Not everyone falls into a binary and that’s okay.
Sexuality isn’t as much shock and awe in Nigeria as it was a little as ten years ago. Thanks to Bisi Alimi coming out on air on Funmi Iyanda’s defunct ‘New Dawn’ and the events that have followed that cataclysmic event, the average Nigerian is now well aware that homosexual people exist, in a very contemporary context. There is a study that even suggests while only 1 in 11 Nigerians over 40 personally knew a gay person, the number is as high as one in three among people aged 15 – 21. But it isn’t enough that we know people can be gay and lesbian, we also need to acknowledge that much of the LGBT community is actually queer.
As a mechanism to help us comprehend the world around, humans are prone to sequester things off into neat little categories, complete with archetypal traits. People are especially inclined to do this when it comes to sexuality and the attenuant problems it poses to our carefully ordered view of the world. This is why people consider bisexuality a myth, and bisexuals liars. But many LGBT people do not see themselves as straight, gay or bisexual. Sure they are attracted to people of the same sex but sometimes they are also attracted to people of the other sex, but not enough to qualify as bisexual. Some LGBT feel more comfortable with people of the same sex while their primary visceral attractions are to people of the opposite sex. It goes on and on. Because of the fluidity of their attractions, the word ‘Queer’ works as a convenient catch-all. A way to identify as LGBT without conforming.
Queerness as a concept suggests that a person doesn’t have to choose, that the person can continue to adapt and change, that they aren’t thrown into one category and boxed off there. Queerness is a self identifier that works for gender non-conforming people as well as it works for people with fluid sexual attractions. It suggests that we drop our predisposed assumptions and actually listen.
Sometimes understanding is overrated, perhaps all we need is to empathize.
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