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Funmi Iyanda shares the story of helping her HIV Positive Friend Come out of the Closet + his Brave Battle with Cancer & More

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Funmi Iyanda & Akin

Renowned TV personality Funmi Iyanda shared a powerful story today on her Medium page as she talks about her friend, Akin, who after 51 years is ready to come out of the closet – even though he never particularly tried to hide his sexuality.

In a lengthy post, Funmi Iyanda talks about how the two of them were introduced by a mutual friend and how they grew to be so close. She talks about his amazing personality and how he is kind, funny and dignified.

Funmi Iyanda also talks about how the news of singer George Michael’s death pushed Akin to want to come out of the closet. In the post she says “We were talking about this on Christmas Day when the news of George Michael’s death broke, suddenly he turned to me and said, Funmi l want to come out, and I want you to be the one to do this for me, I want people to know I’m gay. I have never consciously hidden it but l want to state it now and make it open. I asked why, he said, its time, l asked if he was sure. He said yes. So l wrote this story.”

Her post, simply called “For Akin…on bravery, honesty and thriving”, is such an interesting read and it is in three short parts.

Read excerpts below.

You see, in 2009, Akin had been diagnosed with Kaposi Sarcoma; he got cancer at the height of his career and life. He lived in a penthouse by Amsterdam’s beautiful Ijhaven harbor from where he travelled widely and entertained often. He was an affluent Eurocentric Anglicized Nigerian, one of those shiny examples of diaspora success.

He had been HIV positive since 2002 but because he was simultaneously fatalistic and scared, he cloaked himself in invincibility. Soon after his cancer diagnosis, he also developed full-blown AIDS. Without any family in the Netherlands he spent weeks in hospital and months of chemotherapy on his own. He’s talks wryly about that time in hospital, watching others die and the pain of chemo. He talks of his faith in his ability to recover and a determination to live with the casualness the British talk about weather.

I have no idea how he took care of himself those years although he says his neighbors helped. I often ask why no one from his family came to stay with him but he’d say no one thought “it was that bad” because he kept blogging and lived as normally as he could. He was given 6 months off work post Chemotherapy but he took six weeks. He once wrote that his motto through life, cancer and AIDS was to thrive. In his words “I will never live as if I’m dying, l do not intend to start doing that now. I live to live well”.

A year and a half later his cancer had gone into remission and his HIV viral load fallen to undetectable. His doctors thought it was a miraculous recovery.

The disease had however taken its toll on his work and finances such that he had to sell his half a million Euro penthouse. He tells me about the immense relief of letting go of everything he once owned and the power of separating material things into needs and wants.

He had continued to blog though the years of treatment and recovery, through job loss, home loss and eventual homelessness. He still blogs, one of the longest running, never missed a post in 13 years. I suspect blogging became therapy but don’t tell him that.

He has that thing of making the effortful seem easy. He is disciplined, consistent and analytical even about his own excesses.

At the time l met him, his cancer had gone into remission and he was AIDs free, he had come back to London to start over. He was born in the UK and educated in Nigeria speaking fluent Yoruba, Hausa, Dutch and a most annoyingly pristine English. He always insists he is as English as anyone else can claim.

The disease had however taken its toll on his work and finances such that he had to sell his half a million Euro penthouse. He tells me about the immense relief of letting go of everything he once owned and the power of separating material things into needs and wants.

He had continued to blog though the years of treatment and recovery, through job loss, home loss and eventual homelessness. He still blogs, one of the longest running, never missed a post in 13 years. I suspect blogging became therapy but don’t tell him that.

He has that thing of making the effortful seem easy. He is disciplined, consistent and analytical even about his own excesses.

***

Oh yes, my friend Akin is gay, has been all his life. He didn’t leave Nigeria because he was gay, he’s middle class, to be poor is the only real crime, he left because he wanted to become more than was on offer in 1990. He left a high paying job and a company he was part owner of to start over in London then he moved to Amsterdam. He hasn’t been home in 26 years but my meddlesome determination is that he must come home to visit his family. His younger sister recently died after a long battle with kidney disease. That was the only time l saw him withdrawn and unreachable. He likes to tell us how he survived being born 3 months too early, l tell him it was target practice for surviving everything.

Akin turned 51 last week, he really should visit his aged mother and father in Nigeria, l know he’d like to but Nigeria feels like an unknown entity.

I can’t wait to see his face when he encounters Nigeria of today, still difficult in many ways but warm and welcoming too because Englishman or not, it is still home.

Read the full post here.

Photo Credit: Medium | @faduks

33 Comments

  1. Bibi

    January 4, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    Never knew he has Aids and Cancer, been following him on Twitter for years now and he never misses his Akin Akintayo daily posts.Suspected he might be gay all these while,cos following him,he supports anything LGBT with a passion.Oga o.

    I won’t judge him,but what is it with the people coming out as gays being HIV Positive just like Bisi Alimi,were they reckless in their sexual life at a point in time? So many questions that needs answers.
    He really needs to visit his folks,not fair to not have seen his aged parents for close to three decades.

    • Ese V

      January 4, 2017 at 10:14 pm

      HAD (emphasis on the past) cancer and AIDS.
      Cancer treated with chemo and he’s well now.
      No longer has AIDS, but still HIV positive and viral load now undetectable. There is a difference between HIV and AIDS

  2. Elizabeth

    January 4, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    I applaude Akin’s bravery and I pray for long life with excellent health for him.

  3. Grace

    January 4, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    I really don’t think this is s news. It’s quite obvious he’s gay . Used to follow him on Twitter and it’s as obvious as light and day. My only question is when will others living within our community who have chosen to put young girls through the pain of marriage to a gay man come out ?

    • Life is complicated

      January 4, 2017 at 3:20 pm

      Akin has always been out as a gay man. Homosexuals will always be part of any culture, nothing new. Growing up, there were few married Nigerian uncles who were gay. You wondered why they acted a certain way and you will be surprise to know some of their wives knew or aware of rumors surrounding their husbands. Hopefully, all the closet gay Nigerian men can stop pretending. And it’s a good thing because Naijas are the most self righteous group of people who act like their sh*t don’t stink. Also, they should be ready to move to a country where they can get better medical treatment.

      Yorubas are more bold to live out their chosen lifestyle. Other ethnic groups are afraid. Homomosexuality is common in Delta and northern region, even gay prostitution but they will never be open with it. It’s very hidden.

    • Idomagirl

      January 4, 2017 at 7:00 pm

      “My only question is when will others living within our community who have chosen to put young girls through the pain of marriage to a gay man come out ?”

      When they are no longer cursed and threatened with death maybe.

    • Ese V

      January 4, 2017 at 10:21 pm

      Simple. When it is no longer a crime and they stop this 14 years nonsense. Until then, even your lawmakers are with their boyfriends as I type this

  4. Ghostmode

    January 4, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    No one should be judged by their sexuality. Everyone has a battle they are struggling with. We easily want to remove the speck in other people’s eyes while ignoring the beam in our own eyes. I hope he is able to visit his family and they accept him. I wish him all the best.

  5. Sonia Paloma

    January 4, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    I really do not support homosexuality because i still till now cannot wrap my head around it but I think it is high time everyone is true to themselves and live their life.
    It is not a must that homosexuality should be accepted by all but respect should be given to all irrespective of their sexuality.

  6. PicassosMuse

    January 4, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    Being gay is so depressing. They seem constantly threatened by all sorts of illnesses. Its like life cannot be normal for them in any way. Yes, I know heterosexuals also contract HIV but the rate is far higher in gay men. Wont even talk about broken anal sphincters and all the hell associated with the so called enjoyable act.

  7. Wale

    January 4, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    For some of us, we wish we never trod this path…..To each its own. I have absolute nothing against anyone coming out or living in closet but for me, This is my second decades fighting and praying for my miracle….Married, Husband, Father and his parent’s Beloved! This is my truth.

    • The Real Oma

      January 4, 2017 at 2:23 pm

      Wale, i would really like to hear your story if you would like to share… It has taken me many years of growth to begin to accept that homosexuality is normal for some as heterosexuality is for others. But i still have some unanswered questions, some parts of the puzzle still don’t fit. Real stories would be invaluable in helping me connect the dots.

    • Wale

      January 4, 2017 at 3:02 pm

      Maybe I would love to share but why do I get your contact or how would you get my contact?

    • Wale

      January 4, 2017 at 3:06 pm

      I meant how do I get your contact or vice versa

    • The Real Oma

      January 4, 2017 at 4:01 pm

      @Wale, thank you for responding. we can connect via email: [email protected]

  8. Bibi

    January 4, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    Why did you withold my comment,it wasnt homophobic,I just said it was obvious on Twitter that he is gay,I have been following him for years.

    I also said he never misses his Akin Akintayo daily blog posts.

    I then questioned why gay men are susceptible to HIV,like Bisi Alimi.Please post.Lastly I feel he should visit his aged parents.

  9. Ruby

    January 4, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    Miss Funmi Iyanda always helping everyone “come out”. When are you going to come out yourself? At least we know you are living with your female partner in london. Come out also and let us applaud you. Onyiara!

    • Chidinma

      January 5, 2017 at 6:13 pm

      When God starts to punish you, you will not know that it is you who brought it upon yourself! Aunty Funmi moved to London to be close to her daughter who is in high school and has been ill for sometime, as you know the health care system in Nigeria. Aunty Funmi refused to be part of the national cake choppers and she rejected political appointments. If you dont know people personally or know their story be careful what you insinuate before you curse yourself by your damn self. I am shocked at how people like you who actually don’t know anything about people come up with all these crazy lies about others. I know this woman personally and I am hurt that you will write such lie.This is 2017 be careful about telling lies about people and pray for your life. Anuofia

  10. Simplymeana

    January 4, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    can the media stop shoving down homosexuality down our throats,all i think the media keeps doing is to make it seem its normal till we finally accept it,but heck no,its not normal,let it go back to the times where we knew it exists but they keep it on the very low…..rubbish

    • BlueEyed

      January 4, 2017 at 3:45 pm

      It’s 2017 and you think the media is shoving it down your throat? Please crawl back to cave you came out from

    • Bimbo

      January 4, 2017 at 5:26 pm

      I feel sad when women shame homosexuals . We are the ones who suffer the most if they cannot live their lives ! They simply marry us to cover up and continue their homosexuality on the downlow! Nigeria is in the top five countries searching for gay porn ! You have to ask yourself – where are this people watching gay porn ? They are in the closet – married to nigerian women yet dating the bobrisky s on the downlow.

    • Kind regards

      January 6, 2017 at 10:54 am

      Are you trying to say that women are not homosexuals too? Both men and women suffer from deceptive partners, I get your point, I just wanted to make some correction to it.

    • Idomagirl

      January 4, 2017 at 6:58 pm

      No one “shoved” anything down your throat.
      Were you forced to open this page?

    • Tobi

      January 4, 2017 at 8:17 pm

      @ simply mean spirited Nobody shoved you onto this page to spill your bile.so stop talking rubbish. Go get you some love it’s free and stop trolling hate.

    • Sugabelly

      January 6, 2017 at 4:37 am

      Everywhere you look, there is man and woman matter, heterosexual relationships are EVERYWHERE. How come you don’t feel that one is being shoved down your throat too? Or maybe you only like being the Shover and not the Shovee?

  11. Leke

    January 4, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    Funny how Bisi Alimi ‘came out’ on her show, and now this. How many more you gonna help come out. matter of fact, when are YOU gonna come out Funmi, inquiring minds wanna know

    • Ese V

      January 4, 2017 at 10:17 pm

      Oh? Because she supports LGBT community, she MUST be gay too?
      Your mind cannot fathom that it is .possible to support people yet not be homosexual?
      I’m sure you feel very smart

    • Ann

      January 5, 2017 at 11:37 am

      She is Gay aka Lesbian

  12. Sherri

    January 4, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    awww!
    I remember him and his beautiful writings. I yearned to meet him and give him the biggest longest hug. an unknown answer to my prayer for him. he was such a wholeness in brokenness.

  13. skyhigh

    January 4, 2017 at 11:27 pm

    why are the ones who came out also hiv positive ..mere coincidence?? is promiscuity without in the community rampant like in straight one?? i don’t get it..i also know another gay guy who’s positive

    • Author Unknown

      January 6, 2017 at 6:13 am

      The gay community is considered higher risk for the spread of HIV due to the history of the AIDS epidemic, if I’m not mistaken in the 1980s. In terms of coming out, it only makes sense that after having been confronted with a life and death situation (as HIV and AIDS were, and are still to some degree), a closeted person feels less concerned about their homosexuality. Kind of like how some people after successfully getting through a sickness vow to live life to the fullest. When you’ve been to the brink, you learn very quickly that the next day is not promised anyone, and that your happiness is paramount. Screw what anyone thinks 🙂

  14. That-I-May-Fly

    January 5, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    Skyhigh…homosexuals are more susceptible to the HIV, so are drug users…I think it might be a lifestyle thing, not necessarily promiscuity.

    I didn’t know that it was possible to go from having AIDs back to just HIV. AIDs is the final stage of HIV and at this point, it can only be managed to prolong your life, but death isn’t far. However, with HIV, you can live a normal full life with viral load undetectable if you take your medications. If anyone in the house can shed more light on this, I’d appreciate it. I’ve done some google digging and I can’t find anything that suggest AIDs can be reversed back to HIV. Perhaps the dude never got full blown AIDs?

  15. Person

    January 5, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    Did he forget his family? That is the part i do not get. How do you not come home all these years to see your family given that technically he’s only just coming out so his sexuality could not have prevented him.

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