Bisi Alimi

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Bisi Alimi
Bisi Alimi.jpg
Bisi Alimi in a NoHate campaign image
Born Ademola Iyandade Ojo Kazeem Alimi
(1975-01-17) 17 January 1975 (age 39)
Lagos, Nigeria
Residence London, United Kingdom
Education

University of Lagos

Birkbeck College University of London
Known for First Nigerian to openly declare his sexuality on national television

Bisi Alimi (born Ademola Iyandade Ojo Kazeem Alimi,[1] 17 January 1975) is a Nigerian gay rights activist, public speaker, blog writer and HIV/LGBT advocate who achieved notoriety when he became the first Nigerian to come out of the closet on television.

Early life[edit]

Born in the Mushin district of Lagos to parents Raski Ipadeola Balogun Alimi (a Nigerian police officer) and Idiatu Alake Alimi (a university clerk), Alimi was raised in Lagos where he attended primary and secondary school. He was the third in a family of five children from his mother and sixth from a family of ten children from his father. He later changed his name to Adebisi Alimi.

Bisi attended Eko Boys’ High School, in Lagos, and graduated in 1993. He led his school cultural dances both at primary and secondary school to many awards and honors. He was a member of his secondary school literary and debating society and a Social Prefect (where he organized social activities) in his senior year Also, in 1993, he gained admission into Ogun State Polytechnic, and would later study Creative Arts, majoring in Theatre at University of Lagos. It was during his tenure at university that his sexuality attracted media attention after Campus Lifestyle, the university’s magazine outed him as a gay man. Prior to the magazine outing, Bisi had experienced much discrimination within the campus, including facing a disciplinary committee on the accusation of his gay status.[2] Although he did graduate, he was nearly refused his certificate as it was believed that his morals were unacceptable for an alumnus of the university.[citation needed]

He then followed that at Birkbeck College, University of London, where he earned his Master’s degree in Global Governance and Public Policy.

New Dawn with Funmi[edit]

Prior to his public self-outing, Bisi Alimi began his career in late 1990s in Nigeria when his friends were dying due to HIV/AIDS. After 2 years of doing community mobilization work and condom distribution among Gay men and Men who have Sex with other Men (MSM) in Nigeria, he joined the Alliance Rights Nigeria (ARN) in 2002 as a Program Director developing and providing HIV/AIDS and sexual health services and supports.

In his capacity as ARN Program Director, He was at the heart of developing Nigerian MSM HIV prevention framework in 2004. He was trained by the International AIDS Alliance in 2004 as HIV project Designer, Community Mobiliser, Care, Support and Treatment. That same year, Bisi was diagnosed with HIV.

Alimi's turning point came in 2004 when he became the first Nigerian gay man to appear on national television as a guest on Funmi Iyanda's New Dawn with Funmi, a talk show on the NTA; it was on this show that Alimi confirmed his sexuality as a homosexual and asked for social acceptance from the public. His decision to come out of the closet generated potential love interests and death threats, and Alimi was disowned by his family and most of his friends - including some in the gay community - ejected from his home and made redundant, and New Dawn 's live format was cancelled. Future guests on the pre-recorded version were screened by NTA executive producers to avoid what was considered "causing public offence".[3][4]

Activism[edit]

Shortly after coming out, Alimi was chosen as a representative to give face to homosexuality in Nigeria at the 4th National Conference on HIV/AIDS held in Abuja. He later became a Nigerian gay rights activist leading several peaceful protests and social dialogues to demand acceptance of homosexuals in Nigeria. In July 2005, The Independent Project for Equal Rights-Nigeria was founded by Alimi with a group of friends. He served as Executive Director of this organization where he pioneered several Nigerian LGBT Youth Group initiatives until April 2007. He also worked as director of Nigeria youth programmes at Alliance Rights organization. However, his controversial interview on national television in 2004 had become catalyst for the proposed motion on "Anti-Same Sex Bill" of 2006 that was presented to law makers in the Nigerian National Assembly.[5] The motion for this controversial “Anti-Same Sex” bill was presented before the legislative house three times between 2006 and 2011.

An attempt on Alimi’s life in 2007 prompted his decision to leave Nigeria as continued repression of gay rights and hostile oppositions against LGBT organizations in the country created a grim hope. He quickly migrated to the United Kingdom where he later applied for and was granted protection asylum in 2008. In 2011 he completed his Master's in Politics from Birkbeck University in "Global Governance and Public Policy". His academic research is titled “Access to Anti-retroviral Medications in Middle, Low income countries and the Intellectual Property Rights”.

Now residing in London,[6] Alimi has continued his advocacy on gay rights within Migrant African communities. He has worked for organizations in the UK including Naz Project London, Michael Bell Research and Consultancy and HIV I-Base. Bisi also worked with AHPN, Terrence Higgins Trust and Mesmac in the North East of England to set up a project for newly arrived African gay immigrants to the United Kingdom. He was selected a member of the IAS youth organizing member for Mexico 2008 and was a member of AmfAR review panel for the international grants for African MSM AIDS initiative 2009 and 2011 respectively. He joined Kaleidoscope Trust in 2011 as the Director in charge of Africa. [7] Presently Alimi is steering a community engagement project for Migrant African MSM in the United Kingdom and has remained visible in leading debates and discussions on sexual health issues of Black and African gay men.[8]

Awards[edit]

Bisi Alimi was listed in the “Independent on Sunday” Pink List of most influential LGBT people in Britain in 2011, 2012, 2013, peaking at number 90 in 2012.

He was listed third on the 100 most influential Non White Atheist and Free thinkers in Britain and Northern Ireland.

On New Year’s day, 2014, he was named to The Gay UK LGBT 2014 honour list in recognition of his exemplary work to Education in the LGBT community and he has been nominated for an “Out In The City magazine’s” Diversity Champion of the Year Award. The Out In The City award is known as "UK LGBT Oscar".


References[edit]

External links[edit]