A CRASH COURSE ON WHAT IT MEANS TO BE GAY (Education For Those Who The Shoe Fits)

A CRASH COURSE ON WHAT IT MEANS TO BE GAY (Education For Those Who The Shoe Fits)

It started with the viewing of an IGTV video. A 3-minute clip of Ireti Bakare-Yusuf (@sisiogelagos) talking about LGBT Pride, which I found both startling and pleasing, because it seemed like the starter of a conversation happening on a mainstream forum.

And sure enough, when I asked her in her DM, she said it was a Youtube segment of Plus TV Africa called The Advocate, where she and her co-hosts talk about topical issues affecting especially Nigeria. So of course, I was excited about seeing the rest of it, and she furnished me with a Youtube link. One which came with a warning: “Be warned. The debate got very heated and not surprisingly, I was a standalone in my quest.”

With some trepidation (because I find it wearying these days to confront homophobia), I clicked over to Youtube HERE and proceeded to watch one of the most frustrating conversations about LGBT affairs I’d ever seen.

Ireti Bakare-Yusuf was in the company of four other co-hosts, Uche Okoli, Ekene Ezeji, Emeka Mba and Chuka Ihonor. Each of them bringing up different topics for conversation. But first, they talked about the gays. A topic that Ireti introduced. A conversation that quickly derailed into those basic points of dissension that have no place in 2019. There were remonstrations about how they couldn’t possibly be homophobic based on the premise of how phobia is defined. Then the protestation that the LGBT is bullying the society to accept its community. The categorization of homosexuality along with sexual perversions. And a suggestion of conversion therapy as a way forward. There was even a mention of this line that usually gets my goat: “I have friends who are gay…” – as if that is all that is needed to validate a homophobic opinion.

And I shook my head with the realization of just how regressed the Nigerian society is. These are parts of the LGBT conversation that nobody is having anymore because they are so elementary. So disproven. So easily clarified by a single Google search.

Which is something these other co-hosts should have done before coming on air to object, for instance, the claim that they are homophobic based on their understanding that homophobia is defined as the “irrational fear of gay people.” I swear, I came close to screaming at my phone screen as Chuka Ihonor, for example, kept on insisting that he is not homophobic because he basically has no irrational fear of gay people.

Dear Straight People (Or Those Who The Shoe Fits), Homophobia is NOT an irrational fear of gay people. Homophobia does not share that kind of simplistic definition with such other aversions like claustrophobia, aerophobia and arachnophobia. You don’t have to simply fear gay people to be homophobic.

Homophobia encompasses a range of negative attitudes and feelings toward homosexuality or people who identify as or are perceived to be lesbian, gay or bisexual. Homophobia is fear, hatred, discomfort with (yes, even when you’re just uncomfortable with) and mistrust of anyone from the LGBT community. Homophobia comes in whatever form that is prejudiced against or discriminates against someone based on their sexual orientation. The roots of this prejudice are varied: irrational fear, misunderstanding, conservative religious beliefs, or teachings handed down by parents and family.

So you see, when you say you do not hate the sinner but the sin, you are being homophobic. When you talk about how you simply do not approve of the lifestyle, you are being homophobic. When you attempt to use your religious belief as a justification for your discomfort, you are being homophobic. When you shrug and say, “Well, it’s not in our culture, so…”, you are being homophobic.

Any stance you take that seeks to invalidate the lives, existence and experiences of LGBT people is you being homophobic.

The sooner you deal with this fact, dear straight people, the sooner you can hopefully get on to interrogating yourself and becoming more humane.

There’s another thing. Dear Straight People (Or Those Who The Shoe Fits), heterosexuality is usual. That doesn’t make it more “normal” than homosexuality. Homosexuality is no more a lifestyle than heterosexuality is a habit. As long as you cannot pinpoint a time in your life when you decided to be straight, do not ever presume that homosexual people had that choice and decided on “Gay”. So, while you disagreeing with the “gay lifestyle” is not equal to hating on gay people – as Emeka Mba so pedantically tried to assure the viewers of The Advocate – it is just as reprehensible as if you took up a stick and attacked a gay person with it. By saying you do not support the “gay lifestyle”, you are denouncing the right of a gay person to love, to have sex, to marry, to care for a child, to own property – the very same ways of life you enjoy and oftentimes take for granted. You are basically coming against the gay person’s right to live.

So, tell me, dear straight people, how does this opinion of yours make you any different from the physically-antagonistic mob who has beaten a gay person to death?

Thirdly, Dear Straight People (Or Those Who The Shoe Fits), do not be deceived by the news reports that scream headlines of men and women who claim to be ex-gay, that they have been delivered from homosexuality and are now living perfectly heterosexual lives. Do not buy into the internet videos that show pastors casting the “spirit of homosexuality and lesbianism” from members of their congregation. Conversion therapy DOES NOT WORK! Trust me, if it does, there’d be a lot less gay people in countries like Nigeria than there are. People who claim to be ex-gay are either bisexuals who discovered their latent desire for the opposite sex and decided to explore and stick with that attraction; or are very miserable queer people who have crafted a lie that they are determined to live in, oftentimes unsuccessfully. (Just ask Andrew Caldwell, the guy who went viral a few years ago for being “delivert” and for liking “men no more.”)

Conversion therapy does not work. You cannot pray and fast the gay away. You cannot lay hands on a gay person and drive that “demon” out. You cannot flog it out of him/her. no concoction from a herbalist or native doctor can fix what you believe to be broken. Because a gay person is not broken. It is in fact your mission to change him that is the problem.

Be very wary of the gay person who claims he is healed, and comes asking for your hand in marriage. Because that lie is about to incur more casualties than it deserves.

And finally, Dear Straight People (Or Those Who The Shoe Fits), having gay friends is NOT an excuse for homophobia. Having gay friends does not sanitize your opinions about gay people. Having gay friends does not make you right about whatever antigay rhetoric you spout.

Before you voice those thoughts – Ekene Ezeji, I’m referring to you, for example – if those gay friends exist, how about you first run what you’re thinking by them? If those gay friends are accepting of themselves and have an honest relationship with you, how about you first ask them how they feel about your opinion that you think they can change or that you don’t approve of their lifestyle?

Dear straight People, the presence of gay friends in your life does not give you any authority over the existence of the gay community and the lives of the people that identify with it.

And especially to Uche Okoli, Ekene Ezeji, Emeka Mba and Chuka Ihonor (if you’re reading this), I find it curious that the lot of you feel so passionately about the other topics you went on to discuss and yet represent such reproof for the existence of gay people. That you understand the value of sex education and its early introduction into a child’s life – whilst representing an opposition to the gay child even thinking of the kind of sex he is predisposed to. Do you have any idea how much damage is wreaked in the life of that gay child when he has to stumble his way through a society that condemns his sexual awareness to the shadows, , the kind of abuse that sexual predators are able to get away with him because he isn’t informed appropriately?

That you preach the indignation of absentee fathers and demand that men be more present in the lives of their children – all the while turning a blind eye to the reality of gay men who are forced into marriages to women and conditioned to have children they would otherwise have no desire siring.

That you exhort Nigerians to be more judicious with the care for animals – when you cannot spare any compassion for your fellow human who is a lot less different from you than an animal is.

It is very interesting how straight people, especially those who call themselves Nigerians, can care about everything under the face of the sun – but gay people.

Written by Pink Panther

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4 Comments

  1. No
    June 17, 11:30 Reply

    STANDING O!!!

    I intend to post this on my work WhatsApp group. My coworkers are mostly foreign educated professionals with great analytical skills but their willful ignorance when it comes to this particular topic is mind boggling. This will probably set off another new round of contentious arguments. Oh well..

  2. Mitch
    June 17, 12:39 Reply

    She was a lone Yoruba person in the midst of 4 Igbo people. E mechaa, some people will come out to point out how the Igbo society is accepting and all of that bullshit.

    The sheer entitlement of heterosexual people is nauseating, to say the least. That heterosexuality is common doesn’t make it normal or norm.

  3. Bee
    June 17, 16:16 Reply

    Why don’t they define xenophobia as the “irrational fear of people from other countries?” Why is xenophobia generally understood to mean hate? I remember all too well how I came to know of that phobia; Nigerians themselves were being treated badly in SA and the world didn’t hear word. The argument over the definition can be kicked out the window by simply renaming the prejudice as, say, sexualism (which is actually in some dictionaries). The prejudice is still the same and it is real.

    Anyway, you did wonderful work with this article. So accurate; it gagged (or burned, depending on your viewpoint) at all the right spots.

  4. Temi
    June 19, 19:20 Reply

    Two hands for you PP nice one…..
    Well delivered

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