One of the most hilarious misconceptions about gay people in Africa is that they are all considered outsiders, and I say hilarious because it is funny that people don’t realize LGBT persons are their family members, friends and colleagues. Let me simplify it, your brother, your sister, you best friend, your cousin, your dad, your pastor, your wcw, your celebrity crush, your teacher, the person who sits next to you in church or on the bus, your loyal customers and even your child could be gay. When you drop homophobic slurs, you are not talking about a stranger but rather someone who is most likely close enough to hear to express hatred for them and ultimately wish them bad.
So many people find this hard to believe because they expect every gay person to look like Bobrisky but that isn’t the case in most scenarios. I was at the laundromat one day and there was a conversation about gay people allegedly over populating businesses and employees being forced to have gay sex with their bosses for favors. One of the women there moved to ask me a biscuit from the pack I was eating from then she moved to warn me to be careful because gay people were on the prowl these days. Here’s the twist, I was gay but obviously to this woman and everyone in the room, I probably didn’t fit the stereotype and she found me normal enough to share my biscuit and have what she considered a meaningful conversation with me.
This scenario paints a perfect picture for why gay people need to be accepted in society because they are already part of society itself. Acceptance in this case is clearly a formality because whether you like it or not, you cannot wish it away from our community’s and no law can change the fact that gay people are part of your every day life. The evidence is in every story of gay violence, people who have been harassed or assaulted because of their sexual orientation were all members of society and families. Hating the gay doesn’t stop your brother from being gay, it just stops you from seeing the truth.
In Africa, the biggest challenge for acceptance right now is religion, people stand firmly by the scriptures that frown upon homosexuality and brand it a taboo. But, the scriptures fail to acknowledge the fact that the gay person in question is someone you gave birth to, someone you have grown to love and respect, someone who hasn’t hurt you in the slightly but is only guilty of loving differently. This words might not be in scripture but we don’t need a holy book to know that anyone who greets an individual act of love with violence and hatred is nothing short of barbaric and inhumane.
So next time you feel like salting the day with homophobia, take a look at the people around you knowing that anyone could be gay and it doesn’t matter if they all have the same blood flowing through your veins or they look responsible. Know that the gay man/woman you are addressing is next to you and a big part of your every day life.
Emmanuel Sadi is a Lagos based writer, who considers himself to be one of the greatest writers and human rights activist (In the making). He wakes up thinking; Evil must not triumph and tries to make a difference.