Bisi Alimi is a LGBTQ+ rights activist from Nigeria. He was the first person ever to come out as gay on national television.
LGBT in Africa in General:
In most African nations, homosexuality is outlawed, and sexual minorities are often persecuted and face legal and social discrimination. In fact, out of the 55 recognized states in Africa, 34 of them straight-up outlaw homosexuality. In some nations, like Sudan or Somalia (among others), homosexual activity warrants the death penalty; other nations give life sentences.
LGBT in Nigeria:
Rights in Nigeria for LGBT persons are virtually nonexistent. The state does not recognize LGBT rights, discrimination based on orientation is not protected against, and anti-gay violence is apparently common. In Northern Nigeria, those under Shari’a law can face death by stoning for homosexuality. In the rest of Nigeria, the maximum penalty can be up to 14 years of prison.
In 2014, the president of Nigeria signed the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which is often colloquially referred to as the “anti-gay law” for very good reasons
Bisi Alimi Himself:
He was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, attending primary and secondary school as per usual for a typical Nigerian child. He graduated high school in 1993 and went on to
study Creative Arts and Theatre at the University of Lagos.
It was during his university career that a peer who worked on the college magazine staff outed him as gay, and that’s when everything started to disintegrate. He had already faced a disciplinary committee due to an accusation of his gay status, and now he had to battle for his degree because the college wanted to deny it to him on the basis of his orientation. He was eventually able to graduate, however, even though he was almost denied because the college considered him immoral due to his orientation.
Around this time, Alimi had been working on a soap opera as an actor, and he heard rumors that his secret was starting to get out. So he decided to head it off, and he appeared on live television, on a popular Nigerian talk show called New Dawn with
Funmi. It was there, on live television, that he came out as gay in front of the nation of Nigeria, and as much as the government and the station hated it, it was a live broadcast, so they couldn’t edit or censor him!
And Boom! He became the first person to ever publicly come out on national Nigerian television. Funny enough, the show changed its policies and scrapped the live shows immediately after that, so they would only broadcast pre-taped interviews.
Immediately following this milestone event, Alimi found himself facing violence and death threats and disownment from his family. He fled the country to go to the U.K., and he has lived there ever since.
Life after Nigeria:
He attended Birbeck College, University of London in 2011 and got a masters in Global Governance and Public Policy.
He has been able to accomplish a great many things since leaving Nigeria.:
- He founded the Independent Project For Equal Rights-Nigeria – a non-profit that provides many valuable LGBT youth programs
- He set up the U.K.’s first international LGBT organization, Kaleidoscope Diversity Trust
- Founded the Bisi Consultancy – Helps lawmakers develop policies based on HIV research in the LGBT community
Apart from founding organizations, Alimi has spoken at several colleges, universities, and institutions, including giving a talk at TedxBerlin. He is a loud voice for LGBT and general human rights in both the UK and Nigeria.
The Bisi Alimi Foundation:
- Educate Nigerians about LGBT issues to decrease homophobia and increase inclusion of sexual minorities
- Fight for equal rights – both social and legal – for LGBT people in Nigeria
- Reduce the stigma surrounding sexual identity among the LGBT community by engaging the larger surrounding community
- Engage with businesses and corporations in Nigeria to create awareness of the impact of homophobia
These ends are accomplished through a lot of research and surveys, a lot of advocacy, and a lot of training.
He is currently a worldwide speaker, model, and activist. Last November, Bisi Alimi married his boyfriend Anthony, and the two are living in the U.K. currently. He is only in his early 40s, so he still has a lot to give, and he plans to keep working and fight for the rights of the oppressed in Nigeria and the world.