Is Bobrisky really even a problem? Like who is this guy and how did he become a name on everybody’s lips? Before I get into this article proper, let me say that I had criticized Bobrisky in the past, but as one progresses in life, opinions, like every other thing in life, are subject to change. When Bobrisky did that cringe-worthy interview with Adesuwa where he infamously expressed support for Nigeria’s draconian antigay law, I was outraged and I wrote a few tweets calling out his bullshit. However my anger was basically directed at his ignorance, the only thing that could explain why he would support a law which endangers people and actually cost lives. That one misstep sort of overshadowed every other thing he said at that interview. However rising above the idiocy of that statement and the anger that it prompted in me, I think he came across as warm and earnest; basically just a young man living his life the best way he can. It helped with understanding him that after my good friend and global advocate for LGBT rights Bisi Alimi called out his ignorance, the following day, Bobrisky apologized and stated that he really didn’t consider his words before saying them.
Now just last week, the self-acclaimed Snapchat king trended on all social media platforms; most of you already know the story anyway on how he was asked to speak on a panel which was to look into the unconventional use of social media, and how some people (notably a presidential aide and Alder Consulting representative) pulled out of the panel, stating expressly that they were doing so because of him. Now I got into very many arguments about this issue, saying to my friends that it is a person’s prerogative to decide to withdraw from a panel at any point if they no longer feel comfortable speaking on it, but to specifically cite Bobrisky as the reason why they are pulling out and saying that including him on the panel “unnecessarily sensationalizes the event” is tacky and downright petty. This is a panel; you were not obligated to speak at it. You should have simply declined and expressed regret for not being able to make the panel. You can cite logistics or not even give any reason at all, and every one will move on. They didn’t have to so overtly discriminate against another individual (who hasn’t done anything wrong really) in driving home their point.
Now quite a few Nigerians supported the action of the panelists who pulled out and several of them went online to call Bobrisky many names, with some even going as far as baying for his blood. The truth is that no matter what Bobrisky says on the subject of his sexuality, a vast majority of Nigerians believe he is a gay man (his sexuality is not my business anyway), and in a country where homophobia is a living breathing institution, the outpouring of vitriol following the panel brouhaha came as no surprise to me.
The only demographic who amused me by joining to haul verbal abuse at Bobrisky are the gay men. One of them tweeted that “Yes we know we stand for liberty and freedom, but we need to also extol good virtues and appropriate moral conduct in our society”; meanwhile this was a guy who was in my DMs a few days before, begging me to send him a photo of my dick. It often amuses me when gay men assume the position of attorney general of morality over others because one would think that being considered an outsider by the vast majority of Nigerians will maybe make you a bit more sympathetic to the plight of other outsiders. Where do gay men find the moral high ground to judge other people really?
There was another school of thought that held the view that Bobrisky is essentially an airhead and wondered what insight he would bring to what was obviously a serious intellectual discourse. This group of people I understood somewhat; however I pointed out to them that the theme of the conference was centered on unconventional use of social media, something Bobrisky has so obviously excelled at. Without any teams or strategy backbone, this guy has organically broken through to become a social media star. I dare say that he even uses the social media to engage his followers more effectively than the presidential aide who often cannot even represent his boss well. This was not a conference on who is a positive role model for youths (even though that is relative anyway), but based on the theme of the conference, Bobrisky could fit right in, and if we could swallow our prejudiced ego, he could actually teach some of us a thing or two about the use of the social media.
Social media has changed the game for everything in the world today; it has democratized information and taken the power out of the hands of TV networks and put it right in our hands. You can have a very successful TV show on YouTube, Periscope or even Facebook Live, and be able to reach your audience with your message. Social media has turned people like Bobrisky into stars; you may disagree with his life’s choices all you want, but the guy is a social media influencer and that makes him fit to speak on such issues. A while back, I remember when the Kim Kardashian sex tape leaked and quite a few of us took her to the cleaners; the scandal became a thing that followed her everywhere she went and sort of blindsided whatever she achieved personally. To us, she stayed a glorified porn star. Many of us have simply refused to acknowledge the fact that Kim knows what she is doing and that everything she touches turns to gold. She recently landed the cover of Forbes magazine on account of the success of her mobile game; this happened, and still, there are people who refuse to take her serious and will continue to judge her.
Again I ask: who appointed you the attorney general of morality?
Let us learn to be tolerant of difference seeing as this is one of the things we ask the world of us. Bobrisky is merely living his life the way he deems fit; he is getting more influential. However my only concern is that he may not be equipped to deal with the spotlight. I would advise that he consider getting a strong team who will help him prepare for these interviews and press events and help him use his new found voice appropriately, as it really takes a village to make a celebrity.
I’ll close by saying to all of us: the next time you feel yourself starting to say something horrible about Bobrisky on account of his lifestyle and/or choices, ask yourself how these choices affect you personally. After all, this is the same thing we say to homophobes. Or are the rules different now?
Written by Dennis Macaulay