Meet Daniel Orubo, the creative mind behind our timeline Sex Education

“For most of my life, I would always hear straight sexual experiences in different shades. It’s literally everywhere.

So when people are like there needs to be more straight representation in the series, I’m like have you not seen enough?”.

Days become weeks and weeks become months, but somehow, we’re still not quite sure when things will get back to normal, or if they ever will. Saturdays during lockdown have become pretty mundane; for one thing, we’re no longer waking up with splitting headaches from too much tequila at the club the night before – if that’s your thing. On the other hand, it’s beginning to feel less like a day to look forward to, as there’s no structure to the muddled days that make up lockdown.

One thing we’ve come to look forward to every Saturday at 12 o’clock, is Zikoko’s weekly Sex Life column helmed by Daniel Orubo. The stories are raw and honest and incredibly inclusive, covering a range of sexualities and relationships that represent that diverse melting pot of people in Lagos.

 

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Unfortunately in Nigeria, sexual relationships are at the forefront of music, film, and advertisement, however, talking openly about sex is seen as a taboo. This is where Daniel found his niche, mostly with the purpose to sensitise the wider audience to

Sex education is lacking in most Nigerian homes and school curriculum, as it’s widely viewed as a sin unless one is married. Given this, it’s important for us as a society to at least have open and honest conversations, which dismantle set norms and don’t involve gaslighting, slut-shaming, and straight-up erasure.

This is what makes the work Daniel is doing for Zikoko so important, and it’s crazy to think we would have almost missed out on this, if he had stuck to his initial decision to pursue solely music writing.

Like any writer joining a new publication, Daniel was asked to find his writing niché; which would consist of the topic(s) he is most passionate about. Coming from a different publication where he mostly covered music, he naturally wanted to continue on that course, however, after a conversation with his manager, they decided it was important to talk about sex since no one else was.

“I think when people saw it, they were like it ‘oh this is an interesting take, not a cliched R-rated story on how I lost my virginity’, it’s actual stories of people who have been through experiences like you and I, and stories we haven’t heard before.”

The first edition quickly set the precedent for what was to come on the weekly series, and it was through this that Daniel began to see the effects of openly speaking about sex.

Immediately it came out, I think the response was very positive and most of the people were responding asking if it was going to be inclusive. At that point, I had already done my story for my first story where I interviewed a bisexual person. I couldn’t imagine a world where I would not even represent queer people and just talk to straight people

 

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As a bisexual man navigating life in his social bubble in Lagos, Daniel is dedicated to championing queer stories. Representation is of utmost importance to him and has always been, since he was a child. Growing up, he never saw people like him, and so decided to become a filmmaker to change that.

Not only has he been able to convert the hearts of some Nigerians (‘my friends tell me even the most homophobic people they know are reading Sex Life for the human value’), he’s also been able to continuously question his own beliefs and learn from the lived experiences of people so different from him.

It’s made me open to learning more about other people’s experiences. I just realised that I only knew things at the surface; like I knew people were asexual but did I really know what it meant to be one or a transgender person transitioning. Minus listening to their stories, I still go and research and learn for myself. It takes your head out of your own ass.”

For Pride month, Daniel has focused exclusively on the sex lives of the LGBTQI+ community in Nigeria. Although he’s faced minor backlash from readers who thought he was pushing the gay agenda (to which he fully is), Daniel is forging ahead and connecting with queer people around the city who deserve for their stories to be told. ‘[So] when people are like there needs to be more straight representation, I’m like have you not seen enough. What else do you want to know? That’s kind of why I made it inclusive because we don’t see a lot of experiences of queer people in Nigeria and I know that queer people in Nigeria, their lives are interesting and there is also something about building empathy’.

He’s not planning on stopping anytime soon, in fact, he’s more resilient than ever in fighting for the right to be seen and accepted for his community. The column is introducing him to people he never would have thought of, he’s learning more and he’s telling our stories–Nigerian stories. The ones you won’t hear but that exist and that are valid, regardless of whether you want to read them or not.

As we round up our video interview, Daniel lets me know that he’s constantly meeting new people who challenge the way he sees the world, ‘My best sex life story came out over the weekend. I spoke a trans woman who is transitioning in Lagos on her own because doctors won’t attend to her‘ he tells me excitedly, but emphatically. ‘It’s just like all the layers to that story with someone fighting to just be who they are meant to be. This is hard but she’s like I am going to do this because this is me. And that’s just really inspiring to me’. 

Daniel just wants everyone to realise their power, and find their community who will wholly accept them without hesitation. He tells me:

When people say, oh I accept you and it’s like I don’t really give a fuck. You don’t have the power to validate my existence to fuck off. It’s about me being comfortable with my own experience and me being comfortable with my own existence. Fuck external opinion. It’s me and it’s my life. Just owning my space and being proud of who I am”.

Catch up on Zikoko Sex Life stories here.

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