‘Na gay dey reign’: Defiance unapologetically places Nigerian queer issues on the table

by Alabi Adewale

Watching the film ‘Defiance’ by Harry Itie created a sense of realization that queer Nigerians are beginning a purposeful path to owning their space. Whilst this may seem like a small move in that direction, it is a very significant one. One of the problems young queers have had to face is finding some connection to the past to understand that their lives are worth more than a homophobic majority will have them believe. This lack of connection has made it hard for some queer Nigerians to understand their sexuality and their environment and how to navigate the obstacles that come with being queer in Nigeria.

The 42-minute long film features queer Nigerians basically telling their story raw and unhinged; making sure no aspect is sugar-coated. This type of project is common in the literary queer space where there is a bit of safety net for both the convener and the contributors because of the relative anonymity associated with it. Harry’s film, however, puts a face to the voices behind all that has been penned down in the past few years.
The documentary film does not begin with a cliché intro and an explanation of the subject matter before it delves into the lives of the people featured in it. This gives the vibe that it was made specifically for the consumption of queer people and straight people are welcome to consume if they so wish.

The film starts with participants speaking about their childhood and all the emotions they felt discovering or becoming aware of their sexuality. Matthew Blaise particularly had a story a lot of effeminate men face in Nigeria. From sexual assault to physical assault, Matthew’s story strikes up a lot of emotion because of the helplessness that comes with the abuse he faced as a child.

Amara, the Lesbian’s journey towards self-acceptance was also quite interesting to note as her story highlights the choking restraint with which some queer people live their lives before accepting their sexuality.
Mariam and Vincent, on the other hand, are a representation of the fact that not everyone struggles as such with their sexuality but learn who they are at a young age and then grow in that knowledge as opposed to struggling with it.

In all, the film does a good job of telling a story. However, more detailed documentaries on the lives of queer Nigerians and the plans to pushing a way forward has to be brought to the front burner.

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