OTP2018 Conference Spotlight: Chike Frankie Edozien

The OUTing the Past 2018 Academic Conference of LGBT History & Activism brings together some of the leading scholars in the emerging field, activists from communities domestic and abroad, and the general public at Liverpool John Moores University. The Festival Comms team has reached out to all participants in hopes of spreading the word on the fantastic work being done – check it out!


 

Chike Frankie Edozien

As a child growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, I knew I wanted to be a storyteller. Listening to my aunt recount tales of my village traditions, often by moonlight, gave me immense joy. I also wanted her narrative prowess. I would soon learn my ABCs from the newspapers my father would bring home every week night, and it wasn’t until I was a teenager that I realized that I wanted to be a journalist. I wanted to tell stories that could change lives.

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Without a gift of oration like my aunt, writing stories was the next best thing.

By my early twenties, I was able to fully embrace myself with all my peculiarities, my otherness, my jolly gay self. As youth gave way to adulthood, I would begin to see and feel the brunt of dispossession. Others who would want to see only a particular image of Africans would authoritatively try to erase our diversity and make us into cookie cutter heteronormative societies. And they would push many of our leaders to declare our own citizens illegal. They would ramp up stigma, and in Nigeria give legal cover to those who would pillage, extort and torture with impunity. In the cradle of humanity and diversity,
they would make it easy to sideline African lives. And when silence from the majority is the response, they would win.

In the late 1980s, the activists behind the AIDS Coalition
to Unleash Power (ACT-UP) had as their motto
‘Silence = Death’. It was true then, and it is true today. No longer can silence be the response to those who would deny the rights of their brothers and sisters to coexist on the African continent as they have done for millennia. So, telling our stories, what slices I can, has produced the book Lives of Great Men. But it is only the start. I’m confident that a wave of storytelling that reclaims our narratives as LGBT+ people from the African continent is underway. As a result, the OUTing the Past Academic Conference of LGBT History & Activism is a much needed platform. The more we shine a light on all our stories in Africa, the tougher it is to pretend we were never even there.

 

 


Be sure to follow @LGBTHM for more information leading up to the Conference, and check out our national media partners, The Canary.

Register for the Conference here.

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