You might want to read this interview with Bisi Alimi

“I am in a relationship. I have been going to 3 years now. My boyfriend
is another wonderful thing that has happened to me. He is an amazing
guy. He is picking up many Nigerian antics now. I just wish he could be
more adventurous and start eating Yoruba food.” he told Mercy Abang in an interview not too long ago

Nigerian gay activist Adebisi Alimi has been vocal
about the injustice faced by individuals who are gay. A few years ago,
he fled Nigeria because of threats on his life.
Adebisi started out as an actor, he confesses, “I was pretty much a
drama queen”. He talks about theatre, the anti-gay law and living with
the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) to NPR.
Read excerpts,

On the anti-gay law: “I see the law as a catalyst for
change for good in Nigeria. You don’t understand what it is like to
fight a beast that you cannot see. Before the signing of that law,
between 95 and 98 percent of Nigerians were in support of it.
The latest poll says 88 percent of Nigerians now support the law.
That’s a 10 percent drop. Some people who are not LGBT are now saying,
“Did we just support a law that criminalizes people … for falling in
love?” [When] you see that your uncle or cousin is gay, it kind of
changes the conversation.”
On how his family feels about his identity: “I’m in a
relationship that I can’t talk to my parents about — it’s like a big
elephant in the room. But [the fact that] they want to accept me [as
gay] is a form of support.
I was diagnosed [with HIV] in 2004, and I’ve never discussed it with
my parents. This is my personal life, and I don’t want them to get
involved with it. Many times when I struggle with the challenges of
being gay and being [HIV] positive, even living in diaspora and so many
other things, I just really want to have somebody I can cry to who has
blood lineage but I just said no.”
On his support group: “Mostly close friends. Many
times it’s people I don’t know. I remember one incident when I was at my
university. I was going back to my room at night and I was stopped by
two guys. They were making very derogatory statements and becoming
really aggressive. There was a [student] coming. So I raised my voice:
“What did I do to you, why are you guys so frustrated with me?” [The
student] stopped and said, “What’s going on?” I told her these guys were
attacking me, and they said, “Oh he’s gay, he’s a faggot.”
She just looked at them and said, “What if he’s a faggot? What’s your
problem?” She stood up to them. These are the unsung heroes of my
existence because anything could have happened that night.”
On almost being killed: “I was lucky enough to go
through a 2-hour ordeal of being beaten and almost being shot in the
head and escaping. If those guys are still alive, they might have read
one or two of my interviews. I wonder how they feel that they almost
killed me. But I felt that leaving was never a choice until my mother
said, “Do you still have reason [to stay]? I think you should leave.”
On his reaction when he discovered he was diagnosed with HIV:
“By 2001 I started working in HIV prevention because I lost my best
friend [to the disease]. So I was kind of aware. That was why my
diagnosis was a shock to me. I broke down and started crying and thought
like this is the end of my life because I have seen my friends die.
It’s such a big thing that even within the gay community, if you’re
positive, that’s the end of it. Nobody wants to talk to you or date you,
but you become the story everyone wants to talk about. So I didn’t tell
anybody. I carried it for three years before leaving Nigeria. I didn’t
start medication until 2009.”
Oh by the way…..found this interview he had with journalist Abang Mercy some months back:

At what point in your life did you decide to be gay?
I get asked this question many times, but honestly it’s pretty hard. I
knew I have same sex feeling as young as 8 years, I didn’t really act
on it till I was around 10/11 years when I had my first male kiss and it
felt so good.
I think many people will say this is what children do and I do agree
as I have many friends who had same sex experience while they were young
and they grew out of, so also I have friends who had heterosexual
feelings while young and grew out of it. Children sexuality is very
difficult things to predict and I think it boils down to dynamic around
being a child as nothing is set in stone. My second kiss I remember very
well was when I was in primary school and it was my final year, I was
going to win a prize and I was going to perform as well. So there I was
in the changing room with my crush in primary, he had come to see me get
ready, when I was all dressed and ready to go on stage, he kissed and I
think it lasted for about 1 minute, it was like heaven. I went on stage
and I think in all my years of performing, that was one of the best in
my life. Today he is married with children and I remembered few years
back reminding him of that day, he smiled and said, it was fun while it
lasted but that he had moved on.
I went on to secondary school and attending Eko Boys’ High was big
time fun. I think I started reaching the conclusion about my sexuality
from around age 13. Secondary school gave me the opportunity to see
myself better.
I was with other boys, some of them loved girls, some loved boys and
it was just normally. Unlike many young gay people being bullied at the
playground, I will say to some extent I enjoyed a bit of pampering in
secondary, well mostly in my first year as my school father was a very
influential guy and he loved me to bits.
By the time I was getting to senior high, it was obvious that yes, I
was very different from everyone. Also I have made friends with 4 other
guys are we had became the “gay” rebels. We were representing our
secondary school in cultural activities. I remembered once we went as
far as representing Mushin Local Government in Lagos during the
inter-council cultural festival acting as girls. Those were the days. I
remembered acting as a pregnant woman and one of the judges saying even a
woman won’t be able to do it better.
When I left secondary school, I had the biggest opportunity in my
life to attend my first “same sex” party in Lagos, it was mind-blowing
and an eye opener for me. And it was at this event I could say I
actually used the word gay. I think from childhood I had always been a
rebel, even against myself and using the word “gay” was something I was
never comfortable with since I knew the word. It just doesn’t fit with
me at that time.
So by the time I was 18 years, I have started accepting to use the
term gay for myself and in a way trying to find myself with all the
confusion around me as regards religion, my sexuality and the
expectations of the society and where I found myself personally. My
teenage years were the most difficult as well as the most liberating
years of my life.
You were disowned by your family and most of your friends – including some in the gay community, what was it like for you?
I think that was one of the most difficult times in my life. You know
the feeling when the world is crumbling around you and you just wanted
someone to lift you up and everyone is turning their backs on you. Many
because of their own shame and others just because of some funny
religious belief. It was very hard. I came out when I was 29 years, that
is like 11 years after attending my first gay party. It had taken me 11
years to actually say: fuck it, I am going to talk about my sexuality, I
am going to own up and say I am gay. It was really hard and I think few
years down the line when I thought about the many reactions I got, it
was like, yes it took me bloody  11 years to actually look into the
mirror with a smile on my face and yes I am gay. I came to a conclusion
then that it will be unfair on my families and friends if I was
expecting a quick turn around, but at the same time I was not expecting
the hateful reactions I got.
However, those kind of things help you realise that you are in this
world alone. It’s like in acting, there will be a time when you have to
face the camera alone, you deliver a monologue and it’s you and your
fate and honestly that moment can make or break you. I had my monologue
moment in life and when people say I am a brave gave, I tell myself, boy
you nailed your monologue moment. The time alone helped me to
restructure myself and this is a process, it’s still a work in progress.
Making the best of one self is a huge task as there will be many
distraction, many people that don’t believe you, and many who are just
bloody pretentious and many that are very sincere and you just have to
know how to handle all the shits life might throw at you.
So the rejection helped me to see myself better, though hurtful, but it was also a blessing in disguise
What was your mum’s reaction as well as family members when they realized you were gay?
My mum has always thought I could be gay. She used to say that
“whatever you are doing that God is not happy with, you have stop doing
them”. I see my mum as a representative of the Nigerian society as
whole. Remember she was born in the 50s, there was limited education
around sexuality like we know today. Also as she grew older, she was
experiencing a form of dissillusion everyone in Nigeria born before
independence where experiencing. You know having seen your country
coming out an a foreign rule with a promise of better tomorrow and just
there right in your eyes you see all these things going to ruin. It must
have been very hard for her. Also my grand-dad I was told was a big
tyrant. He was very popular in Mushin then and I heard that he took on
the government on many occasion.
So my mum background is one that thought there will always be a light
at the end of the tunnel and when she grew older and could find the
light she turned to the only thing that looked like a light, “religion”.
I am very sure that my secular mum that I grew up knowing would have
been at least a bit supportive compared to my religious mum who was
looking at everything I did from a “mono-direction” informed by the
religious normative. It was either right or wrong, nothing in the
middle. If the Bible says no, then no questioning, but I also see a
woman who is conscious of the reality that she has become an element in
the game of chess. I love my mum so much, she is one the strongest woman
I have ever seen. Everyone says I look very much like mum, the fierce,
arrogant, sexy but determine look is something I got from her. I
remembered once my mum walking out on my father, she was going to
divorce him and move on with her life. You see, she is not like those
Nigerian women who will say ” I will stay for the sake of my children”,
she will do what is best for her. But the more she dive into religion
the more I lose her. She stopped being rational and started looking at
everything from religious perspective.
So by the time i came out as gay, my mum has gone deep into “head
covering, Monday-Sunday god worshiping religious woman”, it was very
hard to communicate with her, she rejected me not because she felt it
was cool, though I had issue with everyone in my family while growing
up, she rejected me because the bible said so, because she was looking
at me from a humane point of view, but from the view of “what the bible”
said and I think that was the last straw for me and my family, it’s sad
really, knowing that you have families that you can’t connect with
sometimes make the world a lonely place to be.


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