Recently on Facebook, writer Bura Bari Nwilo updated the post below, chastising the tendency straight guys have for naming and shaming the gay guys who hit on them online.
In light of the fact that Bura used to express borderline homophobic sentiments (sentiments that had Absalom penning a caustic write-up for Kito Diaries [READ HERE]), this post was shared in a gay group I belong to, and thereafter sparked off a conversation and contention of opinions over the authenticity of Bura’s intentions.
Check on the conversation below:
PAUL: I’m going to add him up, so much sense.
LARRY: Him saying "these folks have feelings" makes the whole thing still sound stereotypical in a way I just can't explain, like there is something still off about the community that should make people emphatic with us. Maybe I am being too sensitive, or maybe the LGBT won't ever be seen as normal even by open-minded and liberal folks.
DELLE: I think one has got to be a whole lot more in the system to know that we don't want any empathy. We do not want to be patronized. But when a supposed straight ally makes such a sense-making post, I think we should be glad that someone has sense rather than reaching too far.
LARRY: I think you contradicted your stand in your comment. You think this “sense-making post” by this “supposed ally” is in its entirety not patronising of the gay community?
Like why must every intellectual try so hard to sell out this 'open-minded' stance on the gay community by making an 'intelligible' post that supports or aligns with the community but on a closer look shows the subtle aversion towards it?
It's just like me saying: “these people living with HIV/Aids have feeling too, when they hit on us, or when we find out our spouses are positive, we shouldn't castigate them.” I am presenting an open-minded and welcoming front, but that tone which sublimely infers that there is still something off about these people lingers on.
SOLA: Dude said “these folks” because he doesn’t belong to the group. He made a post siding with us and what are you doing? Hand-picking his lexicon?
DELLE: You’re still missing the point, LARRY. I'm not saying I do not understand you. All I'm saying is I think you are reaching. When you see an honest post, you'll know. It doesn't matter what you interpret it as. What matters is what the writer's intentions are.
Now what I tried saying is, if a straight guy or at least someone who doesn't really understand the struggles of the LGBT community pens down something as rational as what was written up there, I think we should just take it as it is rather than looking for patronising bits which would only come from you as the reader because you can't be the mind of the writer. Bura may have been very sincere, not knowing there are subtle hints of patronage to the community.
But in this country, I personally feel we need every ally we can get. Be rational, be smart. That's all. Over time, you would get indoctrinated into knowing exactly what it is we want.
At a time, we clamored for tolerance. Over the years, that has changed and we wanted acceptance. That too changed and we want none of it. We just want to be left alone. “Do not think we are living our lives for you. It doesn't matter if you accept us or not” – that is where we are now and it is a great thing. But not everyone, certainly not those in the community, are moving at the same speed because well, they do not fully understand.
See why I said we should not reach? It's not a bad thing what he said up there, and that for me is enough. It should be for you too. If everyone in that Facebook group, THE MEN IN NIGERIA, reasons this way that Bura did, you think we would be having virtual bloodshed there?
I don't think so too.
LARRY: He is straight, he is a writer, he is cute. He makes a post that is supposedly aligned or should I say supportive of the community. He has become the prince that was promised.
I might be wrong, I might be right. But "these folks" connotes a lot of meaning colloquially. So, neither of us are telepaths to know what context he used it in. Heterosexuals do not need anyone to foster the naturalness and conventionality of their love. But it is homosexuality now, and somehow we need all the support and tolerance we can get. BEAUTIFUL! So much for being born into an 'abomination skin' without your consent.
ENDY: You're right. You're being too sensitive. Jeezuz, ease up, will you?
BEN: What ENDY said.
IBK: Here, have some lube. It'll make it easier to slide that stick out your bum.
FRANCIS: Funny, some of us have taken LARRY’s stance on this matter before BUT we've suddenly done a full 360 for some reason. I wonder why. Maybe he's coming from an angle you all are comfortable with but LARRY isn't comfortable with.
LARRY: Maybe, just maybe, at the end of the day, the reception this LGBTQ thing is getting in this country is the right way to go about, since trying to be rational has been reduced to emotional oversensitivity.
FRANCIS: Let's just say we are sensitive to different things.
RAPUM: Bura is HUGE o! Plus, his sense has season o.
JOE: Huge? Please elaborate.
IBK: Sense has season? Please elaborate.
RAPUM: IBK, sometimes he can be gender and LGBT insensitive. But I don’t think he's homophobic. And JOE, let's just say, when he dressed up to class, we all saw the bulge, no matter how baggy the trousers were. No be small pikin prick.
JOE: LMAO! He's an Ogoni man. What do you expect?
RAPUM: I did not know Ogoni men are endowed oh.
HANK: Did Bura progress into this enlightenment just recently? Cause I recall him being in the camp of the Hymars and other soft homophobes those yesteryears.
RAPUM: That's why I'm telling them that his sense has season. Make una no come go on a friending spree, only to have your hearts smashed tomorrow.
ABSALOM: I actually shared the photo here to test if people knew of Bura Bari's history as a soft homophobe – as HANK calls it. Apparently, not many do, save for RAPUM and HANK. I guess on some days, we just feel…lenient and decide to shrug off stuff. Like LARRY, I hated the last paragraph. It was quite patronizing.
LARRY: Exactly. Patronising as fuck! But I guess so many dudes here are more interested in banalities than actualities. Funny, someone here had the guts to tell me I am being over-reactive. Coming from people that cannot publicly display affections without being stoned to death.
ENDY: ABSALOM, I know of Bura's history too. It was after all in Kito Diaries that you published your admonition of him. What I'm wondering though is, If Bura wasn't softly homophobic in the past and made that comment, would it still be patronising?
LARRY: Of course, ENDY. I didn't know who this Bura was before now, yet immediately I saw that post, I knew right away that it was patronising. Who says, "These people have feeling too"? Who says that? You reason it. Put it in all context. Use it as any colloquial connotation. Then tell me if that doesn't sound just 'somehow' to you.
ENDY: I'm sorry but I'm not seeing it. And I'm easily offended by condescension. Maybe I'm just too lazy to look for it. It's just vocabulary. You have to make room for the fact that you're projecting some of your angst on his words. "These people have feelings too." Are we not “people”? Do we not have feelings? Would it make you feel better if he'd said "They" instead of "These people"?
I'm sorry but yes, I'm acquiring more guts to tell you you're being over-reactive.
LARRY: 'They' would have sounded just perfect. But it's a pity Bura, the prolific writer who should supposedly be grounded in his use of words especially when writing, suddenly decided to use 'These' to represent a group of people who he supposedly sees as being normal and just like everyone else. SMH. And it irritates me that people who are supposed to see the wrong in this are being sentimental.
ENDY: Being sentimental? Lol. Dude, I don't know Bura beyond the social media. We aren't friends. Only time we exchanged words was when I wanted to buy his book. So there are no sentiments at work here. I'm simply not bothered by this.
And now, over to y’all, KDians: What is your take on this? There is no doubt that homophobia has a language. This language is easier to get when the homophobia is stark and obvious, and much trickier to detect when the homophobia is subtle.
But then, there’s the language expressed by people who seek to be allies of the LGBT and haven’t quite got the lingo of tolerance down pat. And sometimes they blunder their way through with their good intentions. And at other times, we quite possibly imagine slights where there perhaps aren’t any. Which isn’t surprising for a community of people who suffer actual slight and slander since inception.
When it comes to the language of homophobia – or a lack of it thereof – what is your opinion?