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TikTok Helps Queer Nigerians Discover Group

TikTok Helps Queer Nigerians Discover Group

For artist and filmmaker Ayo Lawson, expressing her id on-line isn’t only a approach to join with the queer group, however to point out queer Nigerians that others like them exist. Lawson says she began making TikTok movies to point out others that legal guidelines can’t govern our emotions. “I wanted to point out folks there’s at all times a approach to stay authentically in Nigeria, to be out and proud, and even only for illustration, and perhaps to teach some homophobes,” Lawson tells Teen Vogue.

With greater than 5,000 TikTok followers and nearly 100,000 views, Lawson’s TikTok is stuffed with movies of her girlfriend and her residing authentically, showcasing their relationships to the world, and being proud. “I like TikTok as a result of it’s sort of a secure house for me to submit queer sh*t, my relationship, and actually simply be myself with out being scared my household will see it.”

In Nigeria, the Similar-Intercourse Marriage Prohibition Act (SSMPA) was signed into legislation in 2014 by former president Goodluck E. Jonathan. The legislation bans same-sex marriage and relationships, forbids folks from registering with LGBTQ organizations, and bans public affection between same-sex folks. The punishment for violating the legislation is as much as 14 years in jail. In some components of the nation, Sharia legislation can sentence queer folks to dying by stoning. These legal guidelines power the LGBTQ+ group to cover in plain sight. For a lot of group members, social media is one approach to exist freely with out the worry of being arrested.

“For queer Nigerians, social media has been a secure haven for group engagement and mobilization, expression, and motion constructing,” says Kayode Timileyin, an archivist, producer,  and founding father of QueerCity Media, Nigeria’s first weekly LGBTQ podcast. “Subsequently, queer Nigerians are in a position to harness social media apps like TikTok with out fears of arrest.”

For Fola Francis, a trans lady who makes use of TikTok to doc her life and dispel the parable that trans folks don’t exist within the nation, the platform is each thrilling and draining for her. “Generally your video can go away your [intended] viewers, and that might trigger a number of stress,” Francis says. “However on the identical time, it additionally connects you to your group, which is the principle aim. So, it’s a nice medium for me to doc my journey, and I’m grateful for it.”

 Skylarr Starr, a trans femme in Nigeria with nearly 1 million likes and seven,000 followers, social media apps like TikTok are a approach to join with the queer group.

“TikTok is actually my secure house, and my movies not often attain bigoted folks, so it’s just a bit group of queer siblings cheering one another on, which makes me overlook issues taking place in actual life.” For Starr, social media is “releasing and rejuvenating,” as a result of whereas they aren’t out of the closet in actual life, they’re out on TikTok and proceed to make use of it as an escape with little judgment.

Nonetheless, social media use is not at all times with out consequence for queer Nigerians. On November 1, a TikTok video Lawson shared after attending a Halloween ball in Lagos went viral, exposing her id in a means she didn’t count on. This video, which has since been taken down, confirmed queer folks voguing and having enjoyable. When it was reposted on Twitter, the homophobic feedback started to roll in.