The Piece About The Gay Marriage That Broke The Nigerian Internet

The Piece About The Gay Marriage That Broke The Nigerian Internet

Originally published on huffingtonpost.com

We tried very carefully to make sure this wouldn’t happen. Guests were instructed not to take photos during the ceremony. We were very particular about who was invited. It was a sad added bonus that most of the guests from Nigeria cancelled just 24 hours before the ceremony.

On July 30, I married a Nigerian man. Although he is very special to me, he is not famous. He has never done anything to warrant so much media coverage. We had a small ceremony under the leaves of some great old trees on the lawn of an adorable little restaurant. My family and our closest friends joined us. The perfect little vow exchange was only 30 minutes.

What followed was a day of love, laughter, joy, eating, sore feet, kids running circles around the yard, and family and friends celebrating our day together. We posted only a few photos to our Facebook pages and asked guests to not post photos or mention our marriage.

That night, we went out dancing to a club with friends who stayed over. The next morning, we decided to take some friends with us on the first day of our honeymoon to see Niagara Falls. We were still enjoying every moment of calling each other husband, taking photos kissing in front of the falls, getting sprayed at the Cave of the Winds, and accepting well wishing texts from family and friends.

Monday morning, I woke up early to return the rental car that we had used for the weekend. When I returned, my husband was pacing and crying, distraught, pointing to his phone. Somehow, someone had either sold or given photos from our wedding and first dance to one of Nigeria’s notorious gossip bloggers, Linda Ikeji who chose to publish them on her blog. Whether to out David and make a mockery or to somehow use it as advocacy, no one knows. What we do know is that she had no permission from either of us to use our photos or story.

My husband calls me “the fixer” for a reason. I felt like I might be able to fix this before it got out of control.  I called my sister who is an attorney for advice. Given that the information was posted on an international site, there was little we could do. My friends at Google and Blog-spot, and attorneys who are friends of mine gave me the same unfortunate news. Mind you, this is all happening at 6:30 a.m. on a Monday morning. Friends from all over the USA messaged me as soon as I posted on my Facebook for some assistance.

I did contact the blogger directly via email and asked that the photos of our wedding, of our trip with my family, photos of our groomsmen, and direct quotes from my Facebook page be removed. I quickly locked down the security on my Facebook which had been relatively open so that I could use it for advertising and sales. I never heard back from her.

7:00 a.m. I got a call from my twin brother, who is my best friend:

J: “Eric, which blog are you talking about?”

Me: “There should only be one”

J: “It’s already on at least a dozen blogs.”

I had to tell David at this point that there was little I could do. At the same time, his phone and my phone started to heat up with Facebook messages from strangers condemning us for being gay. His phone started to ring continuously from unknown Nigerian phone numbers. 57acca7c170000b002c72a4c

I felt lost. I still get a terrible feeling in my stomach just a week and a half later. I hate being helpless. How could our tiny, personal wedding in Rochester mean so much to hateful people on the other side of the planet that they would find us on the internet so they could harass us?

I worked as fast as I could, asking bloggers to remove our photos and mention of us, but only one complied.  By the end of the day, more than 150 sites had blogged about us. They were not saying anything overtly mean for the most part. The comments, on the other hand, mostly mentioned the “end of times,” beheading us if we came to Nigeria, asking God to reign down evil upon us, suggesting that we get anal cancer and die, calling us devils, and threatening us in various other vulgar ways. Some people commented positively, but they were in the minority.

David’s groomsmen were also accused of being gay.  One of them felt compelled to come out via social media after the pressure.

David’s family was harassed by neighbors and local hooligans. He hadn’t told his family we were getting married. They were not even aware he was gay.  David’s sister called to make sure we knew that she knew and she supported us. She relayed that his mom was not admitting anything and continued to defend David to anyone who bothered her. His other siblings also messaged us to say that they were being harassed via telephone, in person, and social media.

You might ask yourself why I would share this story.

You see, I fell in love with an amazing Nigerian man. I knew it was illegal for him to be gay in his country. I knew it was illegal for his family to know he was gay and not report him. I never thought that my tiny little wedding in Rochester, New York to this man would go any further than between our close friends who were invited and maybe some of their friends.

David was afraid to come out of the closet to his family for so many reasons, some of which I recognize in my own coming out story. Telling my parents was very frightening, painful and tough, but they support me now. I grew up here, where letting someone know you are gay was tough, not illegal. Some of David’s reasoning can only be understood by someone who grew up in Nigeria or a similar country where it is illegal to be gay.

Why would this be such big news in Nigeria? I believe it is because the press still wants to vilify gay men and women.  They want to show that the USA is a place that corrupts the morals of children and is a den of sin an iniquity. The current political election probably isn’t helping change that impression much. The mere thought of two men getting married is enough to incite vitriol from all corners of Nigeria, and other parts of the world still today.

We queer folk still have a lot of fighting to do.  We may have thankfully won marriage equality here on American soil, but until it is legally safe for our gay, queer, trans, and gender non-conforming brothers, sisters, and family to live their lives as they wish to be in all corners of the world, the fight must go on.

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41 Comments

  1. ambivalentone
    August 13, 06:57 Reply

    This is so sad. Make the guy no come back home until this blows over. I hope Eric can at least fast track asylum for his best men because at this rate, them idiot gossip bloggers would be ready to pounce when they arrive, and that could be dangerous.
    Then again, WHY ARE PEOPLE FUCKING OBSESSED WITH TAKING PICTURES??? Aye ma n se won o

    • Jeova Sanctus Unus
      August 13, 09:56 Reply

      Of course it wouldn’t be complete if we don’t blame the victim. Questioning why people chose to preserve memories.

      Know what? Why don’t we burn the national archives?

      • ambivalentone
        August 13, 11:38 Reply

        They are not YOUR memories to keep. That shud av bin very evident from the caveat in the first place. I’m sure they had a budget for the wedding’s coverage and did not ask the contributions of nosy ppl who have nothing better to do than take wedding pictures that they won’t keep for as long as even a third of the time the couple would. Awon olofofo famzers

  2. Shuga chocolata
    August 13, 07:10 Reply

    But who could have done this damage control?
    Why hate and spite?
    What was the gain of the individual?
    Be careful of who and whom you relate things to.

    The outted groomsmen should seek for asylum mbok,

    David if you’re reading this, I wish you well in your marriage and endeavours, do not let this mere scandal ruin your relationship or whatever you hold so dear.
    You have a sister who loves and supports you, start with her and you’d see all those hates and IN’trolls won’t get to you.
    I wish you well and stay and remain safe ALWAYS…..?

  3. bain
    August 13, 07:39 Reply

    Awwwwwn,david got himself a keeper……….its sad ,but ion blame nigerians,only those bloggers that propagated hate,na by force say u must post everytin?.

    • Peak
      August 13, 07:57 Reply

      “You don’t blame Nigerians”? Like seriously? Since when is it okay to think and behave like animals? At what point in life did it become okay to harbour so much amount of venomous hate for someone LIVING HIS/HER LIFE while bring NO HARM TO NO ONE? Threaten to cause them physical harm, behead them? Harass his family, friends and associates? All for what…daring to LIVE?!

      We are where we are today, because we have a talent for making excuses for bad behaviour. I am sick to the depth of my being because of this story, and ur choice of words is just …*sigh*

      • bain
        August 13, 11:41 Reply

        U misinterprete oooh,the way the post was put on blogs ,put commenters in a position to hate,that’s wat I think!…….maybe they should post about every gay nigerian that gets married abroad to a white guy.

    • Delle
      August 13, 10:07 Reply

      You don’t blame Nigerians? Smh. I sure hope the KD IH mantle is vacant, seems we have a successor.

      • bain
        August 13, 11:42 Reply

        I’m an out gay guy in lagos,I don’t think I hv any ih.oga!

    • Pink Panther
      August 13, 10:21 Reply

      Only the bloggers are to blame, abi? The hate spouting Nigerians are totally exempt from blame, yea? It’s not their fault. They can’t help who they are. If only the marrying gay couples will stop posting their pictures and the bloggers stop blogging about it…
      Right?

      • bain
        August 13, 11:44 Reply

        No,that’s not what I meant?…..well the last part tho.

  4. Peak
    August 13, 07:47 Reply

    I guess outing gay people is a major piece of news and laudible form of journalism these days. Yanking someone out of their closet and tossing them to the wolves, hoping to punish them for whatever concocted sins you have in ur head. Forgetting that such action would have multiple ripple effect. Lives and jobs maybe lost, ties severed, bonds broken, because adequate voluntary preparation where never done.

    Sad story. I wouldn’t wish this kind of suffering on anyone.

    Its safe to say that this is David’s contribution to the “cause” in Nigeria. Although it was involuntary, but I can’t help but see the good in this ugliness. His suffering and tears today, is somehow one of the pave stones that will someday pave the way to freedom for distant LGBTQI generations to come.

    • Pink Panther
      August 13, 10:19 Reply

      Your ending remarks though. So on point. I thought the same thing. It might not seem so now, but all these public ‘tragedies’ are the building blocks of the emancipation of the Nigerian LGBT.

      This I hope.

  5. McDuke
    August 13, 09:28 Reply

    Plssss…
    As far as I’m concerned this right here is damage control cos a lot of things don’t add up.
    You wanted sth secret and you went ahead to invite over 30 people including Nigerians and even had groomsmen…it’s nonsense na. And I don’t even understand the part of blaming bloggers cos I saw the wedding photo first on fb before it appeared on Linda’s blog. Infact the David guy was even tagged to the pic.
    I’m not against the marriage or anything but they should quit acting as if they didn’t envisage this was gonna happen…as far as I’m concerned it was never meant to be a secret in the first place.
    Next time you want sth secret, don’t invite a Nigerian cos they have a way of ruining things…don’t blame bloggers, blame your Nigerian friends that posted it on fb.
    It’s only the family I pity here cos the guy would have given them heads up…if you’re bold enough to marry a man openly, you should also be bold enough to at least brief your family…no matter what, they deserve to prepare for the backlash they’ll get esp when they’re based in Nigeria.
    BTW…I wish them HML…they should let it slide, it can’t get worse than this…

    • Pink Panther
      August 13, 10:17 Reply

      Wawu! You are unbelievable. So in a nutshell, they had it coming, yes?

      • johndegarson
        August 15, 20:01 Reply

        MCDUKE has a point here. These pictures were bound to come out one way or another. I don’t blame the couple, friends or the blog. The fault falls on Nigerians and its homophobia.

  6. Delle
    August 13, 10:03 Reply

    Okay that last part got me. But to whom is the message for? Nigerians? Pffts! The camel would gladly pass through the eye of the needle before we here would heed to that advice.

    I know how hurtful David must feel and bless your soul for being equally sad (don’t I just love love?*dabs eye*). But what’s happened, has happened. You both are married already, I suggest you shun the haters and live your lives to the fullest. Those ones waiting for heads to behead should wait under the rain until their machetes rust. Nigerians are that stupid. With the economic meltdown and horrible regression we are facing, we still make out time to hate on an ‘Already Married’ couple. Sigh.

    You people are even sweet. Let my own just come. Linda would get the pictures first hand from me alongside some souvenirs for her and her fellow blog mates. And who has time for under-a-tree wedding when it can be on a hill with Paris Hilton as my Maid of Honour.
    On another note, a happy married life to you guys. The support of his sister is all you need.
    Now, sashay away.

  7. Mike Daemon
    August 13, 10:20 Reply

    If you are too concerned about people finding out that you are gay, then don’t be gay.

    • Pink Panther
      August 13, 10:24 Reply

      I sincerely cannot even begin to fathom the point of this comment. Mike Daemon, sometimes u say the darnedest things.

    • KryxxX
      August 13, 10:30 Reply

      And this, coming from someone who is supposed to know better is actually very uplifting. Very very………………

      Keep up with this and watch you grow………….and I’m very sure you know we have 2 main types of growth, right? Upward and downward.

    • Mandy
      August 13, 10:42 Reply

      You’re a miserable excuse for an LGBT activist, Mr. Daemon. Time and time again, you have shown how bad you are at separating your personal bias from the good nature of the work you’re supposed to do. Ptueh!

  8. KryxxX
    August 13, 10:24 Reply

    Yanking ppl out of the closet………….the best new found activity after selfie taking! Very fulfilling and satisfying.

    Anyways, Welcome to the club David. I saved a very nice spot for you right beside me on the balcony overlooking a bleak looking nation. Hope you enjoy the view.

    At least, you r halfway around the world away from all them evil. Only fear for your family. The emotional torture, pain, shaming, trauma **sigh**. God help them. Pray you find the strength and they find it too.

    Some ppl will never understand till they wear that particular brand of shoe. I never did………now I do. You develop horns all of a sudden, ppl you speak to barely reply a simple “hi” anymore. Going out is dreaded, sleep becomes your bestfriend(looks like death to you and d best solution) and waking up is like torture from hell. On the bright side, you get to shed excess fat! Who doesnt want that? Except you r already skinny and losing them weight means you r sick or something.

    An enemy should never experience this.

    Some ppl will never understand till they wear that particular brand of shoe. I never did………now I do. You develop horns all of a sudden, ppl you speak to barely reply a simple “hi” anymore. Going out is dreaded, sleep becomes your bestfriend(looks like death to you and d best solution) and waking up is like torture from hell. On the bright side, you get to shed excess fat! Who doesnt want that? Except you r already skinny and losing them weight means you r sick or something.

    An enemy should never experience this.

    • Dimkpa
      August 13, 10:44 Reply

      I wondered what happened to the guy with the name I couldn’t pronounce. I have had a bit of that experience though not as bad as what I suspect you’ve been through. Just hang in there and focus on living your life. People that stop talking to you were never in your corner in the first place so let them go. If they allow their bigotry take precedence over your history with them, then they never were worth your company.
      It will get better.

    • Peak
      August 13, 10:59 Reply

      @KryxxX I picked up some troubling vibes from ur comment yesterday, but I wasn’t so sure until now.
      I don’t know what you are going through nor can i begin to imagine the mental and emotional trauma of it.
      All I can offer is words of encouragement, no matter how cliché they sounds.

      You got this!
      You can beat this!
      You will survive this!
      Time heals all things or at least to a great extent. Just hang in there. For you and for us all.
      You will look back at everything going on right now someday in the future and marvel at how strong and resilient you were. Stay strong mate.

      Thoughts and prayers are with you through this turbulent time. **hugs**

    • Kenny
      August 13, 14:05 Reply

      Kryxx, hang in there. It’ll get better trust me.

  9. KingBey
    August 13, 10:34 Reply

    It doesn’t sound like they tried to prevent anything from happening. You don’t call a wedding “Private” yet you post it all over social media, invite guests from across the globe some of whom cancelled sef maybe due to fear of this Outing. Like someone said up in the comments, this is most probably a Damage Control measure as it obviously got more attention than they anticipated. When you don’t want people taking pictures at an event, you take their phones away from then until they leave…..they should go and ask Beyonce and Jay-Z how private Weddings and Childbirths are done. Lol

    • Mandy
      August 13, 10:38 Reply

      So it wasn’t secret enough, so what? Does that make them deserve what happened to them? Nawa for you people.

  10. Dimkpa
    August 13, 10:36 Reply

    Gosh see busybody!

    I can’t believe people actually went as far as calling them. Why don’t people live and let live? The mumu on Facebook is there quoting Bible for a Jewish man, not realising that the whole world is not like Nigeria and that not everyone cares what the Bible says. Incidentally the same Bible urges people to mind their business but of course I have long realised many Christians don’t know or bother to find out what is in the Bible. Because if they did, they wouldn’t allow pastors rob them blind through tithes while ironically accusing them of robbing God.

    I’m glad his family is supporting him and I hope they get through this stronger. Funny thing is the guy is living his life and people are there getting holier-than-thou for no reward or gain whatsoever to their own lives.

    This just made me sad.

  11. Mr. Fingers
    August 13, 10:38 Reply

    Those friends though. Linda ikeji is not anybody’s friend. She is a business woman making money and exploiting her gay friends. Unfortunately some of them are so blind and lack self confidence that they would allow her use them.

    I dont need these kind of friends biko.

  12. Mandy
    August 13, 10:40 Reply

    I’m just here looking at how it’s getting proven again that Nigerian gays don’t even have to look beyond the gay community for who his enemies are. Classic evidence that the person who sabotaged this David’s wedding was most likely someone who attended the wedding, ate his rice and wished him Happy Married Life.

    • Mr. Fingers
      August 13, 10:51 Reply

      God bless u mandy. The pics they posted on fb was did not come with the full story. Someone deliberatly sent those pics and the full story to linda ikeji. That was wicked.

      And i dont know why the Eric guy is making comments abt his family’s reaction. He should ve left that part abt his mum and sister out becos if like he said they where being harassed now that his mum has been ‘outed’ so of i wonder what the reaction would be.

      Most family members know abt these things but they would prefer u to be discreet abt it and if it comes out in the public they will just deny they knew.

  13. Mike Daemon
    August 13, 12:05 Reply

    My previous comment here does not mean that I am encouraging other people to out other people. But rather, what I am saying is that we should not focus all our energy on hiding.

    Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay, a respected Nigerian LGBT activist advised black clergies or faith leaders, especially in Africa who are lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender or intersex to come out of hiding.

    He said: “Black Clergy or Faith leaders especially in Africa who are lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender or intersex, I see you only at the back of the battle for equal human rights, theological correctness in the church or in your faith communities” Read more here: http://nostringsng.com/rev-jide-tells-gays-be-strong/

    And John Adewoye, a Nigerian LGBT rights activist, said this as his wish for LGBT persons in Africa, he expressed “I wish we are honest enough to face our reality before our families and friends”

    And as gay men, we should always expect the worst. It is never easy, so we need to be strong. Yes! our decisions may affect other people around us especially our families, but we can never hide who we are forever.

    I am very sure many of us here are really tired of hiding, and this has led to depression for many.

    Take for example the recent case in Belize, where a single man took his government to court to strike down its sodomy laws, and guess what??? he won. See link here: https://76crimes.com/2016/08/10/top-court-in-belize-overturns-sodomy-law/

    How about other African countries like Uganda, where LGBT persons took their government to court to strike down its sodomy laws? read more here: http://nostringsng.com/kenyan-human-rights-group-goes-to-court/

    How about the just concluded pride event held in Uganda? read more here: http://nostringsng.com/ugandan-police-raid-pride-event/

    Where is Nigeria in this fight for equality? And note that this people are still living in their countries.

    But all what majority of LGBT Nigerians are seeking for, is to talk about running away to strange lands to marry older men, its sad, really sad and shameful. It is even more sad that many within the community see homosexuality as a joke, a game.

    We cannot continue to remain silent, dwell in secrets and win this fight for equality. Yes, it is sad that he was not prepared to come out, but there is no better time, so lets look to a fearless and courageous generation of LGBT leaders, lets wake up!

    • Peak
      August 13, 17:50 Reply

      Boy I need you to have several seats with ur raggedy-can’t articulate shit-yobo fake ass activist self on all the available seats in Port Harcourt township stadium!

      Everyone should come out, aye? Like that is ur brilliant idea for achieving equality in Nigeria?
      Do me a favour, google the term “Best Practices”, then read up on the history of LGBT liberation and civil right movement. I am sure somewhere in all of these research, you will find where countries of today who have progressive LGBT laws was attained on the back of every LGBT person coming out.

      Quite frankly, you should have just stopped with this ridic comment “If you are too concerned about people finding out that you are gay, then don’t be gay.” Instead of posting additional garbage to destroy what is left of our already well tortured taste pallet. Like being gay is an option or some choice. Do u even stop to articulate some these things before you put them out? An (alleged) activist who doesn’t have a drop of empathy for the discomfort of another gay man? How is that even possible, when you can’t empathise with people you are allegedly speaking for because they are too afraid to speak for themselves? HOW?

      Perhaps one of the reasons why we are where we are in the fight for equality for LGBT people is because we have clueless, confused, self absorbed people masquerading as ACTIVIST! How does one win a war when their captains and war lords are clueless about battle tactics and knowing what artillaries to marshal and use in the fight?
      Ur recent comments on LGBT issues have not only left me appalled, but disgusted at myself, because once upon a time in my life, I looked up to you and what was supposedly the good work you were doing. These days I just try to turn a blind eye, until you thought it cute to rain and flood us with additional nonsense. Take ur subtractive self out of the way so that we can focus on people who can provide proper guidance for lost and unshaped minds.

      Everybody forming activist when they don’t know squat! Boy bye!

    • johndegarson
      August 15, 20:11 Reply

      but all the people you mentioned live abroad. Its easier to say this when you can always go back to Europe or North America when shit hits the fan

  14. Truth
    August 13, 15:15 Reply

    It was a “private “wedding, not really a “secret ” one. The guy’s shock came from the fact that he hasn’t witnessed this level of homophobia before.

    BTW Linda Ikeji is no friend of the LGBT community.

  15. Eddie
    August 13, 17:25 Reply

    Nigerians could be super hateful!!! I can’t imagine being in David’s position *shuddering at the thought*…people are dumb…literally!…fucking hypocrites!

  16. Jacen
    August 14, 11:10 Reply

    Mike Daemon who’s also proven time and again to be a #Demon is a Remedial Fuck. You are every inch the problem that is Nigeria today. Best get a mirror and see what people are talking about. You need help.

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