Op-Ed

Boye Black: Is M.I Abaga the ally the Nigerian LGBT community needs now?

Nigerian Twitter went on a frenzy when it seemed like one of Nigeria’s beloved rappers was taking a stand for the LGBT community. M.I spoke out on an episode of Middle Ground; calling Nigeria’s anti gay law stupid. He alongside April Maey and Wendy Akomolafe-Kalu were discussing the incident were a Taxify driver sexually assaulted a customer because she told him she was a lesbian. It was in discussing this that MI made his thoughts known on the ridiculousness of the law. As expected the news took social media by storm with many asking if MI is a closeted gay man.

What was interesting to see was that MI didn’t back down from his position. He maintained that it was ridiculous to criminalise sexual behaviour.

 

On August 6th,

However, while some in the LGBT community have rejoiced at the fact that MI is speaking on an issue that many celebrities will rather stay mute on, critics in the community are counting down to when he will bow to the pressure. Citing examples like Eugene Peterson and others who have retracted their statements supporting the community, they are not optimistic because M.I compared homosexuality to cheating and adultery.

I get why people have their doubts. It’s unexpected that someone from the hip hop community is showing their support. I also understand the argument that M.I isn’t well knowledgeable on these issues but that is why I think he will make the perfect ally.

Conversations around sexuality and the LGBT community in Nigeria are dismissed. Mainstream media will report it as an abnormally. In public spaces, the argument is usually that homosexuality is a western import and it’s only a few people that ‘practice the act.’

The good thing is M.I is ready to have the conversation. He knows he doesn’t have all the answers but he doesn’t mind getting educated. More importantly, he knows that the law is a problem for the community and will do a lot of harm. I think that is good enough.

Maybe this is the time to engage M.I. Pop Culture has a way of influencing public thought and maybe we need celebrities to help in changing the narrative on the LGBT community in Nigeria. M.I stated in one of his tweets that “I’m not advocating changing beliefs. I am advocating changing law.” He goes further to add that “let us share views with respect and yearning for knowledge. I want to learn too.” The hope is that in learning, we can change his beliefs.

We need more celebrities to speak up for the community. They have the access to public officials. They have millions of fans listening to every word they say. They have colleagues, friends, employees, and siblings who are in the community. This is not an LGBT issue it is a national one.

M.I Abaga is one of the allies the Nigerian LGBT community needs and we need to engage him now.

Boye Black (a pseudonym) is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Rustin Times.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed in this Op-Ed by the Writer are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Rustin Times.

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