Why I identify as an Atheist : Secular Voices of Color

Below is my video contribution for ‘Secular Voices of Colour‘. As the project coordinator, Sincere Karibo stated

Secular Voices of Color is a unique opportunity to spread awareness of and focus on the stories minority representation of nonbelievers.

My video contribution is transcribed below. Happy Viewing!

My name is Yemisi Ilesanmi, I am a Nigerian, grew up in Nigeria and now resident in UK. I was born into a Christian family. Nigeria is the largest black nation on earth and it is one of the most religious in the world. Growing up I decided if I was going to be a Christian, damn right I was going to be the best Christian ever. My parents attended the spiritual church known more as white garment church. It was always about speaking in tongues, prophesy, exorcism and all that crap that comes with believing in a skydaddy and the existence of evil spirits.

When I was about 13 years old, I got seriously involved in the church, I attended every church service which was about three times a week and attended night vigils too. Soon, I was speaking in tongues and prophesying. I believed God spoke to me to give messages to people. However, those messages were basically things I had convinced myself God wanted me to say to his people.  They were regurgitated shits I heard every day in the church. I cringe to remember these now. It was innocent but it was harmful, it was pure brain wash, it was indoctrination.

Because of my experience of speaking in tongues, being filled with so called ‘Holy spirits’ and spinning around in trance like silliness, no pastor, nobody can tell me I don’t know what it feels like to be filled with the holy spirit, because I do. And I can look you straight in the eye and say it feels like been high on drugs, drunk and riding high on hypocrisy. It is all bullshit and no one with a good conscience would seriously call that crap real, because it is all manufactured.

If you have the courage to search in your heart, you know it isn’t real. You know you have control over what you say when allegedly speaking in tongues, you know you have control when spinning around doing acrobatics in the name of being in trance and consumed by holy spirits, you might want to truly believe that God has control of your tongue and body, but deep in your heart, you know it is all down to you and how best you’ve practised your holy spirit routines.

Believers assume something terrible must have happened for one to lose “faith” or not have faith at all. However, it was not the shenanigans of those so called men and women of God that broke my faith in God.

The terrible thing that happened was I actually read the bible, and the good news is, reading the bible and other ‘holy’ books turned me into an Atheist!

There was no big bang that left me gasping for faith. As a teenager growing up in a very religious society, in an act of faith and sincere eagerness to save the world with the love of Christ (and yeah, to win more bible quizzes), I reached out to the bible so as to be able to bring the word of this loving God to many, but instead, found inside those holy book pages, a God whose vindictiveness and callousness hit me like a big bang. The mere thought of being made in His image made me wanna puke. The collision with such brutality was so huge that it activated my brain.

For example, the story of Pharaoh and how God hardened the heart of Pharaoh but still proceeded to kill innocent children, sent plagues, wiped out families and committed genocides because Pharaoh did just what God made him do. He refused to let the people of Israel go because God hardened his heart. Even at that young age, it was clear to me that the villain of that story was not Pharaoh, it was God. I couldn’t understand why people couldn’t see the immorality in God’s action. It was a turning point for me. Further readings of the bible exposed so many cruelties and also inaccuracies that I could not in good conscience continue to hold the bible and God in high esteem. God’s morals were clearly beneath my moral.

With my evolved brain finally working to capacity, it did not take me too long to figure out that there is no “God” designing our planets, dishing out destinies, taking care of our needs, waiting for us to go on our knees and ask so S/He/It shall give, or busy keeping scores on our good and bad deeds, while stoking an eternal fire for those who didn’t stroke his ego while on earth, to burn in hell for eternity.

I am an atheist because there is no evidence of an omnipotent, omniscience, omnipresent being watching our every action from high above. And why not from down below anyway? I guess we don’t like the idea of stepping on, walking and shitting all over God. Well, “high above” made sense when heaven or space looked so impenetrable, but with space shuttles penetrating the skies and rovers curiously taking pictures from “high above” and none yet of a white bearded old man glaring down at us, there is nothing so scary about “high above” any more.

From all evidence available, man not only created God, but did so in his own image. There are as many Gods as there are people, communities and religions. People tend to create God(s) that appeal to them and their particular situation consciously or unconsciously. There is no big deal about exercising our imagination but it becomes a big deal when you judge others base on your own particular God beliefs or tried forcing your imagination down the throat of others.

I identify as an atheist and I am damn proud of my break from religion and all its attendant delusions. As an atheist, I am better positioned to appreciate the world as it is, without delusions. I take responsibility for my own success or failure. I know the forces I battle daily are not spiritual but very physical. And ideological. I know witches and wizards are not responsible for ill health, unemployment or poverty, these are the ills of capitalism and an uncaring society.

I am more politically and socially conscious of who the real enemies of progress are, and I know religion is a cancer that must be stopped from spreading if as humans we are to truly enjoy this one life that we have. Religion endorses mental slavery and for us to be truly free, we must emancipate our self from mental slavery.

I wouldn’t pretend that a non-religious world would mean an end to all conflicts, but it sure would help if we took out20151227_144022 all imaginary friends and imaginary enemies. No child should ever have to grow up with a fear of hell fire or a delusion that there is a God watching their every move.

Black people and all people of color really need this freedom from mental slavery. It is particularly sad because the religion we so much embrace as blacks, like Christianity and Islam, were all forced on our ancestors in the most appalling and cruel ways possible. If anything, these religions should make us recoil in anger and shame. Embracing these tools of oppression means we are still slaves and not anywhere near being truly free.

Let’s emancipate our self from mental slavery, let’s kick religion in its patronizing, patriarchal and imaginary ass. Let us live life fully conscious that this is the one life we have and we are responsible and accountable to our self and conscience. And not a big skydaddy.

Related link- Why Am I An Atheist? 

Culture is not an excuse to perpetrate injustice; LGBT Rights are about Human Rights not Culture.

As part of the celebration marking Black History/LGBT Month, I was interviewed by  Tundun Adeyemo, presenter of the program ‘Outspoken’ BookCoverImage new vistaon www.africaukradio.com. Below is a text of the interview, also available on her blog.

October is Black History/Lesbian Gays Bisexual Transsexual Month. In parts of London, people have been marking this in various ways. To help us give that some perspective is author Yemisi Ilesanmi who joins us from London to talk about her book and why homosexuality is not just an European concept.

Hello Yemisi, Many thanks for joining us.

 1- You have written this book ‘Homosexuality is not unAfrican.’ Why did you write this book?

Thanks. I wrote this book to counter the erroneous impression that homosexuality is Un-African. This is a rhetoric that many African politicians keep sprouting in their bid to defend the discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and Transsexuals. With the upsurge of anti-gay bills springing up in many African countries, it became imperative to provide necessary information and create awareness on the issues of sexual orientation especially homosexuality and bisexuality. Information is power and education is key to human development.

In this digital age, where information is easily accessible, it is sad to know that many people especially Africans still fall for the homophobic, biphobic and transphobiic rhetoric that sexual orientation is a matter of choice. In the book Freedom to Love For All; Homosexuality is not Un-African, I put together a collection of my essays debunking the myths that Homosexuality is Un-African.

First, I started by clarifying the meaning of sexual orientation and providing accepted definition of the different kinds of sexual orientation and gender identity that we [Read more…]

LGBT Rights in Africa: Why we need international solidarity- Interview on SkyNews

Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals from countries where their sexual orientation and/or gender identity is criminalised need international solidarity. What we do not need is seeing international leaders who claim to support our fight for LGBT rights wine and dine our oppressors.

When we watch international leaders who are supposedly LGBT allies frolicking with our oppressors, the message we get is that we do not matter. In the long run, it is all about their politics, not their words. International leaders should please WALK THEIR TALK.

Below is a video of my interview on SkyNews on the topic LGBT Rights in Africa and why we need international solidarity. [Read more…]

Religion, LGBT rights and military regimes: Interview in Solidarity Newspaper

Kate Harris interviews Yemisi Ilesanmi

Published in Workers Liberty’s Solidarity Newspaper

How did you get to where you are today as an LGBT activist and out bisexual woman?

It has been an interesting, tasking, journey towards self-awareness. It is also a journey that has involved studying society and finding my place in it. It is a continuous journey and one where I have to constantly remind myself that I have a right to be who I am in a world that is desperate to make me into what they would rather I be.

I started being politically and socially aware of my human rights at an early age. I was born in Nigeria in the mid-70s and grew up in a society that was marred with constant military coup d’états. There was no stable democracy. It was confusing because people took to the streets to celebrate successful coup d’états. I wondered why it was a good thing for the military to forcefully overthrow elected officials. But the people’s response was that the elected officials were corrupt. However, after having a taste of what military dictatorship means, people stopped celebrating coups. This started the difficult journey towards demanding and organising for a civilian regime where they would have a say in electing their own political leaders.  [Read more…]

Venting my concerns over Nigeria’s new Anti-LGBT Law

If only I could physically slap some sense into the hypocrites parading themselves as Nigerian lawmakers and the ignoramuses who are celebrating the ‘Jail the Gays’ bill! They had better be warned, the battle line has been drawn. Logic will supersede their infamous ignorance and Love shall triumph over their hate. Enjoy the TV interview.

 

Reactions to my recent interview make me wonder: Do Nigerians Hate Atheists more than Gays?

DSC_0961I already know that many Nigerian Christians are really stupid; I just wish I could get over the severity of their stupidity and the glee with which they display it. My recent interview  in a National Nigerian Newspaper, TELL Magazine,  has given them an opportunity to display their ignorance, bigotry and delusion on various Naija blogs that shared the interview.

Reading the various comments many Nigerians left on this blog and this blog, amongst many others that reblogged the interview,  has left me wondering if Nigerians hate Atheists more than gays!

Warning, if you are likely to want to gouge your eyes out when you read homophobic, ignorant comments, I’d advice you steer clear of the comment sections on these blogs.

Unfortunately, these religious believers and die-hard homophobes are not content with displaying their Homophobia, Biphobia, Transphobia and God delusions on the comment sections of these blogs. They are also very keen to share it with me on my facebook inbox and wall.

  • Many Nigerian religious believers are stupid enough to think invoking the wrath of their Skydaddy on me is scary.
  • They are bigoted enough to insist on sharing their imaginary God with me.
  • They bombard my inbox with silly scriptural verses as if quoting from their bible or Quran somehow m599780_10151137996406873_6890324_nakes their God real. In that case Batman is as real as their God; after all I can quote from Batman series.
  • Nigerian Christians throw tantrums because I do not wish to play with their imaginary Holy Trinity friends; God, Jesus and Holy Ghost. How very childish!

And to crown their stupidity, they leave ignorant, bigoted, hateful comments on my posts and interviews and then go ahead to request that I add them as friends on Facebook! Really, how much more stupid can they get! I bet like Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo did to Ese Walters, these bigoted religious homophobes want to show me a level of grace I cannot comprehend. ROTFLMAO! [Read more…]

Not begging for my LGBT/Human Rights does not make me Aggressive, just Assertive. Deal with it! Part 2

249138_10151008479421873_936068164_nI am quite active on Facebook, it is one social media I use effectively for advocacy and my personal idiosyncrasies. On my facebook page and groups, I am sometimes accused of making ‘long’ responses to comments. The truth is, I am a stickler for facts. I just can’t ignore a sentence that needs debunking, certainly not if it is right there on my wall. Therefore I tend to dissect every word that needs clarification. I guess I am one of those who can’t go to bed when someone is wrong on facebook! One good thing about this idiosyncrasy of mine is that it gives me inspiration and materials for my blog, some of those long responses are often ideas I need to share with others, especially when they address issues that crop up often. A single post would save me from having to make the same point over and over again on my facebook wall.  Now, here is another of these long responses that have now been turned into a blogpost.

It is important to shed more light on this “Stop shouting”, “stop being so aggressive”, “Listen respectfully to your abusers” admonitions I often receive from well meaning and not so well meaning self appointed advisers.  Below is a response to someone who obviously is not homophobic but was still religious enough to find my attacks on religion uncomfortable. He could not directly come out to say this so he cloaks his discomfort in words of advice and admonitions. While laying no claim to been a mind reader, unfortunately, this is one attitude I am very familiar with. [Read more…]

Not begging for my LGBT/ Human Rights does not make me Aggressive, just Assertive. Deal with it! Part 1

Wow, that was one very hot debate. During the debate someone even tweeted that i was behaving like a thug, funny. I wonder why many think gays, lesbians, bisexuals and Trans should be apologetic when asking for rights. I DEMAND my human right, not beg for it.

I am often called aggressive, confrontational and too loud for speaking out for LGBT Rights. It seems one is expected to be humble when asking for rights that others already enjoy. Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, Trans and Intersex are expected to meekly ask for the same rights their fellow citizens enjoy. When you don’t meekly beg for your rights, you are called aggressive, confrontational and “a loudmouth, disrespectful bitch”, as I have been called. [Read more…]

FtbCon: Atheism with a conscience!

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FtBConscience is on this weekend (Friday 19th July 2013 – Sunday 21st July 2013), with the theme ‘Atheism with a Conscience’. You can join FtBloggers and our array of distinguished panelists for a stimulating weekend without leaving the comfort of your home!

Join us live as we discuss Atheism, Religion, Social Justice, Science, Art, Love, Grief, Mental illness, Video games and a host of other interesting things! There will also be live Atheist music performed by our in house musicians!

I am one of the speakers on the panel Atheism is Not Enough, Saturday 20th July, 2013, (10am to 12pm CDT (UTC – 5) / 4:00pm-6:00pm British Summer Time, GMT +1). I hope you will join me for this interesting discussion.

You can visit the chat room here, follow/tweet @ftbcon, or post on our Facebook page if you have any questions!

It is really sunny here in London,  we are experiencing a heatwave, so I might live-stream from one of the beautiful parks in London, the queen’s palace or set up cam near Prince Williams and his wife, Duchess Catherine, who is due to deliver the next royal baby any minute now. We might catch a glimpse of Kate going into labour! Well, it could mean a hasty panel on Monarchy and the privilege of Birth.  Now, got to go get my background just right, after all this is gonna be live!

BTW, at the end of the conference, you can also hangout with FtBloggers and our wonderful panelists for drinks. I heard there is beer, chocolate, Ice cream, erm… sorry atheists; we won’t be eating babies, they are not on the FtB conference menu!

Cultural Censorship: My Coming Out Is Not A Threat To Your Closet!

309588_268567446510551_121692274531403_901024_424303210_nI do a double take whenever I hear the words “Your coming out is threatening the safety of closeted gays” and the addendum “Protesting ‘Anti Same Sex’ bills and homophobic behavior is a threat to closeted gays, please stop the protests”.

Really, I mean, really?

Recently on a facebook group, an African who identifies as queer recently called me selfish for daring to come out as bisexual and for protesting against oppression of LGBTs. She suggested that African lesbians and gays should be discrete and not flaunt their love-life. Well, she wasn’t the first African to suggest this ‘do not flaunt your same-sex love life’ bit. It really is sad and that is why I have decided to write a blog post about this issue.

What exactly qualifies as flaunting ones’ love-life?

Is it that goodbye kiss at the train station?

The hand-in-hand walk you take with your lover when the weather permits?

Or the dance you have together at that office party?

I see heterosexuals do all these every day and no one ever accused them of flaunting their love life, in fact it is often referred to as ‘celebrating their love’ but when it is a same sex couple, it suddenly becomes ‘flaunting’.

Also, to the best of my knowledge, no lesbian, gay, bisexual or Trans has ever stoned anyone to death for being heterosexual. However many LGBTs risk this possibility in my beloved country, Nigeria, where it is actually legal in the northern part of the country to stone homosexuals to death.

Why should my having a love life and expressing my love openly like every other normal adult, be considered as ‘flaunting’ simply because my lover and I are of the same sex? Why should my being in love with a same-sex adult and celebrating my love lead to 14 years imprisonment or public stoning?

More importantly, why should closeted gays try to stop me from being OUT and PROUD?

Why the censorship? [Read more…]

SENATE PRESIDENT DAVID MARK IS OFFICIALLY AN IGNORAMUS AND A LEADER OF HYPOCRITES

It is said that followers get the leaders they deserve, so it is not surprising that Nigerians are led by hypocrites.

According to National Mirror: http://nationalmirroronline.net/new/no-going-back-on-anti-same-sex-bill-mark/

“No going back on anti-same sex bill –Mark”

“Senate President David Mark has said the decision of the National Assembly to ban same-sex marriage in the country was irreversible. Mark, according to a statement, said this at a dinner hosted in his honour by the Nigerian Community imark-612x300n Prague, Czech Republic, yesterday.”

‘The Senate president explained that the bill, which has been approved by both chambers of the National Assembly, would not in any way infringe on the rights of Nigerians.’

He said: “The law against same-sex marriage is an approval of the wishes of the generality of Nigerians who are desirous of living within our cultural bounds. “The law is not designed to infringe on the human rights of Nigerians in any way.

Hmm.. he probably does not consider Nigerian Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Trans as Nigerians or even Humans.

“Also, wherever you go in our country today, our people are completely in support of the National Assembly because the practice of same-sex, as you all know, is alien to us.”

I wonder if the famed orgies with his wives and mistresses are not alien to Africa. [Read more…]

‘Our Senators are Hypocrites’

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ORIGINAL INTERVIEW LINK- http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/our-senators-are-hypocrites/104344/

(BTW, you totally should read the wacky comments on the original interview link)
Yemisi Ilesanmi describes herself as ‘proudly bisexual’. After gaining her LL.B from the Obafemi Awolowo University in 2004 (four years after she should have qualified and 10 years after she was initially admitted as a student), she was admitted to the Nigerian Bar in 2005. Asked about the time gap, she chuckles in recollection, ‘Well I had some issues with the university authorities’. Pressed further she says, ‘Weeell, we ‘kidnapped the then Vice-Chancellor, Professor Omole! We had only dirty, brown water coming out of our taps in the halls of residence and we were expected to drink that?!’ her voice rising an octave. ‘Well, we thought we should just give him a dose of his own medicine so we “took” him to spend quality time with us!’

If by now it has not been clear that the interviewer is speaking with a non-conformist, it is now.

Ilesanmi worked with the Nigeria Labour Congress in Abuja from 2002 until recently. Aged 36, she holds a Masters of Law Degree from the University of Keele, UK in Gender, Sexuality and Human Rights. Now resident in the United Kingdom, this trade unionist, human rights activist and poet sent in a position paper to the Senate hearing last October on the anti-same sex marriage bill. She was however unable to come down to Nigeria to make her presentation personally but says she now plans to do so for the House of Representatives public hearing.

The coordinator of the campaign group Nigerian LGBTI in Diaspora Against Anti-Same Sex Laws, she has travelled extensively as guest speaker to promote gender and youth issues, labour rights, sexuality rights and international human rights. [Read more…]