In 2018, Tunde* was sent to a state in the Nigerian middle belt for his NYSC, the one-year paramilitary program Nigerian graduates are expected to serve out after finishing university. He quickly realised that one place within the state he could be posted to and make good money during his service year was the State Government’s House.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t the only one who came to this conclusion — the line of NYSC corps members who wanted that posting was long and many weren’t afraid to bribe the officers in charge of drafting people in order to guarantee their spot. Tunde, who didn’t have the money to pay his way out, got a rare opportunity when he realised the camp commandant was making passes at him.
‘‘I slept with the camp commandant to influence my posting to the state government house.’’ Tunde, who identifies as a straight man, told Zikoko. ‘‘We had sex once at his quarters and twice in a hotel outside the camp. I felt bad about it because of my religious beliefs, but I wasn’t about to be posted to a local school in one of the unpronounceable LGAs that the NYSC officials kept telling us about, so I took advantage of it.’’
Tunde isn’t alone in this. Being gay for pay isn’t a new concept. It isn’t particularly uncommon for men who identify as straight to perform sexual acts on men in exchange of money. For these straight men, it isn’t an attraction that has them testing the waters, it is money or a need for certain favors.
Chris*, who describes himself as a creative and identifies as a straight man, tells Zikoko that he meets a lot of queer people in his line of work, and eventually, his need for money and the access he knew they could provide made him start making passes at queer men.
‘‘I met this rich Lekki man in my line of work – fashion – who was only looking for sex, and we hooked up,’’ Chris tells Zikoko. Although it worked and Chris got the access and boost he wanted, he soon found out that it was hard to maintain, especially as his ‘client’ kept asking for more than he could provide.
‘‘He helped boost my work a bit, but he now wanted more without offering more back in return,so I cut him off.’’
While people like Chris and Tunde are in it for the favors and access, Stephen*, a 26-year-old banker, says he is only in it for the money. Last year, Stephen, who identifies as straight and has a girlfriend, posted a thirst trap where he tied a towel that outlined his dick print. The photo led to a DM from an account that asked him how much it would take to see the dick without the towel. It had cost N50,000 and both the dick pic and money were sent within the hour.
‘‘I was shocked. I didn’t see it coming, and I didn’t know what to do next.’’ Stephen tells Zikoko. ‘‘He was flirting with me and making lewd comments, but he kept asking if I was comfortable. Omo, I wouldn’t be normally, but he wasn’t forcing me and there was money.’’
The next week, they met at a hotel and had sex. Stephen left with N200,000 more in his account.
‘‘I thought I would feel dirty or something but it was just the pain that was bothering me. I read and watched videos about anal sex between men and I don’t think I expected the pain to be that bad. I’ve gotten better about it but the whole thing, ironically, made me realise that I really don’t have a gay bone in me. It’s just the money. My girlfriend doesn’t know because how do you tell your babe that you are sleeping with another man because of money? Abeg.’’
Like Stephen, Ade’s* gay for pay experience started as a DM, but unlike Stephen, it started off on Instagram and not Twitter.
‘‘I work as a gym trainer, and I get several passes from men whoassume I’m gay because I work out and have lots of female friends,’’ Ade tells Zikoko. ‘‘Then one day, someone from the gym DMed my personal Instagram and was being flirty. It isn’t strange to do that, by the way, men and women do it so I wasn’t bothered and I didn’t bother. But this person was very serious. They eventually offered me money and I wasn’t going to take it originally because I was scared and obviously I wasn’t gay.’’
It took Ade two weeks, and within that time frame, he told himself that he was doing it for the money. While Ade refuses to disclose the amount he was paid, he tells Zikoko that it was ‘ not worth it’. He also notes that he found it hard to share his experience with anyone else.
‘‘I couldn’t tell my friends because I know they’ll judge me and assume that I have been ‘turned’ gay, which isn’t true. It also caused me some inner turmoil about my sexuality because I knew I was straight but the fact that I was able to go through with it made me worried. I didn’t like that I did it especially because I know I wasn’t forced or pressured, I just did it because of the zeroes.’’
- Names have been changed for anonymity purposes.