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April 2020

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Understanding genes and homosexuality: is being gay a choice?

To understand whether homosexuality is genetics, we must first understand what genes are? Genes are simply a segment of DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid). They are so powerful that they control who we are: our height, the color of our skin, and probably behaviors like who we fall in love with. Identical twins are very good indicators of how powerful genes are. Not only do they look alike, but they have very similar mannerisms, preferences, and habits. This uncanny similarity is not just limited to twins but can be observed among siblings and even parents who share the same characteristic behaviors with their children. So basically we are doing the bidding of our genes and to betray that “bidding” will be betraying our very own nature.

To understand how genes work we first have to understand what they are. Basically, we are just a bunch of cells carefully arranged with cells combining to form corresponding tissues and organs. Almost every cell in our body has 23 pairs of chromosomes in the nucleus. These 23 pairs of chromosomes are made up of materials called histones wrapped around strands of DNA. A short section of that DNA is a “gene”.

These genes contain instructions of basically everything from how and when our cells are formed, to our height, the color of our eyes, to the creation of hormones that are responsible for emotions we feel. It is also good to note that we inherit our genes from our parents. Sperm cells(male gamete) and egg cells(female gamete) undergo meiosis with each gamete containing half the usual number of chromosomes and both gametes later combining to form 23 pairs chromosomes which carry the instructions to “build us” through a process called mitosis. Some times in the process of “copying our genes” mistakes happen. These “mistakes” are called mutation and may produce sickle cells or the 46 chromosomes becoming 47 a condition called trisomy. The point here is to show how powerful genes are and how the process of copying genetics can lead to mutation which has known to be a major recipe for big evolutionary changes.

Remarkably these genes only consist of a small percentage of 3 billion base pairs of DNA. The implication is that a very big chunk of DNA is doing something else other than coding instructions. Why is so much of our genome not being used to code for protein? Projects like the Human Genome Project have begun to unravel the complexity and size of the human genome and hopefully in the future answers to such questions will be known.

Read Now: LGBTQ+ community in Nigeria

How genes play their part in determining sexuality?

Scientists are still on the verge of properly figuring out which particular genes affect certain expressions, but it is very clear that genes are responsible for our nature. It shouldn’t then be a surprise that genes are responsible for our preference, and even our love choices. Animals have been seen engaging in same sex acts with same sex couples even stealing eggs and looking after them as observed in penguins. It has been estimated that a quarter of black swans pairing are of males. The paired males have been known to steal nests from females and also forming threesomes with females to obtain eggs. Mammals also display homosexual behaviour. Males of the American bison, a bovine mammal, engage in courtship, mounting and full anal penetration.

A new study from Science Magazine analyzed the genetics of same-sex sexual behaviors and found that genetics plays a role, responsible for a third of the influence on homosexuality. The influence does not come from one gene alone, but many genes each contributing small effects, and the rest of the influence coming from the environment. The study analyzed the genetic data of 408,000 men and women from a large British database, the U.K. Bio-bank, who answered extensive health and behavior questions between 2006 and 2010 when they were between the ages of 40 and 69.

The conclusion of the study was that genes are not solely responsible for same-sex behaviors, but the environment has some part to play. There have been fears concerning the study of genes and their linkage to homosexuality, with some LGBTQ activists concerned that anti-gay groups will misconstrue such findings like using the fact that environmental factors are also at play in determining homosexuality. What such groups fail to grasp is that no matter how the environment plays a part, genes also play a part, and who are we if not our genes?

Interesting facts about genetics

  • Some diseases are inherited through genes.
  • Doctors may be able to cure diseases in the future by replacing necessary genes.
  • DNA is a long molecule and there are lots of them in the human body. If you unraveled all the DNA molecules in your body, they would reach the sun and back several times.
  • Some inherited traits are determined by multiple different genes.
  • Genes make up only about 3 percent of your DNA. The rest of your DNA controls the activity of your genes.
  • The word gene wasn’t coined until the 20th century by Danish botanist Wilhelm Johannsen.
  • Genes can disappear as species evolve.
  • Octopuses can edit their own genes.

Building a WordPress website is quite easy, which is why 30 % of the websites on the internet being powered by WordPress. Having a slow WordPress website is a recipe for disaster. Not only does it make the user experience horrible, but it also has serious damage to the SERPs of the website.

Recent studies by SEO experts have proven that site-loading speed of more than 2 seconds typically results in about 42 percent of visitors bouncing off the website. Knowing that having a fast website is essential for the growth and longevity of the website.

Factors affecting WordPress website loading time

1. Web Hosting Service

Web Hosting service is a company that stores all of your website’s data. You settle a plan and upload images, videos, contents, and more that would be stored on the host server. The hosting company gives you access to the data, manage it, and show it to your visitors.

When deciding on a WordPress host you may not even think of researching into what network they’re using, however, you should. This will have a large impact on your website’s overall performance. Many hosts will leave this out of their advertising as they’ll choose the cheapest network to reduce costs.

2. Theme

One of the biggest factors that affect a WordPress website loading speed is the theme of the website. WordPress themes are usually built with lots of features like sliders, carousels, dynamic content displays, widgets to name a few.

Having lots of these features on a page can cause an increase in the loading time of the website. The best option when choosing a theme for a website is a lightweight theme. Here are a few lightweight themes to choose from:

For more premium lightweight themes visit themeforest.

3. PHP

PHP a.k.a Hypertext Preprocessor is an extensively used open-source scripting language that is suited for web development and can be embedded into HTML.

The majority of WordPress scripts are written in Hypertext Preprocessor, along with your plugins and themes. Make sure your web hosting service provides you with PHP version 7 upwards else look for another hosting service. The higher the PHP version, the more requests that can be handled per second.

4. Caching

To understand what caching is as a process we must first understand how a web server works. When a visitor accesses a URL on your website, it sends a request to the webserver which processes the request and displays a webpage for the visitor.

Caching is the easiest way to reduce the loading speed of a WordPress website. Caching sends requests to the webserver and saves these requests on the RAM/disk, basically making it easier and faster to display as a webpage when next a visitor sends a request.

5. Overload Plugins

Plugins are quite nice, get the job done easily without the stress of coding, hence everyone can build a website. Yet you are advised that having much of it on your WordPress website often slows down the website.

Read Now: 65 WordPress Plugins that slow down websites from High CPU

The biggest problem most developers have with plugins is that the standard uninstallation doesn’t remove all the data stored in the database. Over time these stored data on the website database would eventually result in slowing down the website.

A well-developed plugin would have an option in the plugin settings suggesting deleting of all data if uninstalled. For some under-developed plugins, you would need to do a google search to find out the proper way to uninstall the plugin completely.

How to check your WordPress website loading time

Testing the loading speed of your WordPress is the first step in solving the problem. What to check during the test:

  • The number of requests.
  • Page size generated.
  • Caching.
  • Obviously, the loading time.

The homepage (http://YOURDOMAIN.COM) of the website is used as the benchmark during the test. In order to test the speed of the website, the following websites provide the free tools for such:

Using Gtmetrix

Go the Gtmetrix and type in your website domain name.

Check with theloading speed
Type in the domain and click on analyze

Within seconds the result would out, which is quite self-explanatary and easy to comprehend.

The result from the test checking the WordPress website speed
The test result

Step by step guide on speed up a WordPress website

1. CDN (Cloudfare)

Those that visit your website belong to numerous locations within the globe, and needless to say, the website online-loading pace will fluctuate if the site visitors are placed some distance faraway from which your website is hosted.

CDN stands for content delivery network. A content delivery network is a system of distributed servers (network) that deliver pages and web contents ( images, CSS, JavaScript, and video) to a user, based on the geographic locations of the user, the origin of the webpage and the content delivery server.

Cloudfare offers free CDN but with limited services. Their cheapest monthly package is $20. The free service they offer is enough for a personal blog or a small enterprise website.

Steps in setting up a Cloudfare CDN

Step1: Create an account

Creating a cloudfare account
Creating a cloudfare account

Step2: Add the domain name of the website

Add the domain of your WordPress website
Add the domain of the website

Step3: Change the nameserver of the domain to Cloudfare nameserver

Nameserver
Replace the nameserver of your website with cloudfare nameservers

Step 4: Cloudfare will automatic optimize your website.

Reduction in load time of the WordPress website
Cloudfare informs of the reduction of the load time of your website

Step5: Additional settings for more optimization

Switch on Brotli compression
Rocket loader
Switch on Rocket Loader

2. Image Optimization

To run a successful website, image optimization is a must. Images are the major contributors to the size of a given webpage. The trick is to reduce the size of the images without compromising on the quality. Normally on WordPress websites, this process is done automatically with the aid of plugins.

One of the best plugin for image optimization that’s totally free not freemium nor premium, just free is Robin Image optimizer. There are usually three options when it comes to image optimization.

Image optimization settings for WordPress websites
  • Lossless: This mode provides lossless compression and your images will be optimized without visible changes. If you want an ideal image quality.
  • Lossy: This mode provides an ideal optimization of your images without significant quality loss. The file size will be reduced approximately 5 times with a slight decrease in image quality, we recommend this mode.
  • Hard: This mode will use all available optimization methods for maximum image compression. The file size will be reduced approximately 7 times. The quality of some images may deteriorate slightly.

For more image optimzation let’s introduce Webp

Webp is an image format employing both lossy and lossless compression. It’s not accessible by all browsers but with verse majority of the internet uses using Chrome browser this would reduce the image size and enable for even faster loading time. To convert your images to Webp use WebP Converter.

3. Caching, Lazy loader and Minify

Selecting a Caching plugin

We previously explained what caching means and how it helps accelerate the loading time of a website. There are lots of plugins that can add this feature to your WordPress website. Here are a few recommended plugins:

Lazy loader /Minify

LazyLoad is a lightweight and flexible script that speeds up your web application by deferring the loading of your below-the-fold images, gifs, and videos. In other words, the webpage loads faster but display the images later on as the user scrolls down the page.

The option for this setting are usually available within the caching plugin media section.

Minify CSS/JS is just as the name sounds, the reduction of the size of the CSS/ JS script file. This is done by the removal of white spaces, comments in between the codes in CSS/ JS files to reduce the size. Most caching plugins have this within the settings.

Conclusion

We have discussed the factors that affect a website loading speed. We also covered how to test a website loading speed, last but not the least how to reduce a website loading time.

One of the biggest advantages of having a fast loading website is the user experience it gives your visitors. It equal increases the website SERPs ranking dramatically on google.

UNDERSTANDING THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY IN NIGERIA

To understand the LGBTQ+ community, you must first understand love. Have you ever been in love? You know, felt that heart thudding, ragged breathing, mind disorienting feeling that is love? Yeah, a large number of us have. Also ever heard of the expression, “The heart wants what it wants”? No not the song, the expression. The one that means you don’t choose who you love, your heart is just an independent organ who selfishly picks who it wants you to fall in love with and when to fall out of love with them. Odds are you’ve probably heard it, or not. But what I’m trying to say is, Love is genderless.

We can characterize love with a lot of things, patience, kindness, it does not envy or boast (yes I am quoting 1st Corinthians). But why do we leave out a very key characteristic of love, the fact that is genderless…and the fact that we can fall in love with anybody and everybody.

WHAT DOES LGBTQ+ MEAN?

The LGBT community exists virtually everywhere in the world. Literally everywhere. And contrary to plenty and wrong belief, the LGBTQ+ community does not only comprise of homosexuals. Yes, when you see that cute colorful flag 🏳️‍🌈 it does not only cover gay people. You’d be surprised at how wide the community is and just how many people comfortably fit in it.

L stands for lesbian. A lesbian is a woman who is attracted to other women. I choose not to use the term “sexually attracted” because that would be meaning only a mere sexual attraction to other women would constitute lesbianism which is in fact totally wrong. There are lesbian couples who believe it or not are not having sex. Does that mean they are not lesbians? Definitely not. A lesbian woman is a woman who is attracted to women, attracted to being an all-encompassing word for love, affection, romance, emotional attraction and then sex.

G Gay is an adjectival word that encompasses the whole term that is homosexuality. But since we already gendered the word by using Lesbians for women, Gay here means a man who is attracted to other men. Just like lesbians, this does not connote only sex, it encompasses everything that is felt in a heterosexual relationship and sex.

B Bisexuality basically is any individual who has the ability to create or have romantic, emotional or sexual attraction to either of the sexes. A man or a woman can be bisexual, the term is not gender specific like lesbian. Fun fact, bisexual people don’t need to have had any actual or specific sexual experiences to identify as bisexual. Know why, just like straight people don’t need to have had sexual experience to know they’re straight, they don’t either. Crazy right?

T The more complex and most often misunderstood member of this community are the Transgender people. It’s an umbrella term for people who are gender non conforming. Often mixed up with trans sexuality, it’s important to distinguish between gender and sex.

Let’s have a little sociology cum biology class. The two terms are very similar as well as very different. Sex is the physical trait that distinguishes males from females; so like a man is a man because he has a penis and a woman is a woman because she has a vagina instead of a penis. Gender on the other hand is a social construct, like many other things( virginity) but I digress. The main difference therefore is sex is your physical construct while gender is a social construct. A good example would be, using our very interesting and sometimes vexatious Nigerian society, it’s often believed a man should not be seen wearing certain types of clothing because it’s not “manly”.

Transgender people are people whose gender identity does not conform with the sex they were assigned to at birth. A worthy mention is The Billy Porter. While Transexual people are individuals who have actually undergone surgery to change their sex to the gender they conform to.

Q Queer people are people who do not exclusively identify as heterosexual but see the terms gay or lesbian as too limiting to describe what they are.

+ Because the LGBTQ community is very large, there are a host of other terms under them. The plus symbol encompasses them all in their entirety, the Asexuals, Pansexuals, Intersex and, Questioning, to mention a few.

THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY IN NIGERIA

When you mention the LGBTQ+ community in Nigeria, the chances are you’ll be met by either a frown or some snarky remark which is almost always homophobic. It’s crazy and completely ludicrous to think that in a country as diverse as Nigeria, home to more than 200 million people, there will be not one single person who is gender non conforming or homosexual. Yet as crazy as it sounds, some people legitimately believe this. Nigeria is a country deeply rooted in homophobia and hypocrisy at the same time.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community in Nigeria are met with hostility and constantly live in fear of being lynched one day by some homophobe who believes homosexuality is against his religion.

But that deep rooted hatred for the community, where does it come from? I,like many people, often wonder, why do we accept that one can be born straight but one can’t be born  gay? Why do we accept that there are certain things that can remove the “manliness” out of a man or add “manliness” to a woman? I’ve had multiple discussions with many people and ten out of ten people are against the community because of Religion, Laws, Colonialism and “I just don’t like gay people”.

RELIGION

This comes first because this is every homophobic go-to answer when asked why they are homophobic. A rather weak point because not everyone confirms to a religion. Not everyone is a Christian or a Muslim ( I mention these two because they are the most practiced religion in Nigeria).

Yes, the Bible is homophobic, yes the Koran is homophobic but it can’t be binding on everyone if there are still some people who do not conform to either religion. This emphasis on religion is based on deep-rooted hypocrisy. I once had a conversation with a guy who once used religion as a premise to justify his homophobia. When asked if he found the idea of two girls getting it on exciting or sexy, he gave a definite “Uh yeah, what guy doesn’t?” And when asked what he thinks about two men getting it on, he replied with a nasty comment. The fact that a large chunk of Nigerian men fantasize about watching two girls get it on and even them joining in on the action but frown at two men getting it on borders highly on hypocrisy. Using religion to justify why two men can’t be together but praising two girls being together smells like that putrid air, what’s it called again…Hypocrisy!

When we see people who vehemently use the umbrella of religion to go against the LGBTQ+ community, it doesn’t take much digging or investigation into their lives to see that they are far from “perfect”. You see men and women who are sexually active (don’t get me wrong, sex is beautiful and you can have sex if you want to (as long as you’re being safe) coming out to bash members of the community because they feel it’s against the tenets of religion. Having sex outside of wedlock which is more beautifully called Fornication is a sin if we’re going along with religious tenet, so why should any one who’s fornicating think he’s a better follower of a religion than a member of the community? Also I’m not trying to say every one fornicates but in a day, every individual commits at least one sin. When your mum asks how many cubes of sugar you added to your cup of tea and you say three instead of six because you don’t want her to yell at you, you’ve lied, that’s a sin. Also when your talkative friend calls you and you say “I’ll call you back, my mum’s calling me” just because you don’t want to talk to them, you’ve committed a sin. When you take your sister’s dress and keep it because you like it and you know she wouldn’t give you if you asked, you’ve stolen and that’s a sin. When you kiss a woman that’s not your wife, you’ve committed a sin which is adultery. The list could go on and on. Bottom line is, you can not use religion as a premise to hate or discriminate against gay or trans people if you’re doing all these things yourself. You also should not because not everyone practices the same religion. In the end, we do not know if religion is real or not. It’s all about our faith and in the end, it may have just been a fabrication made to keep all humans in check.

LAWS

Homosexuality is against the law in Nigeria. It’s in the criminal code, the penal code and there’s even a whole act that stipulates jail time for them. It’s commendable that people know these (despite not being able to even state their rights as citizens and where it is stated in the constitution). Jail time is ten to fourteen years which is very appalling and nauseating when you think that rapists don’t even get that amount of jail time neither do pedophiles. Even more upsetting is the fact that less than fifty people in the whole history of Nigeria have been convicted of rape. Yet, we all know that rape occurs ten times more in the country.

I ask myself, why should homosexuality even be a crime in the first place? When you think of a crime, you’re thinking of something that  has adverse effects on the well being of the populace and the society like murder, theft, rape, treason and the likes. So how exactly does homosexuality fit into that? Why should the sentiments of a group of people constitute what is law and what is not?

Earlier in this article I mentioned how homosexuality, bisexuality and the likes are not only about sexual attraction, it has to do with emotional, romantic love and affection between two individuals just like heterosexuality is. So why should two consenting adults face jail time for loving each other the way heterosexual people love each other? Some people are of the opinion that because this has been criminalised in Nigeria, it is automatically a just law when in fact it is the exact opposite. As Nigerian citizens we all have the right to dignity, right to personal liberty, right to the freedom of expression and movement. It is a complete contradiction of these rights to implement a law that mets out jail time to two people who love each other. It is also hypocritical that we have serious crimes that go unpunished in Nigeria but everyone is suddenly up and ready to be law abiding once it comes to the idea of the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, the implementation of these laws have become legalised homophobia which is more dangerous than most people would like to admit.

COLONIALISM

If I had a kobo for every time someone told me “being gay isn’t in our culture. The white people brought it when they colonised us”  I’d have thirty billion sitting comfortably in my account. Really, I’ve heard this so many times, I wish I could get some money each time someone said it to me.

The white people did bring a lot to Nigeria during colonisation, like religion (the one that people use as a premise to be homophobic, they forget it is also not our culture when they use this argument. Quite comfortable isn’t it?) , the language we speak, some of the foods we eat, a lot of the clothing. But one thing I know for a fact that wasn’t brought by white people is homosexuality and gender non conformation. You know why, because being gay and gender non conforming is not something a person learns or is forced into, it is something an individual is born as. History has receipts and records of homosexuality in Africa that dates back as many years before the penetration of Europeans into the continent. Several tribes like the Nupe people in Nigeria, Azande in Congo and Sudan, the Tutsi people of Rwanda all practiced same sex relationships for ritual purposes and for spiritual purposes. Literally a thirty minute Google  search  into the history of African before colonialism would do a lot of good. It’s just plain ridiculous to think that in a country of millions, it is impossible that before the white man came, no two people of the same sex have ever tried or experimented with something sexual or even non conformed with their gender. The possibility of that being a reality is very slim. And that putrid smell is here again, oh what’s it called…hypocrisy! The colonialists brought us so many things in Nigeria. The suit and tie we wear even under the scorching Sub Saharan sun, the English that is not our indigenous language was also brought by the colonialists, why have we not rebelled against them and labelled them “not our culture”?

“I JUST DON’T LIKE GAY PEOPLE”

Another statement that could have easily fetched me thirty billion in my account. After having conversations with people and exhaustively debunking their premises for homophobia, they result to this and I have to say it is the weakest point. People often say that it is not by force to like the LGBTQ+ community. And that pop culture has tried to force it down their throats. Now the thing is, members of the community do not need you to like them. Liking them really does not if we’re being honest. But you don’t have to the or discriminate them. You can either be for or against something, there is no in between. Earlier this year on Nigerian Twitter, a young man was lynched after being tricked into thinking he was meeting up with another gay man. The problem with this is that idea that “I don’t like gay people”. It breeds discrimination and builds into hatred. I have spoken to gay people and effeminate men in Nigeria who cannot leave their houses because they get yelled at, stated at and even stoned when they go out. Yes, people literally hurl stones at them. If you can like straight people, why can’t you like gay people or people who do not feel like they gender assigned to them by society is the gender they choose to conform with? What is the point of hating or just not liking people who have no issues with you and whose personal lives do not affect yours in any way?

THE WAY OUT

On a concluding note, I’d like to remind us all that gay or straight or bisexual, gender-conforming or gender non conforming, queer, pansexual, asexual, we are all humans.

Deserving of giving and receiving love. Love is love and as the Bible we all love to quote so much says, it does not discriminate.

Every individual deserves to live life without the fear of being lynched by someone who believes their way of life is superior to others. In Nigeria and in the whole world, members of the LGBT+ society are beat up, hanged up against and even killed because of homophobia. There should be no room for hostility. And members of the community in a cold blooded country like Nigeria need our help and support to fully incorporate them into the society free of discrimination and prejudice.