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Acid attack, abuse, HIV, marriage: Qtalk counselors can help

LGBTQ+ Nigerians benefit from the support provided by volunteer counselors via the Qtalk app, which is supported by this site and by the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation. (Fifteenth in a series)

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By Mike Daemon

Qtalk users’ names have been changed in the following writeups, which were contributed by the counselors who provide advice to LGBTQ+ Nigerians via the free Qtalk app:

Gay man worries his partner no longer loves him after fire disfigured him

Moses, a 23-year old Nigerian gay man, is in anguish because his lover no longer seems interested in him after he sustained a disfiguring injury in a fire.

In his support request he wrote:

“I think my partner doesn’t really love or care about me anymore. He is now spending more time with his friends and even sleeps out more. This is something he doesn’t [ordinarily] do. No more compliments like before since fire burnt and disfigured my face.

“I have asked him several times if he thinks we should split up but instead he gets angry and walks out of the conversation.”

In a response to Moses’s support request, the Qtalk counselor stated that he could be correct with his observations, but informed him that jumping to any conclusion is not a good idea. The counselor told him to find a way to approach his partner in a non-accusatory manner about how he feels about his supposed lack of affection.

The counselor also told him that his partner could be dealing with something other than what he thinks, which is absolutely why it was completely necessary for them to both talk about what is going on. The counselor explained, however, that a healthy conversation will only happen when the both of them are emotionally ready to talk.

Moses’s hasn’t yet been able to have that conversation with his partner, but is still in therapy and exploring more ways to make that conversation happen.

Trans woman escapes acid attack, now seeks a safe house.

Juliet, a 26-year-old trans woman living in Abuja, said she escaped an acid attack from a transphobic neighbor and had to flee her neighborhood.

In a support request, she wrote:

“I don’t have anywhere to go now. I am currently sleeping in an uncompleted building and this is for my own safety. I have been living as a woman for years now. A young neighbor started started admiring me since last year. I did not give in to his advances because I am afraid of him of finding out about my true identity.

“Last week, he somehow managed to get into the house when I was sleeping and discovered that I am trans. Though I got up and saw him with the shock on his face. Since then, he threatened that he was going to deal with me. One night I was coming back from my makeup class.

“He followed me quietly on the dark path and, when I turned around, he tried to pour something on me but I somehow dodged it. I realized it was acid because I sensed the hot flash as it poured on the wall. I ran as much as my legs could carry me. I have not been at home since then. I am looking for a safe place to stay to get myself together and see how to move my things and relocate.”

In a response to Juliet’s request, the counselor sympathized with her and acknowledged that what the young man tried to do to her was absolutely wrong and criminal.

After several conversations and thorough identity verification, the counselor was able to put her in touch with an Abuja-based LGBTIQ+-friendly NGO who are currently doing their best to help Juliet out of her unfortunate situation.

Gay man, verbally abused by neighbor, seeks help

Bethel, a 28-year-old gay man, is depressed because he is subject to frequent verbal abuse and threats from his neighbors who mock his effeminate manner.

In his support request, he wrote:

“I don’t just know what to do anymore. I did not create myself. My neighbors have been calling me all sorts of names such as ‘girl, woman, lady, etc.’ I am just tired. Now they have started calling me gay and some are even threatening to beat me up all because they say I look and act girly.

“This is messing with my mental health badly. What can I do?”

In a response to Bethel’s support request, the counselor sympathized with him and stated that what his neighbors are doing is absolutely wrong. The counselor also mentioned that his situation was common for femme gay men, who often suffer from  discrimination and bullying because of their physical appearance and perceived sexual orientation.

The counselor further explored the idea of relocating to a more civilized neighborhood where he would possibly feel safer and respected, since public name-calling and other verbal abuses happen more frequently in slums and rural communities.

Bethel has been unable to move because he doesn’t have the financial capacity to do that, but has remained in therapy.

Family of bisexual man pressures him to marry a woman

Ikenna, a 33-year-old bisexual man, is deeply confused as his family is pressuring him to marry a woman.

In his support request, he wrote:

“My head is spinning right now. My family is threatening to cut me off completely simply because I am refusing to marry now. The worst part of everything is that they are even suggesting who I should marry. I am currently in a relationship with a wonderful man that I don’t want to lose. What do I do?”

In a response to Ikenna’s request, the counselor acknowledged that he was in a difficult situation indeed, however stated that it was entirely his decision to make, but understood that it would be a very difficult one given what was at stake.

The counselor also stated that, for the sake of his mental health, his happiness was the most important thing that should be prioritized when making a life-changing decision, such as whether to get married.

Ikenna is still in counseling trying to find ways to come up with a better way to deal with the situation.

Gay teenager battling with the reality of testing positive for HIV

Learning that he is HIV-positive has been devastating for 18-year-old Jackson.

In a support request, he wrote:

“I can’t believe this is happening to me. Finding out that I am HIV+ has been very hard. I don’t know who got me infected. I don’t think that I will be able to find happiness ever again. Can you help me learn to be happy again?”

In a response to Jackson’s request, the counselor stated that it was completely normal for Jackson to feel the way that he was feeling. However, the counselor made clear that one can be HIV+ and live a normal and healthy life.

The counselor also stated that, even though there was nothing wrong with questioning one’s past actions and trying to find answers, it would not be helpful to dwell on trying to find out how one got infected. Instead it would be best for him to channel that energy into accessing and staying in treatment.

After several counseling sessions, the counselor was able to link up Jackson with an online support group of young LGBTIQ+ persons living with HIV.