‘I’d rather live so I can keep fighting.’ – Bisi Alimi

‘I’d rather live so I can keep fighting.’ – Bisi Alimi

In an interview with Blanck Digital magazine, Nigerian gay activist, Bisi Alimi says he can’t come to Nigeria because he’s scared for his life. Bisi who came out as gay on National TV many years back has been living in the UK since 2007. Bisi says Homosexuality can be accepted in Africa as Africans are neither idiots nor senseless.

“Since I left Nigeria in 2007 I have never been back, it’s not a safe place for me. It would be sheer foolishness on my part to go back to Nigeria after the failed attempt on my life or the never ending run-ins I had with the police. It is one thing to be a martyr and another to live to fight another day, and I think I would rather want to live so I can keep fighting.

More excerpts of the interview after the cut.

Do you miss Lagos?

Do I miss Lagos? Do I miss Mushin? I will be lying if I said I don’t. I really miss the fun I had as a child; I miss the buzz of living on the street and the fun of overcoming those unexpected dangers that come with living in a place like Mushin. I miss my friends, my families and the neighbourhood. However, I won’t deny that in as much as I do miss Lagos and Mushin, I also realised that Lagos broke ties with me when I came out as gay and it was very hard then and even harder now to really relate to Mushin as home.

Can you go Home?

The simple answer is NO! Unless otherwise I want to take a risk and sometimes I have said myself, is it a risk worth taking? I am not sure I know the answer.

bisi 2What has been the impact of your sexuality and your coming out been in Nigeria?

It has changed the conversation around same sex relationship and identity in Nigeria. The fact is, do your research and you find that prior to 2004, when I came out on New Dawn, there were hardly any conversations around such issues. A few months before my coming out, Obasanjo was busy spreading false messages about no homosexuals in Nigeria. To my recollection of things, that was the first time same sex issues were making mainstream news. The media were reporting it and it was really getting airwaves. However, there was a narrative that was missing. The narrative of the real people. We were considered invisible by Obasanjo and there was that need to create visibility. It was a great shock when on the morning of that October, a guy sat on the sofa with Funmi Iyanda and talked about being gay. I mean in Nigeria? Till today I still received emails from Nigerians saying I must be mad to have done that.

Today we have a law that criminalizes same sex relationships in Nigeria. The law came into effect because I spoke up and others have not kept quiet since then. Whichever way we look at it, the act of 2004 changed the discourse in Nigeria.

Do you think homosexuality can be accepted in an African society?

Yes I do. I do because Africans are not idiots or senseless. It really angers me when in the discourse of accepting sexual orientation and gender identity, that Africans are likened to some dangerous species. History in Europe as regards LGBT people is not that far away. I mean homosexuality was decriminalized in the UK just over 50 years ago. It is important to note that Nigeria was just coming out of colonial rules when Britain was decriminalizing homosexuality. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not making a case for homophobes in Nigeria or Uganda or any other part of Africa. What I am saying is, the question that generates a sense of hopelessness as regards LGBT rights in Africa is only playing to the irrational discourse that Africans are not rational people. We know that contrary is the case.

It is important to understand the impact post colonial religious movement is having on the continent. Yes, homosexuality will be accepted in Nigeria if we stick to the positive narrative of same sex relationships. If we step up the game and let Africans remember the basis of the African society, one built on the principles of “umbutu” and not on greed as perpetrated by religious entrepreneur who are constantly ruining the continent with the support of their politicians, who disregards democracy and the wish of the people.

It is not only homosexuality I see being accepted on the continent, I see good governance coming on as well. I see the people’s wishes coming true. I see respect for women and girls. I see the end of marriage rape and child marriage. I see education becoming a right and not a privilege. I see healthcare being people orientated and I am see an Africa like David Diop said in “Africa”, a continent “Whose fruit bit by bit acquires the bitter taste of liberty”

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  1. Dennis Macauley
    January 26, 17:57 Reply

    Bisi, you have no idea the amount of respect i have for you. Standing up for what you believe and paying a huge price for it. I am inspired by your life everyday, you are a man of balls (plenty pun intended).

    Again i re-iterate that its absolutely not fair for you too look like a teenager at 40, especially as Funmi says you eat for oyo state! Lol

    • Bisi Alimi
      February 02, 09:54 Reply

      Dennis…. Lets talk about this, my consultancy fee is low and I can do special offer for you…. So I can tell you the secret….. Lol

  2. Peak
    January 26, 18:25 Reply

    *Playing Dawn Richard’s “Warrior” for this man.

    Yes to good governance
    Yes to a health care that is ppl oriented
    Yes to Education being a right and not a priviledge
    Yes to respect for women and girls
    Yes to Bisi alimi’s dream of a better and tolerant Nigeria/Africa. I just hope I stick around long enough to see it happen.

    I Seriously want the type of fresh abs that this man is rocking at 40. Screaming Motivation *in my kelly rowland voice.
    I was like Awwww, when I saw a pic of him and his boo during a surprise 40th Bday party that he threw for him yesterday.
    #Respect #Inspired #Strenght #Courage

  3. Deola
    January 26, 18:45 Reply

    How can he look this good at 40! I am jealousing oh!

    I have nothing but admiration and mad respect for this guy… Xoxo.

  4. Lord II
    January 26, 19:08 Reply

    Dear Bisi wow it has been a long time from way back when. Pray biko tell, if it’s not too much trouble, what your life is on a regular day and how it’s been for you since. We know only as much as what the cyber and media world would give us but coming directly from you would be awesome for some of us!

  5. Pete
    January 26, 20:57 Reply

    Enough respect, Bisi

  6. Ace
    January 26, 21:25 Reply

    What struck me ” I mean homosexuality was decriminalized in the UK just over 50 years ago. It is important to note that Nigeria was just coming out of colonial rules when Britain was decriminalizing homosexuality”. Exposure, education and knowledge is going to be very important in this fight. And Oga Bisi, I want the clothes.

  7. A-non
    January 26, 22:36 Reply

    The last paragraph was my best.

    There’s still so much grounds to cover as a country and as a continent.

    I’d say we have made some baby steps even in overcoming some homophobia. An incident overview the weekend made me begin to count how many of my straight friends I have come out to and I counted six of them and I still enjoy a healthy relationship with them, infact I had to sleep on the same bed with one of them recently for two consecutive nights and he did not make any reference to it or behave like he was afraid I’d try and touch him – something some ignorant people think happens when they sleep on the same bed with a gay guy.

  8. Gad
    January 27, 03:18 Reply

    The task of nation building is a painstaking, slow but concerted effort. I’m sure we will get there soon. Very soon

  9. Brian Collins
    January 27, 03:41 Reply

    Lemme just say that i am very inspired by this man. I am totally in awe. Being the first to make such a statement in Nigeria when everyone would have preferred to live in the shadows. it’s just incredible.

  10. Max
    January 27, 05:37 Reply

    Is it camera Angle?? How can this ukpana have abs?? Haven’t even read the piece yet..

      • Max
        January 27, 08:08 Reply

        Hahahahahaha.. You wouldn’t be d first to say that dear.

  11. Max
    January 27, 06:43 Reply

    I don’t think we r gonna be alive to witness that change we r looking for. That’s my only concern. Nigeria is too far away. We r not even where the Brits where 50 years ago.. A huge percentage of the population is illeterate and that’s a huge problem…

  12. Pedro Mann (@D1kPedro)
    January 27, 08:33 Reply

    The problem is that Nigerians love living in the shadows [as in we prefer being D.L]. Most of those who supported the anti-gay law are even gay. They just want to ward off suspicion. Another “closeted gay” man would be loud in condemning gay tendencies so that he will be proclaimed “normal”. But we know them. I heard recently the legislatives are about to ban pornography. I wonder how they intend to do that. Instead of our legislatives to use the time for meetings in a better way, they prefer to be gambling over nonsense issues that will not better the nation. Tell me one thing the anti-gay law has helped us achieve. Nothing! Bro GEJ instead thought he will win favour with it. I know very many many married men who are gay but you dare not mention it to them that they are gay. In fact! My neighbour always likes coming in to knock on my bathroom door whenever I’m having a bath. Yet he’s as “straight” as a ruler. He doesn’t want you to mention that he’s gay. Yet… Men prefer doing their things without any accusations. I can boldly say that ALL men are bi-inclined. Or at least have gay tendencies. The issue is that the general notion [by homophobes] is that being gay is all about the penetrative anal sex. Now, who doesn’t think about sex? Science proves that we think about sex more than we think about food. I think I’m ranting already sef. Let me continue debugging something here abeg.

    • Max
      January 27, 10:22 Reply

      Yeah heard the pornography thing too.. They should come and try Na. I’ll still be able to stream them 24/7.. Instead of fixing core issues with the society, they’re talking about porn. Same old men who wanted to legalize marrying toddlers now think they have the moral high ground to push into law the ban on pornography. Sometimes I feel like kill people with my mind. Just a blink and all the law makers in Nigeria will be toast. I hate them!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hate them all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Gad
        January 27, 10:44 Reply

        Do all your hating and killing with your votes.

  13. Andrevn
    January 27, 16:35 Reply

    The ending part ”Africa” a continent ”whose fruit acquires bit by bit the bitter taste of Liberty” is so defining for me…and i know we will get there…

    It’s all about visibility on our part not asif they(friends,siblings,Parents) do not know already and educating of those dear to us..

    Just came out to my school Dad 2days ago and he was like he suspected while we were in school….he was cool with it and understanding tho i had to explain some in tricacies to him ……

    My bestie thinks my lil demons are starting to eat me up and wants to know whats happening so i told her to do extensive research on SEXUALITY and HOMOSEXUALITY,telling her to bear in mind that she will definitely see stuffs that portrays us in Bad light after which her understanding(of the subject) and response will lemme tell her about my lil ”scary Demons” …

    So definitely Pinky,the article ”Lets’ discuss about Visibility” has made me see things in different perspective and thank you Bisi for making us visible to the world.

  14. Bisi Alimi
    February 02, 10:04 Reply

    Thank you all for the words… You guys have no idea how inspiring you all are. I come to this blog everyday and I read the story of pains, of courage, of struggle and of joy. Even in the face of the many challenges we face, I cant help but notice the humour that is the life of this place. I mean our lives is like being fucked everyday with big huge unwanted dicks but we still take time to laugh it all off. Kudos to you all.

    But most importantly, kudos to @pinkpanther for ever coming up with this idea…. I cant help it but really salute your devoution to this and believe me I am not smooth talking you… I only reserve that for men I want to take to be *flee*…. Lol

    @Max, it is not the camera angle, I actually have those abs but falling in love and eating like starved African child is taking its tow on me…. I mean my bones are cracking as well, so age is telling on me.

    As for what we can do, guys watch this space as I will be launching my 40th legacy project in few weeks and I will need your help. It is something big and I am hoping the community will buy into it….

    My lips are sealed now or my agent and publicity will kill me…..

    I am hoping KD we can do a goggle hangout soon and just talk about issues.
    I am sorry for my long post….. *back to my iyan and efo riro*

  15. kendigin
    February 05, 08:52 Reply

    Everytime I hear a Nigerian speak about issues of sexuality, I am filled with a renewed sense of hope. Nigeria is still a very homophobic place to live. Even us gays are homophobic (on some level) as well.
    But coming out is a whole different issue. My advise to Bisi will be not to return here. Otherwise some overzealous police, the homophobic community or even the govt may want to use him as an example. Your life is worth far more than any struggle you may want to face. We appreciate you Bisi and hope that there can be more people like you.
    Things are change, eventhough ever so slowly, but things are changing. Thanks to social media we can talk to one another and deal with peculiar issues affecting us. But more obviously needs to be done. The gay community needs to organize itself more formally. There are gay people everywhere, doctors, lawyers, etc even in govt. But it seems many of us are still to afraid, too ashamed and too embarrassed to enlighten our largely ignorant public

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