It’s easy to take for granted that we live in a country where we can explore and express many liberal concepts without fear of prosecution from our government. Many nations across our borders don’t have it as easy. In a country known for its deep conservatism and intolerance to queer identities, a group of people in Nigeria have come together to bring life to a stunning online magazine called A Nasty Boy. Founded by Richard Akuson, the magazine will hopefully help usher in a new discourse on identity and sexuality, especially for Nigeria’s youth.
A Nasty Boy is a fusion of fashion and culture. While celebrating the undeniable talent of fashion designers, photographers and other creatives, it seeks to explore complex societal issues like patriarchy, masculinity and sexual orientation in a Nigerian context. In the photographic essay titled Best Friends Forever (or BFFs, as featured on Dazed), the dreamlike photos shot by Wavy The Creator, explore masculinity in safe spaces; while Boys Can Be Anything challenges the singularity of masculinity.
As with anything that challenges the status quo of society, A Nasty Boy has been met with its fair share of criticism, with many condemning it as having a ‘gay agenda’. But this doesn’t slow down Richard or his team; ‘We strive to challenge the industry by doing things differently,’ he says, ‘we worship unconventional ideas, disruptive creatives and shape shifters. We appreciate difference in whatsoever form, shape or kind. Our visual stories are shocking, provoking and sparking. We will not apologise for how we choose to interpret fashion or art.’
We’ve been very inspired by the creative scene in Nigeria over the last couple of months. The country is brimming with creative talent and A Nasty Boy adds to this movement of Nigerian creatives shaping a new discourse and narrative on identity, sexuality and gender in Africa.