She Called Me Woman: Nigeria’s Queer Women Speak
Edited by Azeenarh Mohammed, Chitra Nagarajan and Rafeeat Aliyu
Cassava Republic Press. 340 pages, $16.95
She Called Me Woman: Nigeria’s Queer Women Speak is a glorious collection of 25 first-person accounts written by a wide array of queer women throughout Nigeria and an African diaspora influenced by employment opportunities and porous borders. The editors knew it was essential to insert women’s voices into the discussion. These voices can best be grasped if we listen to them directly.
ZH, for example, age 25, has thought things through: “In terms of sexuality, I am fluid. I do not tell everybody I am attracted to women. … I feel that when you choose to be around a group of people because of who they are, you are fetishizing them to some extent. I do not want to set my friends based on my sexuality.” Explains Aazeenarh Mohammed: “Queer women [in Nigeria]were … facing further marginalization due to their sexual orientation, gender identity and sex within a hetero-patriarchal societal, cultural and economic structure that manifests power and control in very different ways than for queer men. We felt there was such a lack of queer people’s stories in public discourse, particularly of women.” KZ, age forty, describes universals of cowardice and fear. “I have a friend who is married. She goes to events and I know about three women she has dated over the years. But on her Facebook page, she is so homophobic! She is covering up and that is what everybody is doing.” Writes HK: “I live with my partner now. We see each other every day, except when she is in Lagos. For the first time ever, I have someone taking care of me. I wake up in the morning and she is there with a cup of tea. It feels good to have someone there. I feel really loved by her.”