Godwin Maduagu, a young actor working in Nigeria’s Nollywood, has come out as gay a year after being blackmailed with a sex tape. While he experienced suicidal depression in the months that followed the leak, Maduagu has shared that he is now proudly living his truth.
Mandaugu also revealed the blackmail had come from some of his former close friends. After the sex tape leak made headlines in 2021, he suddenly found himself blacklisted from jobs and the subject of ridicule online. On top of all of this, there was a real threat to his safety: Nigeria punishes homosexual acts with a 14-year prison sentence. In July of this year, an Islamic sharia court in northern Nigeria sentenced three men convicted of homosexuality to death by stoning.
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Maduagu spoke out on Instagram (via Daily Post Nigeria), “I have not been getting jobs, I am getting broke. You know as a public figure you have to have money to take care of some personal expenses. Right now I don’t have any money. The current development now is that when people book me for a job, once the company or brand sees that I’m the one they immediately reject me.
“How do you guys want me to feel? How do I even survive?”
The situation took a dire toll on his mental health. He wrote, “Right now I feel like committing suicide because I can’t take this anymore. It is really depressing and it is affecting me psychologically.”
But now a year later, Maduagu has taken to Instagram once again to share that his mental health has improved. He has officially come out on his own terms, and he credits his family for giving him the support he needed.
“After getting a better life for myself, my close friends set me up, blackmailed me, and leaked my sex tape,” he wrote. “I became depressed and almost committed suicide. My family saved me by giving me words of encouragement and advice that kept me going. Look at me now living my truth because I’ve now gotten a strong thick skin.
“Love is love. Say no to blackmail.”
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Maduagu’s story provides some measure of LGBTQ+ representation that is still sorely needed in Nigeria. In the upcoming 2023 presidential election, queer Nigerians are faced with a difficult choice. On the one hand are two ostensibly corrupt candidates, and on the other is Peter Obi, a candidate with real potential to improve the economic situation. The only problem is that his chosen VP once advocated the death penalty for queer people.
Still, as Ernest Ifeanyi Nweke writes for INTO, cishet Nigerian citizens expect queer people to put this aside and support Obi with no questions asked. “[Nigerians] support the idea of having queer people march alongside them on protest grounds and vote with them on election day. They just do not support actual Nigerians being queer in real life and showing it openly. They support the queer community—if only that community will drop their queerness when they are among them.”
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