A part of a new series exploring lgbt issues in other countries.
For Nigerians (or Africans), it can be difficult to understand the concept of LGBT pride as some western countries see it (for some it is like a religion). The governments here directly push us LGBT+ people down dark alleys and into hiding, and in these countries being gay is seen as a curse.
So then, why be proud?
Regardless of how society sees us it is of great importance that we at a certain point – or month as the case may be – get to celebrate who we are and what we stand for. But in the same way, it is saddening that most Nigerians misunderstand the concept of pride. Even more disappointing is the fact that most Nigerian LGBT+ people suffer from internalized homophobia, and they do not see the importance of understanding the concept of PRIDE.
But should they really be blamed? When they live in a world where it is shameful to be LGBT+. They are in sexual crisis, denial, depression and in a worst case scenario can be suicidal. According to a human right advocate, those in this circumstance are “getting to fight the core tenet of their belief system which entails disregarding almost everything they know and learnt while growing up”.
So what is Pride all about?
To commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan, June was established as the official LGBT+ Pride month, but its significance and meaning to the community has since dramatically broadened. One of the most obvious elements of the Pride month include the events that are thrown in major cities all across various countries and continents. Pride events, which for short is called Pride, are the manifestation of our community’s obvious existence.
However, Pride is only visible in countries with LGBT+ (legal) protection, but to residents of Africa (except South Africa), and some parts of Asia and Europe, it is a bedtime story.
LGBT+ Pride is the positive stance against discrimination and violence towards Gay men and women, Bisexuals, Transgenders, and others under the Rainbow Flag, to promote their self-affirmation, dignity, equal rights, increase their visibility as both a social and cultural group, and celebrate sexual diversity and gender variance.
Pride as opposed to shame and social stigma, is the predominant outlook that bolsters most LGBT+ rights movements throughout the world.
To many Nigerians being different isn’t what they would ideally choose. I suppose it is a human’s first line of defence to try to move with the crowd. Face it, no one wants to purposely be different from the conventional ‘norm’ of society.
My initial concept of Pride was quite traumatic and disheartening. I saw Pride as an avenue to meet people and have a quick corner shag, then party afterwards. More disheartening is the fact that a bunch of ‘misfits’ had to match semi-nude and in speedos, this was my personal perception of Pride. A couple years after my first experience I realised that sex is an expression of sexuality, and a form of empowerment and choice, but I still failed to grasp the full concept of Pride.
Fast forward to the present and my concept of Pride evolved not because I had any formal lectures, but because of my personal research, and Hollywood inclusions. In the spirit of Pride, and due to my initial misconception of Pride 7 Shades of Us had the intention of sharing the views of a couple of my gay and straight friends whose identities would be kept a secret.
These questions were asked to them;
1. What do you understand by LGBT Pride?
2. Would you participate in a Pride Event?
Q1 A day or period where people party hard, get laid and do all kinds of crazy stuff.
Q1 It is one of the essential ways of promoting LGBT+ visibility. Reminds the world that we actually do indeed exist, and we here to stay. It is just like Black history month… A period to reflect on how far we’ve come as a community, and how far we are yet to attain.
Q2 Attending one in Nigeria would not be obtainable with the existing law, but sure, let’s see what the future holds.
Q1 The day we celebrate who we are and what we stand for.
Q2 Depends on the country.
Q1 People of the gay community publicly telling the world they are queer when it matters.
Q1 Bunch of people celebrating the fact that they are gay, but instead it is just an avenue to hook-up. Its purpose has been watered down to just sex, drugs and parties. I do not feel it is a freedom march any longer, but a sex walk.
Q2 No, but might watch from a distance to checkout hot boys, come on who doesn’t like hot boys!
Q1 Being asexual it would be difficult to explain, but I feel it is a celebration of LGBT+
Community; its past, present and future. It calls for everyone in the world to join hands and celebrate regardless of your sexual orientation or behaviour.
Q1 Pride brings LGBT+ Community together to celebrate their lifestyle, advocate for equal rights, share experiences and network.
Q2 Not in Nigeria.
Q1 I see gay Pride as an event which celebrates the fact that we can now gather in a public place, celebrate and enjoy everything that makes us who we are, forcing the world around to look at us, to see that we are human too and that we love just as strongly as they do and that we deserve to be acknowledged as who we are without fear of persecution.
Q2 Yes of course.
Q1 I am a heterosexual guy, do pardon if I get it wrong. I perceive the LGBT+ Community as
the most sexually active group so it should be some form of sexual event.
Q2 No, I am straight.
Q1 Period where the LGBT+ Community publicly celebrate and out themselves.
Q2 The heterosexual individuals do go round parading, I do not see the purpose for such event.
Q1 No idea.
Q2 It should not exist in the first place.
What is Pride?
Q1 Why do we feel the need to flaunt our sexuality? As a proud “bisexual” person, I am still yet to grasp the importance of Pride.
Q2 Definitely. I would attend to support the community, but I do not need anyone’s approval to be happy. Just as much as a couple understood what Pride was all about they still failed to understand that allies (heterosexual men and women) can too participate in a Pride March. The misconception of what Pride means to some can be traced to the fact that they see homosexuality as an escape for sexual escapades, but that is not so. However, these views cannot be used to generalise what Nigerians define as Pride (a proper and more detailed survey is encouraged).