5 Effeminate Nigerian Men Tell Us About Their Experiences

August 28, 2020

“Effeminate” is a disapproving term, to describe a man or boy, that looks, behaves, or sounds like a woman or girl.

The Nigerian male experience can sometimes be weird. Even though more people are embracing themselves for who they are, other people still have experiences that make accepting themselves a bit difficult.

Read about some of them below.

1. Dayo, 31

Growing up through primary school I had no idea I was “different”. I remember just living a normal primary school life and maybe the only thing of note was that I was bad at sports or I cried at the drop of a hat but it was never anything people pointed out or made me conscious about. I was pretty normal. That is until I got to secondary school and the social alienation and name-calling started. Picture A skinny tall dude who basically catwalks because of his bowlegs, an effeminate flamboyance and a finessed speech pattern and you had yourself a target of homophobic and emasculating rhetorics which only got worse as the years went by.

I remember a point in senior secondary school where I had this best friend and people always made this joke about how he was the husband and I was the wife because we always spent time talking to each other and just generally enjoyed each other’s company.
I also remember that there was a point where everyone kept calling me a woman as well as some homophobic slurs as if my effeminacy made me less of a man. It was a lot for a 13-year-old to handle. In a desperate attempt to fit in, over the years I ended morphing and mangling myself into someone I didn’t even recognize anymore and it took me a long time to find and love the real me again.

To this day I still wish I hadn’t been put in these situations growing up and I still bear the scars of the trauma it caused me. I really feel for people like me who went or are going through it like I did and I hope they are eventually able to find who they really are on the other side.

2. Ikechukwu, 22

The most common statement people make is “guy you be gay”? I’ve lived with groups of guys, and this statement comes up especially when I’m about to go take a shower and even when I’m dressing up – I have this men care kit box where my toiletries are kept and I have a collection of perfumes too. So guys are usually quite surprised when they see these things. But funny thing is that these products are for men so I really don’t get what people don’t understand.

I also just randomly get questions like “how many sisters you get?” or “are you the only boy?”.
I visited my friend’s hostel in school one time and he told me that when I left, the guys in his room said I was “too neat for a guy”.

But I don’t care though, because on the flip side, people look up to me and I get a lot of compliments about my good looks and how great I smell.

3. Peter, 35

I’m usually responsible for playing music in the office. One day, I played some Sam Smith and the guys in the office took some offence. It turned into this big argument. We went from music where they clearly told me that playing music by women or “subtle” guy artists was girly.

Somehow the conversation moved from that to:
“It’s weird for a guy to use his own picture as a lock screen, that’s gay”
“Only metrosexual guys cut their nails and then file them after”
“How can you tell a fellow man you love him, or hug your guy friends?”
“Why would a guy ever plan his outfits ahead?”
“How would you use Tik Tok? That’s gay”

I got so pissed, I wrote an article about it. I hate that society tries to make men who don’t conform to its standards feel some type of way.

4. Emmanuel, 25

For as long as I can remember, I was always on the sidelines because I was not ‘man enough’ to play on the field with the other ‘boys’. I didn’t fit it because I used to cry, and talk and walk in a certain way.

Even in my final year in University, I remember being so excited for the Departmental Dinner – literally the most anticipated event of the session and the first I would ever attend. I’d planned my outfit, which was meant to be a combination of black shades, to be accompanied with black nail polish. It was all a nice plan in my head until I got to a boutique in school to buy the black polish. I probably spoke the way I normally would and maybe made some mannerisms that triggered them, but immediately I asked, the store attendant, as if it was her business, asked: “For you or your girlfriend?”

There was quite a number of people in the shop that day and it’s weird saying it now, but I got interrogated for a full ten minutes. I had to shamelessly lie that it was for my girlfriend.

I didn’t even have a girlfriend.

But I’m sure nobody would interrogate a bulky deep-voiced guy that wants to buy black nail polish.

I felt my self worth leave, as I paid for the item. I didn’t even use it anymore.

Unlike many men who have embraced their femininity, though, I am very much still coming to terms with the fact that different doesn’t always mean bad, sometimes it’s just that – different.

5. Victory, 20

No jokes, people have been calling me gay since I was in primary school. They called me gay because I used to draw, and dance, and because I didn’t do sports.

As time went, if I drew women, they would say I was gay because I was drawing only women. I started drawing only men, and they would call me gay for drawing only men as well.

I’m a fashion designer now. It hasn’t been easy. One time in school, I saw some unique outfit on the internet and I decided to try it. The entire faculty went wild. Everyone said everything, but the guys talking came back to meet me to ask where I got my outfit because they were interested.

Another time, I went to Ibadan, Dugbe market, to get some art supplies. I wore baggy jeans, combat boots, and a tight t-shirt. People’s eyes wanted to fall off because they could not stop staring.

The crazy thing about my experience with being shamed for not being “manly” is that I know that it is all pretense because society wants men to fit in a mold. Many men desire to do stuff like skin care and dress well, but don’t because other men who also want to do the same thing would shame them. It’s a vicious cycle that needs to be broken.

Man Like – A series about men, for men, by men. This Sunday, 12PM.

Watch this space.

David Odunlami

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

August 27, 2020

At some point, every Nigerian man has toyed with the idea of having a sugar mummy. Don’t deny it. Even you. The appeal of finding sex and financial aid in the same place is the Nigerian man’s dream. With the Nigerian economy being what it is, the demand for sugar mummies has skyrocketed. As usual, […]

November 11, 2020

What does IJGB mean? – “I Just Got Back.” This means someone who’s living abroad and is back in Nigeria for December rocks. Now that you know the definition of IJGB, let’s begin. December is upon us and God willing, the innits will soon be upon us. We’ve prepared this guide as a safety measure […]


Now on Zikoko

November 23, 2020

As a woman, you need to hinge your existence on a man. You need to be his ribs, neck and more importantly, his backbone. If you are a woman who struggles with being a bone, don’t worry. Zikoko has curated a guide with illustrations on how you can become a backbone.

Recommended Quizzes

November 15, 2019

There are two types of people in Nigeria right now: those who are proud Marlians, and those who are still in denial about stanning the divisive star. So, for those who proudly wear the Marlian tag, we made a quiz to test how well you really know Naira Marley. If you get more than 6 […]

June 14, 2020

Have you ever been with someone so horrible that you swore to never date again? Yes? Well, do you know that one or more of your exes probably feels the same way about you? You never thought about that, huh? Thankfully, this quiz is here to let you know just how much of a hassle […]

October 29, 2019

We are going to be attempting to guess when you’ll marry based on your favourite Nigerian foods. What does your fave swallow have to do with when you’ll tie the knot? Please, don’t ask complicated questions. This quiz is rigorous and accurate (don’t quote us), so just take it already. QUIZ: Why Do You Have […]

More from Man Dem

November 18, 2020

If you’re here wondering the secret to the appeal of Nigerian men, welcome: 1) Sweet mouth Nigerian men open a conversation with “you look familiar” and end with “I can’t live without you.” When Nigerian men give their sweetness attack, you defend. Or reset your defense. 2) Dress sense Ice on their neck. Ice on […]

November 13, 2020

Nigerian women aren’t the most communicative people, some times. When they catch feelings for Nigerian men, they won’t exactly in straightforward terms. They prefer playing a complex game of “Read My Mind” to tell you that they’ve caught feelings for you. Here a couple of signs that show you a woman is in love with […]

November 11, 2020

What does IJGB mean? – “I Just Got Back.” This means someone who’s living abroad and is back in Nigeria for December rocks. Now that you know the definition of IJGB, let’s begin. December is upon us and God willing, the innits will soon be upon us. We’ve prepared this guide as a safety measure […]

November 9, 2020

It’s never too early to start thinking of Christmas gifts for your man. This year, make efforts to get, you know, actual gifts for your man (not boxers and singlets). Nigerian men deserve better, therefore, we’ve made a list of all the things you can get your man for Christmas this year. 1. A PS5 […]

November 6, 2020

It’s true that Nigerian mums have the best retorts and nothing can take this superpower away from them. But dads are not entirely bad in this area. I have compiled some of the things you likely heard your dad say in different situations in this post. 1. You and your mother should deal with it […]


Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.
February 6, 2020
Who doesn't want to find love? In our bid to help, we paired up a bunch of single Nigerians, sending them on an all-expense paid date, and interviewing them before and after they met.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.