Documentary presents the challenges of Nigeria’s Queer people

In August 2018, Nigerian police raided a birthday party at a hotel in Lagos, leading 57 men to jail for allegedly engaging in “homosexual indoctrination.”

Today, female documentary filmmakers Nneka Onuorah and Giselle Bailey tell the story of that night, its aftermath, and the resilience of Nigerians in a new documentary entitled: “The Legend of the Underground,” available on HBO.

Nigeria is one of 69 countries that still criminalize homosexuality. The country’s 2013 Gay Marriage Prohibition Act allows police to arrest people for any number of homophobic charges, from cohabitation with a person of the same sex to showing affection to a person of the same sex in public, with severe penalties often ranging from 10 to 14 years in prison.

This was the law used to punish the individuals who attended that August 2018 birthday party featured in “The Legend of the Underground.” The police raid disrupted their lives and forced many to leave the country altogether.

Onuorah and Bailey’s new film focuses on queer activist Michael Ighodaro as he returns to Nigeria after a homophobic attack in 2013 forced him into exile.

“Displacement and rejection is the first grief, for so many people in the LGBTQ+ community,” Onuorah told VICE. “It changes how we see ourselves, and it changes the trajectory of our lives, and that’s why we made it central to the plot because there’s not enough empathy around it.”

Other people featured in “The Legend of the Underground” include James Brown, one of the men arrested in the 2018 raid, who Onuorah and Bailey found through a video that went viral in which Brown boldly speaks out against the police, and Timi Person, a Nigerian podcaster who hosts QueerCity, Nigeria’s only LGBTQ+ culture podcast.

It’s a brave and passionate account, not only of the injustices faced by queer Nigerians but also of the perseverance and strength of the LGBTQ+ community there, even when oppressed by homophobic institutions.

Unfortunately, according to VICE’s report, due to Nigeria’s laws against “promoting” homosexuality (which previously forced the makers of lesbian film Ife to seek out underground streaming platforms for their own premiere), The Legend of the Underground is not available in Nigeria yet, making it more urgent for a global audience to watch it.

“Legend of the Underground” is available on HBO Max.

This article was published in Antivirus Magazine

This article was translated from Greek by DeepL (AI translator)

SMART. QUEER SMART.

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