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Trailblazing trans and Emmy-nominated actor Mj Rodriguez has opened up about bonding with an LGBT+ fan who was made homeless by his family.
Rodriguez discussed her fame in the wake of her role as Blanca Evangelista on the groundbreaking drama Pose, which ended this year after its third season. She told PEOPLE that she is grateful for all the joy in her life from the role and how she loves the number of LGBT+ fans who have reached out to her.
The 30-year-old actor said one fan, in particular, stood out to her – a young boy from Nigeria who reached out after he was made homeless.
“He direct messaged me,” she recalled. “I remember him saying ‘I don’t have a home. My family just kicked me out, and there’s no one that’s caring for me right now. I’m out on the streets by myself’.”
Mj Rodriguez said she messaged the young LGBT+ fan back with words of support and love.
According to the star, she said: “You’re going to be fine. If you need anyone to contact, just talk to me. I know I’m out of nowhere and it sounds random, but you can talk to me and you can keep contacting me.”
The Pose star told PEOPLE that the two stayed in contact for months, and she would offer support and a listening ear when the young Nigerian boy needed someone to talk to. She described how one day she heard back from him, and she got a welcome update about the LGBT+ youth’s life.
“He has a house that he’s in now with a lot of LGBTQIA members who are now his family,” Mj Rodriguez explained. “He moved into a space that felt more comfortable with himself.”
Queer people in Nigeria face discrimination and persecution just for living their lives
The Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which criminalises same-sex relationships and has entrenched the condemnation of LGBT+ identities in Nigerian society, was signed into law in 2014.
According to OutRight Action International, the legislation bans same-sex marriage, displays of affection between people of the same sex and imposes a 10-year prison sentence on anyone who “registers, operates, or participates in gay clubs, societies, and organisations”.
It also penalises people who “abet” same-sex relationships, marginalising the families and loved ones of LGBT+ people.
In the wake of this vile law, LGBT+ Nigerians have been targeted by the government and police.
Earlier this year, five men were arrested in Kano state for suspected homosexuality in a shocking raid by Sharia police. The “special raid” was carried out after residents reported the men, according to the News Agency of Nigeria.
Several of the country’s states, including Kano, have adopted forms of Sharia law that criminalise “sodomy”, defined as “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man or woman”.
Sharia law is implemented on top of Nigeria’s secular laws.