Ani Kayode Somtochukwu is a queer liberation activist and has been active in the fight for social justice since 2016 while he was still an undergraduate at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology. His medium of work includes digital advocacy, mutual aid organising, physical protest, and creative and political writing. His work focuses on organising against systems of queerphobic and class oppression. He is on the editorial board of the Socialist Workers and Youth League (SWL) and is the Central Committee Chair of the Queer Union for Economic and Social Transformation (QUEST9ja).
In 2019, he was named SOGIESC Activist of the Year by the Initiative for Equal Rights for his “Commitment to advocating for the rights and wellbeing of LGBTQI+ persons in Nigeria.” He was 20 years old at the time.
In March 2020, following the murder of a gay man in Anambra, he co-convened the End Homophobia in Nigeria Campaign with Matthew Blaise, Victor Emmanuel and one other activist. The digital campaign brought attention to the multifaceted ways queer Nigerians were targeted with violence from both state and non-state actors, and garnered national and international attention.
In late 2020, he was part of the EndSARS protests in Enugu State, bringing attention to the ways in which queer Nigerians were also brutalised by police, as well as working to advance a more radical and abolitionist solution to the problem of police brutality within the protest movement. Ani founded the Queer Union for Economic and Social Transformation (QUEST9ja) to help pool resources and support queer protesters, as well as organise for a more structural approach to the problem of state repression in Nigeria. He was a finalist for the 2020 Nigerian Prize for Difference and Diversity.
Being an abolitionist, socialist, anti-imperialist, and pan-Africanist collective of queer Nigerians organising towards queer liberation in Nigeria, QUEST9ja has worked to provide mutual aid resources for poor queer Nigerians through food drives, rent support for safe houses and fundraising support for other community organizers and organizations. In 2021, QUEST9ja launched a trans healthcare initiative that provided gender-affirming healthcare resources to poor transgender Nigerians across five states.
Following the introduction of an amendment in the National Assembly to ban cross-dressing, Ani in collaboration with other queer activists and organizations organized the first physical protests in Nigeria against queer discrimination in May 2022. The protests took place at the Unity Fountain on Mayday, and called for the withdrawal of the amendment as well as for the repeal of the Same-sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act.
You can keep up with and support the work QUEST9ja is doing here.