by Adewale Alabi
Conversations around queer rights in Nigeria are beginning to come to the forefront due to a more vocal stance by members of the community, as well as allies and human rights organisations who push for a more inclusive society. So, it is quite surprising to see the shock, outrage and media frenzy that takes place when a celebrity gives their take on LGBTQ+ issues.
One of the first mainstream Nigerian artist to speak about his support for queer people was MI who had openly criticised the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Law in a podcast and on social media. Other celebs who have spoken out include Falz, Alex Ekubo and most recently Big Brother Naija alumnus, Diane Russett whose recent comment in a question and answer session with a fan caused a raucous.
What’s quite hilarious about all of these is that most celebs who speak about queer matters do not necessarily speak from a perspective of advocacy. In the sense that their words are most times a line on social media where they mostly express the “live and let live” mantra in their captions or comment sections on social media. This is not to say their voices are not needed, but why are media houses not paying attention to those screaming about LGBTQ+ rights?
The truth is they do not care. The tweets and comments from celebs are simply covered for clout and clicks to their websites. These celebs barely said the minimum and they get the biggest attention while actual advocacy work is snubbed. Does this mean the queer community needs a celebrity to be its mouthpiece? Not necessarily. However, the influence they may have in making people pay attention to actual issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community cannot be underestimated. Countries such as the US have seen popular figure becoming advocates and drawing attention to issues affecting queer people.
The Nigerian media needs to stop seeing queer related matters as some form of amusement for its readers and go the extra mile of reporting proper content on queer related issues if truly they are interested in objectively reporting queer related matters.