“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you” Maya Angelou
OutTales: Davis congratulations on your recently published book. You chose as its title “Fiyabo“, which I understand in your native Nigerian language means ‘Survivor’. What made you decide to go with that title?
Davis Mac-Iyalla: I choose that title as a reminder that no matter the persecutions LGBTI Nigerians are facing, we will not give up hope. We are a survivors who will achieve victory in the end.
OutTales: During your time in Nigeria you went through periods of imprisonment, torture, violent attack, and a string of death threats. What stopped you from taking the path that many other same gender loving people have taken, which is to get married to the opposite sex and thereby conform to the expectations of family?
Davis Mac-Iyalla: Those who take those paths do it for social and family acceptability. The reason that people do that does not matter to me, but for me I will never live a lie. Being gay is in my nature, I will never try to pretend to be something that I am not.
OutTales: In the book you talk about navigating your Christian faith and your sexuality. What would you like to say to those who are struggling to balance the two or those who feel it is not possible to be Christian and same gender loving? Davis Mac-Iyalla: My sexuality and my faith are very important to me. As a Christian I know that is not sinful to be gay, so I don’t see the issues of being gay and Christian. Some people have misinterpreted the bible to mean many different things against homosexual people, but the fact is that Jesus Christ who is the Christian role model is a friend of homosexuals and never in any part of the bible did he condemn us, he did however talk about hypocrisy, hate and discriminations.
OutTales: How have things changed in Nigeria since you publicly came out?
Davis Mac-Iyalla: My coming out is to change attitude and minds of people. Since my coming out, my Nigeria Anglican church has humiliated me greatly, but I have also won the hearts and minds of many ordinary Nigerians and Africans. Nigeria homosexuals are not yet free by law, but many of us are being accepted by our family and friends. It’s not a happy story everywhere, but I can still look back and say thank God I came out.
OutTales: What do you think is needed in order for Nigeria to become a place where same gender loving people can openly be themselves?
Davis Mac-Iyalla: decriminalize all forms of anti-gay laws in Nigeria. Educating the masses through the media is very important. The Nigeria media is very bias in the way they report homosexuality. The less religious homophobia, the better Nigeria will become safe for everyone.
OutTales: Why do you think that it is important to share our life stories, like you have done in “Fiyabo”?
Davis Mac-Iyalla: People listen to my story and get to understand my situation. I know very well that telling our story is the key to change attitudes. People need to know who are their homosexual friends, members of family and sometimes even colleagues.
OutTales: What lessons or insights do you hope readers of “Fiyabo” take away with them?
Davis Mac-Iyalla: My readers will understand first-hand what it’s like been gay and Christian and growing up in Nigeria. Not many people know the role the Nigeria religious leaders played in making sure anti-gay law is passed.
“Fiyabo: The Story of Nigerian Gay Christian Davis Mac-Iyalla” is available on Amazon, to find out more or order your copy, click here.