Nigerian gay rights activist, public speaker, blog writer and HIV/LGBT advocate; Bisi Alimi, gained international attention when he became the first Nigerian to come out of the closet on television in 2004 as a guest on Funmi Iyanda’s show New Dawn with Funmi, a talk show on NTA. 14 years later he talks about his life as a gay man and how things went from being a Nigerian TV sweetheart to the “person everyone wanted to throw a stone at” in just 24 hours, in this animated video titled; ‘The only gay in Nigeria’: How I became a refugee.
Touching on everything in just 4 minutes, he talks about his role on popular Nigerian TV show, Roses and Thorns and how his character was immediately killed off when producers found out he was gay. How he was first outed by a university magazine from The University of Lagos and how he tried to salvage the situation by getting a girlfriend and cutting off gay friends, until a national newspaper threatened to publish an investigation into his love life.
He then decided that if anyone was going to tell his story, it would be him, so Bisi Alimi phoned Funmi Iyanda and said: “I want to come out.” Bisi Alimi goes on to talk about the reactions to his coming out and describes them as “painful,” and how he was assaulted and arrested “many times.” Even to the point when a group of men broke into his house, beat and tortured him, instead of helping him, the police accused him of using his home to “train people to be gay.”
Eventually all these and more forced Bisi Alimi to leave Nigeria and seek safety as a refugee in the UK. Speaking to PinkNews about this animated video he said: “Having the opportunity to do the voiceover was very humbling for me as much as it was difficult as I had to go to places that were quiet challenging for me. I hope that the story will inspire someone, will give some hope and let them know that it indeed does get better.”
Take a look at the video below;
The animation was created by Hey Umami, a passion project of RoyalPixel.com.br. You can also hear more about Bisi Alimi’s activism work on the Busy Being Black podcast and follow him on Instagram @BisiAlimi