Celebrating Pride In Nigeria Is An Act Of Defiance – BBC

In a country where same-sex relationships or public displays of affection are illegal and many #LGBTQ+ Nigerians use the word ‘queer', as a safer term to encompass their identities, attending any #Queer event is risky.

That didn't stop over 500 guests from attending the Fola Francis Ball in Lagos. Even the venue had to be kept secret until a few hours before.⁠

Party organisers Ayo Lawson and Uyaiedu Ikpe-Etim were inspired by a similar event they had been to. ⁠

“We thought we were very queer and very out there, but going to experience a ball really changed our perspective of what it is to be queer and what queer joy really is,” says Lawson.⁠

This year the ball was named in honour of a transgender woman called Fola Francis, who before her death last year had been at the heart of the burgeoning underground ballroom scene.⁠

For many, the Fola Francis ball was an opportunity to pay their respects. “I want to celebrate Fola,” said one of the platform-heeled revellers. For another of the trans women attending for the first time, it was a “dream come true”.⁠

Others came to compete in the LGBTQ+ ballroom culture competition with categories including butch queen realness, femme queen realness, body, face, voguing and best dressed. Judges included Ashley Okoli and writer-designer Ozzy Etomi, both mainstream figures in Nigeria.⁠

For the organisers, the ball is a space for self-expression and to celebrate the beauty of diversity, even in the face of fear.⁠

And that fear is never far away.⁠

Last updated on July 16th, 2024 at 12:07 am

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