The selective activism of Nigerian celebrities has been called to question, thanks to Lil Nas X

If you haven’t heard of the latest video from openly gay American rapper, Lil Nas X, by now then that might be because you are off social media, his kind of music is not your cup of tea or you are a concerned Christian that is bound to find something about that video offensive. We will advise you to steer clear of it.

This isn’t about Lil Nas video however, it is about the reaction of Nigerians to it under a now-viral tweet by actor and media personality, Denola Grey, exalting the work that Lil Nas is doing in the rap scene which he said will, “mean so much to a lot of queer youth.”

Lil Nas came out as gay publicly on 30th June 2019, a move that roused a strong homophobic reaction from the black community that can be said to be the custodians of rap music and inarguably its originator.

He mentioned in an interview with CBS’s Gayle King that he came out in hopes that some kid out there struggling will find solace in knowing they are not alone.

Denola’s viral tweet, which predicted that Nigerians will lose their [minds] when they watch the rappers latest video was alluding to two things. The content of the said video played with Christian mythology with heavily layered homosexual overtones, and Lil Nas’ gay sexuality. The comments section under the tweet is filled with Nigerians dismissing this prediction with varying iterations of, “nobody cares.”

It begs the question, if Nigerians really don’t care about queer issues, then who were the citizens to whose gleeful satisfaction Nigerian legislators swear by their starch-hardened agbada they passed the Same-Sex Prohibition Act (2013)? If indeed Nigerians don’t care and are all for ‘love and let live’ then who perpetuates the continuing violation of LGBT+ people in Nigeria?

While it is impressive of Denola to have brought this into public discourse if only on Twitter, a fellow Twitter user @obynofranc raised a very salient question about the selective activism of Nigerian celebrities.

Just last week, queer activist Victor Emmanuel, took to Twitter to announce a now shelved plan to go on a hunger strike until the legislative arm of the Nigerian government revisits and repeals the SSMPA. @obynofranc alleges that there was not a tweet in sight from Denola Grey in support of Victor’s fight for human dignity.

Activism is a toga people must wear of their own volition, this is not in question, and even when they do they must be allowed the prerogative to choose which battles to fight and how. The question is however valid, particularly for the persons at the receiving end of extortion, kidnap, assault, murder in a long list of violations that the LGBT+ continue to suffer in the country.

Whatever else happens in the long run, we must hold on to the comment section of this infamous tweet as a reminder that once there was a cultural moment in which Nigerians collectively came together to respond, “Who cares,” to queer issues. The reason is simple, we will need to invoke that same energy when the inevitable happens and the conversation on repealing the SSMPA gains enough traction to make it to the floor of the National Assembly.

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