At a private party, held late at night in a small Lagos hotel far from any main road, men find solace in being openly gay. It is one of the few places in Nigeria’s largest city that affords them such licence.
On chairs outside the hall, which is guarded by security, men sit languidly playing with one another’s hair. It is a few hours since the party started, but so far only a dozen people have turned up. Inside, bar tables, music and disco lights fill an otherwise empty space. “People will come later on,” says the organiser. “Many people wait to hear that everything is fine and then, after a while, they show up.”
In July 2017, at club Owode in Lagos, 70 men and boys were arrested by police. The area had been on alert after a spate of violence. According to Daniel Okoye, a paralegal helping LGBTQ people in Nigeria, the police saw the arrests as an easy way of extorting money.