'People Don't Think We Exist:' Book Explores What It Is Like To Be A Queer Woman Living In Nigeria

She Called Me Woman: Nigeria's Queer Women Speak seeks to convey what it means to be queer and trans in Nigeria.

A new book is challenging the narrative that one cannot exist in both the LGBTQ and Nigerian communities.

She Called Me Woman: Nigeria's Queer Women Speak seeks to convey what it means to be queer and trans in an extremely homophobic society like Nigeria.

A few of the book’s contributors spoke to the BBC about the book and their experiences.

“People don’t think we exist,” said JP, a transwoman.

Editor and lesbian Azeenarh Mohammed says the book was created to change that idea.

“We really wanted to correct this false narrative that there are no queer people, or queer women, in Nigeria,” Mohammed said. “There are. We shouldn’t be written out of history, we exist."

HK believed that narrative during her youth, and it made her feel alone. She hopes this book will help others avoid the same fate.

“Growing up as a lesbian, there was no community. I thought I was the only one that was a lesbian,” HK said. “And now that I’m an adult, I want to give the opportunity to anybody who has means to read the book, that there are other lesbians living in Nigeria. And they are not alone.”

Co-editor Chitra Nagarajan hopes the book will make Nigerians reconsider the lessons they were taught about LGBTQ people.

“We really believe in the power of stories to change people’s ideas,” Nagarajan said to Cassava Republic in March. “We don’t think that one book is going to completely change the results of this barrage of homophobic, transphobic discourse in mainstream media and public conversations.

But, we do hope that it will encourage our readers to think twice and really start to question some of the things that they’ve been told.”

Nagarajan also wants the book to be a history lesson for future generations.

“We’re not just thinking about now but we’re thinking about the future and one of the reasons we put this book together was that we don’t want future generations of Nigerians to think that this did not happen in the past, the way that current generations of Nigerians think,” she added.

The book is available on Amazon.

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