TELL Magazine Interview: Being Gay Is Natural - Yemisi Ilesanmi

Yemisi Ilesanmi
By Tell Magazine

She is the second child in a family of seven (six girls and a boy). In fact, Yemisi Ilesanmi was born in Lagos to a normal middle class family. However, by her late 20s she said she had come to the realization that she was bisexual, meaning she was sexually attracted to both men and women. Today, she is the coordinator of the Nigerian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual, LGBT community and has travelled extensively as guest speaker to promote gender and youth issues, sexuality rights, human rights and labour rights. Little wonder her debut book is titled, “Freedom to Love for All: Homosexuality Is not Un-African.” Before relocating to the UK where she studied for a Masters of Law (LL.M) degree in Gender, Sexuality and Human Rights, Ilesanmi had worked with the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC. In this interview with Tundun Adeyemo, Special Correspondent, she talks about her sexual orientation, how her family has handled it and why LGBTs should be treated with respect and not criminalized for reasons of their sexual preferences.

Excerpts:

In terms of educating the Nigerian populace about gays, lesbian, bisexual rights, what are the core foundational facts Nigerians need to know about the science of homosexuality?
The very first thing we need to understand is that homosexuality, bisexuality, asexuality are all as natural as heterosexuality. Our sexual orientation differs; we are born with an innate ability to be emotionally or sexually attracted or not be sexually or emotionally attracted to same sex or opposite sex. Unfortunately, many African societies do not provide enabling environments to discuss sexual orientation. Sexual orientation does not harm anyone. A person who is attracted to opposite sex does not harm anyone so far it is a consensual adult relationship. A homosexual who is attracted to the same sex does not harm anybody so far it is a consensual adult relationship. A Bisexual or Pansexual who can be attracted to all sexes harms no one so far it is an adult consensual relationship. Even an Asexual who is not sexually attracted to any gender harms no one. We are all different, and non-harmful lifestyle of adults should not be criminalised. It is like criminalising a left-handed person for being born left-handed, or criminalising a girl for being born a girl. Also we must recognise that even if you claimed that homosexuality or bisexuality is a choice, you are also saying heterosexuality is a choice. Which means, somehow you woke up and decided, well, I am going to be a heterosexual. Well, I do not ever recollect a day I chose to be bisexual, neither has any heterosexual confessed that they remember the day they chose to only be attracted to opposite sex. However, even if our sexual orientation is a choice, then we must recognise that adults have the right to choose who they want to have a romantic, emotional or sexual relationship with. If you have the right to choose to be in an emotional or sexual relationship with an adult of opposite sex, then it stands to reason that others also have the right to choose to be in an emotional or sexual relationship with a same sex adult partner.

Do you really think Nigerians would ever accept that LGBT rights are human rights? Most people in Nigeria view homosexuality as a sin.
Whether Nigerians accept it or not, LGBT rights are recognised human rights. Unless, you can prove that Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals are not human beings, well, you have no reason to deny them their fundamental human rights. Unfortunately many Nigerians believe in the concept of sin. First, we must understand that sin is a religious concept. Not every Nigerian is religious. Your religion is also a personal matter, why drag other people into your personal relationship with Jesus, Mohamed or Obatala? When I am told that homosexuality is a sin, I just tell them their religion is not my law. The Bible or Quran is not my constitution, so why is that even coming up? It is absurd when Christian gay bashers gleefully quote Leviticus 18:22 to justify why they want to jail and stone gays. Anyone who wants to quote from Leviticus should at least read the book to make sure they are not guilty of any of the things condemned in the book. Leviticus also says you should not shave, you should not interact with a woman in her menstrual cycle, thou shall not eat shrimps or shell fish, Lev. 11:10,11:6-8 thou shall not touch the skin of a dead pig (therefore touching football without wearing gloves makes you unclean!) Lev.19: 19 – thou shall not plant two different crops in the same field, thou shall not wear garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). Thou shall gather the whole town together to stone those who curse or blaspheme, Lev.24: 10-16. So, when Christians throw Leviticus at me, I simply throw Leviticus right back in their face. And I watch pitifully as they try to explain how one verse has different interpretation but the one they want to defend means exactly what is written. If you use Leviticus as a reason to stone gays and you wear clothes made of blended fabrics as most clothes are, work on the Sabbath day, eat shrimp, you are a hypocrite.

What more do you think the Nigerian government could do to aid tolerance of the LGBT community and where do you think the anti gay legislation will take Nigeria in about 5 to 10 years?
The government must decriminalize homosexuality, bisexuality or any other sexual orientation or gender identity. The government must educate its citizens on sexual orientation. People must understand that we are different but equal. There is no harm in diversity, and people who are different from us are not automatically evil! The Nigerian ‘Jail the gays’ bill if signed into law would definitely worsen the plight of Nigerian Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and Transsexuals. The law will lead to a clampdown on human rights that will not only affect Lesbian, gays, bisexuals and Trans, but also every Nigerian. Politicians will accuse their opponents of being gay, landlord will accuse their tenants of homosexuality, NGOs who oppose the government in power will be accused of advocating for LGBT rights, an offence which is punishable with 10 years imprisonment under the bill. There will be blatant abuses of fundamental human rights, like freedom of expression, freedom of association, right to privacy. Many will be blackmailed or even lynched based on mere suspicion of homosexuality. This is already happening in Nigeria without the law. With the law, it will be a haven for those who want to blackmail gays, stone or burn them to death. This is a Nigeria I hope to never see, but which unfortunately, we are heading towards.

How has your immediate family and friends reacted to your sexual orientation and the publicity you attract?
What makes a family is love, tolerance and acceptance. Anyone who shows me love and welcomes me into their heart is my family. Love is one thing that is thicker than blood. My immediate family knows my sexual orientation, my father is late, and my mother is accepting of whom I am and has shown me love and support. To continue to be an important part of my life, you cannot be homophobic, biphobic or transphobic. You cannot wish others be beaten, imprisoned or stoned to death just because of whom they love. I will never proudly call anyone with such a mindset my family member.

Is your atheism connected to your bisexuality and what role does religion play in aggravating homophobic sentiments?
My atheism has nothing to do with my bisexuality. Atheism is simply a non-belief in God. My bisexuality is my sexual orientation, no connection. However, I must say, my atheism has helped me to stand up against religious bullies, who use the bible and the Quran to justify their hate for gays, lesbians, transsexual and bisexuals. Religion carries a lot of unwarranted weight in Nigeria and Africa generally. This should not be so. In fact, this is one reason the African continent is still very backward. When religion carried so much weight in Europe during middle Ages, it was wrought with wars, jihads, killings and ethnic cleansings. Religion is the main ground that proponents of the ‘Jail the Gays’ bill are using to support the bill. Catholics and Anglicans who attended the public hearing of the bill at the National Assembly even threatened to beat up the few LGBT rights supporters at the hearing! Some religious leaders argue that homosexuality is un-African and a western imposition; how so? Logic points to the fact that foreign impositions in Nigeria include Christianity and Islam and religious festivals like Christmas, Ileya and Easter. It is quite incongruous that those that are quick to embrace foreign religions are also the ones that are quick to condemn homosexuality on the trump up charge of ‘un-African’. Africans now defend the same holy books that were used to justify the slavery, exploitations and indignities suffered by their ancestors. Many religious Africans now use the ‘holy’ books to justify the oppression of members of their own society. Even when the original owners of the religion inform them that the book has been updated and some parts are no longer applicable, Africans still insist that it is must be applicable because it says so in the book they were given. How pathetic!

In a previous interview you had insisted that evangelical Christians and Muslims incite hatred for homosexuality, would a return to the traditional religion offer a breath of fresh air?
As I said in my book, Freedom To Love For All: Homosexuality is Not Un-African. Unfortunately, neo-colonialism and mental slavery continue in Africa through the heavy influence of evangelical missionaries who, having lost ground in their western countries to equality rights Acts, have now invaded African churches and are inciting members against homosexuals. Sadly, this nation is held spellbound by political and religious leaders who are averse to education and scientific knowledge.

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Continuation-------Individual

Continuation-------Individual sexuality doesn't affect anyone, why are you so angry that i am a lesbain?? how does it concern you?? emotions is a natural occurence, don't you get it?? how do you explain that you fuck 5o women, and finally marry one woman, and then you go on fucking about as usual, that doesn't concern anyone does it?? it is your emotions and feeling which you control, the same apllies to me. same way you go abotu commiting sin, and ask for forgiveness, same way God forgives all who ask for his forgiveness. if you have no sin, cast the first stone. don't judge ppl, allow God to be the judge, God is not tired of his duties, he did not tell you that?? just leave ppl to live freely.

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Christian Gays and Lesbians

There are Christian Gays and lesbians too you know. We believe that God paid the price by sending Jesus to be payment for our Gayness.

Whilst it is true that it was not permitted under the Law of Moses, Jesus came to abolish the law of Moses (Hebrews 10v 9 ) and established Grace abi you dont believe again??

That is the essece of Christianity living under the Law of Christ and not under the Law of Moses.

God Have Mercy on Yemisi

Yemisi, may God's mercy find you and bring you to the Truth of His Eternal Word.

Domnze, you are a damned fool

If everyone on Earth was a doctor, we'd all starve to death, because no one would be producing any food. Does that mean we should outlaw doctors?

What if everyone on Earth were as stupid as you? Civilization would grind to a halt. And yet, I feel no need to
advocate for the banning of stupid people. You can be as stupid as you like, as long as you don't get in my way.

People are either LGBT, or they are not. There is no conversion process. There are the same percentage of LGBT people as always in the population (something less than 10%), and nothing can be done to change that number. It just is, and it ain't getting any bigger, no matter how many crazy people try to scare others that there is a magical process that can make people gay.

A question for all teh bigots in the house

Could one of you answer my question? If anyone of you could answer the question rationally without the usage of gutter language,I will give you a million dollar :) - WHY DO WE FEEL THIS STRONGLY ABOUT THIS WOMAN'S SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND ARE PUTTING UP WITH CORRUPTION AND NEO-SLAVERY OF OUR RULING CLASS???? Folks, the answer is here - http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=homophobes-might-be-hid.... A lot people(here) have this problem but are not bold enough to come out(like the author),not bold enough to speak against corruption.Not bold enough for nothing!! The country seems to be full of cowards, religious bigots and savages. No wonder we are one of the worst nation in Africa.

To all bigotic hypocritical homophobes

Could one of you answer my question? If anyone of you could answer the question rationally without the usage of gutter language,I will give you a million dollar :) - WHY DO WE FEEL THIS STRONGLY ABOUT THIS WOMAN'S SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND ARE PUTTING UP WITH CORRUPTION AND NEO-SLAVERY OF OUR RULING CLASS???? Folks, the answer is here - http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=homophobes-might-be-hid.... A lot people(here) have this problem but are not bold enough to come out(like the author),not bold enough to speak against corruption.Not bold enough for nothing!! The country seems to be full of cowards, religious bigots and savages. No wonder we are one of the worst nation in Africa.

that's what I told her in an

that's what I told her in an email.she is an old maid with all hope of marriage lost. she's desperately seeking attention. why is she sitting in the comfort of a white mans country and mouthing off from there. the daft cow doesn't have the guts to carry out her pointless and baseless campaign within the borders of Nigeria .

To be gay is definitely ABNORMAL and UN-AFRICAN

To be gay is definitely abnormal. Could it be that these gay people have had their brains contorted with hard drug usage? Let someone conduct an unbiased research to find out how many of them (gays and lesbians) use hard drugs. I have not come across any gays in all my years (going on three score and ten) in my home village community. Homosexuality is an imported disease that attacks only educated and over-papered "aje butters"

Criminal begets criminal

WHY HAS SHE NOT BEEN ARRESTED ACCORDING TO THEIR LAW THAT PROHIBITS IT? OH! SHE IS A SPOILED BRAT OF ONE OF THE USELESS CLASS?
WE CHALLENGE THEM TO USE HER AS EXAMPLE THAT THAT LAW THEY PASSED TO GIVE 14 YEARS FOR JUNKIES LIKE HER AND QUICKLY BAN THAT USELESS BOOOK!

Ignorant fool. Romans is in

Ignorant fool. Romans is in the New Testament not the Old one.

Crime Against Humanity

This lady says that homosexuality does not harm anyone. I disagree because imagine a situation where everyone is converted to mate with a person of the same sex, it will be a matter of time before humanity is wiped out except a man can impregnate another man and a women does the same to another woman. If you talk about God, some senseless people will say you want to impose your religion on them but even nature abhors homosexuality.

Gay is natural

I am pleased to hear that she reads the bible and will always use the bible to counter the clergy men who often have strong views against gay relationships.

I wish to draw the attention of all those in gay relationships to what the apostle paul wrote in Romans chapter one verses 18 to 32. In these verses of the scripture which is in the new testament, He made it abundantly clear that the disobedient and reprobate individuals who rebel against God have given themselves over to all forms of vices including where men live natural affections for women and gave themselves over to unnatural affections for men and women giving themselves to unnatural affections for women.
These they do to their damnation. it is important to point out that the bible inthis verses of the scripture described them as rebellious against God. No wonder this Lady in question does not believe in God.

This does not change Gods verdict in verse 32 that all of the will face Gods Judgement

Being a gay is natural

You are a very stupid to say this kind of thing that being a gay or lesbian is natural. In short you came from an animal kingdom. Shameless idiot. Look at the rubish you are sayig. Motherfucker, lesbian matron, shameless woman.

we started having problem

we started having problem when we stopped using the word SODOMY and replaced it with gay, lesbianism and same-sex marriage. IT IS SODOMY AND THEY ARE SODOMITES. MAY GOD PUNISH THEM IN THIS WORLD AND THE HEREAFTER

END Times

i dont expect her to be religious,very very lunatic, a nigerian for that matter spoiling our culture and religions

No real response to my comment

Nothing in your response explains why my comment was incorrect in your mind. Perhaps you can explain why DNA does not have genetic markers for orientation or eye color for that matter. You do not like my response but did not provide a real response yourself. Please do.

Urgent help 4 Yemisi pls!

Any psychiatrist please to offer Yemisi urgent medical attention! That bitch may be up to something i.e asylum application. Her face alone tells d story of a troubled & bewitched bigot. Why didn't her commence her campaign in Nigeria, if she's serious about her values & shredded personality - bloody faggot, be seen in any part of Nigeria any day. If your parents were gay, where 'd you rather be today - idiot. Be honest to tell d world dat men have over used you, but refused to put u in their homes, hence your only succour becomes hunting for equally diminished artefacts like u. Deceive yourself only & burn in misery - unrepentant ashawo!

Paganism is the origin of her problem

I am surprised that these people refuse to accept that they have problem, and as such, need serious medical, psychological, physical, and Spiritual attention. Imagin everybody becoming a homosexual and relying on adoption, then in the next 30 years who will give birth to the children we are going to adopt? Maybe dogs, goats or horse? STUPID!

Homosexuality is a demonic and Jesus alone can deliver one.

Homosexuality is an abnormality which must not be justified under any guise. The first step to freedom is accepting that it is abnormal and making up your mind to come out from the bondage. I want to refer Yemisi to the book of Roman 1:21-32. Let me quote verse 26-27,32: 'For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature, and likewise also the men leaving the natural use of the woman,burned in their lust one toward another ; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error whhich was meet. Who knowing the judgement of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but have pleasure in them that do them' There is hope for that desire to come out of this lifestyle. Jesus christ can set you free .

Mr Preacher

Mr preacher, i find it very odd that you pointed out just the old testament which i can assure you isn't historically accurate. the old testament also pointed to God liking burnt offerings, to eating impure animals and so on. no one is making a big deal of those. Plus why should you force your religion on to her? How would you feel if other's forced Islam on you? her believes are her's to do as she pleases. If here reward is hell or heaven, let God be the judge. You are no God, so why act like him and judge others. I know you wish well, but also open your mind.

its not religion silly, its moral values

Havent you heard that priests usually have sex with young boys? its common knowledge. I am not slamming priests in general, just to reveal a flaw in your logic that only atheist do dirty deeds. America is a non religious country, and they are not as corrupt as the saintly Nigeria. do you put that to religion or to having moral values?

very funny guy

lol read your comment again and you will understand how funny and stupid it is at the same time. you are a clown. so gay people are responsible for diseases, and a threat to mankind? first of all, it is people that don't use protection that are responsible, so that means more straight men than gay men. our world is already over populated, maybe that's what we need. why have more kids when the world can not sustain them. only in Nigeria don't we understand population control. please entertain me with more funny(stupid) comments.

A country blinded by religion

so much stupidity in one sentence, its hard to comprehend your thoughts. Why is one's sexuality any of your concern? The religion you so hail was given to us by westerns, which they themselves have long dropped. IF GOD was in Nigeria, why are we still were we are? Look elsewhere and they have long learnt to separate religion from politics. You have even committed more sins then she has. you have judged her, condemned her and yet you are a child of GOD. if a person loves another of the same sex, how does it affect society? it doesnt matter to anyone unless it is rape. lets stop acting like saints, our country is one of the most corrupt places on earth and here we are worrying about love just cos its between the same sex.

Science demands the truth and truth can be replicated

The coolest thing about Science is when there is a disagreement, proof is required.

Here are the links that disagree with your statement:
1) "Biology is Behind Homosexuality in Sheep, Study Confirms." Health and Medicine Week (2004): 422.25 Sept. 2006 .
2) Diamant, Louis. Male and Female Homosexuality: Psychological Approaches. Cambridge: Hemisphere Corporation, 1987. 129-153.
3) Kristof, Nicholas D. "Gay At Birth?" New York Times (2003): a19. ProQuest. Bryn Mawr College Canaday Library. 24 Sept. 2006 .
5) Schoenfeld, Thomas A. "Biology and Homosexuality." http://links.js tor.org/sici?sici= 0036-8075%2819911101%2 93%3A254%3A503 2%3C630%3ABAH %3E2.0.CO%3B2-9>.

Just the proof!

WORSE THAN A PIG!!!!!!

I WOULD BE UNFAIR TO A PIG IF I COMPARE YOU TO ONE; AFTERALL, I AM YET TO SEE A GAY PIG. SO, YEMISI, OR WHATEVER YOU CALL YOURSELF, YOU ARE WORSE THAN A PIG!!!!!!!!

RE: Being Gay Is Natural

Just one question for yemisi, Are you a product of same sex marriage? The end time signs is here already God have mercy.

MNeSW

Lol, sehr gut. Komme nun oefters.

This is not true. There is no

This is not true. There is no evidence of any component of genetic make up that is responsible for homosexual behaviour. There is nothing in the genetic code that can account for this. Stop misleading people. Homosexual is a behavioural or habitual issue. Just like smoking, alcoholism, and some bad habits are picked up and can be stopped. We have some who have been helped to stop homosexual behaviour and are now in healthy heterosexual relationship.

Fifty Years Ago

Fifty years ago, the entire world had the same opinion about homosexuality. Then thirty years ago, we learned of DNA and Genetics. This was the change in the game. There is a specific genetic marker for orientation as there markers for eye and hair color. This is what has changed. Some will argue against biology and genetics, but how is this done?

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