A friend of mine and follower of KD wanted to know, a couple of days ago, what comment made in disparagement of someone’s HIV status that brought on the collective wrath of the blog. I directed him to the contentious post, and when he was done, he returned to our private chat with an opinion about the KDian who shared his HIV story on KD: “Not a good move, if I must say… smh.”
And so the following is a bit of how our chatversation went after this tersely expressed opinion.
ME: Why? Why was it not a good move to share something to inspire people? Because someone will have something bad to say? So, by that standard, Kenny Badmus should not have talked about his coming out as well?
DUDE: Do you not see the resultant effect? Besides, Coming Out and HIV issue are two different things.
ME: Oh really? Educate me.
DUDE: Keep waiting. My point has been made. He made a wrong move. Even the Kenny guy. Anyways, he will survive it because he’s not based in Nigeria. He wouldn’t have tried it if he was based fully here.
ME: …Clearly you’re one of those who believe everything hidden should stay hidden, because we wouldn’t want to upset society.
And his response to my comment was to taunt me to come out to my own family, if I thought so highly about people coming out, effectively missing my point. Because, it wasn’t a chat exclusive to the two of us, a second friend who had access to the chat intruded with his own opinion.
NEW DUDE: It’s a brave step…and everyone does not have the courage to do it (anytime soon). What Pinky is saying is that when someone goes through with it, he should be admired and not put down. What have you been getting from KD? Just sex stories?
Now, this conversation went back and forth, on and on, with the second friend and I trying to make this first guy understand the importance of opening the eyes of society to those things it would rather be blind too. Suffice it to say that he never got it. He’s a gay man who doesn’t believe people should share stories about their struggles for survival over HIV or that homosexual persons should come out of the closet. And that, sadly, is the stance many of us – and I don’t even mean the heterosexual majority – take on issues such as this. Some of us believe we shouldn’t cause any ripples. We should let sleeping dogs lie. We should keep quiet and perhaps they (society) won’t bother with us.
But I have to ask, where there any Nigerian gay men or lesbians agitating to get married before the Nigerian anti gay bill was drafted and subsequently signed into law? No. There was silence there, and yet, society had to meddle.
And in the wake of the sharing of that HIV story that should-not-have-been-shared, I know the tide of emails I got and tortured but grateful souls I had to deal with, all of them responding to the first ever HIV narrative on Kito Diaries. A couple of correspondents, one of them who is now a good friend, were prompted by the story to go get tested, and when one of them turned out positive, he had the presence of mind to take decisive actions to help himself.
All because a brother told his story.
Kenny Badmus’ revelation of his 16-year living with HIV undoubtedly inspired the length and breadth of the public who read what he had to say.
And his coming out, while it incurred the wrath of majority, gave hope to the minority still ensconced in their closets.
My point? Things that society would rather shun should have visibility, so that the people can learn to accept it and get past the controversy of it. Slave trade, Equal Human Rights, Black Voting Rights in America, HIV/AIDS, Feminism, Homosexuality – these are all contentious issues that deserved visibility and either got it or are currently getting it. Visibility which led to resolution. Of course, society will fight back. But does that make it okay to remain silent and hidden?
But hey, that’s just my opinion. What’s yours? Let’s discuss about the visibility of the things society would rather not see.