BISI ALIMI IS NOT THE FACE OF THE NIGERIAN LGBT

BISI ALIMI IS NOT THE FACE OF THE NIGERIAN LGBT

Following the furor over the claims by Bisi Alimi that his October 29 Night of Diversity function was the “first Lagos Pride” event in Nigeria, there was a lot of vexation bandied about amongst the Nigerian LGBT community members. Even right here on Kito Diaries, there were sentiments expressed about how people were losing faith in the community and those who think of themselves as gatekeepers because of the perception of Bisi Alimi’s dishonesty and seemingly self-centered actions.

I remember someone saying something to me along the lines of: “…when somebody like him, who is the face of the Nigerian gay community, will stoop so low as to pull stunts like this, then what hope is there for the rest of us? These people are not looking out for us. They’re just out to use us to line their pockets and acquire fame.”

There was so much disillusionment in those words. The kind of disillusionment that I would probably have been overwhelmed with if I didn’t know better. The kind of disillusionment that prompts me to say this: Bisi Alimi is not the face of the Nigerian LGBT. He is not the face of your community.

When you do what you do for your community, you are the face of our community.

Since the creation of Kito Diaries and being at the helm of the visibility that comes with it, I have been fortunate to come in contact with the diligence many people put in for the betterment of our community, oftentimes with no expectation of any reward other than the gratification that comes with knowing that someone less privileged in our community got a testimony, made some sort of progress in their life. The comments section of this blog, for instance, is littered with narratives of lawyers who stepped outside of their professional comfort zones to defend hapless victims of our society’s homophobic legal system. This online community alone is proof of the fact that there are those who are able and steadfastly willing to do what it takes to advance the lives and welfare of other members of the community. And this is even more profound when you take into consideration the fact that what they do comes with no actual glory.

The first time a KDian approached me with his situation of woe, I remember thinking: But what can I do to help? I anguished over this with some friends, and they said, “Why not ask KD?” I’d never done this before, and I recoiled from the idea of asking total strangers for help on behalf of some other person they do not know. I was just cynical enough to believe that no one would want to take on the burden, however infinitesimal, of worrying about someone else’s life.

“The ‘OYO is your case’ mentality may be prevalent among Nigerians,” said a friend to me, “but when it comes to marginalized groups, we understand the unfairness of our oppression, and a kindred spirit is born from it. That is why FIN is such a successful group, because it is founded on the principle of women helping women.”

Because of that, I brought this KDian’s plight before this community, and the response was so overwhelmingly positive that the guy himself called me to tell me not to bother passing his account details to anyone else any longer, that he was all set. Another KDian was able to pay off the debt he owed his boss after losing the man’s money to kito scum – and get a new phone to replace the one that was stolen from him. And yet another KDian was able to find refuge after he was displaced from his parents’ house following their discovery of his sexuality.

These are the people, everyone who pitched in to help, who are the faces of the Nigerian LGBT.

Following the successful conclusion of this year’s literary competition (something we are now considering turning into an annual affair), which awarded 20 thousand naira to four participants who wrote about what pride means to them, one of the winners was a lesbian who ecstatically revealed how much the prize money would help with her project if creating safe spaces for homeless children and girls.

“[It is a project that enables us to] give out duvets, pillows and sleeping mats, especially to vulnerable children, girls and women…” she said to me. “Our greatest problem is fund. We intend to give away a hundred in four locations in Lagos and one in Ibadan. But first, we are starting with 10 for the homeless in Ojuelegba, Surulere, Lagos.

“Each sleeping mat will be made out of waste banners, pure water sachets and old clothes which requires no spending. Right now, we are gathering pure water sachets, banners (which is difficult to get), and old clothing for the mats.

“We’d been able to raise only about 3000 naira through the simple Rainbow beads we sell for just 200 naira… We have not been able to raise any funds for the 10 duvets and pillows we intend to start with. This is where this prize cash becomes very significant.

“I’m not doing this alone. I’m bringing in young people like me from diverse fields and different orientations. I believe in Inclusive Diversity and I know this project cannot be achieved without young enthusiastic Change Makers.

“I really want to see a world where the queer community, sex workers, albinos and dwarfs can be at the fore of problem solving in Nigeria and Africa.”

Now, this woman is the face of the Nigerian LGBT. And those who contribute to her cause are the many faces furthering the welfare of the community.

Speaking of catering to displaced community members, I was not-so recently made aware of a halfway house for gay men in Lagos. When I first learned of it, I didn’t believe it was for real, majorly because the amount of selflessness and defiance of self-preservation that goes into one opening up his home for different young men who have only their hopes and dreams to live for seemed impossible to me, especially considering the Nigerian gay clime.

But I visited the house and I saw for myself. According to the proprietor, the house takes in a maximum of 20 persons at a time with the objective of rehabilitating them and giving them a purpose with programs that explore their potentials. The House is like a school in that regard: you check in, you learn, you graduate. While for some, the lease is long and oftentimes indeterminate, for a few others, it is a brief refuge – until the parent who threw them out can welcome them back, or until they are able to figure out the life they came to Lagos to pursue.

“Admittance is based on your vulnerability,” the proprietor of the house said to me, “that is, if you’re homeless or have a dire issue with accommodation. We then use our programs to rehabilitate them, and to promote their talents in fields such as cosmetology, catering, tailoring, music and even writing. Our major challenge is the availability of funds, and sometimes, we encourage the kindness of those who have graduated from the house, to give back.”

Of course, there are other challenges that come with providing such a safe space for gay men, which include the scrutiny of neighbours and the threat of the police. And this is precisely what makes a setup like this more necessary.

And a person who would do that for his community is the face of the Nigerian LGBT.

There are so many people putting goodwill and positive energy into the Nigerian LGBT community. They come as a group or they come as individuals. From the efforts of the One Action Foundation to bring together members of the community to address issues of our mental health last month during the World Mental Awareness week, to the efforts of people like Pamela Adie, Xeenarh Mohammed and Olumide Makanjuola to use creative art to place the realities of Nigerian LGBT people on the map. From web shows like The Minority Report Nigeria and TIERs’ Untold Facts which center LGBT experiences to closed door sessions like the Q-conversations which offer the safe spaces necessary for LGBT Nigerians to have a voice.

During the Lagos Pride row on social media, some Bisi Alimi apologist made a scathing remark that was essentially scolding people to stop acting butt-hurt and do their part for the community. This sentiment is disingenuous because it appears to imply that no one is doing anything for the Nigerian LGBT community, that we’re all just waiting around for the next thing Bisi Alimi will do to save us all. Comments like this – compounded by Bisi Alimi’s falsehoods – attempt to erase the work those who aren’t shamelessly chasing international acclaim do.

There are many faces of the Nigerian LGBT, and Bisi Alimi is not one of them. You should know that; he after all made that abundantly clear when he announced that his “activism is personal”. In his own words:

“I am not doing what I am doing for you. I am doing it for me. If you benefit from it, then good luck to you. I owe you nothing.”

Those are not the words of a person who represents a community.

Bisi Alimi is not the face of the Nigerian LGBT community. But you could be, if you decide to do some good for your community.

Written by Pink Panther

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31 Comments

  1. Higwe
    November 11, 07:02 Reply

    This is so heart warming .

    May God richly bless all the people going out of their way to help displaced members of our community .

    Those offering solace in time of need .

    And money in times of financial quagmire .

    Your pockets shall be multiplied a trillion times. You’ll will never lack and in the rare moments you do , help will come faster than a lightening bolt.

    You guys are the real MVPS .

    God bless you too Pink P – you’re a good man .

    ****************************

    Bisi vs Pink Panther ( grabs popcorn 😎)

    • Audrey
      November 11, 10:29 Reply

      Pink Panther Everyday,Any day.You are truly an unsung hero of our time.

      • Higwe
        November 11, 10:49 Reply

        Audrey sweetie 😍 give me a little hint to identify that BBN ex housemate you said you’re suspecting 😎 .

        Just a tiny Willy Tilly 😁

        I’ll take you to KFC in December .

  2. Mitch
    November 11, 07:18 Reply

    Anybody still thinking of Bisi as the face of the Nigerian LGBT community either is just willfully stupid or lives under a rock. Bisi has proven, time and again, that he’s not interested in the welfare of the community. He’s in this for himself.

    Someday, all our unnamed and unsung heroes in this community will be named and sung about. Doing what they do, putting their lives and safety on the line for others, takes guts. And they’d receive the reward for it.

  3. duc
    November 11, 07:32 Reply

    What ever happened to his lawsuit?

    • Higwe
      November 11, 11:13 Reply

      He told pinky to take down our comments.

      He wouldn’t have sued anyways because the evidence of the accusation is still very much alive on the internet .

      So many dirty gists about that man … unfortunately I can’t reveal them (here) because Pink P will be the one bearing the brunt .

      What you guys are angst about …are all pretty tame – his deeds are far worse .

      That man is no role model nor advocate .

      ********************

      And Pink P , you’re a young man with your whole life ahead of you.
      I think you should dial it down a bit with the whole Bisi tackling.

      You shame him everyday by doing everything he couldn’t do .

      That brother, should be enough at least for now .

      He currently has a platform that you don’t have yet.

      Strings he can pull , you can’t .

      More audience and more ears …I wouldn’t wanna incite him .

      I’d say keep doing what you’re doing in your lane , one day you’ll have a platform where you’ll talk and more ears will listen .

      …I’m not sure you’re ready for a mud bath with a pig. 🤷🏽‍♂️

  4. Quinn
    November 11, 07:51 Reply

    The title of the article on #TheGuardian says first LGBT EVENT* And about Bisi, I honestly think he can be quiet problematic sometimes, but I genuinely appreciate his voice, but yeah definitely NOT THE FACE to whoever said that.

  5. Black Dynasty
    November 11, 08:32 Reply

    Excellently written, my sentiments exactly. There are tons of people in the background working and helping.

    I had this same discussion with a friend who didn’t quite understand the irritation and annoyance with the false narrative of first lagos pride event.

  6. Limitless
    November 11, 08:49 Reply

    So good to know that there are people working tirelessly for the LGBT community in Nigeria

  7. Angry Attorney.
    November 11, 09:21 Reply

    I’m shocked at this Bisi Alimi guy…I don’t know him and I don’t care to know him.

    Like you said people are doing stuff here without seeking any form of glory and praise. .we just want to help because we are in the position to now.

    SOme of our brothers are suffering because of a few decided to exploit them..

    Let me tell you something that happened on Thursday last week in one of the big correction centers in one of the states in the North central region.

    WE were allowed to meet the welfare officer in the correction centers(prisons) and we had already applied for cases or inmates who don’t have legal representation. .

    On that Thursday,they brought out list of inmates without lawyers according to their degree of offenses. .. Armed robbery had 15, Atm (awaiting trial) had 26,culpable homicide,murder and kidnapping had 16.
    Then there was a long list that was there that was not specified which was their offenses,it was numbered 31 with just their names. .

    Out of curiosity,we asked the welfare officer ( I went with a senior lawyer though we are friends)what are the offenses these people were alledged of, in his words, he said ” counsels,just leave them as you are seeimg them there,he would advise no lawyer to take up their cases that even the judge sef deliberately refused to grant them bail”.

    We asked again. ..what are their offenses and why no lawyer was not in their case bla bla..
    He said they were caught having a gay party and were messing themselves up,that’s his exact words. .
    My colleague at that point,said he’d not be interested in the case even if they have money.

    I asked one of the prison guy that works in the welfare to go and get like five of them for me let me take their brief.

    My friend had long gone out and was angry with me for staying back to meet with cursed children. the welfare officer said he will tell my Principal that I came to help homosexuals out and that was not what my boss asked me to come and find out from them.

    THe guys were brought to me,majorly university students,upon taking their briefs,they said they were just having a get together celebration because according to them they have gone through police rough times and kito and for three months there was nothing like that,they just wanted to celebrate survival and it was held in a resort and nothing within them will show they are our brothers.
    One kito scum got wind of it amd alerted the police and they came and carried all the guys and left the ladies that were with them.

    They got a lawyer who took their money and didn’t show up in courr for the day their wcase was to be heard. The judge told them that if they had a lawyer,he would still refuse them bail.
    I asked them the name of the court,,they told me and I went to file motion for their bail put the police on notice,gave the police prosecutor 5k for him to appeae in court and he gave me his word that he won’t oppose by filing a counter. The judge asked me if I have served the police I said yes,on Friday,,e we were in court and he granted them bail on liberal terms.

    Today is public holiday and some of them have not perfected their bail conditions,,f not they would have been out this morning.
    THe judge asked me why I took up the case as no lawyer wanted to,I told him if his kids were in another state and was accused of someone he is not,would he allow them to be in remand for 15 days… till now no answer from him as I left his presence.

    • Tman
      November 11, 10:23 Reply

      Awwn! This is really heartwarming. Thank you for using your capacity to help vulnerable guys. I hope you also advised them to be wary of the clime they are in. Queer parties and events, especially by lower citizens shouldn’t be encouraged in Nigeria, and if need be, must be done under strict secrecy.

      One is your life which you’re placing under undue risk (they’d been there without being found guilty for 15 days already. imagine if this lawyer hadn’t been to the correctional facility) and second is your identity which you might be subject to enforced disclosure.

      Thanks once more, Angry Attorney. I hope you complete your good deed and see to the total exoneration of those young, helpless guys.

      • Angry Attorney.
        November 11, 11:11 Reply

        Yea,I will….we can’t get this far and leave them there hanging.

        Like I said,, it’s for some of them to meet up with the bail conditions.

        The prison opens for visitors by 10am and I sure will be there to get the ones who have met the bail conditions. ..
        The thing is some of them don’t live in that city,it’s school that brought them there,so it’s kinda difficult to get the surety that will stand in for them and as a lawyer,our rules does not allow us to be a surety..

        Or worse comes,I will go back to the judge tomorrow if he can review the conditions. ..

        • Lex
          November 11, 18:56 Reply

          What a great way to contribute back to the community. I can sincerely imagine how much more LGBT persons are in detention with no legal representation.
          Anyways, as a form of contribution to the community, I will be willing to volunteer with you, if you do mind.
          I am currently at the Nigerian Law school, hoping to round off in the next two months.

    • RichieMichie
      November 11, 10:46 Reply

      Reading this made me cry. We really don’t deserve this country

  8. fuck off
    November 11, 10:48 Reply

    I have a bag full of old clothes, how can i get it across the artist for the mat?

  9. J
    November 11, 12:40 Reply

    Pinky please don’t get yourself all worked up with this issue of Bisi Alimi. You’re doing your very best on here and we are really grateful for that.

    Everyone will reap what they sow in this life. There’s a reward for every good deed and a punishment for every bad deed. I’m not talking about heaven and hell ooo, I mean right on this earth. Karma doesn’t forgive and forget.

  10. Henrie
    November 11, 16:22 Reply

    The gay community doesn’t need a face. It needs faces. We’re not a cult nor a monolith.

  11. Bullet
    November 11, 20:23 Reply

    How can I get my widow’s mite to the young lady distributing duvet and the rest. And also to the house accommodating those thrown out by their parents?

  12. Sim
    November 11, 20:40 Reply

    We are a community, we are family and we are friends. I know people who secretly and privately pay school fees, shelter and etc for members of this community whom they have never met and have no intention of meeting.
    As per the yearly giveaway, count me in— pinky can constitute a board to make it more efficient.
    Per Bisi case- I lived in Abuja, treated thousands of MSM and lived among hundreds and never received a positive review of him.

    • Black Dynasty
      November 12, 09:12 Reply

      Cosign on the yearly giveaway and constituting a board for efficiency.

  13. 25th collections
    November 11, 21:27 Reply

    I am a young Nigerian philanthropist and blessed with the right of giving.
    I enjoy doing any positive thing that comes my way.
    Studied Renaissance and currently working on a research about global warming I need young youths who can be creative with skills for entrepreneurship to support their lives and establish themselves.

    Dear KDian, please review my request and send your replies.

  14. MGM
    November 14, 22:52 Reply

    Dearest Pink P,I am so proud of you and your bravity as it cmcerns the community.Forget Bisi Alimi issue because we know our role models and he is certainly not one of them.Kindly send that good woman contact to my no:08170776365 because I have some clothes good for donation to her worthy cause.Thanks and keep up the good works you’re doing.

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