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A Global Community, A Global Revolution: Provincetown Pride Welcomes Nigerian LGBTQ Artists and Activists

Stained Hands from the collection Unseen Reflection by Tribe 

by Steve Desroches

For a tiny town way out in the North Atlantic, Provincetown has had an oversized role in arts, culture, progressive politics, and especially LGBTQ rights. As a vacation locale, Provincetown is certainly a national hotspot for the LGBTQ community. As a town, it¡¯s a community that works hard to look out for each other and create a loving and accepting place for all. And as an idea, Provincetown is a safe harbor, particularly for LGBTQ people, to live freely without hesitation or fear. All of that can be too easily taken for granted and can create a disconnect from the state of LGBTQ people around the world, though. 

Starting last year the Provincetown Business Guild (PBG) expanded its mission with the creation of the Provincetown Pride Center, a physical space to amplify and celebrate LGBTQ stories and to document the town’s queer history. And as part of that effort, the decision was made to bring the world to Provincetown by including international LGBTQ voices and viewpoints. “The Pride Center affords these cultural opportunities,” says PBG executive director Trevor Pittinger. “Provincetown needs to continue to be, and expand on being a cultural leader for the queer community internationally and work together globally for LGBTQ+ rights.”

Moubo by Freddie Jacob

This weekend’s Provincetown Pride celebration includes an art exhibition titled Reimagining Queer Africa at the Pride Center, featuring the work of LGBTQ artists from Nigeria. The PBG is presenting the show in partnership with Obodo, a “youth-led organization [which] focuses on LGBTQI+ rights and education in Nigeria through art, tech, direct outreach, and public campaigns,” founded by Nigerian activist Matthew Blaise.

Founded in 2022, Obodo, which roughly translated from Igbo means “community” or “village,” is a ground-breaking effort in Nigeria, a country that actively oppresses LGBTQ people politically and socially. Growing up in a very religious family, Blaise was subjected to three different conversion therapy experiences as well as assault and harassment as a university student. And life for LGBTQ people in Nigeria became increasingly dangerous when the country passed multiple laws targeting the LGBTQ community, leading to mass arrests of queer people who could face years in prison. Blaise adds that in northern Nigeria portions are controlled by Sharia law, a strict interpretation of Islam, where LGBTQ people can face being stoned to death. Things in the Christian-majority south aren’t much better. And those are just internal pressures. American Evangelical Christian organizations spend tens of millions of dollars across the African continent pushing anti-LGBTQ legislation as well as opposition to abortion and access to contraception and comprehensive sexual education. Blaise had had enough and first founded The Oasis Project, a nonprofit focused on positive representation of queer people, and then the arts-based Obodo. 

“I’m not so new in the activist space in Nigeria,” says Blaise via Zoom from Nuremberg, Germany, where he is working on a master’s degree in human rights. “Before this project, we put together safe spaces for queer people and access to gender-affirming care. We organized events for queer and trans people, and reached out throughout Africa as a whole to other queer people. And then I had a video go viral and was trending in the African queer community. I’ve always been interested in art and worked as an art curator and I had the idea of using art for social change.”

While We Wait by Rachel Seidu

Through a friend based in New York City who works to connect Obodo with LGBTQ people and organizations here, Blaise was introduced to Provincetown and the PBG, who enthusiastically worked to partner with him for Pride. It took months and a lot of bureaucratic hopscotching with American immigration law regarding a visa for Blaise as well as with the Nigerian government and securing permits to allow art work to leave the country. But the art work arrived and is now hanging at the Pride Center, where Blaise will be making an appearance, as well.

Reimaging Queer Africa features the work of six LGBTQ Nigerian artists who work in a variety of mediums. In addition to forming a connection and considering different LGBTQ viewpoints and experiences via cultural exchange, it’s also a chance for Provincetown as an art colony to expand its reach and invite in other artists allowing the Cape tip to foster a more international perspective. Nigeria is undergoing considerable change with a population that skews young and is growing as it reaches almost 250 million people. As such, the Nigerian economy is booming, as is its artistic and cultural movements, particularly in the city of Lagos.  Formerly the capital until it was moved to Abuja in 1991, Lagos is increasingly an international artistic dynamo and a dominant force in Africa as Nigeria becomes a more influential regional power. The Lagos-based film industry, nicknamed Nollywood, is the third largest cinematic industry in the world, with Nigeria second only to India in terms of output. The arts in all its forms are flourishing in Lagos, and in turn, the city now has an LGBTQ population too big and increasingly influential and powerful to ignore as its impact reaches far beyond Nigeria and even Africa, influencing everything from fashion to film, worldwide.

“It’s the New York of Nigeria,” says Blaise. “Lagos has about 25 million people and so it’s very big. It’s the place where everything happens. It’s the economic and cultural capital of the country and there are a lot of progressive conversations happening there. It attracts a lot of young people, and queer people can find community there in the arts and cultural scene. The art market is really on a global level. In this very young city we are building partnerships and a better community for queer people.”

News on TV by Sigil 

Reimagining Queer Africa, featuring the works of Obodo artists is on display at the Provincetown Pride Center, 115 Bradford St. Friday, May 31 through June 30. An opening reception is planned for Friday, May 31 at 5 p.m. An art panel talk will take place at the Pride Center on Saturday, June 1 at 1 p.m. featuring Obodo founder Matthew Blaise in discussion with Myra Kooy, owner of the art gallery Radiance Art who is of Nigerian descent, and moderated by Caleb Okereke, managing editor of Minority Africa, a digital publication that covers often ignored populations in Africa. For more information call 508.975.6394 or visit For more information on Obodo visit

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Graphic Artist

Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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