Funny thing, I was saying a few weeks back how I wasnt going to touch the anti-gay bill with a ten feet pole, no pun intended (or intended?) but here I am.
Personally growing up in Nigeria, homosexuality was something that I never took notice of. It was completely out of my radar, it wasn’t discussed, never saw or heard about it. I m not saying that there weren’t gay people in Nigeria, I bet there was and I am sure there are going by the recent anti-gay bill passed by the senate. I just don’t remember homosexuality being a topic when I was growing up. My first encounter with homosexuality was an episode of the Simpsons where I think Homer made friends with a gay guy and was afraid Bart was going to be a sissy or something. I just remember associating C &C Music Factory’s “Everybody Dance Now” with gay people after I watched the gay steel mill episode. Growing up, there was always the odd hausa movie with a man dressed as a woman speaking with a high pitched voice but I figured that was just comedy. Apparently, there are cross dressing men in some parts of the north called ‘yan dawdu or something. Go figure. Also I believe I got the gay sex talk before I ever got the actual sex talk. I believe I was told that men weren’t supposed to touch me and that I should like girls. I was shown some bible passages I believe. I find this funny how I was too young for a sex talk but not too young to be told I should be wary of homosexuality. I also think I was told this because there was a slight possibility of me going to an all boys boarding school ( I went to a mixed boarding school eventually). I also used to hear stories about girl on girl action at all girl boarding school at that young age, I still give girls who went to all girl boarding schools a bit of a side eye but in a good way.
I think before I came to America, I was pretty oblivious to homosexuality and actually I think I was definitely not for it but I always pictured it as something foreign that I saw in sitcoms and so on. It was put in a funny context with that show Will and Grace, that was the extent of my gay experience before landing the shores of the good ol’ US of A. While in Uncle Sam’s Country, I have become more liberal and I actually do know some gay people and I have come to the conclusion that even though I am not gay, it is their life and really none of my business. In terms of culture shock, one of my worst experiences was watching two gay guys make out in the subway after a night out with friends. Now by this time, I was pretty tolerant but what made it worse was that these guys were drunk and one of them puked on the other guy while they were kissing and guess what, they continued kissing. Even in a heterosexual situation, if I saw a guy and a girl kissing and one person puked on the other I would be scarred for life. Another experience I had was seeing two guys get it on in the library stacks when I worked there. I definitely turned around and walked away, I have never watched gay porn and I wasn’t intending to do so. I am not giving these anecdotes as an anti-gay statement, Its just part of my experience with gay-ness. I have also been taken by two straight girls (I think so) to a gay bar, I have no idea what that says about me. Pretty much I am live and let live when it comes to gays and gay marriage.
Now back to Nigeria and this anti-gay bill, I share the opinion of many “westernized” folk of the twitterverse when I say, doesn’t our senate have more pressing issues to deal with at the current time? Like seriously, we are facing threats from a terrorist group, poverty still exists, crime is still happening, basic services such as electricity, water and health care are not available to majority of the population and you chose to target gay people? It doesn’t make any sense, I actually think this is a diversionary tactic by the government to gain support from the religious which would describe majority of Nigeria’s population. In a country with some sort of religious divide, I think the ultra conservative pastor and imam agree on one thing, homosexuality is evil so if a senate is trying to score brownie points with such people an anti gay bill will fit nicely.
Majority of Nigerians have little or no experience with homosexuality. I dont think it was a dinner time topic for many of us. Ththe act e only places where people might have heard of homosexuality is in church. I can speak for myself as a christian when I say I have heard a sermon or two preaching against homosexuality. And of course a lot of people grow up being told it is wrong and associate male homosexuality with child sexual abuse. So yes, I dont think homosexuality or gay-ness is very humanized in the minds of most Nigerians. Also keep in mind that we are people who can be accused sometimes of great hypocrisy and pharisee-like behavior. Why? Well there are always rumors of politcians having gay lovers yet these same politicians will pass an anti-gay bill. Much in the same way, people have sex but then arent as open about it or pretend that they dont when they go to church or whatever. On a sidenote, I was recently talking to a friend how I noticed there is a tendency for Nigerian girls to exaggerate how much of a “good” girl they are. Basically, a girl will pretend like she is ignorant of sex whilst she is an expert. I mean its like being open about sexuality is frowned upon whether hetero or homo. Of course in the case of girls, you could blame a male dominated society that frowns upon sexuality in women and tags them ashawo for doing what men do. Thats a topic for another day.
To reason this out as a christian, I would say this. If homosexuality is a sin, it is as much a sin as adultery, fornication, stealing, killing but does the government legislate who you sleep with? Should they make an anti-fornication/adultery bill where any non married people caught having sex will go to jail for 10 years? Also I think the best type of evangelism if you believe you can “convert” a gay person is through showing them love, it is what Jesus would do. Government should give us better roads, fix the electricity problem, make sure people are receiving quality education, health care and and a better standard of living. I think it isnt government’s place to legislate morality in cases where the act being committed does not infringe on another person’s right. I believe someone else’s sexuality does not infringe upon my freedom as a person and the same should go for our society. What do you think about the anti-gay bill and homophobia in Nigeria?