In 2004 Bisi Alimi, a recent university graduate and activist came out on the national TV talk show “New Dawn” in Nigeria. He had been outed in the university by a magazine and this made the rest of his stay in school difficult and led to some difficulty in getting his certificate on account of “moral issues” even though he had completed all the coursework required. However coming out on live national television at a time when many people still thought gay men and women only existed outside the country pushed the issue to the fore-front and led to him being ostracized by friends and family but especially by other gay men who didn’t want to be seen with him for fear that others may suspect that they were gay too. Also he began to receive death threats and finally an attempt was made on his life after which he left Nigeria in 2007 and moved to the United Kingdom where he now lives and works.
I cannot imagine what it must have been like to bear the pressure of everyone in the whole country knowing you are gay where there are no support structures for you. I understand how he felt about the need to come forward so that people will not say “they are not here”.
The irony is that by coming out in such a big way, by being very unapologetic, bold and frank about it in such a public space, Bisi Alimi truly encompassed a lot of the qualities that Nigerians are actually known for. Unfortunately 10 years down the line, fear of bodily harm on account of sexuality is still a problem in Nigeria especially with this new law. He made a video with the host of the TV show Funmi Iyanda during which they discussed the event as well as the attempt on his life.
He recently spoke to CNN’s Christine Amanpour about LGBT issues in Nigeria.