Here is what #NationalComingOutDay means and why it matters

The first time I saw a transperson was on NTA Kaduna in the early 2000’s.

I do not remember the name of the show anymore, and I suspect people who grew up in Northern Nigeria in the 90’s might be able to help with the name. But it was a locally produced show that was written to represent a microcosm of Nigeria with Igbo, Hausa, Fulani, Yoruba, Gwari and several other tribes. But there were also trans-women on the show and one transwoman in particular had a proper story arc, complete with character development and several suitors.

Considering Nigeria as a whole was somewhat less intolerant of sexual minorities back then, much of what happened in the show was interpreted as dark humour, rather than the representation that it was.

The show might not have survived network television, but several clips including clips with Kawajo, the transwoman made it on to Youtube and have been added here.

As a person far more cognizant of the erasure that LGBT persons in Nigeria face, I am better able to appreciate just how important this singular character must have been to thousands of femme gay men and transwomen who had to pretend to pass as straight so they would not be ostracised from their communities and abandoned from their families.

The fact that someone was brave enough to write a character this controversial and convince a government funded network to air it is nothing short of amazing. Kawajo was representation before there were buzz words and fancy rhetoric.

This is what coming out means to me, it means representation. It means people being able to see that they are not alone in the world, that their struggles and triumphs are shared by people who look like them. Coming Out is an intensely private decision and thankfully people know better now than to force a person to come out before they are ready, but for the brave people who do, your bravery is never not appreciated.

Thank you.

By the way, a small PSA.

 

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