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Oba Banwo: Why the Bruce Jenner Interview was Important

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Bruce Jenner - BellaNaija.comOn Friday, April 24th, we witnessed the most anticipated interview of the year thus far. I was skeptical of the sincerity of the interview, as I am with most things Kardashian related. They are infamous for exploiting their life events, orchestrated or not, for monetary gain, and their lives seem to be an endless quest for fame and money. To be perfectly honest, I quite enjoy watching the spectacle that is their insatiable appetite for attention, so in anticipation of watching, that’s what I thought this interview was going to be- a spectacle. But after watching for just a few minutes, I realized that this was so much more than that; this was actually, dare I say, groundbreaking.

Oh the scale of global acceptance of LGBT people, transgender people are by far the least understood, and as a result of that, the most ridiculed. They are labelled as cross dressers, confused or simply taboo. Most people don’t even know a transgender person; in fact, only 8% of Americans know one personally.

Bruce Jenner’s interview was important because it’s outcome was much greater than himself, Diane Sawyer or ABC. It was important for the same reasons as having Hilary Clinton run for president, and for having a predominantly female cast in Orange is the New Black. It was also important for the same reasons as having Tim Cook (Apple’s CEO) come out as gay, for having the Obamas’ as the first family, and for having racial minorities as leading characters on TV and cinema- Representation.

We underestimate the impact of seeing ourselves in others, especially when we represent a minority or are at a point of disadvantage. Bruce Jenner is the first prominent personality to publicly undergo a gender reassignment, and just by partaking in that interview, he made thousands, possibly millions, of people around the world feel less uncomfortable about themselves. He sparked a worldwide conversation about something very few of us understand and know very little about.

For a demographic that is plagued by high rates of suicide, unemployment, homelessness, discrimination, and homicide, having a high profile representative has high potential to turn the tide, and that would certainly be a welcome development. Now this may or may not have been his intention, and that is certainly up for debate, but at the end of the day, the outcome is what is truly important. In what has been called “America’s latest civil rights frontier” by Time magazine, Bruce Jenner now finds himself a new, and unprecedented, trailblazer of the transgender movement.

As part of my final thoughts, I am not oblivious to the fact that the vast majority struggle to understand the very concept of being transgender. But in gaining understanding myself, I am reminded by the Bible verses quoted in the interview itself from 1 Corinthians 13:13:  “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love”. You don’t have to relate to, or even understand the concept of being transgender, but the very least you can do as a decent human being is to show love.

NOTE: Due to the fact that Bruce Jenner has not stated a preference for male or female pronouns, this article uses male pronouns.

Oba Banwo is a Nigerian living in Canada. While he does not claim to be a writer, he finds writing as the best way to express his feelings on Nigeria, and life in Canada.

27 Comments

  1. bruno

    April 28, 2015 at 9:55 am

    bruce jenner is turning himself into a woman, but still likes women, doesn’t that make him a lesbian. but he denied aggressively that he wasn’t gay when daine sawyer asked him if he was gay because being gay is still worse than cutting of ur penis and wearing women clothes abi. rubbish

    this is just a pr stunt. how much is he going to make from the documentary series he is doing with E.

    why would you ruined the body that made you an olympic gold medalist? why would you ruined the body that made u a heart throb and an american hero?

    I feel it is narcissism, this whole transgender thing. your dna is still going to be male, no matter how well the doctors surgically transform the outside, your inside is still going to be male.

    by the way the writer of this article is a tranny chaser. I know a tranny chaser when I see when.

  2. what?

    April 28, 2015 at 9:56 am

    Please to the back…

  3. Liz.A

    April 28, 2015 at 9:57 am

    With all due respect to the writer. The country of Nigeria has over 100 million important problems and Bruce Jenner is certainly not one of them.

    If you had coined an article that reflected how the LBGT communinty in Nigeria or even Africa were effected or intrigued by this interview then your article wod have been rather interesting.

    Believe me when you live,sleep,eat in Nigeria for at least eleven months out of the year even you would come to appreciate why Nigeria has a vast amount of important ‘stories’ that we need talented writers like yourself to uncover,disect and execute to the readers.

    Rather we are left to cleave on to stories of the shannegins of social media personalitys and their lack of ability to deal with conflict.

    • DAME

      April 28, 2015 at 1:00 pm

      Thank you jere LIZ A…
      lets move on to important Nigerian issue or other world problems…Bruce Jenner is not our agenda

    • ify beke

      April 28, 2015 at 1:26 pm

      Thank u Dame, biko like electricity . Can some one take out time to write on this fraud call Discos .

    • mimimi

      April 28, 2015 at 1:07 pm

      Thank you Liz A. How does this change the price of garri in our market? Are we supposed to feel sorry for him or what? I am not sure I understand the purpose of his article. If you get a chance to be published on any media, please make it something intelligent and something that adds value to readers. Just saying.

    • MaMa

      April 28, 2015 at 2:13 pm

      Your Mama born you well my dear Liz A!!!!
      God bless you for your comments. Why are Nigerian bloggers trying so desperately to shove their gay agenda down our throats???
      It is not part of our culture and it is even against the law in our country. Imagine your Dad after 10 children decides he now wants to be a woman… We have so many compelling issues to write about, not letting our children believe it’s acceptable for a man to wake up and decides God made a mistake and he now wants to be a woman.
      God forbid!!!

  4. what?

    April 28, 2015 at 9:57 am

    You quote the bible to justify what you just wrote. ABEG park well..

    • mimi

      April 28, 2015 at 10:27 am

      My thought exactly, na wa for Christians ooooo . Mr Oba Banwo same 1 Corinthians 13 vs 6 says Love rejoices in the truth , but not in evil. The bible says we should love one another yes I agree with that but transforming oneself to another gender is an act of sodomites and I regard it has evil . I might be wrong ooooo .

    • Fiona Kyazike Y

      April 28, 2015 at 1:03 pm

      And Romans 1 vs 24, Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, vs 26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Vs 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, vs 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; In America it is offensive to some to talk about God-need I say more?

  5. Kechy

    April 28, 2015 at 9:57 am

    Great review! Loved the analogies!
    Cheers!

  6. bruno

    April 28, 2015 at 10:05 am

    nothing ground breaking about a man who is cutting he’s penis off. ur dna is still going to be male.

    he is going to get lots of money from his upcoming reality show on E.
    bruce jenner admitted in the interview that he is a republican.

    the Republican party are responsible for the oppression of everything not white, male and rich.

    he also denied being gay even tho he is still attracted to women.

    pls lets not forget this man killed a woman some few days ago and got off free because he is rich and wealthy.

  7. tunmi

    April 28, 2015 at 10:21 am

    This will surely go over the heads of Nigerians

  8. bruno

    April 28, 2015 at 10:31 am

    the whole transgender thing goes against everything I stand for. I’m sorry. I have researched about it and there are so many behind the scenes lies and cover ups. so many unanswered questions.

    I stand for loving ur self the way you are not changing ur self.

    bruce jenner is going to start talking and behaving like a stereotypical woman because he doesn’t know what it is to be a woman.
    being a woman is not about wearing long weaves or wearing high heels or wearing make up or having big breasts or wearing sun dresses etc.

    for you to be a woman, u have to be a girl first, it is ur experiences and struggles and challenges of living in a man’s world that will turn u into a woman.

    there are gay animals but there a no transgender animals.

    by the way, to the writer of this article, pls if u want to be taken seriously can u not quote passages from the bible (a fairy tale, outdated book) to back up ur points.

    • anonymous 5

      April 28, 2015 at 11:32 am

      You like attention so much @bruno. You have spoken so much and no one has replied you, but you still went on to write for a third time.i would have let you go but when you start to trash talk the bible, I can’t just be quiet.
      Leave the bible out of your craziness, I urge you, or no, I beg you. Some of us won’t be where we are without the word of God. Some of us treasure the word more than life itself. Some of us have tasted and tested and proven the authenticity of the word even in this day. State your points but leave the bible out of your statements. I wish I could say I was angry with you, but I’m not, I really just pity you. I hope you find the true meaning of life. I hope you find the answers to the questions you ask when you stay awake at night alone bitter and pained. I know you’ll try to refute this but someone like you with all the things you say and the way you say them……
      Anyway Bruno. You’ve gotten what you wanted, someone has replied you. Now get to work…..

    • TT

      April 28, 2015 at 12:59 pm

      OMG Bruno yes!!!! I absolutely love your comment! And please ignore the person that said you like attention.

      Lol I love seeing people that think with reason and you seem to able to do that. “for you to be a woman, u have to be a girl first, it is ur experiences and struggles and challenges of living in a man’s world that will turn u into a woman” – I love that statement and i’m going to start using it in my arguments.

      However, I disagree with you about the Bible, but thats not why we’re here today so i’ll leave it lol

  9. #BringBackOurGirls

    April 28, 2015 at 10:32 am

    How many transgender people do you know of in Nigeria? You want to tell me that this is not narcissism. This is America, anything goes. We have bigger fish to fry, Bruce Jenner should not be a trending topic in our country. Have we found the girls? Has boko haram been destroyed? Have violent men stopped beating their wives all in the name of culture? Pick your battles abeg. That’s how the als challenge got Nigerians unnecessarily excited, ask them today what it is and 90% won’t be able to tell you. Around this time peoole were dying of Ebola around the continent. How does transgender affect us in Nigeria? Bandwagon nonsense should stop abeg.

  10. Phoenix

    April 28, 2015 at 10:40 am

    Bruce Jenner decides he want to be female and its news how? Is it free? Will he not be paid to sadly entertain those who watch mindless TV stations like E (I say this cos I used to be an ardent Enews fan until my body and brain gave me a call) its very sad that we live in a world where everything unacceptable becomes a good thing when a celebrity dabbles in it. Almost 70, six or so kids and he suddenly realizes his life would be so much better without a penis ? And the lgbt community is celebrating? Anyways, to each his own. Who are we to judge anyone abi? Don’t come writing about this on a largely Nigerian forum and expect ppl to connect with his decision. Kids are uneducated, school fees are rising by the minute, families are starving, children are being exploited in various ways in Nigeria and this bruce Jenner story relates how?

  11. ednutey

    April 28, 2015 at 11:43 am

    A thousand and one likes to you Phoenix….word!!!!

  12. TT

    April 28, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    Well, I agree with you that as a Christian it is my duty to show love to all, so I do.

    I find it interesting how this was called “Americas final civil rights frontier” when their first one (i.e. the black civil rights movement) can’t necessarily be called a success. Accepting and loving people regardless of the colour of their skin should have been the easiest pill to swallow, yet as we have seen in incidents like what went on in Baltimore today, America has a long way to go. Racism still exists after how many years…

    Personally, I think this is because Americans tend to pretend that everything is alright and ignore the cracks in society. The truth is that there is a lot of tension between ALL ethniciities in America. But nothing is done to try and sort it out a the ground level. There are also a lot of people who are against and confused by homosexuality, trasngeders etc. But instead of trying to educate, they simply tell you what to say and think, and call you “hateful” or “ignorant” if you cant go along with it. You are right, many people don’t understand transgenders (myself included), but i’m open to being educated. But i’m not going to accept something just because everyone else does, or because a celebrity is now transgender, or by basically being bullied for having a different point of view. If I ask for an explanation as to how someone can be mentally or spiritually a different gender, I want a well reasoned answer. I don’t want to be abused. I also don’t want any wishy washy answer like “i’ve just always known” or “I feel it in my soul” or whatever. Cause theres no test for that. I want a scientific, reasonable answer. Because your’e basically asking me to go against everything i’ve known since I was born. And if you want me to do that you better start giving me some facts.

  13. chy

    April 28, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    most times those who preach this transgender/ lebian brouhaha are the ones who probably shun these kinds of people in their own private enclaves but shout it at the roof tops when it is mentioned openly. Transgender issues are not the main thing in our society so i guess this writer should be writing to Dailymail.co.uk and leave Nigeria populace be.
    Bruce Jenner waking up at 70 years to change his personality which i believe is bull considering it can’t be done, First case scenario, if he is faced with a man with a baton whom he can overpower as a man, will be stare at him, or run like a lady or engage the intruder in a fight as a man which he is. His interview has not changed the price of petrol nor changed the laws prohibiting one crime or the other. Leave Nigeria be, we are not interested. Even the so called whites who say they are pro LGBT are not as open as they are in their private homes.

    My other anger with this LGBT thing is that its beginning to creep into our society where you are no longer allowed to condemn this damnable acts of bestiality.

    • Anon

      April 28, 2015 at 2:14 pm

      Acts of bestiality?

  14. cynthia

    April 28, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    Haba people it is not Oba Banwo’s fault nowww blame the Bella Naija editor. The whole point of an editor is to see/decide on which news/story best fits to their majority audience…not throw anything at us just because it is trending.

  15. Temi

    April 28, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    Lol. You people confuse me sha. The majority of you are criticizing this article because it’s not addressing the many issues facing Nigeria. While I’m not here disputing that there are important “stories” that should be discussed, are we now saying that because he is a Nigerian, he must only write stories that pertain to the Nigerian struggle? He did a review about an event that he felt was important, and BellaNaija decided to publish it. If you people are so much against international stories, why bother reading them? Or wait, should Bella only publish stories relating to Naija? And then one uncle (side eye) will now come here and and downplay/criticizes someone else’s struggle while fighting so strongly to be accepted and understood by said society. Ok, I’m getting you. -____-

  16. Becca

    April 28, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    It appears many haven’t watched the interview and are just commenting from snippets.
    This issue is way too heavy for the Nigerian audience who have their mental capacities stunted by fictitious religions, still believing in creationism and a floating sky god who abracadabra created man. Who can turn water into wine but cannot help the needy because it would interfere with the oppressors free will. Nonsense & ingredient.

    • molarah

      April 28, 2015 at 8:52 pm

      In your mind now you’ve made sense. What’s to gain from such a condescending statement against all Nigerians?

    • Becca

      April 29, 2015 at 1:34 am

      Not all, creationists may be offended but I have no tolerance for literalists who go full retard believing in and justifying their ignorance and bigotry using a creation myth. In 2015 Adam & Eve/Steve, God abracadabra created man shouldn’t be encouraged at all, it is mentally crippling. Good thing governments have caught on are banning creationism.

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