The word journalism can seem tossed around but to some, it truly means something. Telling stories, documenting the culture around you and standing for something by writing the words that move and intimidate the oppression is what I would call a journalist of this generation.
Journalism is the activity or profession of writing for newspapers, magazines, or news websites or preparing news to be broadcast.
The new generation has taken up this mantle, an era of writers ready to take on their own narratives, standing for what they believe in, shedding light on their social climate.
Vincent Desmond is doing exactly this, the 20-year-old journalist has documented the culture, fashion and queer landscape from his Lagos lens, slowly he’s growing to one of the top writers in his era. A recipient of last year’s TIERS Young Trailblazer Of The Year award, the young writer is definitely on his way up.
Tell us about yourself?
Vincent Desmond: My name is Vincent Desmond. I am a writer and journalist covering and documenting culture, fashion, queerness and identity across Nigeria and the African continent.
How did you get into journalism?
Vincent Desmond: I sort of just fell into it. I’ve always been a writer, I started writing because I had – I have – a stutter. It made it hard to express myself, add that with my anxiety and hatred of crowds and people and you get a child who just doesn’t talk. The writing was a way to get my words out there without talking. Writing stopped being just a way for me to get words out there or a way to bypass my shyness and anxiety when I become an adult and realized there was a lot that I wanted to talk about – let’s say the bigger issues i.e. sexuality, gender, fashion, etc – and I think that’s when it became a job and a passion to tell these stories on bigger platforms. Next thing I knew, people said I was a journalist.
How did you get into writing, early on?
Vincent Desmond: It wasn’t planned or anything, I sort of just started writing. It was spontaneous and reactionary and very unplanned.
What was the first thing you wrote?
Vincent Desmond: I think the first thing I wrote – that sort of counts – was an essay I wrote when I was maybe in JS1 or JS2. There was an essay competition, I think, and I wrote on something about the problems in Nigeria. When the time came to submit it. I never did because I was shy as hell. I hid it under the chair in my sitting room at home. My mum saw it and showed my neighbors and everyone thought it was good but I was angry and still refused to submit it.
In just a few years you’ve become a well-known writer published on Guardian, Another Magazine, Dazed, I-d, and most recently Nylon. How did it feel when you first got published? And what’s driven you to tell our stories internationally?
Vincent Desmond: There’s a rush I feel whenever I see a story I worked on getting published. ‘It’s given me, I think they call it endorphins.’ It was very affirming to see my first story go up. It still is affirming to see any of my stories go up. And I think it always will be. It makes me validated.
I wanted a bigger reading audience, I wanted to work with bigger publications and better editors. More importantly, I feel the reason I’m choosing to write for these international publications is that I want to tell bigger stories and they are the ones that have the resources that will allow me to do that.
What would you say about the journalism landscape in Nigeria, especially from the perspective of young writers willing to tell more diverse stories?
Vincent Desmond: It’s hard. Not many of these publications are willing to let writers tell ‘different’ stories. In my experience, the publications in Nigeria are determined to stick to the same-old stories and content. The ones that are willing to tell me those diverse stories, unfortunately, tend to not have the budget needed.
How’s it’s been documenting the Queer space for a new generation? What do you want your pieces to help change the current narrative in a country that doesn’t deem it legal?
Vincent Desmond: It’s been scary and exciting. It is necessary work though, it is also dangerous work because not only are you out in a country trying to kill you. But you are literally in the news every other day and exposing yourself to actual life-threatening danger. I want my work to document our realities. I want people to know we exist, I want to make it so when the next generation comes. They know that their predecessors existed and occupied space. So no one will tell them they are the first and therefore unusual. I also want it to kickstart conversations among queer and cis-het people.
What have you got planned moving into the new year? What’s next for you as a journalist?
Vincent Desmond: Telling more stories, telling bigger stories, on bigger platforms, and making a bigger impact. Keep doing what I’m doing.
You were recently selected as the new Editor-In-Chief for A Nasty Boy publication. What can we expect from you and the publication this year? Taking a new approach?
Vincent Desmond: For A Nasty Boy, I am looking at building on the foundation Richard Akuson left and expanding it further. It’s the same philosophy I am applying in my career as a journalist I’ll be applying with A Nasty Boy – bigger stories, more impact, keep doing the necessary work.