The real story of “the only gay in Nigeria” is an animated short film that tells the story of Bisi Alimi, a beloved actor turned refugee whose life was turned upside down when he came out, according to Pink News.
Bisi Alimi’s decision to come out was a move that not only caused him to lose his role on a popular Nigerian TV show but jeopardized his safety in the country.
Alimi played one of the main roles on the Nigerian TV show Roses and Thorns until producers found out he was gay, after which his character was immediately killed off.
The once-beloved actor successfully hid his sexuality from the public during his time as an actor despite having already been outed once in his university’s magazine. After the incident, Alimi got a girlfriend and cut all gay friends out of his life. But when a national newspaper threatened to launch an investigation into his love life, Alimi decided that if anyone was going to reveal his sexuality, he would be the one to do it.
So, Alimi called the producer of a morning show and said: “I want to come out,” to which he was told “Is it not a choice? Is it not a lifestyle?”
Alimi said he was stunned, never expecting that coming out would be so difficult, not imagining the process would be “as painful as it was.”
After he made his sexuality public, his safety became compromised.
When a group of men broke into Alimi’s house and physically assaulted and tortured him, authorities offered no help. Instead, police admonished Alimi when they arrived at his house, accusing him of using the space to “train people to be gay.” And according to Alimi, the incident was not the only time he was attacked as a result of his sexuality. He said that he was both assaulted and arrested “many times.”
Eventually, Alimi had no choice but to leave Nigeria.
“While my coming out was quite hard for me, and for a lot of people, in the long term, it has created a generation of fearless LGBT people in Nigeria,” Alimi said.
Now Alimi works as an LGBTQ activist, and his advocacy group, the Bisi Alimi Foundation, focuses on advocating “for the rights and dignity of LGBT people in Nigeria" and strives toward "Taking people from invisibility to visibility.”
Alimi has been open about his struggle as a gay man in Nigeria, as he expressed in his TED Talk “How I Became an Angelic Troublemaker” that was released last year. Now his story has been illustrated and animated by Hey Umami, a content platform that describes itself as a group that tells “good stories of unique people.” The website contains a collection of films, comics, and other art forms that tell the stories of people around the world and the struggles they’ve faced.
“I hope that the story will inspire someone, will give some hope and let them know that it indeed does get better,” Alimi said.