A former priest who helps LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers

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Celebrating Chicago's Black history by highlighting impactful stories from unique perspectives. Sponsored by AARP Illinois.

When he was a priest in Nigeria, John Ademola Adewoye traveled to the United States to try conversion therapy, but instead learned that he could live freely and openly as a gay man in the U.S. – something that was not possible in his home country.

Knowing that he couldn’t go back to Nigeria because of the country’s anti-LGBTQIA+ laws, he decided to stay and seek asylum in the U.S. After his asylum was granted, he felt compelled to help other persecuted LGBTQIA+ people from around the world seek asylum and find housing.

“In Nigeria, I lived in fear almost all the time, and many gay people who live there now still live in fear – as they do in many countries around the world,” says Adewoye, who founded the Center of Integration and Courageous Living in 2013 and the Chicago LGBT Asylum Support Program in 2015 in cooperation with Broadway United Methodist Church in Chicago.

Through these programs, Adewoye and a network of dedicated volunteers work to find safe and reliable housing for many LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers.

“I want people to know that everyone who has come through our doors has had a gift to offer this country that has offered them their freedom,” says Adewoye. “We’ve had lawyers, doctors, and other professionals who were persecuted in their countries and who just need a little help to get settled here in their new lives.”

Adewoye has been recognized for this remarkable work in the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame and continues to work with the Queer Asylum Network in Chicago.

To find volunteer opportunities in your community, visit www.createthegood.org.

And to hear Adewoye’s story and more stories like this, subscribe to the “Creating the Good with AARP Illinois” podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

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