Director of groundbreaking Nigerian lesbian film Ifé shares powerful story of how she came out to her mother

Patrick Kelleher March 19, 2021
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Uyaiedu Ikpe-Etim

Uyaiedu Ikpe-Etim. (YouTube)

Nigerian filmmaker Uyaiedu Ikpe-Etim has come out as gay to her Catholic mother, proudly telling her that homosexuality is not a sin.

Ikpe-Etim, who directed the Nigerian lesbian love story Ifé, detailed the conversation with her mother in an emotional Twitter thread on Wednesday (17 March).

“I (officially) came out to my (Catholic) mother,” Ikpe-Etim wrote in the Twitter thread. “I watched as her heart broke again, probably thinking, so the rumours are true.”

“This thing that you are will send me to an early grave,” Ikpe-Etim’s mother said. “Come, see where you should bury me when I die.”

Uyaiedu Ikpe-Etim said her “heart broke”, but she was able to recognise her mother’s response as “the universal language of African parents – emotional blackmail”.

You say you love me, then love me.

“I’m not an unholy thing, I said. I am not a sin. In spite of how hurt I am that you said that, I won’t accept it.”

Ikpe-Etim’s mother was “immediately alarmed” and said she would “never” call her daughter a sin.

In the heart wrenching tweets, Ikpe-Etim wrote of how she told her mother that there must be “no buts” in response to her coming out.

“You say you love me, then love me,” Ikpe-Etim told her mother.

The filmmaker’s mother went on to ask if she will bring home a wife one day, to which Ikpe-Etim replied: “Yeah, most likely.”

She closed out her Twitter thread: “I am officially out to my mother.”

Uyaiedu Ikpe-Etim came out publicly as queer when she debuted Ifé

Ikpe-Etim shot to fame with her directorial debut Ifé, released in 2020. The title means “love” in the Yoruba language, while the film tells the story of two young women who fall in love and face homophobia in their home country.

The film was seen as a groundbreaking and powerful ode to same-sex romance in a country where same-sex sexual activity is still criminalised.

Speaking to CNN ahead of the film’s release, Uyaiedu Ikpe-Etim said it was vital that space was created for queer characters in Nigeria’s film industry, which is known as Nollywood.

“I’m queer so Ifé is dear to my heart,” she said at the time.

“I wanted to represent LGBTQ characters in a different light than how they are shown in past stories, to change how heterosexuals view them.”

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