Each month ‘Actions Speak Louder. . .’ introduces black gay men from across the diaspora who are using their voices to make change
BlackoutUK: Who are you?
Mike Daemon: My name is Mike, but I am publicly known as Mike Daemon as a result of my work with http://NoStringsNG.com
B: Where are you from?
MD: I am a Nigerian.
B: What are you upto?
MD: I am about to get involved with something pretty big and innovative that will change the way people perceive and carry out LGBT activism in this country. I am not yet ready to talk about this extensively, as it is still in the works.
B:Why did you start NoStrings?
MD: Truth be told, I have experienced discrimination and intimidation first hand myself, and I know how it feels to not be able to speak up, or have someone speak up for you either. The frustration and helplessness that one feels can be very depressing. NoStringsNG is that voice for the voiceless sexual minority person in Nigeria and West Africa. Through the initiative I believe that people will be well informed and educated on issues concerning human sexuality, and ultimately understand the true nature of the Nigerian LGBT person.
B.What difference has it made already, what are your hopes for the future of NoStrings?
MD: NoStrings is already virtually connecting the LGBT community in Nigeria, and it is the only media advocacy platform shining a light on the different and depressing issues affecting LGBT persons in the country. The platform is also setting the pace for Nigerian mainstream media to follow, as it sets an example on how accurately and objectively issues concerning the LGBT community should be reported. So far I think it has been very impactful, it’s a gradual process, but I believe we will get there. My hope for the future of the initiative is to see it becoming a major driving force for LGBT activism in the country.
B: Homosexual activity remains illegal in Nigeria, what do you think will work in changing legislators’ minds?
MD: Information is very powerful. And we need to start focusing on working really hard to educate them on the subject. The law also needs to be challenged in court, not necessarily in the Nigerian courts, but maybe elsewhere, making them see that it is completely unconstitutional to have someone’s right to love, family and private life taken away.
B: What is gay life like for men in Lagos, is there a scene? What about other cities?
MD: I do not live in Lagos, I live in Port Harcourt, and I am pretty much introverted, surrounded with very few friends. I spend a chunk of my time indoors, writing, reading, designing, and recording content for NoStrings, so as a result, I cannot accurately give a complete account as to how gay people navigate their individual daily lives. But what I know is that LGBT persons fight for their lives every day here.
B: What support can guys in the UK offer to the struggle for LGBTQ rights in Nigeria?
MD: They can support us to get the message and information out there. For example, my initiative NoStrings has never received any major funding simply because it’s not a registered initiative, and so I depend on people’s donation and sometimes use my personal funds to get things done. It’s a struggle here for me. Imagine what could be achieved with major funding, NoStrings will be everywhere touching lives and changing people’s perspective on the issues of homosexuality not just in Nigeria, but in the whole of West Africa.
B: Have you been to the UK? When are you next over?
MD: No, I’ve never been there. I’ve heard it’s a wonderful place to be, I hope to be there one day anyway, however, I believe that this is where the change needs to occur, and someone needs to be on the ground, and here I am doing my best.
B: What do you think the difference is between black gay life in Nigeria and the UK?
MD: The difference I will point out is the fact that homosexuality is criminalised in Nigeria, and you could end up in jail for fourteen years if you decide to be together with someone of the same gender, or even admit that you love someone of the same gender. I think in the UK to a great extent people have the freedom to fall in love and express their love to persons of the same gender without fear of being killed or jailed,
B: How can people listen to the podcast?
MD: Visit http://www.nostringsng.com/podcast to listen to episodes. You can sign up there to our mailing list so that you never miss a post.