‘Make Nigeria Gay Again’: how one artist is fighting homophobia in Africa

Starring the gay demon, Sigil, this is everything you need to know and how you can help

A funky new video is highlighting the roots and impacts of entrenched homophobia in Nigeria.

Nigerian digital artist, Sigil, made the almost 30-minute long video. Called ‘Happy Pride, Nigeria’ it goes beyond a history lesson and incorporates queer, African graphics to spin the tale. Its purpose is to make people stop and think about their ingrained homophobia.

‘If I can make someone think for just a moment about their ingrained bias and maybe they examine themselves, the video has achieved something,’ Sigil told Gay Star News.

Sigil founded their company DedHed media earlier this year. They want to ‘Make Nigeria Gay Again’ but also to train female and non-binary people in the digital arts.

Sigil voices the video and decided to make the narrator a gay demon.

‘I chose to make Sigil a gay demon because it kind of represents the extremes of what homophobic propaganda has portrayed our people as,’ Sigil said.

‘She has horns sticking out of her head and a pentagram belt buckle but also perhaps the least scary demon powers of all time: big words. I think it brings the irrational fear to the forefront and confronts people with how ridiculous it actually is.’

Make Nigeria Gay Again
Same-sex activity is illegal in Nigeria, with stoning until death the punishment in 14 of the country’s northern states. In other parts of the country the punishment is up to 14 years in jail. LGBTI people are even denied the right to assembly, but that didn’t stop a brave group of people from protesting for their rights in Lagos this year.

Sigil’s amazing video contextualizes Nigeria’s homophobia. It’s made that way so people understand homophobia’s consequences. But Sigil also wants people to understand where it came from in the first place.

In the video, Sigil also talks about the recent ‘African gay panic’. That panic was brought on by increased awareness of LGBTI issues from the West, it lead to the rushed introduction of anti-same-sex marriage laws in 2014.

‘Lives have already been ruined, blood has already been spilled,’ Sigil says in the video about former Nigerian president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s regret on passing the anti-LGBTI laws.

We need to do better in the West
Nigeria’s homophobia has an impact around the world, according to Sigil.

‘In the beginning of the video I mentioned Udoka Nweke who is currently in ICE detention and I think people that are actually in
America and the west who consider themselves queer rights activists need to look into this issue of queer migrants being put in
purgatories between barbaric homophobia and barbaric racism and xenophobia,’ Sigil said.

‘Outside of that we in Africa need to do better for ourselves as well by realizing that there’s no longer anywhere to run and we have to be serious about taking control of our countries as youths.’

Digital art training
But Sigil is putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to empowering their community. Through DedHed, Sigil is providing digital art training opportunities to female and non-binary people in Lagos. People simply pay what they can afford to for the lessons.

Sigil started the program because they wanted to create a space for people like themselves.

‘I worked for an animation company in Lagos for a few months and they didn’t even really consider that women would apply
for a job at a comic book/ animation company until I applied and got the job,’ they said.

‘I was the only female artist there, and I got payed the least and did most of the work. I want to carve out a creative nerdy space for people like me interested in learning about digital art who may not have the resources or funds necessary to do so.’

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by Shannon Power
Source – Gay Star News

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