Categories
Community Talks

National Security Raids LGBT Ghanaians safe house

By OKTimileyin | 24.02.2021

The Ghanaian LGBT community in the past few weeks have been the victims of organized and targeted homophobia in the country, as each day comes by since the organization (LGBT rights Ghana) launched it’s safe space for Queer people in Accra, Ghana on the 31st of January 2021. It all started after pictures of the event was uploaded on the internet by LGBT Rights Ghana and the presence of the European Union, and Australian High commission was appreciated.

Homophobic lawyers like Moses Foh Amoaning keep crusading for the closure of the safe space, and it’s been a tough one for the queer community in Ghana. The country’s Catholic Church also express it distaste in the new community centre through it’s call for closure of the community centre.

According to LGBT Ghana’s most recent post on instagram, Ghana’s Traditional leaders visited the premises few day ago threatening to burn down the safe space, and sadly, the police won’t help save the space nor it’s queer inhabitants.

On Wednesday the 24th of February 2021, at around 11:13am , pictures and a video surfaced on LGBT rights Ghana twitter page with the caption

Yes! Our safe space has been raided by the police. We are all safe at the moment. It’s time to fight. #SayNoToDiscrimination#saynotohomophobia#Wewillgetthroughthis#TogetherWeBuild

images from twitter (@Lgbtrightsghana)

The above picture shows men who are from the national security inside the safe space, and the picture seem to taken from an higher altitude, looking like it’s taken from a roof level.

Another picture from LGBT Rights Ghana’s twitter also show Security vehicles on the street of the safe house, Queer Ghanaians are currently unsafe, and the international community still seem to be silent about it.

You can lend a voice to this inhuman treatment the Ghanaian Queer community is experiencing by speaking about this violation of their fundamental human rights on your social media, write to your local government official challenging them to lend a voice to this injustice, donate to LGBT rights Ghana GoFund me.

Timeless Queer Defiance and it's consequences in Nigeria With Chude QueerCity

"Defiance comes with consequences and I am comfortable with it". He speaks about gay rights in the Nigerian churches, at conferences and anywhere. On this episode of the Queercity podcast, we would be experiencing what the reality of speaking for LGBT+ rights in Nigeria is for Nigeria's own Chude Jideonwo. Chude is known for his active amplification of minorities issues with his big show #WithChude, where he has also created space to help bring Queer persons' narratives safely to the mainstream media.  Chude speaks of how empathy could be an approach to fighting for the rights of sexual minorities, and to furtherly engaging violently oppressive systems. Behind the scenes packing and Bisi Alimi's appearance on “The Dawn” in 2004,  and the interview with Faraphina magazine Timeless Queer Defiance and its consequences in Nigeria with @chude Jideonwo Join the community by conversation via #Queercitypodcast #7yearsLaterSSMPA #LGBTNigerianLivesMatter #LGBTpodcast #Queerlivesmatter  Credit Executive Producer: Queercity Media and Productions @Queercitymediaandproductions  Hosted and Produced by: Olaide Kayode Timileyin(QueerNerd) @OKTIMILEYIN  Guest: Chude Jideonwo Website: Queercitypodcast.com Upcoming event: bit.ly/PrideInLagos — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/queercity/message
  1. Timeless Queer Defiance and it's consequences in Nigeria With Chude
  2. Nigeria's Road To LGBTI+ Decriminalization with Azeenarh Mohammed
  3. Who killed 19 years old John in Lagos ?
  4. Getting Justice for Cameroonian Transwomen Shakira and Patricia amidst death threats with Hamlet.
  5. HIV stigmatization amongst Nigerian Gay men with Raldie Young
Categories
Community Talks

Queer-excluding-Feminists, Media, and Government up against LGBT Ghanians

written by O.K.Timileyin

On the 31st of January 2021, a popular On-Air-Personality with the name Oheneyere Gifty had her show (The StandPoint- Listen to the feminine side) discussed “my struggle with homosexuality”, inviting two other persons who claimed to be “ex and struggling” gay person and a former Lesbian. Coincidentally, that was also the day for LGBT+ rights Ghana ( A youth led LGBT movement in Ghana) Fundraiser and safe space launch.

Over the years, the African big and small media houses had thrived on emotions, biases, and unprofessionalism when it comes to LGBT narratives, with each giving their audience what they perceive it takes to retain them. With histories of controversies and misinformation being the focal point of these media houses on queer matters, they drive conversations that fuels more hate toward LGBT persons. A major driver of such conversation in media is Ghana is Gifty Anti, who according to LGBT rights Ghana is ” A well known journalist/broadcaster and a gender activist” who “this is not her first time encouraging damaging stereotypes about LGBT persons in Ghana. In 2019, in the heat of the CSE debate, she compared homosexuality to skin bleaching”.

While the LGBT+ rights Ghana led by Alex Kofi Donkor had their fundraiser and safe space opening day, Gift Anti had her discussion. The Safe space opening event was graced by representatives from the European Union Ghana, Australian High commission Ghana amidst others, and this “posed” a threat to the Ghanaian goverment, and media. Writing on their webiste, Modern Ghana said “some people in Ghana have the audacity and effrontery to build LGBT office in Ghana, Tesano to be precise. They held an occasion to officially open their office and called for interested persons to come and join. The most worrying aspect of whole thing is, top officials came to grace the occasion including representatives from African Union, European Union and other top officials from USA, UK and others were present. Their head made it clear that “*they have come to stay.*”

Speaking at the Parliament’s Appointments Committee for vetting on Wednesday, February 17, 2021 , Ghana’s Minister-designate of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Sarah Adwoa Safo spewed “Mr Chair, the issue of LGBT is an issue that when mentioned, it creates some controversy but what I want to say is that our laws are clear on such practice. It makes it criminal. Section 104 of the Criminal Code prohibits one from having unnatural carnal knowledge with another person. So, on the issue of its criminality, it is non-negotiable. On the issue of our cultural acceptance and norms, these practices are also frowned upon. So, for me, these are two distinct clarities on the matter and that is what I strongly stand for,”. Ghana’s Homophobic lawyers Moses Foh-Amoaning and others are working actively to get the Safe Space closed.

Clearing the air on February 11, 2021 as regards the words on the street of Ghana, which had been that the Europeans sponsored the space to “propagate homosexuality” LGBT Rights Ghana posted an official communique stating that the event or office space wasn’t sponsored by the Australian High commision, which was only a guest just like others.

Joyce Opoku Boateng a human rights lawyer in Ghana said that calls for the office of LGBT right Ghana that was recently opened in Accra to be shut down are against the laws of the country. According to Wikipedia “Same-sex sexual acts between males are illegal in Ghana, and LGBT rights are heavily suppressed. The majority of Ghana’s population hold anti-LGBT sentiments. Physical and violent homophobic attacks against LGBT people are common, and are often encouraged by the media and religious and political leaders. At times, government officials, such as police, engage in such acts of violence. Reports of young gay people being kicked out of their homes are also common, as well as reports of conversion therapy occurring across Ghana.

Despite the Constitution guaranteeing a right to freedom of speech, expression and assembly to Ghanaian citizens, these fundamental rights are actively denied to LGBT people. Pro-LGBT activism exists in Ghana, but such efforts are often thwarted by the Ghanaian government.”

While the struggle continues, the media seem continuously acting to misinform the people , “Weaponizing LGBTQ (hating words) by some Ghanaian politicians to discredit, insult & dehumanize LGBTQ Ghanaians. Playing the populist rhetoric & appealing to people’s worst prejudices”.

Lend your voice to the Ghanaian Queer community today by taking a stance against the closure of their safe space. You can write to your Government to lend a voice, Follow LGBT rights Ghana on socials, donate to their course, create infographics, or share this !

Timeless Queer Defiance and it's consequences in Nigeria With Chude QueerCity

"Defiance comes with consequences and I am comfortable with it". He speaks about gay rights in the Nigerian churches, at conferences and anywhere. On this episode of the Queercity podcast, we would be experiencing what the reality of speaking for LGBT+ rights in Nigeria is for Nigeria's own Chude Jideonwo. Chude is known for his active amplification of minorities issues with his big show #WithChude, where he has also created space to help bring Queer persons' narratives safely to the mainstream media.  Chude speaks of how empathy could be an approach to fighting for the rights of sexual minorities, and to furtherly engaging violently oppressive systems. Behind the scenes packing and Bisi Alimi's appearance on “The Dawn” in 2004,  and the interview with Faraphina magazine Timeless Queer Defiance and its consequences in Nigeria with @chude Jideonwo Join the community by conversation via #Queercitypodcast #7yearsLaterSSMPA #LGBTNigerianLivesMatter #LGBTpodcast #Queerlivesmatter  Credit Executive Producer: Queercity Media and Productions @Queercitymediaandproductions  Hosted and Produced by: Olaide Kayode Timileyin(QueerNerd) @OKTIMILEYIN  Guest: Chude Jideonwo Website: Queercitypodcast.com Upcoming event: bit.ly/PrideInLagos — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/queercity/message
  1. Timeless Queer Defiance and it's consequences in Nigeria With Chude
  2. Nigeria's Road To LGBTI+ Decriminalization with Azeenarh Mohammed
  3. Who killed 19 years old John in Lagos ?
  4. Getting Justice for Cameroonian Transwomen Shakira and Patricia amidst death threats with Hamlet.
  5. HIV stigmatization amongst Nigerian Gay men with Raldie Young
Categories
Community Talks

Transwomen reality in a 2021 Nigeria

By OKTimileyin

The conversation around sexuality and identity steadily seem to be gaining momentum in Nigeria, where visibility is no longer the focus of community conversations and discuss, but how to properly, and positively utilize the visibility the community has horned, to propagate more social acceptance of Queer folx in Nigeria. Haven properly learnt to harness social media platforms to raise the bar for visibility, more representation and diversity ( being basis of inclusion ) is experienced. We are now our story tellers, our very own pilots of our narratives. More voices are being raised across different forms of human existence on Queerness in Nigeria. The world witnessed the loud ones like the #Endsars Movement, the #EndHomophobiaInNigeria which seem to have shone in a very centrifugal light on the Nigeria Queer community, with its resulting community visibility being the strongest at it’s emerging identity.

With the anonymous ability of the birdie app, the Nigerian queer community has continued to grow in a beautiful, strong , and powerful way, with numeric strength driving more conversation and giving representation in conversations found safe. One of such community conversations which found it way to twitter is that from the trans community. A tweep tweeted

culled from @bitchcraft2121

The twitter thread did not just throw a lot of questions into the air and leave us to wonder if answers can be gotten, it brings to the table answers waiting to be heard, struggle wailing to be seen, stories hoping to be told, One of which is “What’s the Nigerian Transwoman Experience” ?

The Nigerian Trans Experience isn’t specifically different from the everyday trans woman who is from a space where legal protection doesn’t exist for queer people, it is the same story of constant confusion, emotional imbalance, physical and mental insecurity, body dysmorphia, paranoia and loneliness. Trans women in Nigeria are getting to learn on their own what transition should be like, forming little sisterhoods to share the pain, trauma, lessons, and laughter from existing on the street of Nigeria.

Across the world, The news of violation and killing of Transwomen are no longer new in the news, and this does not exclude Nigeria. In 2018 a website called 76 crimes published the death of a Trans activist in Abuja with the name Rabina Bamanga who was killed in her own house. By 2020, the Guardian published the story of a Trans woman who escaped death by suicide after being exposed to conversion therapy which included incisions.

In a country like Nigeria, where transphobia is an appreciated feat and TERFs won’t stop making excuses for their own transphobia. Transwomen see each day through “what it takes to see the next day” and not living as they should, walking the streets of Nigeria with high hopes of “passing”, without anyone at the bus-stop having to ask if they are a man or a woman.

This tweep in her thread lined out what it takes to survives the streets of Nigeria as a Trans Woman living in Nigeria or West Africa.

With the twitter thread having up to 10 things to keep themselves (transwomen) safe in Nigeria or West Africa, one is forced to ask how best do anyone who is queer stay safe in Nigeria ? This is the reality of underprivileged queer folx in Nigeria, who don’t have the resources to live in spaces where they can exist without exposure to harm.

Transwomen GoFund me from twitter you might want to support !!!

Timeless Queer Defiance and it's consequences in Nigeria With Chude QueerCity

"Defiance comes with consequences and I am comfortable with it". He speaks about gay rights in the Nigerian churches, at conferences and anywhere. On this episode of the Queercity podcast, we would be experiencing what the reality of speaking for LGBT+ rights in Nigeria is for Nigeria's own Chude Jideonwo. Chude is known for his active amplification of minorities issues with his big show #WithChude, where he has also created space to help bring Queer persons' narratives safely to the mainstream media.  Chude speaks of how empathy could be an approach to fighting for the rights of sexual minorities, and to furtherly engaging violently oppressive systems. Behind the scenes packing and Bisi Alimi's appearance on “The Dawn” in 2004,  and the interview with Faraphina magazine Timeless Queer Defiance and its consequences in Nigeria with @chude Jideonwo Join the community by conversation via #Queercitypodcast #7yearsLaterSSMPA #LGBTNigerianLivesMatter #LGBTpodcast #Queerlivesmatter  Credit Executive Producer: Queercity Media and Productions @Queercitymediaandproductions  Hosted and Produced by: Olaide Kayode Timileyin(QueerNerd) @OKTIMILEYIN  Guest: Chude Jideonwo Website: Queercitypodcast.com Upcoming event: bit.ly/PrideInLagos — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/queercity/message
  1. Timeless Queer Defiance and it's consequences in Nigeria With Chude
  2. Nigeria's Road To LGBTI+ Decriminalization with Azeenarh Mohammed
  3. Who killed 19 years old John in Lagos ?
  4. Getting Justice for Cameroonian Transwomen Shakira and Patricia amidst death threats with Hamlet.
  5. HIV stigmatization amongst Nigerian Gay men with Raldie Young

Categories
Creators spotlight

CREATORS SPOTLIGHT : Introducing FaeyFaeyy from Colored Online Radio

Olaide Kayode Tmileyin | 6:45pm

 At the end of the pandemic’s first wave, the Nigerian queer creative space experienced a burst of diversity in content production, where more queer identifying creatives create queer narrating contents in every form. Exploring forms like Vlogging on Youtube, Podcasting, Writing, Photography, Fashion, Instagram Influencing, microblogging, and Music, etc. With a not so unfamiliar voice, the Nigerian queer twitter sphere have been enjoying the closest we can get to having our own radio station.

I spoke with 25 years old Oghenefejiro Adjerhore

popularly known on the Queer twitter spaces as Faeyfaeyy or Faeyrea godbaby, the host of Nigeria’s Colored  online Radio. Faey described the niche of what he does using the Twitter audio features as “Queer radio”, the host of the 10 episodes Q- Reflection podcasts, who in recent times also hosts “High as Fuck” podcast with his best friend, Mitini. Faey describes himself as “Eccentric” because “I like to tread the paths that many shy away from or are too afraid to walk”.

Speaking about the “High as fuck” podcast,

Faey calls the podcast “a feel-good podcast where we banter and share hilarious takes on trending Twitter gist”. The serial Audiophile and Voice Over artiste described the how personal the work at the Colored Online Radio is to him, he said “Realizing that I didn’t have an existing audience made me see a need to narrow my focus and choose a content niche I could own. In this case, my content focuses on using a radio format to appeal to queer people and their choices regardless of their taste and preferences in entertainment”.

The Colored Online Radio

Came into the queer twitter space with this tweet by Faey on twitter, where he allowed his imagination fly high and wide.

Imagine we had an LGBT radio. To help your imagination I played with a little something @Blaise_21 @kito_diaries @AdaezeFeyisayo @alaafinofEko @THETemmieOvwasa @Dgod_Zeus @Dennis_Macaulay @JamesLantern2 @vicw0nder @cabrini_divo @raldieyoung

Originally tweeted by Faeyrea godbaby (@faeyfaeyy) on February 4, 2021.

Faey who understands how the Nigerian creative industry works, the amount of homophobia in there, and Nigeria at large, claimed not to have experienced any backlash yet, but is hoping if it would ever happen, it should with the barest stress. Production of queer contents in Nigeria can be tasking as “access to quality recording equipment is a huge challenge. The right studio equipment such as microphones, mixers laptops, and a soundproof space for recording does not come cheap. At this point, I have to resort to tedious and time-consuming methods to produce content. Having other people join in presenting, content creating, and producing would be wonderful and allow Coloured TV to be more consistent. All of these problems have one major solution, funding” he said.

Imagine we (Nigerians) had an LGBT radio. To help your imagination..

FaeyFaeyy

Spilling the Tea,

Faey Faey said “in the weeks that will follow, I’ll start an Online WhatsApp Radio. (You’re hearing this first) and in the coming months, I hope to launch an online radio proper that would transmit uninterrupted”.

Investors, and partners willing to work with Faey to acheive this feat of an uninterrupted, online, queer radio could reach out to him via his socials. (@faeyfaeyy) or by sending an email to faeyfaeyy@gmail.com.

You could check out other works by Faey via instagram (@faeyfaey)

Timeless Queer Defiance and it's consequences in Nigeria With Chude QueerCity

"Defiance comes with consequences and I am comfortable with it". He speaks about gay rights in the Nigerian churches, at conferences and anywhere. On this episode of the Queercity podcast, we would be experiencing what the reality of speaking for LGBT+ rights in Nigeria is for Nigeria's own Chude Jideonwo. Chude is known for his active amplification of minorities issues with his big show #WithChude, where he has also created space to help bring Queer persons' narratives safely to the mainstream media.  Chude speaks of how empathy could be an approach to fighting for the rights of sexual minorities, and to furtherly engaging violently oppressive systems. Behind the scenes packing and Bisi Alimi's appearance on “The Dawn” in 2004,  and the interview with Faraphina magazine Timeless Queer Defiance and its consequences in Nigeria with @chude Jideonwo Join the community by conversation via #Queercitypodcast #7yearsLaterSSMPA #LGBTNigerianLivesMatter #LGBTpodcast #Queerlivesmatter  Credit Executive Producer: Queercity Media and Productions @Queercitymediaandproductions  Hosted and Produced by: Olaide Kayode Timileyin(QueerNerd) @OKTIMILEYIN  Guest: Chude Jideonwo Website: Queercitypodcast.com Upcoming event: bit.ly/PrideInLagos — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/queercity/message
  1. Timeless Queer Defiance and it's consequences in Nigeria With Chude
  2. Nigeria's Road To LGBTI+ Decriminalization with Azeenarh Mohammed
  3. Who killed 19 years old John in Lagos ?
  4. Getting Justice for Cameroonian Transwomen Shakira and Patricia amidst death threats with Hamlet.
  5. HIV stigmatization amongst Nigerian Gay men with Raldie Young
Categories
Past

The Nigeria Prize for Difference and Diversity announces judges and advisory board

The Nigeria prize for Difference and Diversity, endowed by the co-founder of RED | For Africa and founder of human flourishing company, Joy, Inc. Chude Jideonwo announces its judges and global advisory council as nominations for the prize continue.
Culled from diverse walks of life, the panel of judges is made up of some of the most distinctly decorated Nigerians from their individual fields. From actors Nse Ikpe-Etim and Beverly Naya, to decorated journalists Kiki Mordi, Harry Itie and CNN African Voices’ Arit Okpo. The extensive list of judges with their profiles is on ​diversity.ynaija.com where one can also nominate the person they deem deserve the prize.
The mission of the prize, as stated by Chude Jideonwo, is “to open up the voices, hearts and spirits of young people across Nigeria, for them to embrace their true identities and accept their uniqueness without feeling suppressed, oppressed or misunderstood.”
Speaking about his inspiration for the prize, Chude Jideonwo said, “I like the idea of being an extremist for love and acceptance. It calls to something deep within my spirit. Because it is not homophobia or transphobia alone that breaks my heart—it’s inequality and oppression with regard to gender, to race, to religion; any part of the arena of human existence where being a minority or being different puts one automatically at risk,” he also added that, “The Nigeria Prize for Difference and Diversity, is me literally putting my money where my mouth is by endowing the prize for its first year. The prize will find and support young people across Nigeria who are creating safe spaces for and giving voice to people who are different in seven key areas: gender, sexuality, faith and spirituality, mental and emotional health, art, special needs, and human rights.”
In order to achieve its objectives, the prize category is being gently guided by the wisdom and experience of a global advisory board of respectable professionals from diverse fields. Among them is renowned pianist Cobhams Asuquo, human rights activist Olumide Makanjuola, vocal mental health professional and advocate Dr Zainab Imam, writer and artist Lisa Teasley, author and historian Noah Tsika, CEO of All On Wiebe Boer, and writer and public health expert Ike Anya, among others.
Nominations are currently being collated on ​www.diversity.ynaija.com and will close on the 17th, August 2020.

Categories
Past Press release PRIDE

Press Release – GLOW UP PRIDE 1.0

An actual pride event in Nigeria would have been thought impossible, few years ago, after a tweep mentioned it has a possibility, the Nigerian LGBT community had an uproar and a division, some folx believed it’s a suicidal mission, others felt we can. Suggestions to create a balance like, wearing a mask to protect people’s identity were made. Pride month across the universe is a month that is all about the gays, lesbians and every other identity and expression in the LGBT community. Parades that are usually had in every geographical locations of the world, where being queer is not criminalized are cancelled this year, and thanks to the corona virus, which created the need for new exploration of new ideas.

Glow Up pride 2020 was one of the mediums we sought to explore, a virtual pride. At the beginning of the pandemic, human contacts were the first to be avoided, that is ; self isolation, which caused every form of gathering to be cancelled, every form of basic life interactions were taken digital, and companies like Zoom, Facebook, HouseParty, etc created platforms for people to meet in large numbers virtually, thereby no exposing anyone to the virus. By April we started planning for one of such meetings, since the SSMPA is against physical gathering, we could take our meetings somewhere new, “the Virtual earth”. The two hours event was held on zoom, and we had 9 awesome performances , starting off with Borax, and ending with Gyre. Videos are on our IGTV

Categories
Past

This is why I am endowing a N1 million prize for difference and diversity in Nigeria


by Chude Jideonwo


Last year, I wrote a piece on CNN during Pride Month—a month set aside to celebrate sexual and
gender diversity globally—to spotlight the progress Africa is making overall (though not fast
enough) on the matter of LGBTQ rights. It was not the first piece I had written on the matter. I
consider it the number-one civil rights issue of our time. But yet again, there was backlash, even
from people I like and respect. Comments on my Instagram page, especially from people of my
faith, verged on heartbreak: How can you, Chude, say this kind of thing?
I could sense the pained conflict: People want to like and respect you—and they want it to be
uncomplicated. They don’t want to encounter parts of you they don’t agree with. They don’t want to
confront the idea that they respect someone who has diverging views on such an important matter.
Others who already knew where I stand wanted silence. Why can’t you just support it quietly, someone
asked. Why must you continue to talk about it, even at risk of attack? Apparently, it would be easier for
them to forget that I have an opinion (a worldview, actually) on this matter if I could just stake my
claim and move on. They want it to be a passing fancy, whispered only. Because on this matter,
many people I like and who like me, disagree fiercely.
The reason for this is that we are looking from very different perspectives. I see diverse sexualities
and genders as inevitable consequence of evolution; simply a matter of difference. They see the
same as perverted. And for those who mix this distaste with religion, it is an affront on God’s law. I
might as well be defending rape, or bestiality, or child marriage. It’s beyond the pale.
The more charitable of these allow themselves the dissonance of liking me even though I support
something they detest, by reassuring themselves: it’s the influence of the West. It’s because of all those books
he has been reading. As Emperor Festus said to Apostle Paul in the Christian Bible: “You are out of
your mind, Paul! Too much learning has made you mad.”
How can I be a Pentecostal Christian who goes to church and speaks in tongues—something
actually mocked by most of my liberal tribe—and at the same time be a homosexual-supporting,
transgender-affirming, pro-choice person? How does it even make sense? What are they to do with
me?
I empathise.
But that doesn’t mean I understand homophobia or transphobia. I can understand not liking
something, not wanting to participate in it. But I cannot understand harming people for doing things
you don’t like.
People, especially cosmopolitan Christians, often say: I hate the sin, not the sinner. But that confuses me
even more. How else could you hate someone worse than denying their human rights, supporting
laws that prescribe their torture and death, refusing to employ them, or even worse—as I have heard

some people do—cheer when they are killed by angry mobs? How much more can it be possible to
hate a person than for a father to disown his child? Is it not enough to disagree, even to disapprove?
Make no mistake: I do not consider homosexuality to be a sin—sin being a separation from God. It
is a demonstration of diversity on par with other beautiful things in the world: marriage, childbirth,
heterosexual sex, gardening, prayer, worship, creation, love, relationship. I believe that diversity is
the very force of life. Nature evolves into further complexity, diversity, difference. Thus the wonders
of biodiversity, cosmopolitan cities, even empires—the more diverse, the more thriving.
But even if I did consider it perverted—which it bears repeating, I do not—I would still be confused
by the hate; the insistence on treating people as other, not because they hurt anyone, but because
they exist differently.
A lot of people don’t agree that women should be in politics, join the army, use birth control, or
have divorces. Would we allow such women be hurt by those people just because they disagree with
the things they do—even if these are lifestyle choices?
It is not necessary to convince people that homosexuality is right or natural, for this lesson to shine
through. Why? Because we don’t need to agree with people in order to respect them, embrace them,
leave them be, and love them.
Love is at the core of my faith. The Christian idea of love doesn’t wait for people to become what
you want them to be before you love them. It’s about loving them as they are. And there is no love
without action. To love a person is to do loving things to the person—to protect them, to engage
them, to embrace them (even if you don’t embrace what you don’t agree with), to validate them as
humans, first and foremost.
“It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres,” the Christian Bible says in 1
Corinthians 13:7-8. “Love never fails.”
Duty fails. Miracles fail. Professionalism fails. Wealth fails. Care fails.
But love? Love never fails.
Using the instruments of oppression, punishment, legal intimidation, force: how can that be love? Can
we agree that prescribing murder, disowning a child, or firing a person for their sexual or gender
identity cannot be love?
This is not just about LGBTQ rights; this is also about all future rights given to people who do no
harm to society—wherever biological and social evolution will take us, whatever mutations of the
human condition will follow. New rights and new identities will continue to come up as they have
throughout history—for women, for Muslims, for Christians, for children, for Black people, and
more. I don’t need to know what rights will be demanded or to agree with those rights before I
embrace, accept and love the people as they are.

This conversation about love—and with it acceptance and justice—matters. The consideration of
love as the fundamental ethos of a society that wishes to thrive and ensure the greatest well-being
for the greatest many, is as urgent as it has always been. If we all had to wait for people to
understand us before they loved us, what kind of world would we have? Without people ready to
suspend judgment and empathize with things they cannot understand and cannot prove, who would
we be?
We ask people to live honestly and live in their truths, and yet we tell them to shut up and stay
hidden, because we dislike their truths.
We say I don’t have a problem with them. But how can you have no problem with a person’s life and yet
want that person to hide that life, to never speak of it, to never “flaunt” it in public? Why is it so
important to take away their power and their voice? And what kind of person does that make you, if
you must shut down the spirit of a person you disagree with?
Love and acceptance cannot really be love and acceptance until we see what they do when they
encounter something they don’t like. That is love’s truest test. And love and acceptance are why I
can’t just let this matter be.
My heart breaks with each hurtful word, each harmful action, each attack, each oppressive response,
each demonstration of hate. There is so much avoidable pain and loss, caused by us on each other,
for no good reason. How can I not bear witness?
I remember at this point, Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s seminal Letter from Birmingham
Jail in 1963, to fellow ministers who asked him to be quiet, at least for a while.
To their defense of attacks on minorities based on the law, he answered: “We should never forget
that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom
fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.” It was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany.
Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my
Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the
Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country’s …laws.”
To the members of his faith who stood by while other citizens were oppressed: “I must honestly
reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative
critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel,
who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual
blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen.”
And to those who called him extremist in his demand for equality, he pointed to Jesus: “But though
I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the
matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for
love: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for
them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

I like the idea of being an extremist for love and acceptance. It calls to something deep within my
spirit. Because it is not homophobia or transphobia alone that break my heart—it’s inequality and
oppression with regard to gender, to race, to religion; any part of the arena of human existence
where being a minority or being different puts one automatically at risk.
That is why, as an associate producer in 2003, when I was barely 18, I was proud to help put the first
openly gay person on a national TV interview in Nigeria, and to follow it up with a magazine cover.
That is why I am set to do the same with the first interview with an intersex woman on national TV.
That is why I stepped up to help tell the story of a woman alleging rape by a powerful Nigerian
pastor. That is why I have launched a faith platform that integrates as many voices as possible, from
atheists and agnostics, to people of the Bahai faith. That is why the stigma and discrimination that
often follows issues of mental and emotional health engage my attention.
“Here I stand,” the first Martin Luther declared 600 years ago, in front of the most powerful men of
his day. “I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.”
That is why today I am announcing the launch of The Nigeria Prize for Diversity and Difference,
and literally putting my money where my mouth is by endowing the prize for its first year. The prize
will find and support young people across Nigeria who are creating safe spaces for and giving voice
to people who are different in seven key areas: gender, sexuality, faith and spirituality, mental and
emotional health, art, special needs, and human rights.
Applications open today on diversity.ynaija.com, and the criteria for the prize are also on the site. I
am especially looking for those who work in states and communities where it is most dangerous,
even fatal, to be different; people and organisations who may not know how to navigate funding,
spotlights or networks. I want to help them, in my personal capacity—using my voice, brand,
networks, and talents—in their quest to make us more fully human.
There is a corollary to this. By sticking my neck out and planting my flag firmly, I hope to invite
conversation from people who don’t understand but want to understand; who are open to seeing
this from another angle—that of love and acceptance. I do not desire change in doctrine or
worldview, not even to convert or persuade on the rightness of this or that difference. Only the
humility to say, like Paul the Apostle who once persecuted Christians: I now see differently.
“Come, let us reason together.” Let’s help each other on a journey towards better understanding
those who are not like us, who don’t live like we do, who may never agree with us. Come, let us help
each other on a journey to becoming better, in and through love. And let that urgent journey
towards love and acceptance be powered by compassion for those who are queer, marginalized,
oppressed and attacked unfairly: the stones the builders rejected, that are nonetheless crucial for
building the fabric of a society that can fully actualize itself.
There was a time when my default was white-hot rage at prejudice, as I refused to explain my stand
or to justify where I stand, for fear of playing defense on a matter I consider righteous; my only
desire to create the conditions that make prejudice unfashionable. But that desire has ripened into
something more supple.

I Corinthians 13:11-13: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as
a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but
then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now
abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
To respond with compassion and empathy is not to be on the defensive, I have now learnt. It is to
choose another kind of offensive.
Of course, I bear no illusions. Habits die hard, so resistance and abuse will yet come in response to
this. I wish it wouldn’t; but where it does come, it will be welcomed. This is a prize about difference
and diversity, yes, but it is also a prize about defiance.
You see, when I decided to do this prize and to write this piece in February, scheduled for Pride
Month, I couldn’t have known that—forced into global reflection by COVID-19—there would be a
global reckoning of the track records of those who did nothing or something while the voices of
minorities were being silenced in the workplace, in government and by the forces of the state –

BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, #WeAreTired. That a global protest for equality and safety would be

the backdrop of this announcement.
But I could not have been surprised.
Here is the rub: Nigeria will change, whether we like it or not. That is the inevitable nature of
society. In 50 years, many of these rights I fight for will be enshrined because the moral arc of the
universe bends only one way: towards justice. And when that time comes, our children will wonder
if we had lost our minds when we insisted on this exclusion and oppression—the way many today
wonder at history’s legacy of slavery, child marriage, and the suppression of voting rights for
women.
When that future comes for Nigeria, the records need show that some people stood up and stood in
the gap. So that our children will fight their own battles secure in the knowledge that this race of
justice is a relay across generations; that they are not alone in the fight for the fruits of
love—acceptance, empathy, compassion, temperance.
Nigerians and Africans cannot be fighting for Black lives—which are a minority in the West and the
East—while oppressing their own minorities here at home, and resisting the urgency of diversity.
No.
Black lives matter. Gay lives matter. Trans lives matter. Women’s lives matter. Atheist lives matter.
Agnostic lives matter. Autistic lives matter. Neuro-divergent lives matter.
This is the same cosmic battle humanity has been having for all of time. And Life is asking us the
very same question it has asked those before us, and will continue, for all of time, to ask those after
us.

Will we be extremists for hate or for love?
I choose, enthusiastically, to be an extremist for love.
*Jideonwo is host of the TV and radio network #WithChude, which is creating safe spaces for conversations about
mental, emotional and spiritual health across Africa. He is also co-founder of human flourishing company, Joy inc.