Nollywood And The Homosexual Nigerian

Nollywood And The Homosexual Nigerian

I came out to my colleague some weeks ago. From the first day we met, we had a connection, and that connection quickly led to a fast friendship. She studied abroad, and from the conversations we’d had, she was clearly feminist and agnostic. And her views on sexuality were very pro-LGBT.

So one afternoon, during lunch, she was kvetching about her boyfriend, and at some point in the conversation, she said, “I’m sure for someone like you, your girlfriend wouldn’t have anything to complain about.”

In response, I simply smiled.

She immediately got this quizzical expression in her eyes and asked, “You do have a girlfriend, right?”

I shook my head and said no.

Then she cocked her head and said, “A boyfriend perhaps?”

This was so refreshingly original, that a Nigerian would go from asking if you had a girlfriend to asking if you had a boyfriend, as opposed to going, “Why now? You should get yourself a girlfriend.”

And with a laugh, I said yes. There was no hesitation, no reserve. My answer came with the naturalness of one who was responding to someone he trusts.

Her eyes lit up and she flashed a smile as she gushed, “You hoe! Why didn’t you tell me this before?” And as we giggled our way through my revelation, she said with some excitement, “Now our conversations are about to get freaky and fun, and we can totally check out guys’ butts together.”

Bola (that’s her name, for the purpose of this story) was a delight as a friend. But as a friend who knew the real me, she was absolutely the best. She told me about how I was the first Nigerian gay male she was getting to know. I told her we were everywhere, only visible to those who know. Then she introduced me to her stash of gay comics. Apparently, she likes to watch cute guys make out – you know, in much the same way straight guys are into lesbian porn.

We got even closer, and our friendship didn’t escape the notice of our other colleagues.

One afternoon, we were talking about boys and stuff, when a coworker, a female corper who was attached to us for her NYSC, walked in and made a joke about me and Bola being a couple. The sheer ridiculousness of her joke caused an outburst of laughter from Bola and I. We were laughing so hard, we couldn’t breathe.

And the corper (Felicia, I’ll call her) stood there, looking certain that she hadn’t told a joke that funny.

When Bola and I sobered up, Felicia wanted to know why we’d laughed at her. And Bola turned to give me a ‘Should I tell her?’ look.

I nodded. Felicia didn’t seem like the homophobic type.

So Bola turned to her and told her that I am gay.

The babe was shook! Like she legit looked traumatized by the news. And her response confirmed what I suspected caused her shock. Apparently, because I didn’t fit the limp-wristed, hip-swaying stereotype, she would never have imagined I’d be gay.

A few days later, she called me and asked me if I’d be interested in acting, that she’d just been cast in a movie and that there was a role in it which she thinks I’d be perfect for. She also added that the pay was good.

As I listened to her, I just knew that this role was going to be that of a gay character. But I didn’t want to conclude yet. Perhaps the character was that of a swashbuckling dude with a flair for womanizing, or a brooding thug who becomes Beverly Naya’s love interest.

So I asked to see the script.

The following day, she brought it to work.

And when I read it, I not only confirmed that it was indeed a gay role, but the depiction of the gay character had me feeling royally pissed. (But don’t take my word for it. Check it out yourself.)

As a gay man, I felt really insulted. A gayish Frank dressed in female tight and top? With makeup? He walks like a lady?

This was all the homosexual someone in Nollywood knew?!

I told Felicia that I wanted to speak to the scriptwriter. She gave me the WhatsApp number. The scriptwriter is female.

I buzzed her, and when she responded, I went in on her regarding the vapidity of the gay character she’d created. I mean, what the hell did ‘a gayish Frank’ even mean?

She got quickly defensive, and was going on and on about how she wasn’t well-informed about gay people. But I didn’t let her have that. She was writing a script about a real person; how about you do some research, lady? She was in the movie business, an industry that teems with gay people. It can’t be that hard to get connected to someone who knows someone who knows someone with enough gay in him to impart enough knowledge in her regarding how we are much more than the cross-dressing Bobrisky-type. Even if the character was a hairdresser!

And even if she wasn’t suitably connected, there are shows, movies – there’s fucking Google! It’s 2018! No one can claim, in this day and age, ignorance of the existence of gay people – all sorts of gay people!

I was really upset by her level of stupidity. And when I sent the screenshot of the script to Bola, she was equally incensed. As someone who had worked at the London gay pride for three consecutive years, she knew enough to share my outrage at this tasteless one-dimensional depiction of a Nigerian gay male.

I felt insulted as a gay man, especially because I didn’t even see myself in that character. There is a different kind of homophobia going on in Nollywood, and it is very insidious with the way it has chosen to represent the LGBT community. First there was that disaster of a film, Busted, that starred Kate Henshaw and Liz Benson, with all the fallacies they spun about lesbianism. And now this! Nollywood has a history of steadfastly refusing to get it right when it comes to LGBT representation, and that’s a shame, considering how gay the industry actually is.

I learned that the role eventually went to Kalu Ikeagwu.

Written by Kennedy

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9 Comments

  1. Bhawscity
    September 24, 05:12 Reply

    Nollywood sef. They don’t do research or anything. What a myopic stereotype and what in God’s name is “a gayish Frank”? Seriously?

  2. Johnny
    September 24, 06:49 Reply

    What kind of script structure is this? These people can’t even afford a script writing software or what?
    Gayish Frank. Nollywood needs restructuring. They need to be Schooled. Na Dem get rainbow pass, Dem still dey talk rubbish.

  3. Francis
    September 24, 08:11 Reply

    😂 😂 😂 😂 😂 Shebi I hear say gay film people follow dey enforce that stereotype too. 🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️

    • Colossus
      September 24, 10:58 Reply

      This is the absolute fact. It’s an industry filled with gay people, if they can’t change the story from the inside then what can the viewers actually do?

  4. Bob kay
    September 24, 10:23 Reply

    Through the early years of Hollywood, depiction of gay characterisation had to be subtle and discrete. If the character had to be obviously gay, what you get what the writer identifies as “gayish Frank”! Mind you, about 30% of the movie community were gay, one of the biggest stars, Rock Hudson was gay. However, producers had to tread carefully, based on issues like film certification. The same issue of LGBT representation affects today’s Nollywood. When the industry started in 1992, a producer dare not include a gay character! But today, gay characterisations are popping up here and there in the industry. The wider populace are getting to see these characters functioning in society, though obviously caricatures! As little as it might seem, this is a first step. The next step is for writers, who happen to be gay,writing screenplays for movies, subtly placing LGBT characterized stories in the mainstream. Nobody can tell your story better than you. Also remember that we have a very strict film censorship regime in Nigeria, you of course want your movie released into the market!

  5. Keredim
    September 24, 10:29 Reply

    I admire that you took a stance and read the script writer the riot act. I also applaud the fact that you didn’t pursue the role.

    But I wonder if you didn’t miss an opportunity to educate her on the various types of gay people in Nigeria (& the world), by offering to help her change her script, rather than have her on the defensive.

    If she searches Google as you suggested for “black gay male hairdresser characters on film” for instance, she will be hard pressed to find any masculine acting ones.

    My point? We are not sure how gay people around her present and she may have written about what she is exposed to and she is not entirely to blame.

    I saw a quote attributed to Harley Davidson the other day “When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen”

    Maybe it’s time as gay people we start writing our own stories for Nollywood.

    🤷🏾‍♂️

  6. xumzi sola
    September 24, 14:56 Reply

    if she has any other gay role, let me know please.

    how can I contact you? thanks

  7. Patrick
    September 25, 07:59 Reply

    Who doesn’t know that scriptwriting is the bane of Nollywood. If it’s not full of cliché, it’s melodramatic. You’d be hard pressed to find any detailed characterization.

    And it’s not just in the portrayal of homosexuality, but of any serious plot. That’s why their recent “successful” releases have been comedies where they gather comedians and musicians, with a few real actors.

    And I suspect that portrayals of homosexuality in Nollywood is meant to elicit laughter from the audience.

    Creating a nuanced, accurate depiction is too much hard work and creativity for the average mediocre Nollywood screenwriter, so they resort to cheap and easy stereotyping.

  8. Black Coffee
    September 25, 10:08 Reply

    Such stereotyping shaaa. But you wouldn’t blame her completely as it could be it’s the only picture of a gay man she could come up with.

    She just need a thorough schooling. Btw, she can’t tell the best narrative of what she’s not.

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