Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan recently signed the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, that has been called the “jail the gays” bill. The law states that “any person who registers, operates (supports) or participates in gay clubs, societies and organizations directly or indirectly, makes a public show of a same-sex amorous relationship commits an offense and shall be liable to a term of 10 years’ imprisonment.” That’s interesting. African men in prison have been victims of rape by other men for years, so is this President Jonathan’s sick way of handling this issue?
Nigeria has always had harsh laws against the LGBTQ community (yan daudu), but President Jonathan’s recent signing is said to encourage angry mobs to engage in what is called “queer cleansing–” the the violent and systematic destruction of any expression of LGBTQ identities and culture. It’s been reported that government has given these mobsters permission to violently attack people because of who they love. Vigilante mobs have been wielding nail-studded clubs, iron bars, whips and wires and shouting, “We are working for Jonathan,” and claiming that they are “cleansing the community.” Homophobic gangs chase LGBTQ citizens from their homes and leave their signature message, “Homosexuals, pack and leave!” But wait, if they’re imprisoning the yan daudu, why would they need to threaten them with violence?
The “jail the gays” bill, which was unanimously passed in Nigeria’s House of Representatives, not only prohibits people from entering into same-sex marriages, it can affect straight people too! There’s a 10-year guilty-by-association jail sentence if you’re friends with or support anyone in any form of gender-nonconforming or homosexual activity.
Former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo told The New York Times, “Every culture has what they regard as sacrosanct or important to them, and I don’t believe what our president and lawmakers have done in that respect is contrary to our culture.” Sounds like he’s defending President Jonathan’s limiting and discriminatory choice to sign this act. Ninety-eight percent of the Nigerian population, aka most of the country believes homosexuality should not be accepted by society. What’s most shocking is that Nigeria is not alone. Thirty-eight of the 54 countries in Africa criminalize homosexuality. In fact, Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni also recently signed an anti-gay bill.
So the message for the yan daudu (Nigeria’s gay population) is comply, go to jail or die. This is a really sad time in our world. In America, we deal with a lot of hate and disdain towards the gay communities in the form of gay bashing, horrible jokes and slurs and extreme discrimination, but being gay has never been outlawed and enforced by law. Currently, 17 of our 50 states support same sex marriage while 33 of them have banned it completely. While these numbers aren’t the most impressive, it’s a step in the right direction of acceptance. Celebrities like Robin Roberts, Jason Collins and Michael Sam coming out of the closet and met with a warm embrace, American culture often sends the message that it’s ok to be gay. And it is. Gay only means that you love someone who is the same sex. What’s so wrong about that, huh…President Jonathan? (And pretty much all of Africa?)
Check out this gallery of openly gay Black celebs:
Raven finally came out on Twitter, claiming, "I can finally get married! Yay government! So proud of you" and when Oprah asked her about it on her show "Oprah: Where Are They Now?" Raven admitted that she's a woman who loves a woman.
2. Djuan Trent
Former Miss Kentucky Djuan Trent finished in the top 10 of the Miss America competition in 2011 and recently announced that she’s a lesbian, becoming the first national pageant contestant to come out of the closet.
3. Robin Roberts
One year after receiving a crucial bone marrow transplant that saved her life, Roberts wrote a heartfelt message of gratitude on her Facebook wall that revealed some previously guarded information--she has a girlfriend! “I am grateful for my entire family, my long time girlfriend, Amber...” she wrote, effectively revealing her same-sex relationship. Read more: http://bit.ly/1ggx5PO
4. Michael Sam
"I just want to go to the team who drafts me," Sam told ESPN in a recent interview, "because that team knows about me, knows that I'm gay, and also knows that I work hard. That's the team I want to go to." This NFL-hopeful has gotten the attention and support of Michelle Obama after coming out and has become an inspiration to us all.
5. Mister Cee
While Mister Cee hasn't classified himself as gay, he has admitted to having a problem with soliciting transgender women. “I know that I love women; any woman that’s been with me know that I love women,” he said. “But occasionally I get the urge the have (oral sex) with a transsexual, a man that looks like a woman... And then I’m sitting here saying that I’m not gay.”
6. Andre Leon Talley
One of the most known editors of Vogue, Andre has credits that span beyond any normal resume. From working as an assistant for Andy Warhol to mentoring Jennifer Hudson, Talley's talents far outweigh his sexuality.
Perhaps one of the biggest gay stars of our time, RuPaul has paved the way for many drag queens by making it mainstream. Ru also came out when he was 12-years-old and has been living his truth ever since.
8. Angela Davis
Angela Davis confirmed that she was a lesbian in 2005 in Out magazine. And as one of the biggest advocates for Black, women's and gay rights, Davis is the political activist you want on your team.
9. Wanda Sykes
Wanda was married to her husband for seven years before fully embracing her homosexuality. Now married to a woman, Wanda continues to be a strong advocate for gay rights.
10. Nicki Minaj
From labeling contestants on American Idol, "my wife" to claiming she's got what it takes to steal Cassie from Diddy, Nicki Minaj's sexuality is fluid. She claimed that she was bi-sexual, then denounced the title in a Rolling Stone interview. If we had to call it, we'd say Nicki's gay-adjacent.
11. Frank Ocean
Frank Ocean's admission of loving a man was the coming out heard 'round the world. Frank said, "I knew that my star was rising, and I knew that if I waited I would always have somebody that I respected be able to encourage me to wait longer, to not say it till who knows when."
12. Jason Collins
Jason Collins made history as the first American man in a professional sport to come out.
13. Lee Daniels
Director Lee Daniels has always been vocal about his marred past and how he suffered at the hands of his father because he knew he was gay at 5-years-old. Now fully embracing his sexuality, Daniels has matured into a well-adjusted gay man.
14. Azealia Banks
This newbie rapper has never been afraid of her sexuality. Her uber-raunchy lyrics are proof. Banks came out in the NY Times as bisexual. "I'm not trying to be, like, the bisexual, lesbian rapper. I don't live on other people's terms."
15. Meshell Ndegeocello
Ndegeocello came out as bisexual when she was in high school and even dated Alice Walker’s daughter, Rebecca Walker.
Le1f is an openly gay New York-based rapper who made a name for himself by calling out Macklemore, not only stealing his song, but profiting off of the struggles of queer communities. He recently made his network TV debut on Letterman.
17. Sheryl Swoopes
Swoopes came out as homosexual in October 2005, publicly announcing her relationship with Houston Comets’ assistant coach, Alicia Scott.
18. Johnny Mathis
Mathis is a pioneer of homosexuality. He would always receive death threats, causing him to remain silent on his sexual preference. In 1982, he was quoted in Us Magazine, claiming, "Homosexuality is a way of life that I’ve become accustomed to.”
19. Don Lemon
When CNN anchor Don Lemon came out as gay, he was applauded for being one of a small few of openly gay Black celebrities. Lemon’s decision to come out sparked debate about why other famous gay minorities remain in the closet.
20. E. Denise Simmons
The former mayor of Cambridge, Mass., Simmons was the first lesbian African-American mayor in U.S. history.
21. Emil Wilbekin
This managing editor of Essence.com has made major moves for the gay community and is even celebrated as one of the most influential gay men in Out magazine in 2002.
22. Tracy Chapman
While Tracy has always been quiet about her sexuality, her link to Alice Walker has been publicized and Walker claims that it's never been a secret.
23. Alice Walker
"The Color Purple" writer confessed to the Guardian that she shared a love affair with singer, Tracy Chapman and the Guardian writer said, "...I was surprised to see her face light up at the mention of Chapman." She says Walker claimed, "Yeah I loved it too. Absolutely."
24. Rebecca Walker
Alice Walker's estranged daughter is bisexual and previously had a relationship with neo-soul musician Meshell Ndegeocello, whose son she helped raise.