5 Reasons Why We Still Celebrate Pride: London Pride 2016.

It was London pride 2016 on Saturday 25, June 2016. As usual, the annual LGBT Pride celebration 20160625_165734meant the streets of central London felt the colourful presence of LGBT Londoners and their allies.  Marching from Baker street, Regent street, Oxford street and well, Cockspurs street, all the way to Trafalgar square, the colourful parade brightened up the streets of London. Rainbow flags, beautiful floats, creative costumes, the energetic marchers and the large appreciative supporters who turned out en masse to cheer the parade along, all made for one very beautiful London Pride, 2016. And of course what would London Pride be without the very creative and beautiful drag queens? They were fabulous as always! They slayed in their beautiful costumes and creative makeups. The crowd were eager to take pictures with those divas.  And oh, there was even a sweet moment when a police man in the parade went on his knees to propose to his boyfriend!

This year’s Pride theme was NO FILTER. It encourages LGBTs to live life without filters. Just be you. There was a huge turnout. According to London Pride, an estimated 1 million people took part in the Pride and about 40,000 people marched in the parade, the largest so far in London Pride history.

The homophobic killings in Orlando was a rude and appalling reminder that homophobia is still very much alive even within the so called civilised and free countries. London LGBT and allies decided to turn out en masse to not only celebrate Pride but to show support for the Orlando victims.

The homophobic attack in Orlando had somehow jolted the lgbt community to appreciate more the reasons why we have to be out, proud and still be very political. We are not free until we are all truly free from homopobic, biphobic and transphobic fuelled hate and prejudice and their deadly consequences.

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A straight friend asked me why we still need to celebrate Pride, after all it is not as if anyone is bothering gays on the streets of London. Considering that this wasn’t the first time I have been asked “Why still celebrate Pride?” and this question always comes from heterosexuals, it is often necessary to remind them and myself of the very reasons we celebrate LGBT Month and Pride.

As a bisexual Nigerian woman living in London, these are the 5 reasons I celebrate and march at Pride.

1- International Solidarity

Pride parade serves as a great opportunity to extend international solidarity to the many LGBTs 20160625_170241who still live under draconian laws. As a Nigerian bisexual woman living in London, marching at London Pride and other Prides, gives me an opportunity to celebrate the freedom I am denied in Nigeria because of my sexual orientation. Coming from a country where being Gay, lesbian, bisexual or transsexual means I face 14 years’ jail term under the Antigay law, it is no wonder that I appreciate and celebrate my freedom and sexual orientation whenever and wherever I have the great opportunity to do so.

By joining the Pride parade, I not only celebrate my freedom to be me, I also see it as giving a voice to the many voiceless Nigerian LGBTs who currently face 14 years’ imprisonment for their sexual orientation. When Nigerian lgbts in diaspora come to pride to march and fly our banners, we are bringing attention to the plight of our fellow Nigerians, Ugandans, Cameroonians and many others where same sex relationships are criminalised.

We recognise that unlike those of us living in diaspora, our persecuted LGBT brothers, sisters and queers back home live in fear and do not have the luxury of being free to enjoy and celebrate their sexual orientation.

LGBT Month provides an opportunity to bring these issue to the fore. We can’t be truly free until we are all free. In celebrating Pride, we celebrate our small and big victories while also remembering and empowering our LGBT brothers, sisters and queers who do not have such privilege.

We recognise that our LGBT brothers, sisters and queers could be put in prison for years, thrown from a tall building, lynched by homophobic, biphobic and transphobic mob just because of their sexual orientation. We celebrate the tenacity of our persecuted LGBT families whose lives are in danger because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

When I march at Pride, I think of all the hate mails I get just for being bisexual and for speaking out for lgbt rights, and I stand tall with my head high and celebrate all that I am and hope that one day, we all will be truly free from such hate, prejudice and deadly bigotry.

2- Not everyone has Heterosexual Privilege

Do not assume all is well with the world just because you are not facing the same problems as others different than you. Your privilege, in this case, your sexual orientation privilege, could be protecting you from experiencing the discrimination Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals still have to contend with, even in “tolerant” London.

In the workplace, on the streets, within the family, in schools and closed community groups, Lesbian, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals still face subtle and sometimes, not so subtle discrimination, bullying, hate and prejudice on a daily basis.

When straight people who never have to face this type of discrimination ask, “Why do gays still celebrate Pride, after all no one is disturbing them?”, what I hear and see is their privilege status as heterosexuals coming to the fore. The fact that you have not personally experienced such discrimination or witness it does not mean it is not happening. Your heterosexual privilege could be shielding you from the experiences of sexual and gender minorities. Such discrimination might even be happening right under your nose and you don’t recognise it as discrimination because you are so used to this being the status quo.

In some so called civilised, lgbt friendly societies-

  • Gays still cannot donate blood.
  • Same sex couple still can’t have their marriage legally recognised.
  • Trans murder rate is still very high.
  • Subtle discrimination against LGBT still goes on in workplaces.
  • LGBT youth still have to face coming out to their parents, friends and society, a very daunting task for many as acceptance by family members and friends is not always guaranteed. This has also led to a rise of homeless lgbt youths in need of shelter because they were kicked out by homophobic, biphobic, transphobic family members.
  • Adoption is not always smooth sailing for same sex couples. Societal perception as marriage being between opposite sex is still prevalent. The so called traditional marriage and its values still means same sex couples have to fight to have the equality act recognised in many aspects of their marriage, in their dealings with establishments, institutions and their interactions with the general public.

When we are faced with navigating these discriminations every day, it’s not surprising that we just want to come out and celebrate what makes us unique as well as human. The LGBT Pride provides the opportunity to party and for us to make a political statement under the rainbow umbrella.

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3- Celebration of hard-earned victories

London wasn’t always tolerant of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals or queers. It wasn’t long ago that LGBT people were stoned on the streets of London. This year the LGBT community celebrates 47 years of the Stonewall protests of 1969.  Following the first LGBT pride in America in 1970, a year after the stonewall riots, London had its own very first pride in 1972. Lesbians gays, bisexuals and transsexuals living in UK and America did not always have it so easy. People, especially our heroes, have had to fight hard to get us to where we are today.

Enjoying police security and the support of allies to celebrate Pride on the streets of London wasn’t handed to Londoners and the entire British people on a platform of gold. It was fought for, it is a hard-earned victory and we should enjoy it.

4-Education and changing attitudes

The British people have come far in accepting LGBT rights as human rights. They have enacted equality laws to protect these fundamental rights. However, they can still do more. Laws are one thing, implementation, creating social awareness, changing attitudes and achieving true equality, are another.

Pride not only gives room for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals and queers to celebrate, it also creates opportunity to continue the education on why LGBT Rights Are Human rights. Remember, same sex couples in England, Wales and Scotland only just got the right to marry. Northern Ireland is yet to legally allow same sex marriage.

There are still establishments, workplaces and private business owners who feel that based on their religion or personal opinion, they can discriminate against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals and queers.  LGBT month and Pride parade affords us the opportunity to be visible, out and proud. It also sets the mood for educated discussion and enlightening people on sexual orientation and gender identity.

5-Why still celebrate pride? Well, why not!

Diversity is something that should be celebrated especially when the right to celebrate was hard-earned. Taking to the street once a year to celebrate how far we have come and celebrate love and gender in all its diversity is not too much to ask. It is not the place of a straight person to inform Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transsexuals and Queers, “We now accept you, get over it.”

  • We will celebrate our struggles.
  • We will celebrate our victories
  • We will celebrate our diversity.
  • We will celebrate our same sex love and queer identities.
  • We will celebrate because we are fabulous like that and we know how to throw a colourful and magnificent street party!

We will continue to celebrate because we can. Don’t ask us why, just join us and be happy with us. Together we can continue to build a more tolerant, diverse and equal society.

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Homophobic/Biphobic attack claims another life in Nigeria; Councilman on the run for his life

EDITED (16/03/2016)- Latest reports coming in are pointing to the fact that the pictures accompanying this story, which were taken from comments left on the alleged victim’s Facebook wall and news-reports, are not that of the alleged victim. Investigations are ongoing to authenticate the story. 

Trigger warning- Graphic pictures: Blood and violence.  

For some time now, for the sake of my mental health, I have shied away from reporting any news or write about anything from my home country, Nigeria. There is only so much sadness I can handle and that country has left me heartbroken one time too many. However, when I saw this horrible news of tragic homophobia on my timeline, I knew I had to say something about this. If anything could jolt me out of my silence on Nigeria and its nefarious issues, it is certainly another tragic homophobia, biphobia and transphobia case.

From news filtering in, the victim, Akinnifesi Olumide Olubunmi, was accused of homosexual activities, he was beaten up by youths in the community on 17th February 2016 and later died on 18th February 2016 from the injuries sustained.

This very appalling but important news did not make the rounds until a Facebook user, Ogbeni Ade Omo Ade, (who sounds like he participated in the homophobic/biphobic attack), wrote on the victim’s Facebook wall-

 “End of a gay! This will serve as a lesson to all the people that loves engaging in bisexual, homosexual, lesbianism and gay.

Akinnifesi was a guy that everybody in the community thought was a responsible person not until his secret was revealed when he was caught hands down with honourable Dotun who was a serving supervisory councillor in Ondo west local government in Ondo state he was beating mercilessly by Ondo youths that saw everything bad in a man dating a man he was rushed to the hospital but he later died of internal bleeding due to the mob beating the honourable has commited a lot of atrocities by engaging in bisexual activities he is still on the run although his properties has being destroyed his house and family’s house has being burned down this should serve as a great lesson to all youths!”

ONDO 15ondo 7

This is horrific.

This is appalling.

This is atrocious.

This is inhuman

The celebration of such lynching is nothing short of barbaric.

This horrible man was happy to celebrate the death of an innocent man all because of his alleged sexual orientation. From his post, he would happily participate in the lynching of the other man who is allegedly on the run, even though his home has already been burnt to the ground and his wife and children’s lives already at stake.  Unfortunately, from comments on the victim’s Facebook wall, this reprehensible human being is not alone in his homophobic thirst for innocent blood of sexual minorities.

Mark John‎ wrote:

I saw this on your time line that you are attacked and later died as a result of the injuries sustained in the on 17th January 2016. I don’t know that you are involving in LGBT activities in the community until you were exposed or captured by the youths when you are about to lure a young man into gay practices some where in Ondo. when next you come to this world again you will not practice this unholy things again.

ondo 13

Adewale Victor, wrote:

“Akinnifesi Olumide Olubunmi When I heard this news of your attacked in Ondo on Facebook I was so disturbed. I said it to myself, that can this be possible that you involved in gay practices? or it was a set up until I investigate the whole story. You disappointed many people including your family and friends. Though I don’t support attack or jungle justice on gay instead they should be handover to the police for proper prosicution in law court of the law. What police should do is to get the run away politician involved arrested so gay will not be spread in the community and it will serve as a lesson to others.”

 

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Sunday Oluwayomi wrote-

He deserves to die he is a bad example to our generation

 Sunday Shedraq wrote- 

This morning, as i logged into Facebook…I saw many posts of people raining courses, posting hate speech and others to one Mr Ogbeni Ade Omo Ade who said the homosexual deserves death and posted some pictures of a victim by name @Akinnifest Olumide Olubunmi who was caught in the act and was beaten by angry youths/mob and he died the following morning. Hmmm so sad, so bad, sad news!! If you can’t create, why kill? I SAY NO TO THE BRUTAL MURDER OF THIS YOUNG MAN…..But whoever supports the existence or practices of gay and lesbianism here in Africa is dead to me. This Young Man Is Dead and Gone Forever and someone posted yesterday that we should leave them alone, its their life.. I SAY NO!! HELL TO THE NO!! If you know anyone still in the act, don’t keep quiet, this is Africa. It is morally wrong, Religiously unaccepted and to the laws of nature, IT IS EVIL.. Even the constitution is against it. Why keep quiet if you claim you love him or her and you started ranting when he is caught in the act and murdered cold blood?

To The Diseased, R.I.P, to the “deaf” R.I.P and to the supporters R.I.P cos that is the only debt i owe you. #‎MyStand

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This is appalling, disgusting, horrific and totally inhuman, but how many Nigerians would really come out to condemn this atrocity without a BUT? This reminds me of the ALLU 4 Case when Nigerians came out enmasse to condemn the lynching of 4 undergraduate students in Portharcourt who were accused of stealing mobile phones and laptops. I wrote an article then, asking, “Would the percentage of Nigerians condemning Jungle justice decrease if the ALUU 4 victims were gays caught in the act?” 

Many claim they don’t support lynching or jungle justice yet they are always quick to blame the victim.

“Why was he gay?” They ask in self-righteous indignation.

“Didn’t he know being gay is a sin? They judged from their religious hypocritical high horse.

“He should know that men should not be sleeping with men” They conclude from their self-inflicted ignorance.

This is murder. The burning of the house is arson. Concerned Nigerians are already asking Facebook to take down some of the hate speech posted on the Victim’s wall, and I believe that of the repulsive Ogbeni Ade Omo Ade has been removed. This is a commendable step, however, it is not just about asking Facebook to take down the posts, I think the Nigeria government should be called upon to act too.

A murder has been committed. Innocent life brutally taken by a gloating, identifiable mob. A councillor’s home has been burnt down. The council man is on the run for his life because of his alleged bisexuality. His wife and children lives are at risk. What is the government doing about this or is it going to be just business as usual?

This horrific incident allegedly happened in Ondo state, South West , Nigeria. Ondo state is well known for producing many academics and its high regard for education. How on earth did this happen in Ondo state? But then it is Nigeria. Any atrocious thing can and do happen. Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia is rife in the country. Religion justifies their hypocrisy and hatred for anything concerning same sex love, and they have no regard for the rights and lives of sexual and gender minorities.

In this modern age, how is lynching a person acceptable behaviour? How is burning down a person’s home because he allegedly slept with another consenting albeit same sex adult a thing in this era? How does anyone explain celebrating the murder of a person because of sexual orientation? This has no place in a sane society, but then Nigerians are known to celebrate their special brand of insanity, which basically means celebration of atrocities that any sane and decent human being would frown upon.

We should remember that Nigeria criminalises Same Sex relationship and LGBT rights advocacy. This atrocious law stipulates 14 years’ imprisonment for anyone who engages in same sex relationship and 10 years’ jail term for individuals or organisations who support and advocate for lgbt rights.

After intense lobby by religious groups, notably amongst them, Anglican church and catholic diocese, the Same sex act prohibition bill was unanimously passed by the House of Assembly and the Senate. Despite outcry from the international community and LGBT rights activists both home and in diaspora, the then Nigeria president, Goodluck Jonathan, signed the same sex prohibition act into law on January, 2014. This outrageous law was welcomed and celebrated by many Nigerians, including some silly comrades and air-headed human rights activists who obviously think homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender do not deserve basic human rights.

The Nigerian government does not care. Life doesn’t really matter, especially gay, bisexual and trans lives.

Nigerian Gays, Bisexual and Trans Lives matter. Let us rally round to condemn this injustice.

Nigeria lgbt activists both home and abroad should put aside our differences and petty bickering to focus on this momentous task. We need to wholeheartedly do our bit to make Nigerian Gays, Bisexuals and Trans lives matter.

Of course, international solidarity is welcomed. An injury to one is an injury to all. Let us together fight this monster known as homophobia, biphobia and transphobia wherever it rears its ugly head. These murderers should be brought to justice. Make your voice heard. Support LGBT rights. Love shall win.

Related links-

ON NIGERIA’S SAME SEX MARRIAGE PROHIBITION BILL

Homosexuality and the legalisation of Homophobia in Africa

Nigerian and Ugandan Lawmakers: The Passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bills

Would the percentage of Nigerians condemning Jungle justice decrease if the ALUU 4 victims were gays caught in the act?

The Deafening Silence of Nigerian Left on the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill and Lgbti Rights

Debunking the myths: Is Homosexuality, Bisexuality or Transsexualism Un-African or Unnatural?

Five Assumptions We Should Avoid Making

I was working out at my gym when two gym regulars decided to strike up a conversation with me.

Gym regular (Male) – You have lost a lot of weight

Gym regular (Female) -Yeah, I told her so too.

Me – Oh, yeah, thanks, the hard work is showing.

Gym regular (Male) – I am sure your husband will be happy

Me – I don’t have a husband. I am single

Gym Regulars – What, you mean you are single? [Read more…]

5 Things You Should Not Ask A Bisexual

 5- “Maybe you are just confused?”

No, I am not confused, thank you. It is astonishing how many people still ask bisexuals this question, even within the LGBT community. Being264251_240895435929789_1041013_n capable of emotional and/or sexual attraction to persons of same-sex and opposite sex does not mean bisexuals are confused about their sexual orientation.

BISEXUALITY is romantic or sexual attraction toward males and females; it also encompasses attractions to all gender identities and biological sexes. Because Bisexuals do not fall into the normative heterosexual attraction or the homosexual narrative does not mean bisexuality is invalid or in any way confusing. Bisexuals are people who are capable of sexual attraction to same, opposite and/or all genders. It really is as simple as that.

If you understand that heterosexuals are people who are sexually/emotionally attracted to people of opposite sex and that homosexuals are people who are attracted to same-sex, it shouldn’t be difficult to understand that bisexuals are people who are attracted to same-sex and opposite sex.

Please, do not dump the ‘confused’ label on bisexuals just because you are reluctant to think beyond the regular narrative.

 4- “Are you not just being greedy?”

What is so annoying about this question is the judgemental tone that usually accompanies it. [Read more…]

Video: LGBT Rights activists demonstrates at Nigerian Centenary Awards, UK

Speaking during the demonstration, Yemisi Ilesanmi said:

We are here to speak out on behalf of all oppressed Nigerian LGBTs who have been denied a voice in Nigeria. We are here to put a face on Nigerian LGBTs. We are here to remind you that LGBT Nigerians are not criminals and are worthy of celebration. We are here to remind all those who criminalised us and are turning us into asylum seekers that we will not be silenced. We are LGBT Nigerians and we are proud.”

The demonstrators left the guests with the message “Nigerian LGBTS and LGBT rights supporters are not criminals and we will not be silenced in our fight for our human rights. We hope as Nigeria celebrates its hundred years of existence, its people will also celebrate diversity and do away with homophobic, biphobic and transphobic laws.”

Blogpost  link– http://wp.me/p3uryi-AZ

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The Politics of Colour: Being an invisible minority within an invisible minority

Bisexuals are not a very visible part of the LGBT community. Unfortunately, biphobia is very much alive within the DSC_0951 newLgbt community. This unfortunate issue has been cause for Bisexuals to come together to organize and gain more visibility in the LGBT community.

When I moved to UK in 2009, I was eager to join the LGBT community and be part of the bisexual community. I soon realized that although it is easy to have a social life beyond virtual interactions with Lesbians and gays activists, it is very difficult to actually meet bisexual activists.

Almost all the LGBT events I attended were dominated by gay and lesbian concerns; there was nothing much about bisexuality. I had to raise the question of more bi visibility at these events.I also noticed that it is one thing to find Bisexual events, it is quite another to find people of colour represented at these events. Unlike most lgbt events (which are actually gay dominated events), there are at least a noticeable number of people of colour, the few bisexual events I have attended failed in this area. 

After making enquires about bi groups and events in UK, a Bi friend who lives outside UK sent me a link to a bi weekend event organized by bisexual activists in UK.  I was glad to attend and was happy that one of the main themes for the weekend was Race. The event was held outside London and I had to travel a bit to get to the destination, optimistic that it was going to be a great weekend with fellow bi activists.

[Read more…]

Let’s talk about Bisexuality and Biphobia

Many always ask the question, ‘what does it mean to be bisexual? I am aware that there is a lot of confusion out there about what bisexuality means. However, contrary to popular opinion, bisexuals are not confused. The confusion is from the many who simply do not understand what bisexuality means. So what is Bisexuality? [Read more…]

Order your sizzling copy of Freedom To Love For ALL: Homosexuality Is Not Un-African!

BookCoverImage new vistaAbout the book

Sexuality rights remain a controversial issue in many parts of Africa; it is not just a controversial issue but also a taboo subject. Many countries in Africa still criminalize homosexuality. Sodomy laws remain part of the criminal laws thereby making it legally possible to persecute sexual minorities. For example Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania and Ghana all have laws under which homosexuality can be prosecuted. In South Africa, where the constitution recognizes same-sex relationships, gays and lesbians are often attacked, molested and persecuted for their sexual orientation. Many African societies do not provide enabling environments to discuss sexual orientation issues. Homosexuality has been condemned by many African leaders as Immoral, Un-African and a ‘White man’s disease’. 

In Nigeria, lawmakers are resurrecting a version of a widely condemned anti-homosexuality bill. [Read more…]

MY GENDERLESS LOVE!

I don’t walk straight

Not even for the bait

I am merry yet not gay

I am bi and I can bay

But greed

Is not my seal

Yet you all snigger

Calling me a player

Our goal is acceptance

Where is the tolerance?

 

I am not gay enough

To be wholly enfolded

Not sufficiently lesbian

To be totally embraced

Should I even say Trans?

I can’t brace the rants!

You preach diversity

As community necessity

But are quick to sneer and leer

Whenever I am near

 

Yes, in the mall

I want it all

With the dick

I play and lick

And the boobs

Makes me swoon

The big breasted

Leaves me besotted

With the queers

I will play in the square

 

With the pussy

I get all fussy

The shaven sight

To suckle all night

Bouncy bums

I love to bump

Smooth balls

I like to smooch

With the Pecs

I need no specs

 

I am bisexual, not a player

Stop being my slayer

I am bisexual not confused

Like you I choose my companion

It is a natural attraction

Not just a mere selection

With love I embrace my lover   tender love

It matters not the gender

All I want is tenderness

For my love is genderless.

By (c) Yemisi Ilesanmi