“Yes I am Gay AF ??”
That’s the caption under a topless image posted by Bolu Okupe on his Instagram page two days ago. The post – a public declaration by Dr. Doyin Okupe‘s son, had Nigerian blogs falling over one another to break the news of the juicy development (or controversy extraordinaire) for Nigeria’s slow-progressing society.
Most likely, due to the uproar stoked by blogs eager to churn out traffic-moving content, Bolu’s father Doyin Okupe (one-time Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Olusegun Obasanjo and later, Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan), took to his Twitter handle in response to the ‘controversy’ in a series of tweets.
Summarily, he disclosed that he had been aware of his son’s “new sexuality” for a while and his son has been aware that he is “vehemently opposed to homosexuality.” Citing his Christian faith, which he said homosexuality runs contrary to, Dr. Okupe said he sees his son’s homosexuality as a “major spiritual challenge” that he believes his living God will eventually turn into “praise to the almighty Jehovah.”
27-year-old Bolu Okupe is based in France, where he bagged a Masters of Science degree in International Management in 2018. This means that at least when it comes to physical harm – which is far from far-fetched, he is safely out of harm’s way. The vitriol that followed the gleeful spread of his harmless post all over Nigeria’s blogosphere, however, not to mention his Dad’s ignorance-ladden public message, is enough to contend with.
The rising instances of young Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and other sexual and gender minority (LGBT+) Nigerians owning their truth and publicly living it without shame, is an ocean tide that can’t be stemmed. With a culture that progresses so slowly, it feels like it moves a quarter-inch per half-century, no LGBT+ person is delusional enough to expect a red carpet treatment when they come out to either the public or their Nigerian parents. Bolu certainly didn’t expect fanfare either before or after that post.
Responding to the deluge of vitriol, some of which spilt over from the blogs that carried his story into his page, Bolu had taken to his IG story to say, “They are mad … and they gonna stay mad.” The IG story was picked up by some blogs once more who reported it as a response to his Dad’s post. This, Bolu denied in a tweet decrying the falsehood being spread by blogs claiming his comment was to family.
It is not easy for older Nigerians to respond appropriately to a child coming out or living out and proud, take Charly Boy and Daughter Dewy Oputa’s public spectacle in November 2020 for instance. More than ever though, Nigerian parents need to be constantly reminded that their parental duty does not only belong within comfort zones set by them.
Children are not a chunk of clay that you mould into the shape you desire. Homosexuality, whether they believe it or not, is not an unnatural aberration. And no one person has a monopoly of God nor claim to his Grace. Lesbian, Gay, Straight, Bisexual, Trans or Genderqueer, everyone is deserving of dignity and love.
Dr. Doyin Okupe – despite his track record of working with a government that enacted the enduringly harmful Same-Sex Prohibition Act (SSMPA), must know this truth. Perhaps that’s why he felt the need to make a public declaration about something his own tweet said he already knew.
For his benefit and that of Nigerian parents far and wide – some of whose children will someday come out to them, it is important to note without mincing words that there is no greater shame than being a fickle parent whose love is based only on a child fitting the image they desire for them.