Originally published on olisa.tv
I’m sitting in my friend’s place. We are both watching TV and trying to understand what is going on with the movie. Some other friend is going through Instagram and sees that a lesbian couple has gotten engaged. Someone commented below the photo that they both deserve to be killed and the friend (acquaintance really) concurs.
Why? I ask.
Is it not a crime in Nigeria? she responds in the typical way we tend to answer questions with questions.
But even so, is the punishment death? Don’t you think we have bigger things to pursue in this country than witch hunting homosexuals? I persist.
At this point, she turns and looks at me, honestly confused, and asks: Are you a lesbian? Why are you supporting them?
A few weeks back, a friend asked why it seems we are unable to handle other people’s traumas, especially when these people are minorities. This is a heavy question to ask. Neil Gaiman, in American Gods, says, “This is how we walk and talk and function, day in, day out, immune to others’ pain and loss. If it were to touch us it would cripple us or make saints of us; but, for the most part, it does not touch us. We cannot allow it to.”
As humans, I think we generally have (or feel we have) more than enough pain of our own, so we try to avoid any opportunity to add that of others to the burden. I also think that as a majority, it becomes even easier to look away from the minority, to label them as abnormal. I once knew a guy who said he couldn’t sit next to a homosexual because homosexuals are not normal. So as far as we don’t feel what they feel, we may not necessarily understand how they hurt.
In the same period that writer Chibuihe Obi was abducted for his views on homosexuality and homophobia, singer Dammy Krane was arrested for credit card theft. You’d almost laugh at how variable we are with our sympathy. The responses to both incidences made me really think back to the guys that were beaten up and girls that were molested back in the university because they were homosexuals, back to people who have lost their jobs, their homes, their names, for being gay; who have lost so much for an act, an orientation that really doesn’t harm anyone and the amount of compassion they did not get. Then Dammy Krane gets arrested for credit card theft and apologists rise up with talks of forgiveness and the whole “fame pressure” nonsense.
If our grudge with homosexuality is in it being against our laws or whatever, then why is the same amount of energy not directed against people that steal credit cards? Yahoo boys? Performers that grope women inappropriately in the name of entertainment? Maybe it has to do with understanding the hurt of others, or our lack of it. Maybe it’s easier to understand the need to have more money, a better life, sexual pleasure than it is to understand the concept of wanting love from a same-sex partner. Maybe it stems from the concern that the world might change to a point that it threatens our existence and we want to preserve the majority (a friend’s view), that’s why we might have no qualms with harm done to the minority or maybe even support it, we are not them, they are not us. Or maybe it’s not so deep; maybe, really, what we are just looking for are “acceptable outlets” for our madness, a purge of sorts.
And really, like Chibuihe said, we might rant and use our hashtags and whatever, but how much does that help? The world can choose to be intolerant but with all we have gone through as a country, especially in the hands of our intolerance, I wish more Nigerians would be understanding of the fact that evil is evil and wrong is wrong irrespective of the subject, because we really can’t afford the costs otherwise.