May The Kite And Eagle Perch

epa03341640 Gay and lesbian activists attend Uganda's first gay pride parade and celebration at the Entebbe Botanical Gardens, Kampala, Uganda, 04 August 2012. Both male and female homosexual activity is illegal in Uganda. The parade took place the day after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised activists who opposed a tough draft law in Uganda targeting gays and lesbians. She called them an inspiration for others struggling to secure equal rights around the world.  EPA/RACHEL ADAMS

Written by Kambili Chimalu, and originally published on Bellanaija.com

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A lot of gay Nigerians are increasingly stepping into the limelight to campaign for their rights as human beings deserving of respect and peace of mind in their own country. This is a noble and worthwhile pursuit, but it has led a lot of Nigerians to believe (and verbalize) that those who campaign for gay rights are trying to force some sort of “gay agenda” down their throats.

Nigeria, as it is today, is a very dangerous place for anyone suspected of being gay. People may like to deny this, but being gay in Nigeria is tantamount to dousing yourself in fuel and dancing around a bonfire. It is a death sentence, both in the literal and civic sense. The government has enshrined the persecution of gay people and their supporters in law that exposing yourself as a gay individual is simply “asking for it.” Nigerians cheered and openly displayed their bigotry when the law against same-sex marriage was passed. Would a gay person highlighting the injustice of that constitute as “shoving it down other people’s throats?”

People fail to realize that no sane human being would willingly “turn gay” in a country like Nigeria. The potential to lose your family, home, and even life is too great for anyone “to become gay on purpose in order to belong.” Belong to what exactly? The most persecuted group in the world? Let’s try to rationalize this: gays live in a society where the government has legitimized their oppression; almost the whole population sees them as abominations; their families often disown them; strangers continually spew vitriol and threaten their very existence; being suspected of being gay may most likely result in a public lynching. So, I fail to see the compelling argument that would encourage people to become gay because it is the “in-thing.” If anything, it is the “out-out-thing.” Those that make the “people-must-be-becoming-gay-in-order-to-belong” argument refuse to look beyond their heteronormatively-enforced ignorance and/or arrogance to empathize with the plight of their fellow humans.

Yes, TV shows are starting to be reflective of the general society around us, so there are a few portrayals of same-sex relationships, but the fact still remains that portrayals of heterosexual relationships are still in the large majority. However, these portrayals of same-sex relationships are found mostly in Western media, but since our focus is Nigeria, I challenge anyone to show me a portrayal of a loving healthy same-sex relationship in the Nigerian media. The few cases we see of same-sex relationships portrayed on TV are often stories of relationships shrouded in secrecy and shame, which is reflective of the general atmosphere in Nigeria. These people must hide who they are, lurking in the shadows and living on the margins of society.

People often shroud their persecution of homosexuals in the cloak of religion and culture, but that is the refuge of those who refuse to take responsibility for their cruel inhumanity to their fellow man. If they can safely transfer the burden of responsibility to religion and culture, then they can sleep better at night knowing that they are merely automatons preserving the scared edicts of their religion and culture. If their religion and culture have already dehumanized these people as “other,” then it is easier to continue the dehumanization than examine and challenge this injustice.

It is my sincere belief that Nigerians should be the last people to use religion as a tool of oppression. Other than the fact that we cannot legislate morality because there should be a thick brick wall separating the church and the state, anyone familiar with the institutions of colonialism and slavery will understand why using a literal interpretation of religious texts to justify the degradation and dehumanization of a group of people is dangerous. The colonial masters, believing in the divine authority that has been bestowed on them by God, carved up and subjugated a whole continent because the dark skin of the savages was an apparent result of God’s view of them as inferior and beasts of burden. Believing colonization to not be enough, this same people, acting under the belief of some divine supremacy, enslaved the inhabitants of that continent. I see no difference between what the fundamentalist racist colonial masters did to what fundamental homophobes are doing in Nigeria today.

When it comes to culture, the one true thing we know for certain is that culture is always adapting to fit the needs of society. We are not bound to live by the codes that worked for our dead ancestors because we were not made for culture; culture was made for us. It is a clay that can be reshaped and remolded to fit the needs of its people.

Whenever I talk about this topic, I always get two comments: are you sure you are not gay and are you even a Christian? So, I am going to preemptively answer these accusations. No, I am not gay. I do not have to be gay to recognize the need for equality. Yes, I am a Christian, but I do not believe that my religion should be the yardstick with which I legislate other people’s morality.

The fight for gay rights is a big and dangerous one, but it is a fight we must engage in. When the oppressed raise their voice for equality, the empowered often call it “shoving your agenda down my throat.” Asking to be treated as a human being in your own country is not “shoving anything down anyone’s throat.” Asking not to be persecuted in your own home is not shoving anything down anyone’s throat. Asking not to live in fear of being lynched for who you are or love is not shoving anything down anyone’s throat.

The truth is that other people’s human rights is non-negotiable and if campaigning for those human rights constitutes shoving it down your throat, then saddle up and be prepared to be force-fed basic human decency. No one is asking that heterosexuals go out and find same-sex partners. Heck, no one is saying that homosexuals will convert heterosexuals and their children and bring about the end of humanity. What people are demanding is that heterosexuals not use their normal to deprive other people of their basic humanity.

One of my favorite proverbs is “May the Kite and the Eagle perch. If one says no to the other, let its wing break.” In other words, live and let live. The world is big enough for us, homosexuals and heterosexuals, to coexist without one group trampling on the other’s rights.

37 thoughts on “May The Kite And Eagle Perch

  1. 👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿That’s all

  2. SMH. I have always opined thar a lot of Nigerians are just idiots. There wasn’t as much outrage as to when that child marriage thing was passed as there was happiness when the Anti-Gay bill was signed. We still have a long way to go in recognising rights in this country.

  3. I kept going back and forth to find parts of this article to quote as a comment, I ended up pasting almost all of it. If only a good percentage of Nigerians could read this and apply it! We’ve still got a Long way to go.

    • I think what a good percentage of the populace should do more is to go to the archives. Each should dig into the history of his immediate ancestral community. Gather facts from elders. That in my opinion is the first step. People should know be made aware of the fact that gays has always been here.

  4. Great piece on bella naija of all places…dis is nice… If only most nigerians can relate to d pains of d gay folks…I mean nobody asked to be born dis way…even some people find it very hard to acknowledge there sexuality…like a friend of mine that likes to kiss..romance n hook up wit guys occassionally and don’t really do the penetrative thing and still go ahead to say he’s not gay…people find it hard already to accept who they are…and now for it to be a taboo n law in dis our society… I really wish for d day we will pass dis stage of ignorance n be fully accepted until den…. Na secret tinzoooo

  5. This type of write up can only come from a heart so loving and beautiful. I salute the depth of your understanding especially for this proper use; ” literal interpretation of the Bible”. I’m still of the opinion (I stand to be corrected) that African culture is not against homosexuality. Homosexuals has been here. My parents told me about a lady fondly called Ada onitsha who married a woman. A visit to her burial site speaks of a woman who was loved by her community. I’m sure as a mark of respect her burial site still receives attention and tendering to this day. Homophobia is a western import.

  6. The write up is good and all, same thing said many times and I pray one day it would sink into the general populace. That said, I just kept seeing “shove it down your throat”

  7. Interesting piece no doubt…thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Personally, the fact that this was put up on bellanaija is a testimony that things are indeed changing. It might not be at the flashlight speed we’d like, but it’s happening.

    Baby steps…baby steps.

    @Pinky, there’s an article Uti wrote on marriage on the same bellanaija earlier this week. I think it’s a good read as well and I’d love for you to share it with the house.

    Happy Weekend people!

    • A-non! Bia where u put head? I don tell u many times say make u de stand 4 where I go de take de see u. No let me find u again ooo, unless u wan quarrel.

      Happy weekend

  8. How refreshing to see that despite all the hate and deeply entrenched hypocrisy, there are still human beings who can speak up for the right things … Ma’am you are like a drink of pure spring water in the middle of a parched arid desert. May you grow in wisdom … Oga adiri gi mma …

  9. @ Dumb Angel Gadriel, hopefully you took note of the part where she writes that we are not bound to live by the codes that worked for our ancestors centuries ago, seeing as we live in a vastly different world … This was the point i was trying to make yesterday, but as is typical of an burned out intellect, you lashed out at me asking if I could have children, it was so pathetic especially as a person your age (assuming your thinking faculties are intact), ought to know much better – anyway, last time i checked, infertility does not run in my family, i still regularly shoot loads of thick, healthy, creamy cum (wanna see?), even lunatics and homeless baggars on the streets effortlessly bear offspring as it is a normal part of nature and then children can also be obtained and reared in a loving caring environment via adoption.
    I do desperately and sincerely hope that you can distinguish the various issues i have tried to unravel here, hopefully there are a few functional brain cells left in your heavily insulated skull which has been battered by a lifetime of dangerous opium …
    I’ll borrow a leaf from Max; bye Felicia!!

  10. @ khalasi, are you not the same ape that couldn’t sleep until you wrote some crap you call article simply because I used the term “Africanness” ? I should have known!!! I have noticed you. you can now run along. Now let me advice you. The fact that you call your father dump is not enough reason for you to experiment it on others. Restrict the use on your parents only. Okay?.

  11. it’s simple, live and let live-egbe bere ugo bere nke si ibe ya ebela nku kwaaya! also the issue of internalized homophobia must be dealt with in the community as that could be the root cause of kitoism.well that and poverty!

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