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Being gay is beyond sex; Olumide Makanjuola says

Nigerian Human Rights activist Olumide Makanjuola has made it clear that people should stop sexualizing LGB persons. He also stated that gender identity is quite different from sexual orientation and that LGB persons are complete human beings whose lives do not all revolve around sex.

Olumide Makanjuola, executive director of TIERs (Photo courtesy of GLAAD)

Read the full article below which first appeared on

I have been thinking about the ideology of people and how they think through other human beings, especially those they consider or perceive as different from what they already know.

The fact that many people can hardly see the human side of people they consider or perceive to be different, is disturbing and we all should be worried.

So, let’s look at Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual persons in a Nigeria context, and I intentionally left out Transgender persons because the discussion around gender identity is completely different from sexual orientation. I often hear people ask questions on how anyone becomes LGB or how they even have sex, or make babies, as if human life and existence is about sex and babies. I have seen questions like; Who is the woman or man? How do they enjoy sex? and many other endless questions. However, I also understand that this comes from a place of complete lack of knowledge and therefore people need to learn and unlearn what they already know, this is how society progresses and ensures safe space for all human. No society can progress through a narrowed view of one man or many of them, she does through the ability to understand differences and the willingness to learn the struggle of those seen or considered different from the majority.

Read also: Police are crossing the line; it’s not a crime to be gay in Nigeria – Olumide Makanjuola

We always find it difficult to think beyond sex when we think about LGB persons.

The fact that we have sexualised a full-grown human being is disturbing as this limits our view on the struggles and realities experienced by LGB persons in a heteronormative society like Nigeria. Since we have decided to always look at LGB persons from a place of sex and not as a complete human being with emotions that are connected to families, friends, co-workers, and communities which are beyond sex, we can as well talk about sex since this seems to be a concern for many.

I realised that many have limited their understanding of “sexual orientation” to just sex and for this reason; many are unable to think beyond sex or understand that before and beyond sex, there is emotion. More importantly, that this emotion connects deeply to human feeling and is not determined by the type of sex a person is having or going to have. The way men or women are emotionally attracted to women or men, is equally the same way men and women who find other men and women attractive, emotionally process their thoughts; it’s beyond sex.

I have heard people say, ‘I don’t have problems with LGB persons as long as they don’t make any sexual or emotional advance at me.’ My problem with this line of thought is, how is a heterosexual person sure that the person they are trying to make sexual or emotional advance at is heterosexual? The reality remains that LGB persons will have as much sex as they want, and this will not change or disturb the amount of sex heterosexual people will have.

Sex should not define any person or group of persons so long as the sex that happens is between two adults with mutual consent. No one really needs to know who lies on top, below or beside.

I have always believed we need to free ourselves on discussion around sex, this thinking that once you talk about sex you are “lose or unholy” is wrong and a false to our realities. Heterosexual people need to liberate themselves from this thought as it will help them free LGB persons and start seeing them as full human being who is not only about sex but will equally have sex as much as any human being.

Olumide Makanjuola is Executive Director of The Initiative for Equal Rights. Olumide is a Sexual Health and Rights advocate with over a decade experience in LGBT rights programming in Nigeria and experience in capacity development for LGBT activists and organizations in Anglophone West African countries. He is engaged in LGBT rights related issues at the National, Regional, and international human rights platforms. He has wide-ranging experience and knowledge oncfundraising, donor engagement, organization and project management. He has served as an independent expert to the European Asylum Support Office and has been invited to speak at several human rights platforms highlighting the role of the international community on LGBT rights advocacy. He is alumni of the International Visitor Leadership Programme, and an Associate fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society.

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