Gay Rights in Africa – A little Success in the struggle

The glass is half-full for gays and lesbians in Africa, and getting fuller, says an LGBTI activist in Nigeria.

In an interview with BET, the activist known as Spectra says it’s important to remember that, although Africa has its issues, the continent’s gay rights activists are making progress.

In the BET article, she says, “There’s lots that’s happening that is really positive, really powerful. … My concern is that people are not knowing about what is powerful coming from LGBTI African people.”

“Believe it or not, it’s good to be gay in Africa” — that’s the opening sentence of the BET article based on that interview. The article is titled “African Gay Rights Activist Rewrites the Story of a Struggle.”

In her own blog, “Spectra Speaks, she expresses admiration for the headline, but says the introductory sentence “gave me pause.”  She reminds readers about the vote last year in the Nigerian Senate in favor of a bill that would impose 14-year prison sentences for people in same-sex marriages and 10-year sentences for people who assist in those ceremonies. She says:

I believe that “Being gay in Africa is bad” and “Being gay in Africa is good” are both overly simplistic, reductive narratives we should avoid in mass scale. Instead of “positive” stories, I want real stories, authentic, complex stories. Thus, even though it was refreshing to see a positive slant to LGBTI Africa coverage, I wouldn’t be enthused if LGBTI Africa was constantly depicted wearing a smiley face.

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