There are millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex stories in Nigeria. And the best way to learn those stories can be to hear them first-hand. This is the purpose of NoStringsNG.com a series of podcasts featuring the voices of LGBTI Nigerians.
The project is a labor of love for Mike Daemon a Nigerian audio engineer, web designer and aspiring talk show host. “I felt concerned that there was a marginalized group of Nigerians who’ve been cut out completely from the general society because of their sexual orientation,” says Mike. “As I dug deep, I figured the mainstream media were always lying in their reports concerning homosexuality, and this they did with their own bias, a lack of information and also to drive traffic to their websites and boost revenues. I felt that I needed to do something, I needed to expose those lies and inform people about the true nature of LGBTI lives. I needed to do something that was not common, and I needed people to hear the actual voices of these people when they tell their stories. The raw emotions behind their voices, I figured this will allow people to connect better with the stories shared. It’s all part of humanizing the discussions.”
Mike highlights his interview with John Adewoye, “a former priest who battled with his sexual orientation for many years, denying the truth of who he is, and then travelled abroad with the hope of finding a ‘cure’ for his gayness. He discovered that there is no cure anywhere for being gay. This not only debunks the lies told by many who come out to say that people can stop being gay, but serves as a lesson to young people who think that they can ‘retire’ from their sexual orientation when they get older,” according to Mike.
Mike was initially inspired to contribute to an existing site. “I started with a weekly podcast, recording stories, capturing events and happenings around LGBTIQ issues and shared it as a recorded audio on the Kitodiaries.com website, and this continued until I was able to raise some money through donations from people and then decided to set up an independent website for it.” Today, NoStringsNG.com is much more than just the podcast and includes sections for general news, opinion and feature articles on sexuality and other issues.
As the site has grown it has taken on the additional mission of connecting LGBTI Nigerians with services they need. “A great new addition is the recent launch of our hotline which now means that LGBTI persons living in Nigeria can call and then be linked to LGBTI-friendly facilities and organizations that can provide services for them upon request at absolutely no cost,” notes Mike with great pride.
Mike does his work in the face of great opposition in the West African country. “There is no victory yet. People are being beaten and killed almost every day. More and more people are being chased away from their homes because of their sexual orientation. The situation now seems hopeless for many, as gay people are still living in fear.”
“LGBTI Nigerians, especially activists who are advocating and working on the ground to provide support, deserve to be supported. Even though we are looking at a time when we won’t be relying on foreign donors to assist with the work that we do here, still we can’t just sit and wait at this time when there is so much to be done and achieved. The big donors are not looking at small organizations and projects. The funding opportunities for them are slim,” says Mike. “I began NoStringsNG two year ago and have not received any major support for it. People sometimes out of their own good will support with their own personal money, but in overall, I run the platform from my own personal purse.”