Nigerian writer, Jude Dibia, wrote the first book in Nigeria to deal openly and honestly about how gay people live real lives in Nigeria. He says bookstores in Nigeria refused to sell the book, but through word of mouth it became his best-selling novel.
After he received death threats following Nigeria’s anti-gay laws, Jude Dibia has been forced to leave the country and now lives in the United States. In a recent interview with Voice of Africa, Dibia speaks about being gay in Nigeria, an unfunny experience that leads many to fake lives.
He says writing Walking with Shadows allowed him to "discover who he is and to make some changes in his own way of thinking and living as a gay man". He says the experience was "therapeutic", leading him to "become more comfortable in his own skin."
On making the central character of Walking With Shadows a gay man who lives his life as a married family man.
"Being gay in Nigeria is so funny because you cannot admit to it. You have to pass as something else and create a different persona and live that persona. And, sometimes for some people, they end up being married and they have families and they try to suppress who they are. But, there is a lot of depression and struggles there."
On the effect of the homosexuality bill on the gay community.
"People have gone further underground, but they still are trying to survive. And, I think maybe that is why online now on the Internet and on blogs you are seeing more stories coming out. There is a lot of anger festering in the underbelly. But, more stories are popping out there because of this law. And, I think it is a good thing. In its own way, it is a good thing."
On his novel "Walking With Shadows" bein the first to deal with homosexuality in Nigeria.
“There was a discussion that was started and that was very positive. Before people - oh you mentioned gay it is like under the table in whispers. It was such a taboo word even to say homosexual in public,” Dibia says. “But, now people could talk about homosexuals in the context of my novel without it sounding like a dirty word. It was more for discussion and a debate on the character this, the character that. So, I started more or less a sort of discussion.”
Jude Dibia concludes by saying that while he would like to go home, he knows it's not safe for him to do so, and "he would rather continue his work outside his country, than go back and lose his right of freedom of expression."
However, he remains hopeful for change, no matter how long it takes.
Read More - VOA