Being gay is till today criminalized in Nigeria, and so even though gay people exist everywhere, in Nigeria, the expectation is for anybody who is a part of the LGBTQ community to remain quiet about it and not admit ever, especially publicly, to being gay. As a civilian, there is already a lot of risk to coming out as gay, but when one is in the public eye, that risk level goes up marginally as such a revelation could affect your livelihood, personal life, and even safety. Yet, for these 5 Nigerian celebrities on today’s list, they decided to publicly come out and damn the consequences. Without further ado, here are 5 Nigerian Celebrities Who Have Publicly Come Out as Gay.
1. Bolu Okupe
Last year, the son of Nigerian politician Doyin Okupe, Bolu Okupe came out as gay in an Instagram post. In the picture, Bolu is sported wearing rainbow shorts and carrying a rainbow flag with the caption that reads: “Yes I’m Gay AF”. In a later interview Bolu did with Punch, he said:
Sexual orientation is not something that one can “reconsider”. This is the way I am and it is the way I have always been and will always be. I and many others in the LGBTQ (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) community were born the way we are, many may not understand this but stop and think for a second, why would we intentionally choose this lifestyle when we know that we will be ridiculed and shamed by society? I do hope that one day we can, as Nigerians and Africans, get to the point where we love and accept each other regardless of things such as sexual orientation.
I do not have any regrets about coming out. Whether people like it or not, it (the law) has started a discussion on this topic within the Nigerian atmosphere that was necessary. Being gay is not “Western” or “European.” There are many gay people in Nigeria, they just do not have the ability to openly live that way due to fear of criticism and judgments similar to the reactions that I received. I hope one day homosexuality can be decriminalised in Nigeria. However, I know that we have a long way to go before we get there.
2. Uyaiedu Ikpe-Etim
Nigerian writer and film maker Uyaiedu Ikpe-Etim is another woman who has publicly come out as being a lesbian. In an interview with her sister, actress Nse Ikpe-Etim, the two discussed how it felt for Uyai to come out to Nse. Nse says that in retrospect, she wishes she had responded differently by giving her a hug and saying nothing else. Now, the two’s relationship is on a path to healing. Uyai also shared her experience coming out to her mother on Twitter. She said:
I (officially) came out to my (Catholic) mother. I watched her as her heart broke again, probably thinking, so the rumors are true. This thing that you are will send me to an early grave, she said. Come, see where you should bury me when I die, she pointed. My heart broke too. But I recognised this for what it was. The universal language of African parents – Emotional blackmail. I’m not an unholy thing, I said. I am not a sin. In spite of how hurt I am that you said that, I won’t accept it. No be me go kill you. Immediately alarmed, she said – I would never call you a sin, you are my child. I love you. You will always be my baby but – No buts. You say you love me, then love me. She talk her own, I talk my own sef. Finally – so one day, you will bring home a wife? Yeah, most likely. Hmmmm. She heaved. Hmmmm. I heaved too. Mine was of relief. I am officially out to my mother.
3. Temmie Ovwasa
Nigerian singer Temmie Ovwasa burst into national consciousness in 2016 when rapper Olamide announced that he was going to sign her to his label, YBNL. Temmie got signed and released songs like “Jabole”, “Bamidele”, and more. In 2020, she left YBNL and released her debut album, E Be Like Say Dem Swear For Me, an album hailed as the first openly queer album in Nigeria. Speaking about it, Temmie said:
I’m a radical queer feminist who happens to be a visual artist, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, poet, and more. Being a queer feminist means belonging in marginalised communities. The album’s direction comes from a place of women, queer people around me who’re also suffering. No matter how privileged I am, it doesn’t invalidate the brutality of being a queer woman in Nigeria and I’m probably always going to be miserable. I found out about my sexuality at five; I got into a lot of trouble for long because I didn’t know I was supposed to hide it. I made the album for myself and from that. I wasn’t thinking when I dropped the album because I would have chickened out by mere thinking about my family, mum etc. To find freedom sometimes, you’ll go through fire, I did and it’s been worth it.
4. Chike Frankie Edozien
Nigerian journalist and author, Chike Frankie Edozien was born in Nigerian in 1970 and started his journalism career in Port Harcourt before moving to America and working for news agencies like ABC News and The New York Post. In his memoir, Lives of Great Men, Chike opened up about his experience as a gay celebrity in Nigeria and has been open about his sexuality ever since.
5. Godwin Maduagu
The latest Nigerian celebrity to come out is actor Godwin Maduagu who last year had a sex tape featuring him and another man get leaked onto social media. At the time of the leak, Godwin denied that he was in the video, but today, he has finally made peace with what happened and decided to come out. He said on social media:
After getting a better life for myself, my close friends set me up, blackmailed me, and leaked my sex tape. I became depressed and almost committed suicide. My family saved me by giving me words of encouragement and advice that kept me going. Look at me now living my truth because I’ve now gotten a strong thick skin. Love is love. Say no to blackmail. What will people say has killed a lot of people.
It is not easy being an openly LGBTQ person in Nigeria so I wish everybody on this list and in Nigeria safety, good luck, and happiness because even though I personally believe in being kind by default to everybody, not everyone is that way. It really can’t be easy for them.
Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment either below or on my Jide Okonjo Facebook post.