A LITTLE PHILOSOPHICAL FARTING
Since the Nigerian legislature saw it fit to outlaw dandyism (because one thinks it sounds way cooler than homosexualism), there has rightly been a raging storm of opinions for or against the move. One always loves debates. One would have found Earth less interesting and probably won a No-RingRing Praizze fer Sighhence on Pluto (because this is how one imagines Plutonians converse) if holes couldn’t be punctured in any and all arguments. However, the fewer the holes, the more generally applicable the arguments. This is why, for the less precise sciences – those that deal in human behaviour, you find that there is a multiplicity of isms, all solid till humans are inserted, to choose from. And even within those isms, there are all sorts of schools – mushroom schools, more established schools, but schools nonetheless. In summary, I hope this episode in our social and context births a proper, wide scale debate on alternative sexual orientations in the Nigerian polity.
One advantage of the Bill though is that one can hang it like a Sword of Damocles over the head of women who exercise their God-given (or Big-Bang-given) right to say no to one’s amorous advances. You say no to one and one has no choice but to drag you before the authorities upon which proof of your unbending will be required. As one previously suggested on Twitter, the only viable way to determine a unbending sexual orientation is to have said woman perform sexual acts of interesting variety on a volunteer (and one has always believed in volunteerism) in the presence of official witnesses. Victoria at long lasta.
THE HYP CROWD
for the hyp
let’s all fall in line
Once you spot two
quick, quick, in line!
Once it’s two: it’s trend, fa-shion
One is happy that the youth, primarily, have risen up in defence of our selfsame-sexing brothers and sisters. One wears his toga of tolerance proudly – be it of religion or of sexuality – and continues to iron out the kinks in that toga. Now, tolerance is no mean achievement (and cannot even be described as an achievement per se), because it is a way of life that has far-reaching consequences on your beliefs. It requires that you disavow yourself of notions culturally and seemingly unconsciously imbibed, and to accept new realities as the world continues to evolve. Tolerance is not by mere word of mouth or tweet; it is assiduously cultivated, relentless worked at.. Tolerance is not for the glib hip crowd; it will hurt others and bite you in the ass if you are the hypocritical sort. Tolerance derives from a deeply held conviction within a person that there might be more roads into the market than one. It is sickening that a lot of people publicly profess tolerance for homosexuality because it is the current flavour of the hip crowd and in private castigate them and their rights. One is more likely to respect people who, because they have not reached such an epiphanous point, castigate with all of their might, than respect those who are two-faced pretenders. When you find people who do not tolerate – in the most far reaching sense of the word – the right of others to a different religion or lifestyle professing tolerance for homosexuality, you have found your glib hip hyp crowd. When you find people who without thought call women exercising their right to sexual freedom a farming implement known to us all, you have found your crowd. When you find people who with fanatic fervour castigate adults engaging in consensual coitus, and yet profess tolerance for homosexuality, you have found your crowd.
THE LITMUS TEST
In elementary science, you learn that one way to differentiate acids from bases or from salts is the acid’s effect on an appropriately coloured litmus paper. The litmus test of tolerance for the hip crowd will come, where the hyp will be differentiated from the real. How many people have thought about the future; that our kids, their friends, their kids may turn out gay? If we think tolerance is a matter of boosting social credentials now, wait till someone closer to home turns out gay. It is increasingly inevitable that someone close to you, someone you may not be able to shunt into the background, will have a sexual orientation that doesn’t quite agree with your notions of sexuality. That eventuality is what we should prepare for, not public chest-thumping and half-hearted if well-meaning professions of support. Ask yourself now: what will I do if my children gay? Supply yourself a honest answer. Do not resort to the typical “Olo’un maje”. So far as I know, homosexual sex does not give rise to offspring; therefore, homosexuality is not inherited. That you are heterosexual does not mean your child will inherit your orientation. Stop the smug glibness and prepare your mind for the future.
One has proposed a solution to racism – at least in football – from the comfort of one’s yansh-sunken armchair. One believes that ignoring the racist jibes will eventually lead to their extinction because one believes that the racist chanters recognize that their actions provoke a response. This realization that they get under the skin of blacks – a realization given graphic proof in the reactions of the players under attack – is what one believes continues to fuel the chants. It is instructive to note how booing works in football. Whether the Arsenal fans’ booing of Ashley Cole amounts to anything remains to be seen. This is because Ashley Cole, and a lot of other footballers, remain stoically impassive to the boo stimulus. Because these guys are impassive, the booing generally dies down as a match progresses. Now, if Ashley Cole flies into a rage, or breaks down into tears every time the Emirates crowd boos him, you and one know that the intensity of the booing will only rise as the game progresses. Of course, it is easy to propound theories from the comfort of one’s aforementioned armchair, especially since one hasn’t left Nigeria long enough to be subjected to test scenarios where one can measure one’s response to stimulus. But since one possesses a conviction of what one believes is the underlying motivation behind racist chanting in football, it will be infinitely easier – but still very tough – to work at one’s solution.
In the same way, one holds the conviction that one’s religion isn’t the only way, that one’s religion leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Therefore, it is easy to challenge one’s seemingly inborn notions of sexuality. Change isn’t as straightforward as it appears – it involves confronting notions held with a superior argument. It is the acceptance of these superior arguments that paves way for change.
THINGS FALL APART, ONCE AGAIN
You may have heard of Chinua Achebe’s famous book, Things Fall Apart. And if you haven’t, there is still time to read it critically and learn lessons that are still germane to societal problems today. Note the differences in style of governance between the two district commissioners in that book. One preferred to ease Umuofia into the new reality of colonialism while the other thought the natives’ customs were a problem to be confronted head-on and discarded of which of course led to a conflict that may have been worse had the Umuofians taken the cue of Okonkwo’s suicide as a call to rebellion against the colonizing force.
Whether we like it or not, homosexuality is a relatively modern cultural reality in our society and it will take some getting used to. One does not possess any statistics but one imagines that a greater number of Nigerians support the legislature’s move than are opposed to it. There has to be a cultural paradigm shift for the championing of gay rights to gain its much-needed traction. This will not happen if the strategy is a stupid frontal confrontation. You may have heard of Oscar Wilde, and if you have not, simply click on his name. In 1895, Oscar Wilde was tried and imprisoned in Britain for two years on charges of homosexuality (sodomy). The humus in his grave would have appropriately somersaulted on Tuesday as Britain’s House of Lords – the descendants of those who had presided upon his travails; the descendants of those who had spat on him – voted massively in support of the legalization of gay marriage. And even more instructive is that Wilde’s libel case against the Marquess of Queensberry, who had labelled him a “posing sodomite”, backfired spectacularly to become a trial of Wilde’s own sexual preferences. Everywhere, the lessons stand out, begging to be learnt, begging us not to put the cart before the horse. Wilde said during his trial:
The love that dare not speak its name” in this century is such a great affection of an elder for a younger man as there was between David and Jonathan, such as Plato made the very basis of his philosophy, and such as you find in the sonnets of Michelangelo and Shakespeare. It is that deep spiritual affection that is as pure as it is perfect. It dictates and pervades great works of art, like those of Shakespeare and gtMichelangelo, and those two letters of mine, such as they are. It is in this century misunderstood that it may be described as “the love that dare not speak its name,” and on that account of it I am placed where I am now. It is beautiful, it is fine, it is the noblest form of affection. There is nothing unnatural about it. It is intellectual […] That it should be so, the world does not understand. The world mocks at it, and sometimes puts on in the pillory for it.
Campaigners for homosexual rights must realise that in Nigeria, we are still in that century Wilde describes above. Those rights are first a conflict of culture than a conflict of the legal. Sort out the culture and the legal may follow. The Nigerian cultural notion of sex is heterosexual. The Nigerian cultural notion of marriage is heterosexual. To battle the law before coaxing the culture to acceptance is fighting before strategizing and will only cause more problems than it resolves. The societies (countries) where homosexuals can legally assume their full rights are about 13 as one furiously types. And even in the United States, the battle for gay rights is ongoing, not a done deal. Wilde is widely regarded as a martyr for gay rights; will there be a Nigerian martyr?
SLAM BAM TAKE-HOME-TO-MAMA QUOTE-IT-ANYWHERE FINAL WORD
And we all as human beings, whether bent double (gay) , bent halfway (swinger-both-ways), or rigidly upright (180°), must be ready to be confronted, as the world continues to evolve, with new and valid definitions of freedom and human rights.
Dynamite! Absolute dynamite!
One killed it!
One killed the final word!
Hip! Hyp! Hip!