John Adewoye

I am John Adewoye. I am a Nigerian asylee on self-imposed exile on grounds of my sexual orientation and because of the danger of living as an openly gay man in Nigeria.  I have lived in the US for 10 years and 9 months. I came out to family and friends in July 2003.

My childhood and teenage years saw intense fun, but brutal bullying resulting in injuries and mental torture because I was conspicuously different. As a child, I was obsessed with cross-dressing. I desired to be a nun and dressed as one at home sometimes. In Africa, we had no concept of homosexuality as in the west and America. Everyone was married even when s/he exhibited gay mannerisms. Lack of visible gay/lesbian people made my mask feel so tight. It was a lonely world until I entered high school where I met a few other boys like me. Even then, there was no real talk about it or local name for how I felt. But I did know two or three people in my family who were homosexual.

People’s responses to my homosexuality were overwhelming for me. I was nicknamed “Obinrin,” meaning girl, the first week I entered elementary school. I was given the name Memunat, a girl’s name, my first year in high school. In the boys-only school I attended, I was one of the female impersonators in the drama club. Despite that, I spent substantial amount of my adult years struggling to overcome my effeminate mannerisms. I thought becoming a Catholic priest would help it, but it did not. I thought of marriage and had a girlfriend, but no cure. I attempted the reparative therapy and counseling options in America but neither helped me. I was going deeper to self-deceit, frustration and depression.
I decided to come out to my family and friends after I broke up with a womam I had dated for a year. I wrote a letter and sent e-mail to all my close family and friends. I sent hard copy to those who are not on email.  Since then, I have entered a new era of on-going coming out.  

Coming out gave me both physical and inner peace. I found courage and energy to do the things I dare not think of before. Examples include sparking conversations about homosexuality and telling people it is ok to be gay. I have spoken on the radio and appeared in papers telling my story. I have joined pride parades and sang in gay chorus. I attend masses and other worship services organized by the gay community, and I have conducted workshops on homophobia with great emphasis on the benefits of coming out.

I have a website http://couragenigeria.org, Couragenigeria Twitter and Facebook. I also started a book club through Queer alliance in Nigeria. I feel fabulous as an openly gay man.

As an openly gay man, I want to see and participate in building culture of decency in our community, through promotion of responsible sexual practices and committed gay relationships.