Saturday, 25 July 2015

I Don't Own a Closet...I Have a Home

Dear Africa,

John Dumelo
Please learn from this one. 

A few years ago we started exploring sexuality in Nollywood. It was a bold step. The fact that we had at least chosen to talk about it, think, and even

see it. We had movies like Mind Game ( where Van Vicker played a gay married man ) and Men in Love(where John Dumelo played the gay married man and late Muna Obiekwe played the gay man with the gay black magic) where we did more than just talk. In one of them, we potrayed homosexuality as an incident of a black magic and could be cured by prayers and deliverance. We potrayed gay men as weak, indecisive, unreliable, hidden, irresponsible, hurtful, disrespectful, closeted and everything less than admirable, fierce and equal human beings. In some way, this was good enough at the time because it was better than just being silent on the subject.

But now it's 2015, and of course there are other diverging views on the subject which we all know should be considered. It's inaccurate to say that Nigeria is ready for a conversation on the subject. But on several levels she is ready to watch, to listen. In this light, I look forward to a Nollywood initiative to tackle the theme of sexuality properly. An initiative that will be inspired by truth, insight, research, real life, clear thought and with as little prejudice as possible.

The main challenge we have in the industry is that nobody wants to pass to the public as a gay rights activist because it will instantly translate that such a person is  gay. When the above named movies came out, I recall the rumour that John Dumelo was really gay. It took a while for us to forget, even after he had explained over and over that he was just acting. Isn't it possible to see that gay people are actually people first, and that we can protect that part of them even while we learn to accept the other? Isn't  it possible to stand for a person without being the person just because you are a person too?

Jussie Smollet
Also we have the challenge of coming out in Africa. The western world is of the stance that coming out is a salient step to embracing a person's sexuality. Most of the good examples we have include press conferences, social media posts, auto- biographies and the like. In as much these are bold and admirable steps, there are more private, peaceful and safer alternative means of embracing who you are without making it a national agenda. Don't forget, your life isn't a democracy until you permit it. But then the heart wants what it wants, and if your peace lies in your going public, by all means, with love and wisdom, go for it.

One coming out story, I have fallen in love with is that of Jussie Smollet. He played the character of Jamal Lyon  the gay son and eventual successor of Lucious Lyon in the American television series, Empire. His acting is fierce. His character is deep. I loved that the story of Empire was able to potray gay men as gifted, bold, decisive, loveable, friendly, loyal, delicate, humane and human. Amidst the remarkably gifted and ground breaking cast and crew of Empire, Jussie's acting nailed it, nailed it and nailed it.

Of course, there was the aftermath of suspicion that Jussie might be gay. However, it was more of a question than an assumption. It was on the table not shoved in his face. And for a while he decided not to attend to it. It would have earned him all the applause and admiration in the world if he came out on air. But he remained silent...the kind that made the crowd go crazy. It seemed that he was either straight or simply wanted to remain in his closet.

Eventually, he spoke with Ellen DeGeneres backstage on the subject after a public discussion with. That's where and when he made his statement.:

Sourced from:  http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2015/03/09/empire-star-jussie-

smollet-confirms-hes-gay/24646981/


"There's never been a closet. That I've been in. I don't own a closet, I got a dresser, but I don't have a closet, but I have a home and that is my responsibility to protect that home. ... So that's why I choose not to talk about my personal life. But there is without a doubt, no closet that I've ever been in, and I just wanted to make that clear, but it was most important for me to make that clear to you on your show at this time in the world. And that's where I'm at. ... So, let's not read into it in the wrong way when I say that I don't talk about my personal life, I'm saying that. But it is in no way to hide or deny who God made me. You know? My mama knows. My mama likes me a lot. And, yes, I take her to the Sound of Music sing-along every single year. So, any questions? But honestly, we're human and we love and we do all that good stuff. So I'm honored for this opportunity and I'm honored to be here with you."


Very similar to the African story, no one person lives for himself. No one family lives for itself either. Even while a person's sexuality is a gift, it is a flame that could destroy the peace, sanity and stability in a person's life. Often we are tempted to tread the path of the sole survivor and bear it all alone or break it out too suddenly. Most of the time, these extreme choices are not good enough. But then, we have stories to learn from and as such we have better chances than there use to be to live the good life. Nobody said there won't be sacrifices or disappointment or prejudice and perhaps all of them at once. But there is also that chance that you could be who you are in your home, in your world, open but discpline, free but respectful, daring but decent, sexy but smart. No one said that your sexuality has to be hurricane and deny you a fruitful and productive relationship with God, your career or your family or friends, unless
you let it.

Even as we forge towards  initiating a dialogue let's be sure and mindful of what to say and how to say it. The community, life and existence is still not at it 's best. It may not be any time soon. But, Alhamdullilah, it keeps getting better. Be good to yourself and to everyone who means light an happiness to you and those to whom you are same. Your gift isn't a spear, it's your secret to keep, weild or share.

This isn't an argument. It's a fact.

Warm regards,
Nnanna.

P.S. I'm still completely crazy about Empire. Season 2 feels like a bigger blast! Can't wait. Can't wait.




Sources:

Allison Takeda. Jussie Smollett Addresses Gay Rumors, Speculation About His Sexuality: "There's Never Been a Closet"http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/jussie-smollett-addresses-gay-rumors-says-theres-no-closet-201593

‘Empire’ Actor Jussie Smollett Gets Why His Sexuality is Something to Talk About,  http://variety.com/2015/tv/news/empire-jussie-smollett-sexuality-ellen-interview-1201451985/

Rebecca West. ‘Empire’ ‘Dangerous Bonds’ Recap: So That’s Why Cookie Got Sprung Early! [VIDEO]
http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2015/03/empire-star-jussie-smollett-on-gay-whispers-ive-never-been-in-the-closet/

Empire...about darkness...and light

Dear Africa,

 The difference between a proper story and a story properly told is not much. Amongst other things, I believe it lies in the fact while the latter has all the form and structure, the latter has all the fun and soul.



When I saw Season 1 of Empire, the American television series which debuted on fox in January this year, I knew I had struck gold. Basically, it's about music and the interesting incidents that cling to business of music and the lives of its officials. It's about family and the variety that God himself has bound together. It's about womanhood and the bittersweet forces that accompany her. It's about motherhood and the price, pain and priorities that burden that special space. It's about money, wealth, and the resources that can snatch the lives and happiness of those it should save. It 's  about power, jealousy, paranoia, sexuality, love, betrayal. It's about dreaming big and going all the way to make it happen. It's about faith and the simple events that test her. It's about darkness yet in some sensual way, it's about light.

Wikipedia says:

Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard), a former drug dealer now turned hip hop mogul and CEO of Empire Entertainment, learns he has ALS. His life begins to cave in around him after his past sins come back to haunt him following his diagnosis. Lucious, looking to groom one of his three sons (Andre Lyon (Trai Byers), Jamal Lyon (Jussie Smollett), and Hakeem Lyon (Bryshere Y. Gray)) to take over the family business, pits them against each other.[8] Empire also stars Taraji P. Henson as Lucious' ex-wife Cookie Lyon, the mother of his three sons who somehow is released from prison.



To think that Season 1 ended in a blast. Season 2, much anticipated, will hit us in September 2015. If there is any proper story being properly told, it is Empire.







Olori Perfect

Omo fresh
Omo exciting
Ravishing baby
Olori Spicy
You set the pace rebranding
You burn the race
You're deep candy
You lighten this place
Olori Sweet
Your mind pierces through
Olori Sexy
He'll be lucky to have you
Olori Fresh
Olori Tempest
You don't have to try
Don't reflect
Olori shine-shine
Who says you aren't smart?
Olori Shakespeare
Sugar tart 
Olori muse
You inspire me
Olori Truce
You are wind and free
Olori, see
They still don't say
White is white
Or nay is nay
So be you
Don't relent
Olori Sweet
Olori Perfect

*Olori: Yoruba word for Queen
#MildredChiegbokaInspired

Don’t bother for Sunrise

Fleshy bones and dusty caves
Where sweet stories stand in place
Flames of passion
Flames of war
Victors and vanquishes not always sure
Force on the heart, two worlds to look
Tear apart the story from book
Stand aloof like a bird in flight
Don’t be straddled by fears of night
Tell your heart to fly
Tell your flesh to live up a name
But don’t be bothered
Don’t be scared
For wishes never added grey to your beard
Find a place that speaks to you
Where lovers abound yet as few
Look to Me and be strong
For never I cared for right or wrong
So sit or stand but please be there
Sharing the winds and whispers of this GreenFlare
Abound in dreams that give you new
Abound in the Strange Love I have with you
Let sunsets think of where to be
And you what to make of its beauty
Let the sun bother where to rise
And I be here to bring light to your eyes

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Unscripted



Dear Africa,
I have thoughts run through my head on the chances of a life well spent. I think of the possibility that everything I have done, what I am doing and the dreams in my heart are a mistake. I think of living a near perfect life with 100% conviction at all times like Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela seemed to have at some point in their life of experiments. Yet I also saw that man never stops learning.

I think of the future and the possibility that mistakes may never stop making themselves and I somehow an active party. Also I'm thinking of the end. And in some silly way, I have discovered that excessive thinking leaves much unaccomplished. Yet in my human nature, I can't help worrying and thinking some more.

 Why think of the end when life is yet to begin? Why think of dying when you haven't lived? I once thought that life is not a rehearsal but an unscripted ride that only gets better. I still think so, but now I'm learning in little and large ways that  'better' has many versions and virtues and vices. 
 So I ask that even as we get used to leading and living unscripted, lets be open to the various things that we can effect while here that would make the after-life a place of pleasant reflections. Even inspite of less than 100% certainty, faith and means, lets make unscripted and better our path even while leaving chronicles of warmth and love as we move on. Uncertainty clouds my heart sometimes, but I'd rather be wrong than be nothing.
 So what's your take? You can have one now. You could be anything, anything at all.

Warm regards,
Nnanna