrated, depressed, and plunged into poverty by the violence surrounding their nation’s ongoing #EndSARS protests against police corruption and brutality.
By Mike Daemon
Names in this article have been changed to protect the identities of the persons whose stories have been shared.
LGBT Nigerians from across various states in Nigeria have spoken to the LGBTQ advocacy website NoStringsNG about how the incidents have affected them, and how they have been coping amidst continual police raids, looting, and destruction of private and government-owned properties nationwide by angry youths.
As an already vulnerable group, dealing with the realities in the past few weeks since the protests began has not been easy for members of the LGBT community.
Job lost; depression sets in
Kola, a 23-year old Lagos-based gay man, has lost his job. The #EndSARS violence has taken a toll on his mental health and triggered his depression, he said.
“I was working with SPAR in Lagos. I know how hard it was for me to get that job, but now I have lost it. I am not even sure I will be paid. In fact, I am not even expecting it. My rent is due. How will I even sustain myself? My goodness, I am just depressed and I have been crying non-stop since the whole issue. My depression is back I don’t know what to do, life is so hard I wish I was not in Nigeria,” he said.
Store looted; no money to pay back loan
Janet, a lesbian who recently started a small retail store in Oyigbo Port Harcourt, Rivers State, said she might not survive from the shock after realizing that her store was looted.
“It was just like magic. I have lost everything. They looted my store and shot a man in front of it. I started selling there last month with a 150,000 naira [US $395] loan I got from a microfinance bank. They will come for me, I know, and I may end up in jail. Who will help me?” she said.
Sewing machines stolen; forced to beg
Confidence, a young trans woman living in Aba, Abia State, said the protests have shattered her dreams of becoming an independent fashion designer.
“This whole thing has affected me so badly. I just started my own fashion business, but my store was broken into. The looters carted away my sewing machines. Those machines are so expensive; I might not be able to get them again. I need help; even getting food is now a real challenge for me these past few days. I just beg to survive now,” she said.
Those are a few of the reports that NoStringsNG has received in the past weeks since the protests began.
Mike Daemon, founder of NoStringsNG, said:
“We want to do more than just reporting about these issues. Our plan is to support as many as we can, but as a small group with limited resources, we might not be able to do it alone which is why we are seeking support from generous individuals or even groups who wish to help.
“To enable us to do this, we have set up a fundraiser in collaboration with our longtime partner, the Saint Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, a U.S-based charity.
“The organization will serve as a fiscal host through which we will receive all donations. All funds donated to us will go to supporting members of our community who have been hit hard as a result of the crisis.”
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