Olumide Makanjuola is Executive Director of The Initiative for Equal Rights. Olumide is a Sexual Health and Rights advocate with over a decade experience in LGBT rights programming in Nigeria and experience in capacity development for LGBT activists and organizations in Anglophone West African countries. He is engaged in LGBT rights related issues at the National, Regional, and international human rights platforms. He has wide-ranging experience and knowledge on fundraising, donor engagement, organization and project management. He has served as an independent expert to the European Asylum Support Office and has been invited to speak at several human rights platforms highlighting the role of the international community on LGBT rights advocacy. He is an alumni of the International Visitor Leadership Programme, and an Associate fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society.
I have been thinking about the ideology of people and how they think through other human beings, especially those they consider or perceive as different from what they already know. The fact that many people can hardly see the human side of people they consider or perceive to be different, is disturbing and we all should be worried.
So, let’s look at Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual persons in a Nigeria context, and I intentionally left out Transgender persons because the discussion around gender identity is completely different from sexual orientation. I often hear people ask questions on how anyone becomes LGB or how they even have sex, or make babies, as if human life and existence is about sex and babies. I have seen questions like; Who is the woman or man? How do they enjoy sex? and many other endless questions. However, I also understand that this comes from a place of complete lack of knowledge and therefore people need to learn and unlearn what they already know, this is how society progresses and ensures safe space for all human. No society can progress through a narrowed view of one man or many of them, she does through the ability to understand differences and the willingness to learn the struggle of those seen or considered different from the majority.
We always find it difficult to think beyond sex when we think about LGB persons. The fact that we have sexualised a full-grown human being is disturbing as this limits our view on the struggles and realities experienced by LGB persons in a heteronormative society like Nigeria. Since we have decided to always look at LGB persons from a place of sex and not as a complete human being with emotions that are connected to families, friends, co-workers, and communities which are beyond sex, we can as well talk about sex since this seems to be a concern for many.
I realised that many have limited their understanding of “sexual orientation” to just sex and for this reason; many are unable to think beyond sex or understand that before and beyond sex, there is emotion. More importantly, that this emotion connects deeply to human feeling and is not determined by the type of sex a person is having or going to have. The way men or women are emotionally attracted to women or men, is equally the same way men and women who find other men and women attractive, emotionally process their thoughts; it’s beyond sex. Read more via The Guardian