Asylum: A Memoir & Manifesto

S. & S. Jun. 2022. 224p. ISBN 9781982183745. $26.99. MEMOIR
In this moving and thought-provoking memoir, Okporo details his inspiring journey from a troubled childhood in Nigeria to his current role as a global gay rights activist in New York City. Okporo was an outsider in his community, cruelly shunned by his peers and his relatives for being too feminine and too different from the idealized version of a Nigerian man. After an unsuccessful stint as a minister and the tragic deaths of several close friends, he discovers his life’s work in advocating for gay men’s access to health care. When his success and visibility in his community puts his life in danger, Okporo flees to the U.S., where he is immediately handcuffed and sent to a New Jersey detention center. After months in a cell, he is released—homeless, friendless and penniless—into an unwelcoming country. Eventually, Okporo finds acceptance in a Unitarian church, successfully expands New York’s only shelter for homeless refugees, and embarks on a loving, healthy relationship.
VERDICT Okporo’s personal journey is touching, and his skillful explanation of the corrupt immigration processes and policies that continue to reject and exclude the very people they are meant to aid is a timely plea for reform and empathy.
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