PRESENTING LIKE A GIRL

PRESENTING LIKE A GIRL

FOREWORD: This piece is dedicated to boys like my friend, JBoy, boys who grew from boys to men with a strength that society forbids us from having.

 

It’s incredible the lengths one’s mind will go to protect them from a past that threatens the mental health of their present. Like altering memories or burying entire incidences of a traumatic past, so one can carry on living in a new chapter of their life.

A friend of mine and I were recently chatting about life, love and homosexuality, when he started talking about a certain struggle he went through at a period in his life. At about nineteen years of age or so, he’d become so self-loathing, that he set out to erase anything that reminded him of who he was. You know the story – he fought to “straighten” his mannerisms, didn’t gesticulate so much as he talked, and he stopped the swing of his hips as he walked. He also “sanitized” his social media accounts by deleting lots of the gay friends he had on there. He couldn’t believe how comfortable he’d gotten with being gay ever since he found out about his sexuality at a young age, and that horror drove him to all the lengths he went to rid himself of his truth.

And he was pleased by the results of this purge from the way his family reacted. Even though they didn’t know the struggle he went through, even though they probably didn’t know he was gay, they noticed the physical expressions of him that had changed – the fact that he wasn’t effeminate anymore or that he didn’t talk so much about boys or have boys around him all the time- and they remarked on these changes with obvious satisfaction.

And this pleased him very much.

But after a few years, with maturity came an awareness of the falsehood he was living. Every time he stifled a spark of desire for a boy, or had to endure the company of girls who wanted from him something he couldn’t give, or wallowed in those quiet contemplative moments when the truth stared him in the face, accusing him with the lie he’d become, he realized more and more how so much better life would be if he simply decided to be who he was.

And so, he once again began to redirect his life. He began to shed the lie. He started trying to rediscover the femininity in him that he’d deadened for years. Started letting gay friends back into his life, both on- and offline. He became so zealous about his truth, that today, he’s one of those voices that teaches me a lot about being gay.

But this writeup isn’t about him. it’s about the awakening I experienced as I listened to him recount his past.

Now, I wasn’t one of those who went through harrowing struggles on the journey to self-acceptance. I didn’t try to pray the gay away or distance myself from my community. I didn’t self-torture. But I did often lie to myself every time incidences in my life made me acutely aware of how “unnatural” it was to not like girls. And I also felt attacked by the guilt that resulted from the clashing of my religiosity with my sexuality. (I ultimately decided to live a more irreligious life when I answered the question I posed myself over the years: Which life stresses you more – being a Christian or a gay man?)

All these I knew about me, the memories which I carried along with me throughout my life.

But, if you had asked me, before the day I sat with my friend to talk about his past, how I turned out to be a not-so-effeminate man from the very girly boy I once was, I’d have answered, “I don’t know. I simply outgrew my effeminacy.”

But that, it turns out, would be a lie. And it wasn’t until my friend began talking about his past, that something was unlocked in my mind and I began to remember. Oh, how the memories flooded over me, startling me with the clarity of a period in my life that I’d evidently buried.

At 12, 13 years of age, I was a very effeminate child. In fact, it was the kind of effeminacy that seemed to manifest itself in how I was physically built. I was thick and curvy with a derriere and thighs that often drew the mocking attention of my mates, much to my everlasting mortification. The school shorts that had been tailored to look comfortable on me when I got into school in JSS1 suddenly became this above-the-knee piece of fabric that hugged my thighs and accentuated my ass. And it certainly didn’t help that I walked with a hip-swaying motion that focused attention on my behind.

And these other kids around me were cruel to me because of this. While some boys liked to smack my ass, all the while jokingly taunting me about how I presented more like a girl than some other girls in our set, other boys were just downright mean in the things they said to me. And so were some of the girls. The bullying got to the point where I became terribly self-conscious whenever I had to walk in front of people. I would come to class early and attempt to keep my ass planted constantly on my seat every time we were in class. Which was oftentimes impossible, because I was the class captain and would be called upon often by the form teacher to do things for the class. The wolf whistles and catcalls every time I rose to walk about in the classroom crushed my self-esteem.

And on top of all that was the turmoil that came from discovering my attraction to boys. I’d been bullied so much over my effeminacy, that I felt unworthy of liking girls. I mean, how could I like girls when I was a shapelier girl than most of them? (Hello, Bobrisky) And so, when I began feeling the tug of same-sex attraction, I figured: Oh well, it’s only appropriate that I would join my “fellow” girls to like boys.

But these boys didn’t like me back. It wasn’t me they obsessed over every time we were in the hostel. I wasn’t the one getting love notes and cute little flirtatious smiles. While my (fellow) girls were getting worshipped and adored, I was getting smacked and violated. And this compounded my confusion and the sense of not belonging anywhere that I felt. I was clearly not boy enough or girl enough. So, who was I?

I didn’t even have the luxury of being invisible, of going through this existential crisis in obscurity. No. I battled with my identity, while being popular for presenting like a girl.

After the Junior WAEC and I went home for the extended holiday that would afford us former junior students time to prepare for senior class, while I presumed my mates were invested in the tailoring of brand-new uniforms of trousers and skirts, I was about more than that.

I saw this as an opportunity to reinvent myself. I told my parents I wanted to spend a great portion of the holiday in my maternal village, with my grandparents. This was all part of the plan I had to lose weight. I wanted to leave my home with its in-between-mealtime snacks for the village, where I would not only not have those luxuries, but where I’d get my exercise from doing menial jobs. My grandparents’ house was a big duplex and my grannie was a task-mistress. Between doing household chores, running about the big house and taking on my fair share of farm work, I was able to burn off the fat as fast as I anticipated. By the time I returned home to my parents’ house, I was lean with no thighs and very little ass – a figure I was even more determined to hide underneath my new school clothes.

And while I was losing weight, I was also working on “straightening” my feminine mannerisms. In the privacy of my bedroom in my grandparents’ house, I persistently practised walking like a boy before the mirror. There would be no swing to my hips; instead, I could try moving my legs in a bounce. That bounce that was so prevalent among boys my age, it was a mark of masculinity. But because I didn’t feel masculine enough, even to my inexperienced eyes, that bounce felt – and looked – ridiculous on me. So, I tried a walk that was just that – a walk. Neither sway nor bounce. I discovered that walk, and because it suited me, I practised it day and night.

I also watched my hands and what I did with them. I worked very hard on the limp-wristed gesticulations, always conscious of my motions, never letting up.

I was 13 going on 14, and I couldn’t simply enjoy the carefreeness of being a child. The shame of the life I lived in my junior class was the fuel that drove my determination. If it would kill me, I would go back to senior year a boy, not a girl.

And so it was, that the boy who resumed school in his SS1 was a remarkably-changed person. And my circumstances responded to the change. The bullying all but became nonexistent. Boys started to like me. I had a boyfriend. I kissed another boy. And I fell in love. The girls began to like me too. Even though I was still seen as “one of the girls”, there was a camaraderie that existed in my association with the girls this time that wasn’t there before.

My life changed, and as I grew more and more into this new existence, it would seem as though my mind buried more and more the memories of what it took for me to get there. And with time, until that day in conversation with my friend, I didn’t know I lived a life that was that harrowing, that full of self-loathing, that caused me that much shame.

Suddenly coming face to face with that truth filled me with a certain kind of sorrow. A poignant sadness for the boy whose innocence was sacrificed on the altar of a brutish reality that doesn’t forgive anyone who is different. Even back then, while I was in secondary school, I had a best friend (still is my best friend) who endured as much savagery as I did. He, JBoy, was just as effeminate as I was, even more so. But he had something I didn’t have: defiance. While I cowered and was easily stricken to tears over the bullying I suffered, he fought back. He had an attitude, a loud mouth and a lot of fire inside him. and throughout that time we shared the same struggle, I couldn’t decide if I envied, admired or hated him for having the stamina I didn’t have.

We returned in SS1, and while I’d done the work to change myself, he stayed the same. Effeminate and very fierce about it. So fierce that he finally began to get respected – and maybe even revered – for it. I remember an incident in our SS2, when a classmate of his, a girl, made the mistake of being mean to him over his femininity. I call it a mistake, because by the time he was done savaging her, this girl was in tears. And instead of banding together against him, the other girls in the class admonished the girl, like: “Don’t you know better than to go after JBoy?”

He stayed true to himself and still got to the destination of acceptance that I changed myself to get to. All that energy spent transforming myself when I could have simply enjoyed the freedom of being me.

And now, knowing what I remember about that part of my childhood, I find myself wondering if, on a subconscious level, this past is what drives my determination to stay true to who I am as a gay man, eschewing all the expectations society has of me as an adult male human being. Perhaps, even while it was buried, there was something in there that resonated, as the years went by, reminding me that life is not truly lived until you’re living it as who you truly are.

Written by Pink Panther

Previous Nigeria’s first trial based on the anti-homosexuality laws commences
Next Beyoncé and Rihanna make Forbes' World's 100 Most Powerful Women 2019 List

About author

You might also like

Our Stories 31 Comments

IT’S IN ME. IT’S IN HIM

Danny is my late father’s last-born brother, older than me by not more than 6 years. Like my other uncles, he was very close to my family when my father

Our Stories 2 Comments

Love Letter To You, Dear Homophobe

My Friend, You are a lovely soul. You pour out the love of Jesus to strangers and those in pain. The sweet aura of God surrounds you, and it inspires

Editor's Desk 8 Comments

Schitt’s Creek’s David and Patrick are TV’s Most Beautiful Couple, And Here Are The Moments To Prove It

I discovered Schitt’s Creek this year, when it was already on its final season. And when I started watching it, I could see why it is such a big hit.

26 Comments

  1. Mitch
    December 13, 07:34 Reply

    All the various forms of trauma we go through as gay people in this part of the world that is so mired in ignorance would, if written, be enough to fill several libraries.

    To be honest, I wouldn’t blame any gay man who decides to, for whatever reason, try to present as more masculine than he naturally is. I’ve felt that harrowing torture, that singularly toxic pressure that comes from the majority who aren’t like you.

    I always thought I was very strong for not having bowed to the pressure to become more masculine during my primary and secondary school days. Then, I got into the university. And all that pressure and all that pain amped up. And I didn’t have the strength to keep up, to keep standing, to keep fighting.

    So it was that when my then boyfriend instructed me to become more masculine, I broke. And I did it. I became masculine presenting. Yet, with each step I took, my mind screamed out in rebellion, my muscles seized and tried to move as freely and languidly as they always had, my head was filled with my own voice alternately reproaching and congratulating me.

    When I decided to live again, to be me again, I realized I’d lost the spark that made my effeminacy look and feel natural. The best I could do was to learn and mimic A-list models – Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Katrina Kurkova and Adriana Lima amongst others. And I got really good at it.

    So, now, I can easily switch between being masculine-presenting and being effeminate. Yet, I grieve for the naturally effeminate boy I lost.

    This life we have to live here is shitty! Very fucking shitty!

  2. Mikey?
    December 13, 08:55 Reply

    Mitch take it easy na first to comment in the last three post!
    Thanks pinky for this post I am a guy like jboy who fought to be comfortable in my own skin, yes I had all the bullies even insults from strangers but i had to fight for me! Though there was a time I tried manning up but I wasn’t happy, then I realized it’s not worth it that I mustn’t fit in so I decided to stand out, though what I maintained was that I was metro sexual and I fought all the bullies that tried to molest me in the dark of the night.
    Meanwhile can you link me with jboy

    • Pink Panther
      December 13, 10:12 Reply

      Send me an email so I can communicate his contact info to you.

      • ChubbyLover
        December 18, 00:25 Reply

        Pinky now that you have finally gotten my full attention…..you see that drink, we must drink it together very soon.
        I can only imagine what growing up was for you. I know people that experienced such. Self acceptance is key.

  3. Mandy
    December 13, 09:00 Reply

    This was quite the heartbreaking read. It’s really sad that in our formative years, when we’re not fully equipped to withstand societal pressure, is exactly when the pressure and prejudices are heaviest. And if you’re gay, you find yourself growing even faster than the average kid and experiencing loneliness like you shouldn’t as a child.

    When I have kids, this is what I pray for: for the intuition to detect when my child is suffering so I can be there for him and make that journey easier. Cos there’s nothing lonelier than growing up knowing that you can never share your pain with the people who should be there for you.

  4. BRYAN PETERS
    December 13, 09:03 Reply

    So I own a plot of land and built four flats on this table.

    I had to consciously work on my mannerisms to become more masculine so as not to be the butt of jokes, ridicule and taunting from school mates (cos I can’t call them friends) and even family.

    And now as an adult, I people often comment on how stiff and uptight I am and I’m like durrrhh!? Having to shed my femininity came with a price. I can’t be as carefree and free spirited as I’d want to be. Even among friends, I have noticed that I have grown a nature of restraint and caution when it comes to my behaviour and mannerisms.

    Imagine being told by someone I have a crush on that I’m the most “ungay” person he has ever seen.

    L.O.L!!!

    Anyways, I hope we all do get healed of the trauma that those of us on this table have done to ourselves in the name of shedding our femininity to gain societal acceptance.

  5. Eddie
    December 13, 09:39 Reply

    This story is totally relatable… I still inwardly chastise and auto correct myself to behave more manly… My father doesn’t like the fact that I am somewhat femme so he treats me meanly when he can and has been since I was a little boy… I listen to Christina Aguilera’s Beautiful and it soothes me.

  6. Malik
    December 13, 10:29 Reply

    Can relate to this. Thankfully this year has been about unlearning all the bullshit masculinity.

    I’m relearning the strut and sashay I so desperately stifled in secondary school. I’m relearning the gestures. I’m telling stories in public about my struggles with manliness and it’s unrealistic expectations. I am vocal about my distaste for football. I’m reposting stuff from TIERS on my social media and getting into more physical queer spaces. I’m basking in the excitement from a friend asking me questions that show that they can tell I’m different.

    And it’s great because I am different and difference should be embraced. If you can’t deal with me, take a seat (at the back of the hall) but if you’re curious about who this non-Marlian is, come forward.

  7. Higwe
    December 13, 11:34 Reply

    If it’s any consolation – you still have a great ass and you’re still kind of effeminate …. I mean you roll your eyes at least sixty times in sixty seconds when you’re talking.

    The only thing more effeminate than that is dressing up as a drag queen and singing an opera ??

    95/ 100 isn’t exactly a bad score .

    You’re still doing well sweetie .??‍♂️

    Oppa fighting ?

  8. trystham
    December 13, 14:45 Reply

    Wait!!! Pinky, YOU had existential crises??? Very fantastic something.

    Your story reminds of a guy in my JS1 who was both fat and femme. I didn’t like him personally and I can’t remember if he completed the junior school with us, but there was an annoying hausa Neanderthal who made life nigh unbearable for him.

    I also remember Nwosisi. A senior who didn’t give two fucks. His shorts were bum length. I think he even painted his nails one time.

    I view these memories fondly because somehow, I unconsciously drew strength from these guys and learnt to also not give fucks

  9. Rexy
    December 13, 15:56 Reply

    Although I can’t say I was an effeminate child but I vividly remember punishing myself for liking boys..
    I remember pushing all my friends away because I would have a hard on whenever we wrestled as children.
    I grew up friendless.
    But thank God for showing me that he loves me.
    My own be say na God create me like this I wasnt ever forced or raped or molested into being gay.

    I was born flamboyant and that is where I draw my strength from now. I never have a second thought anymore.

    I love boys and if someone mistakenly asks me i won’t relent to drop the slightest hint that there is nothing wrong with it.

    Love and light to everyone struggling to figure out himself/herself.

  10. Jeancabrez
    December 13, 17:27 Reply

    Took me down memory lane??, it has never been easy, being different in Nigeria. Faux masculinity, I will definitely unlearn it.

  11. JBoy
    December 13, 18:47 Reply

    *teary eyed*

    ??

    Now I know what reduced our “mobile tray”.

  12. Dunder
    December 13, 18:48 Reply

    I remember when I’d look at my cupboard and want to set it ablaze- full of clothes I’d not even want to see on other girls not to talk of myself. Shopping was hell- they noticed I liked a different fit and I panicked they’d read further into it.

    Then that day came when I started to prefer myself and my peace to people whose names I sometimes forgot and family who won’t tolerate the same level of imposition and control if I directed same at them. I’ve been happier with my choices since.

    I remember the first day I styled myself to school- the stares were there but they were different. I saw in their eyes a happy person bouncing along and even they did not know how to handle that. It would take sometime but the genuine compliments and respect for my person and choices continued to build- even the social police are poor conformists who envy the freedom you’ve earned and the beauty you define for yourself. Indirectly, they stubbornly admit that you were created to break their mental chains.

    Choose you not so those who choose you as a life project will be too engrossed to enjoy their own lives but because the dreams you’ve carried since childhood see you as the best person for the job and you have a chance to validate their belief in you. Do it for that truth that has endured the times you aligned with the nonbelieveing voices to talk it down but it kept insisting you are the ultimate best after sliced bread. Do it for that pure and precious child that survived the horror of being different and navigated the jungle of adolescence. Do it for the gaybies and those so lost in conformity that they need the permission of your truth to cross from existing to living. You were also fueled by someone else’s badass till you made your own heat.

    I forgive myself continuously for settling for the expert opinions of those who have not walked an inch in my shoes then recommit to living the life I deserve and I think that is the best way to use my limited time on this planet. When I see those horrid pictures from when I tried to act “normal”, I smile with gratitude then forgive myself again.

    Pinky, thank you for another great piece.

    • duc
      December 14, 09:16 Reply

      This comment. I want to marry and procreate with this comment. Dunder can I approach PP for your contact details?

  13. Tman
    December 13, 20:00 Reply

    I’ve always wondered why I have a more ponderous rather than discernible fancy for effeminate guys than masculine ones. Perhaps it is their associating flamboyancy, their outright nonchalance or the cheer that comes with just being around them.

    Maybe I want to identify with their inward struggle; the quest to rid themselves of the unwanted attraction, or perhaps I want to be a source of as much as I can. Really, feminine guys are subject to a whole lotta homophobic ills, so dastardly that I can’t claim to understand how they feel; I’ve been a first-hand witness of several.

    I love and respect y’all folks!

    • J
      December 15, 16:30 Reply

      Thanking you LOL We wish everyone was like you ❤❤❤

  14. KingB
    December 13, 21:54 Reply

    My best friend back then in King’s College had it really awful with guys in the hostel. Back then, I had 5 friends who were all effeminate. I myself am seventy percent macho and thirty percent effeminate. In fact, depending on my will, I could decide to totally present as a macho guy and no one would suspect I’m gay. Of a truth too, one of the reasons I presented a tad effeminate is because I wanted to give off some gay vibe . Guys hardly notice me not to talk of think I’m gay. So I felt maybe if I presented a little feminine, they’d notice me and come for me but as fate will have it, yours truly will be 26 on the 31st of this month and is still single to stupor. I remember back then, other guys will berate as a result of being friends with girlish guys and would tell me they don’t know what I’m doing with those gay bastards. I’d smile in my mind and wish they knew . But then my friend had a very rough time. After secondary school, he joined the gym in a bid to man up but even with the muscle and all, he even presented more feminine. My advice to u guys is to love u for who you are and live life. You’ve got just one to live.

    • McDuke
      December 14, 00:20 Reply

      And you think this is the best post for you to present your alpha male features, such arrogance…

    • Rudy
      December 16, 08:19 Reply

      Effeminacy: I was the only boy the girls could trust but I lost that trust from them the very day I was mortified and humiliated in front of the whole school at assembly when my name was mentioned as the recipient of an “Honour roll” award. Unbeknownst of me, I had my Opel sports pullover strapped around my waist and I was admonished & ridiculed by the teacher who was supposed to give me the award. That was the day I ripped off, buried and lost any sense of effeminacy I had.
      Or that moment when I realised in my 1st year of university in a far away land that I could remotely be gay(google made sure of that, as I was that naive to come to that realisation myself) which I immediately panicked, I was struck with a sudden OCD so hard that I had to throw into the bin all my colourful pants and trousers, discard all the “West life” audio cd’s my mum had gifted me(because one of the singer’s Mark was gay and I felt that could have possibly made me gay too), to the point of immediately taking off my clothes and sending them to the laundry when a guy touches or hugs me.
      I am now Masculine courtesy all the hate I received however the price I had to pay to self-acceptance I feel would have been easier if I had embraced who I was in the beginning. There’s a special stress that comes with being gay and masculine, call it Psychological. You are not considered as the “other”, however deep inside, you know you are and yet you’re hell-bent to cover all this up( coupled with the anxiety, OCD’s and depression that accompanies this process) woe betides you people get to realise that fit, masculine guy is gay. The slightest change in mannerism could send your psyche into relapse.
      Effeminate folks go through the same and even worse situations however these “super humans” use their common struggle as a weapon and forge their own community where they derive strength and build their resilience from, and that is something masculine gay men cannot boast of.
      Kudos to all my fine and sexy effeminate guys out there who is fighting that “fight”, have won that “fight” or dreaming to begin the journey of fighting that “fight” towards Self-acceptance and Self-worth without giving any care about the toxic ideologies society has laid down against them. You’re the real MVP’s.
      I’m still that masculine gay guy who wouldn’t mind having a twerk session with the bf and even beat him to it. That moment is a great reminder of how beautiful and colourful my persona was and I will gladly tap into that whenever I can. That’s my inspiration and motivation, the fact that I lost and found “him” when I thought I had lost “him” for good all this while.

      Him = My Effeminacy.

      • Pink Panther
        December 16, 08:31 Reply

        So you because you had your pullover tied around your waist, that was reason for a teacher to humiliate you publicly?
        SMH. What a disgrace our education in this country is.

  15. Coco
    December 16, 05:24 Reply

    I was one of the effeminate guys who stood his ground and fought his way to be respected, believe me it was not a easy road. I was the only noticeable, efffeminate guy on my campus, ppl where quick to call me name but not to my face cause they are too scared to do that cause I won’t let you disrespect me to my face, I was extremely popular and I had friends that are still my friend till today, bcos I don’t judge them may be bcos I no what feels like to be judge sha, ppl trying to act manly or trying to enhance there masculinity are even lucky to work on it and be succeful at it for a person like me, I will die at second trial but one thing I learn about my journey is that nobody will stand up for you enoug always stand up for ur self and don’t let ppl get comfortable for disrespecting you like I said it’s not a easy road, it was tough for me oo nysc camp was tough too but I stood my grand and fought for my place, my dream one day is too become a tv personality and use my platform to shed more light on our struggle and let ppl know that it’s not okay to talk to us this way and how there nonchalant way of bullying is affecting us but till then am still finding my way to the media world.

Leave a Reply