Being Queer in Nigeria

By: Jmarkphilip
Twitter: @IMarkphilip


Growing up I had been a little bit perplex about my desires for boys, unlike most gay guys who might have either been confused or scared, I wasn’t. I was hard desiring for the hard palms of a man, listening to the melody of his deep coarse voice and being in the embrace of his broad shoulders. I was only surprised at my desires but I liked it. I knew I was different, I understood the fact that I might be alone in this but I didn’t care, I rejoiced at the idea that I was unique, that I was different. But deep down I felt this way only because I saw my craving as just a phase, a storming tide that would soon disappear.


The family play, had always been our game of amusement when we were much younger, for obvious reasons I would always play the father, any of my sisters or female cousins that was visiting at that time would play the mother, and the rest of my siblings would either be the kid(s) or the wicked uncle or the aunt. I would always have a job and provide for “my family “, just like every father would.

Even in the game as children we didn’t or rather couldn’t, identify the need for a homosexual relationship, as Children. Probably that was part of the reason why I believed my desires were only for a moment, or maybe it was the actions of the other boys in school. Just like most primary and secondary schools in Nigeria, boys were fond of touching each others genitals for fun and amusement, some often derive accomplishments at showing off their few strands of pubic hair.


The concept of LGBT differs in Nigeria with each different region. However growing up in the Northern part of Nigeria, every gay guy wanted to be in relationship, regardless of its feasibility, as I  reminisce at my adolescence days I realise that what I had with the two different guys wasn’t a loving relationship, I fail to remember much about them but their first names, did I even know any other thing but their first names was the real question, as was the case for most gay guys in the North.

The pressure to have “the traditional family” is high in the Nigerian society, every parent wants to be a grandparent, it is a thing of pride to have grandchildren and even a greater pride to be called a great-grandparent. Nigerians are known to follow the ‘normal’, regardless of evidence or enlightenment pointing otherwise. A considerable amount of gay people that can’t resist the pressure from their parents get married and maybe for the first few months or years (for the strong) remain faithful to their spouse and there after goes ‘hunting’.


Some others however, do not get married due to societal/parental pressure(s) but due to their inability to break free of traditions and customs, they fail to grasp the fact that these traditions change with new findings. The double standard or hypocrisy of the LGBT Community in Nigeria is beyond comprehension and a factor to her demise, based on my observations only about roughly 10% of MSM identify themselves as being queer, the rest of the population cling to the identity of being open minded, Bicurious, or Bisexual.

To communicate freely in the open, terms have been coined, the terminology used by gay persons in Nigeria differ from State-to-State and from Friends-to-Friends, some terms however are being used by many gay Nigerian, similar in concept to the basic gay polari language that was used in Britain before decriminalising homosexuality, yet even more basic, here’s a few:

• TB: (n) to be gay.
I am not a big fan of the word, I fail to understand how I would choose to identify myself by the role I play during coitus (Top or Bottom)
• Sharle: (v) the act of being effeminate
• Wear Kito: (v) 1 to be gay bashed
                 (v) 2 to be outed
• Scatter Weave-on: (v) to knowingly act effeminate
• Wear Weave-on: (v) same as scatter weave-on
• Sister: (n) a gay guy who prefers to bottom.
• Lesbianism: (v) coitus between sisters

However, some terms can be restricted to friends or probably regions;
• Happy: (n) to be Gay
• Shokiri: (n) to be gay
• Mekpos: (n) a boyfriend
• Ruler: (n) to be straight
• Lola: (n) a Lesbian

There is no usual way of being queer. The fact that one is queer doesn’t imply that he hates football/soccer, dislikes women, loves the Opera or Broadway, automatically a model, a catwalk coach, a designer or a stylist, enjoys shopping, snap’s fingers or a poet.

You shouldn’t let your sexuality define you, being queer is just a part of you, not you. You can love football and still be queer, you can be queer and not be into fashion or Broadway. It is up to you to choose what defines you.

2 thoughts on “Being Queer in Nigeria

Add yours

  1. Just wanted to say, I appreciate this story and this perspective. As a global citizen who is gay, this story is important to me. Thanks for sharing this voice and continuing to give diverse reflections of the LGBTQ experience.


  2. I like this story. I did not know about the slang for it. I definitely understand the struggle though being Nigerian, Yoruba and gay. That pressure is always there.


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