Cross dressing is becoming a sub-culture in Nigeria that might lead to the acceptance of homosexuality.
Bobrisky. Charly Boy. Denrele Edun. What do these three men have in common?
They are cross dressers. Not only are they cross dressers, they are cross dressers in a conservative country like Nigeria. How does that work? How have they been able to pull that off?
In the '90s and 00s, Charly Boy was perceived to be a social deviant, an outcast for his cross-dressing antics on screen and at events. His revelation that he has a female alter-ego has helped push the narrative that the veteran pop singer has 'problems'.
Denrele Edun, the eccentric, eye-catching media personality has had to deal with questions regarding his sexuality for years. Denrele, who was a child star, hasn't helped matters with him declaring he is Nigeria's, Caitlyn Jenner.
Bobrisky, the last in the all-star of cross dressers in Nigeria, is the new kid on the block. Not only does this viral sensation dress like a woman, he bleached his skin to look more effeminate. Bobrisky is the most notorious of the trio. He has teased the public with the gender of his 'bae', bad English and surprisingly popular SnapChat account.
In an exclusive interview with Pulse in 2016, Bobrisky let it slip that his bae is a man. Was this a stunt by Bobrisky to lead the public on? The cross-dresser seems to be skilled at this. In April 2017, Bobrisky said he was gay before backtracking on his earlier statement.
Never before has mainstream Nigeria witnessed cross dressers proudly strutting their feathers on social media and in public. Denrele Edun appears in public and on the red carpet looking like a tall female model on the runway. Bobrisky wasn't shy when I saw him at The Place in Lekki, in 2016. As a matter of fact, he was basking in the attention, stares, quick photos and whispers.
Apart from the headlining cross dressers, more and more men who dress like women have come out of the closet with makeup, earrings and manicured nails. Cross dressing is becoming a thing in Nigeria now.
Homosexuality is against the law in Nigeria and attracts a 14 year in prison fine. Cross-dressing isn't against the law and while all cross dressers are not gay, the emergence of these men who dress like women might be a way to coyly make homosexuality accepted in this country.
We have seen so much of Bobrisky and co. that we are not so bothered as we were when we first saw them. Yes, spotting Denrele with female shoes is still a sight to see but the 'Jesu!' factor diminishes every time they pop up on our line of vision.
Making homosexuality legal in Nigeria would be too much a shock for our social system now but cross dressers might serve as a way to slip it in the back way (no pun intended). Consider cross dressing as the tip...of the iceberg.
There might come a time that we have seen so many cross dressers that our conservative sensibilities are numb to the appearance of gay men. You might baulk at the idea, but after seeing so many skits of Oluwakaponeski dressed as a woman you kind of get used to men dressing as women.
Online comedy has quite a number of comedians who dress in drag to act the character of a funny female character. Humour has the ability to convey sensitive messages such as homosexuality. Today its Oluwakaponeski, years from now it could be your neighbour's son. The only difference is that he isn't making skits, it is his lifestyle.
You might argue that Kaponeski and co are dressing up as women for bants but not all cross dressers online are joking or making money from humour. In an episode of new web series. Inspector K, there is a cross-dressing character with indications of being gay.
Subliminal images are very powerful. Hollywood has a habit of using subliminal images to introduce a big idea or concept. In the new instalment of the MTV Shuga Series shot in South Africa, there is a male teenager who grapples with the idea of coming out to his parents that he is gay. Add this to the myriad of American TV shows that have gay characters and you begin to see the dots connect themselves.
Cross dressing, however, is not an assault from the western world or a conspiracy theory to make all of us queer. This phenomenon has been with us for a while.
In the Northern part of the country,'yan daudu' or men who dress as women have been part of the societal fabric for centuries. This part of the country accepts men who are effeminate and shun traditional male roles. The parents of these men see nothing wrong with how they live. These men come out dressed as women. It's been happening for a long time.
Yan Daudu men in the north, Bobrisky and co. in the south, it might seem that cross dressers will shift the attitude of the country concerning homosexuality. On Twitter, Bobrisky 'haters' are shut down quickly by a gang of woke Nigerian millennials who have a 'live and let live' mentality to life. A decade from now these young Nigerians will be more advanced in their careers to influence cross dressers and gay people are not discriminated from society.
We are not there now. Nigeria is far from being a rainbow country for the LGBTQI squad. There is this thing called religion that is still a big deal over here.
Since Sharia law was adopted in the North, cross dressers have been persecuted. This has discouraged them from dressing like women and going out.
In the Southern part of the country, Denrele and his friends get blasted with religious curses for their alleged homosexual curses.
Chances are you might not invite a cross dresser to meet your parents for dinner, but you are most likely to shrug when you see them in public now.
Homosexuality is illegal in Nigeria today but who knows if it will be in the next 20 years as these men who dress like women continue to push the envelope.
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