An Interview with Bisi Alimi

Bisi Alimi is a Nigerian gay rights activist, public speaker, blog writer and HIV/LGBT advocate who gained international attention when he became the first Nigerian to come out of the closet on television we got to speak you him as part of LBGT History Month

Bisi Alimi

Why celebrate LGBT history?

I think it is important to note here that everyday is LGBT History Month for me. I live my life within the context of my history and my present and hence, I hardly stop in the year to take a month to celebrate something that is inherently me.

That said, I personally think the idea of LGBT History Month is a laudable one. Many people have no idea of the term LGBT or what it stands for, or of the persecution or the progress we face and have made as a people, and this month helps to remember the struggle and the joy.

Also there is the need to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the year and remember. Take a moment to stop, reflect on where we are, where we are coming from and to where we are going.

So it is a very powerful period for me as a person.

How does LGBT history play a role in the work you do, or in the life you live?

I take extra time out to visit schools, write articles, tweet and engage more with people. I also use the period to talk about the intersectionality that comes with gender, sexuality and race – and to me these are the most important parts of my life.

I am a black gay man who lives in London. I need to know this and as such let others like me know this, hence my outreach during this period. My outreach is all year, but I give it more time during LGBT History Month.

Which projects are you working on at the moment?

I am currently working on two projects at the moment. One is based here in the UK: Rainbow Intersection. This is a very small project-like charity where my friend Ade and I are using our platform to raise the issue around racism and homophobia in Britain.

It has been exciting but with challenges as well. Starting the project has opened our eyes to the amount of work that we need to do within the LGBT community in the UK as much as within the BME community.

I am a passionate advocate of intersectionality awareness. We as human are not just single entity and we can’t compromise one part of us for another. Every part of me, means a lot to me and I guess that is same for others.

My second project is my foundation: the Bisi Alimi Foundation. We work only in Nigeria and our aim is to use research and policy to bring about LGBT rights and freedom in Nigeria. This means a lot to me as well.

Nigeria is where I come from and I cannot now be oblivious to it because I live here. I know what got me here and I need to make home conducive for everyone there irrespective of where I am now. It is my responsibility as a Nigerian, but more importantly as a human being.

The same goes to my commitment to the United Kingdom. I will be happy and at home here only if I work hard and join others in making it conducive and welcoming to everyone.

What is in the future for you?

The future for me is bright. I am really excited about it. I am extremely politically aware so I am hoping that I have the chance to get a Labour Party nomination as either a councillor or MP in 2020 or when the opportunity comes.

I am also getting married and I am so excited about that. I mean, I come from a country where dreaming of getting into a same sex marriage can land you in jail, and here I am – able to marry in the UK. I am not ignorant of this privilege I now have and hence while I am working hard to make the dream of every LGBT person in love in Nigeria a reality.

I am going to keep working and raising awareness around race, sexuality, gender and gender identity in the UK. This is my home now and I love living here.

I also look to a future that is environmentally friendly, a future that challenges all elements of phobia, stigma and discrimination.

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