Edafe Okporo / ,

I fled my country because of the anti-gay laws

In primary school, my elder sister was my shield and protector till the day she graduated. After she left, I faced bullying because I walked and talked like a woman.  

Although I was an excellent student, it became hard for me to go to school. I wanted to stay at home with my mum. I felt safe in my mama’s arms. 

In middle and high school: I could not enjoy the game I love so much, Soccer, because I played like a woman my classmates said in school. 

In my hometown Warri, I could not go to the sports bar because in arguing with other guys, I have been called the F-Word. At home Daddy was very dominant with the television, I stayed with the uncomfortable feeling of not having a say anywhere I found myself as a teenager. 

In my second year of college, I became a pastor at nineteen to find my voice in my community. I was always preaching on Sunday on the altar, but I knew I was living in a lie. I had to come out and live free of this persecution, but homophobia was very strong among the religious community in Nigeria

I hide my sexuality, unfortunately, hiding led to me falling into the arms of the mob. I was a victim of mob violence in Nigeria, I was kidnapped by these men, who pretended to be gay on a dating app called manjam.

They used one of the men as bait to lure me into the apartment when I got in. The other guys came out of the wardrobes, slapping and kicking me. I was under siege. 

I was left to run out of the apartment naked, they took my phone, wallet, and money. I swell I will never be gay again. 

When I graduated college, I moved to Abuja. In 2014, the government of Nigeria passed a law that criminalizes same-sex acts by 14 years imprisonment. And criminalizes activism by gay men by 10 years in prison. 

This law led to increasing violence against gay men, subsequently, I was a victim of second mob violence. That sums it up. I knew I had to flee, I had to leave Nigeria as a gay man to find freedom of expression, love, and safety. 

I am now a refugee in the United States. I faced persecution for being gay in Nigeria. Now I am faced with the reality of being black and gay.

Anywhere I found myself like I was a teenager again I am another.

In the wider community, I am Black, to the blacks, I am African, to the community, I am gay, to the gay community, I am a refugee. Everywhere I found myself, I was older. Then within myself, I am me.

This is my journey to finding myself. From persecution to self-love.”


Poem: I found a home in myself.


I remember the first day I left for school on my own. I was nine years old. 

No one to watch over me, I feel like I have been given up to the bullies as a sacrifice. 

Mama said to me as I walked out the door. 

My sweet “Edafe”-I love you, please come back home safe. 


Now I am in a distant land, far away from my mama. And it beckons the question? What is home mama?

If a home is a place, why do I have to keep finding it? 


Mama, what you did not realize is that; I felt at home that day, when you held me, my first day of school all by myself, as I traveled that day, the memories of you kissing me, cooking, and cleaning was with me, I knew I was at home with you even though I had to go away for a moment. 


I miss you mama, but I am at home with you everywhere I find myself. 


To you, friend. You have a treasure having your loved ones around you. You feel at home not because of the place. 


You feel at home because of the feeling of home. The smell of mama’s food, the game you watch with daddy on Sunday, even if he was going to dominate the entire conversation. 


I rather am yelled at by daddy, than go to the bar where I get called the F-word faggot. 


My friend, you are fortunate to call one place home.

For me, I get to call many places home, 

I lost my first home when I was eleven, 

I moved in with my aunt. I stayed with her till I was old enough to go to college. 

In college, I found a home with my homies (Eric, Chris, John, Tega, and Obinna)


Until I could no longer fit in because I’m gay.


I fled Enugu to find a new home in Abuja after college.

Like a fast-sweeping wind brush through my feet.

I lost my home in Abuja. 

Finally, I lost my home country.


Now I am here in America! 

I started from the detention center as a newly arrived immigrant. Then I got to sleep on the street and the shelter that housed me.


Until I found a friend. I found a home in her. 

Until I found myself. I felt at home with myself, 

until I found my partner.

Together. We’re building a home. 


Home is not a place but a feeling?

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