Watch ‘The only gay in Nigeria’: How I became a refugee

Bisi Alimi went from being Nigeria’s national sweetheart to the “person everyone wanted to throw a stone at” in just 24 hours.

He played a main role on popular Nigerian TV show, Roses and Thorns, but his character was immediately killed off when producers found out he was gay.

First outed by his university’s magazine, Bisi tried to hide his identity by getting a girlfriend and cutting off gay friends – until a national newspaper threatened to publish an investigation into his love life.

He decided that if anyone was going to tell his story, it would be him. Bisi phoned a breakfast talk show producer and said: “I want to come out.”

He was met with a reply of: “Is it not a choice? Is it not a lifestyle?”

Bisi had never imagined the reaction to his coming out would be “as painful as it was” – he was assaulted and arrested “many times.”

When a group of men broke into his house, beat and tortured Bisi, instead of helping him, the police accused him of using his home to “train people to be gay.”

Eventually, he was forced to leave Nigeria and seek safety as a refugee.

Bisi Alimi was beaten and tortured by homophobes (Hey Umami)

He said: “While my coming out was quite hard for me, and for a lot of people, in the long term it has created a generation of fearless LGBT people in Nigeria.”

Nowadays, Bisi keeps busy working as an activist, speaking up for the Nigerian LGBT+ community.

Speaking to PinkNews, he said: “Having the opportunity to do the voiceover was very humbling for me as much as it was difficult as I had to go to places that were quiet challenging for me.

A national newspaper threatened to out him (Hey Umami)

“I hope that the story will inspire someone, will give some hope and let them know that it indeed does get better.”

Watch his story told through an animation created by Hey Umami, a passion project of You can also hear more about Bisi Alimi’s activism work on the Busy Being Black podcast.