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?” Continue reading

Kenyan Newspaper Prints The Names Of ‘Top Homos’

Kenya_Gay_Article_Headline_BlurWeekly Citizen, a tabloid newspaper in Kenya, printed a list of “top homos” in an attempt to out gay people in the country. Several were previously in the closet. While some are known internationally as proud spokespeople for the community, others include a senator and a gospel singer.

Gay rights groups have expressed concern that the publication of the list of fourteen people will increase the persecution of LGBT people in Kenya and incite mob violence, similar to when Ugandan activist David Kato was killed after being ‘named and shamed’ on the front page of a tabloid in 2010.

The Ugandan tabloid, Red Pepper, in 2010 first published a list of gay people under a banner stating “hang them”. The paper included a photo of activist David Kato who was murdered within three months. Then, in 2014, the Red Pepper published a list of what it called “200 homos” – a day after President Yoweri Museveni signed a tough anti-gay bill into law. Continue reading

Kenny Badmus and South Africa’s Zanele Muholi Bring The Spotlight on Queer Africa

penqueerEstablished to combat the growing cloud of American isolationism after 9/11, the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature aims to further the organization’s dedication to the freedom of expression through literature and art. This year, the festival has been organized under the chairmanship of Colm Tóibín, and it is the first time in its 11-year history that the content will be focused on a single region of the world. Co-curated by Festival Director László Jakab Orsós and Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the program will explore African literature and art — or at least, a fraction of what the vast and diverse continent has to offer.

This year also sees the inclusion of a workshop titled “Queer Futures,” the first time that queer writing will be explored on its own. The event reveals cutting-edge discussion of the continent’s LGBT movements, and participants include Zanele Muholi, a South African visual artist, with a new exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum; Binyavanga Wainaina, a Kenyan author and journalist; Shireen Hassim, a professor of political studies in Johannesburg, South Africa; and Kehinde Bademosi aka Kenny Badmus, Nigerian entrepreneur and writer. Continue reading

‘Why I Won’t Stop Talking About The LGBT Community.’ – John Pavlovitz

95721-mims6pm-640x360This piece, which was penned by my all-time favorite blogger, John Pavlovitz and originally published on johnpavlovitz.com with the title ‘Why I’m Tired of Talking About The LGBT Community… And Why I Won’t Stop’, sums up the exact response that should be tendered before Ifeoluwapo Odedere, the writer on Bellanaija who asked the question: ‘You’re Gay, So What?’ It sums up the perfect point of reflection for those who seem to think that LGBT activism is about seeking special treatment.

I know some people are going to get carried away by the Christian factor of the write-up and get all hot under the collar about that ‘abominable’ mix of Homosexuality and Religion, and by so doing, miss the point of the piece.

Whichever is the case, here, have a read and share your thoughts below.

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Some days have a way of clarifying your calling; of reminding you just why you say what you say and do what you do and are who you are.

Today was such a day. Continue reading

Proposed law in Uganda could be used to shut down pro-gay charities

ug_1755091cA new law has been drafted in Uganda that could be used to ban all pro-gay charities and LGBT rights groups.

The country’s new Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) bill would give the government the ability to approve, inspect, and dissolve all community groups and NGOs based on a number of criteria – as well as to impose harsh fines.

One clause would require charities to “not engage in any activity which is contrary to the dignity of the people of Uganda” – which proponents fear could be used to clamp down on gay rights groups.

It would also allow groups to be disbanded “where it is in the public interest to refuse to register the organisation, or for any other reason that the Board may deem relevant.” Continue reading

MOVING FURTHER AWAY FROM THE CLOSET

jamie-marks-is-deadYou came out to your family and a few friends, and no one ever talked about it at all. No one asked if you’d found love. No one asked if there was someone you were currently seeing, or even how you were feeling.

You came out from the closet and stepped into a room full of broken bones on a very squishy wooden floor, and every step you made was like a wakeup call to the wild animals that there was a foreign object in the room.

And you wondered: Which is better, the stifling closet or the awkward lounge?

Nobody talks about the next step after coming out. Scratch that. Nobody knows the next step after coming out. Well, here is an idea: if you are still in the closet, enjoy the comfy dark confinement. And if you are out, welcome to the living nightmare where all you once knew . . . well, life just became a blank, nasty slate.

A couple of months after coming out to my family, I began to notice that things were good, but not great, and definitely not the same. I used to be a loner even among my family members, but now I make loners look like party people on steroids. Most times, I just wish I remained in the closet where my worst fear was how long it would take my travel documents to be ready so I can move to Europe.

But I am out. And I am not going back in. Continue reading

‘I Want To Own My Story.’ – Bisi Alimi

celebs 53In December last year, Bisi Alimi joined other global LGBT activists to speak at the New York City public library to mark 2014 Human Rights. His talk titled “My name is Bisi Alimi and I am not a victim” has been adjudged as one of the most moving talks of the day.

The talk was released a couple of days ago, and because I believe his talk will help support others, mostly Africa LGBT people who might be struggling with the challenges they are facing, I had to share.

Check out the video of Bisi’s talk below.

What Bisi Alimi Has To Say About The United States’ Special Envoy for LGBT Human Rights

Randy-Berry-named-first-ever-LGBT-rights-envoyIn a piece titled ‘Why I Oppose the United States’ Special Envoy for LGBT Human Rights’ which was originally published on the dailybeast.com, Nigerian gay activist Bisi Alimi states his stance on the recent appointment of Randy Berry as Special Envoy for gay rights.

Read below.

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The appointment of Randy Berry as Special Envoy for LGBT Human Rights drew praise from U.S. LGBT activists. Those of us outside the U.S. are less enthusiastic.

In February, the U.S. State Department announced that longtime diplomat Randy Berry would be appointed as the first Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons to help eliminate violence and discrimination against LGBT people worldwide. This appointment has been widely applauded in the United States, but many of us outside the U.S. are concerned that it may be more symbolic than substantive—and that, in fact, the symbol may be a negative one.

To be sure, the Obama administration has been the most pro-LGBT in American history. Most recently, in his 2015 State of the Union speech, Obama became the first president to say the word ‘transgender’ at a high-profile event. He signed an executive order last summer barring government contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees. LGBT health care disparities were addressed under his Affordable Care Act. Continue reading

LGBT Leaders From Some Homophobic Nations Write Letter To President Obama

obama-equalityGay rights leaders in some of the most antigay countries around the world have joined in writing a letter to President Obama asking him to be more consistent in how he deals with homophobia as a humanitarian world issue.

Kenya’s Eric Gitari and The Gambia’s Pasamba Jow are among those urging the president to take a similar approach as he has in Ugandan politics, where he restricted the bilateral relations of the US and Uganda based on the latter’s anti-homosexual legislation.

‘Mr. President, we ask that the United States make clear, even now, that steps will be taken to respond, without fail, in any country where governments attack us and deny our rights,” they write.

Below is the full letter: Continue reading