NYC Nigerian Global Day of Action Speech by Nigerian LGBTQ Activist Adaku Utah Friday, March 7, 2014
New York City
On Friday, March 7, 2014, hundreds demonstrated and nine activists were arrested in front of the Consulate General of Nigeria in Manhattan to protest the draconian anti-LGBT law signed by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on January 14, a law that makes gay marriage and same-sex relationships crimes punishable by up to 14 years in prison. The protest, organized by The Nigerian Solidarity Alliance for Human Rights, was one of a number that took place that day in other cities, including Washington, DC, and London. The overarching demand: to rescind the law and let LGBT Nigerians live their lives free of discrimination and violence. Speakers at the New York rally included Nigerian LGBT activists Michael Ighodaro, Adaku Utah, Adejoke Tugbiyele (U.S. Representative for The Solidarity Alliance for Human Rights), and Ekene Okwuegbunam, Housing Works President & CEO Charles King, and
ACT UP’s Jim Eigo
. The text of
speech at the rally appears below.
What a beautiful gift and honor to stand in your presence today. If I could look each of you in the eye and thank you with the most authentic and loving hug I can muster I would without hesitation. But since time is not in our favor at this moment, I say thank you from the infinite wells of my heart and every cell in my body. Thank you to each and every single person standing in front of me, physically and in spirit, in support, in solidarity, in faith, in love. Our coming together sends a powerful message that solidarity is necessary and possible and our survival as individuals and as a community rests on our affirmation and support of one another. Our unity today, and in all the moments that preceded this one and in all the moments that will follow, is an act of resistance against a patriarchal, colonialist system that thrives on homophobia, sexism, classism, transphobia, xenophobia, and shadism of our people. I recognize that being alive right now and being able to stand in front of you and speak and be listened to is a deep privilege. I stand here today because of a legacy of freedom fighters stemming from the deep roots of my Igbo lineage through the backbones and blueprints of Indigenous people, LGBTQ people, poor and working class people, immigrant people, people of color, and fierce allies who dare to create a world where liberation and justice and the recognition that we are all valuable and we should all live and thrive in a world that supports each of our humanity and safety and our upliftment without the reliance on capitalism, criminalization, isolation, violence, patriarchy, judgment, ego, I honor you. I honor those who do not have the luxury of being here, of being able to physically participate in a Global Day of Action because they are locked up in prison, because they have been silenced in the closet, because they have been raped, tortured, and/or murdered, because they have been threatened, because they physically cannot get out of their beds because of the weight that violence and trauma imposes on their bodies and spirits. Because they have internalized
messages of hate and believed it….I
honor you. I honor all the ways you continue to live out your truth and be who you are and participate in the miraculous experience of being a human being and walking hand in hand and heart to heart with us in this necessary fight for liberation. You are a dynamic phenomenon, beautiful in your expression. I stand here today as a proud Queer Nigerian Woman. Rooted in Igbo soil,
Abia from my father’s side, Imo from my
mother. Face carved in the likeness of my ance
stor’s stories. Heart lined with freedom fighters and
healers. I am OUT (Opened Up Truth)!!! I stand here as a human being holding you with all the love I can muster, face to face, hand in hand, heart to heart as we evolve what life can embody when it is built with the ingredients of our fullest expression and transform the spaces that would rather kill us than risk the release of the ignorance they hold so dear. In light of all the fear, ignorance and hatred that continues to plague our beloved country. I cradle my heavy heart with palms full of prayers, each one bearing our names and the vastness of our spirits. I speak as an invitation to the power within us. This is a call for healing and transformation. A reclamation of the truth of who we are. A reclamation of the truth Nigeria is. We all have a responsibility to participate in creating a world that is safe and supportive enough for all of us to be ourselves in a way that does not cause pain and suffering.