Growing up, I was always feminine, and as with all things that trigger unease in the supposed moral fabric of an average Nigerian, it became a source of undue attention. Words like ‘homo’ and ‘fag’ were so casually slung my way whenever I walked past strangers, words that I had no idea what their meaning was back then. The way I walked and talked caused speculation amongst my family members, with cousins telling me to ‘man up’ or with my elder brother ripping the blue ‘gown’ I made out of two pieces of my mom’s wrapper – the gown that I used to twirl around the living room in while listening to songs from the Sound of Music. Even being called a woman by some random idiot that I had the misfortune of meeting two days ago. All these random acts of bullying occurring throughout my life were committed by the heterosexuals. I used to be of the opinion that femmephobia was only particular to straight people. That is until I meet the gays.

Femmephobia is the dislike or hostility extended toward people who present themselves in a feminine way. It is the oppression of any who fall under the female end of the gender binary due to their fashion sense, mannerisms and behavior. In the LGBT+ community, it is used as a form of respectability politics that aims to legitimize the idea that femme or camp gay man bring a bad name to the queer community and the LGBT+ movement.

The gay community, as beautiful and colorful as it is with all the dazzle and glitter, is absolutely ruthless when it comes to its femmephobia. Sometimes you are forced into it alone and sometimes you may be eased into it by well-meaning people. If you are lucky, you rise; otherwise you get consumed. For a people who exist outside heteronormative dogma or whatever it is that is considered “normal” by the polite society, we are bound by a lot of rules. There are classes and cliques, and interactions with certain people outside your group is considered an anathema. We keep up with the latest trends, no amount is wasted in looking perfect and woe betide anyone that does not have the perfect body, the perfect bank account and the perfect interest in Beyoncé. It is a jungle. One move is the difference between glory and damnation.

Speaking of the different classes that exist within the gay community, have you heard of the Masc4Masc gay? He is the perfect blend of masculinity with dash or more of internalized homophobia, depending on the weather. He is the straight-acting muscular power top with the six pack abs, he watches football, he drinks a lot, he brags about how many straight friends he has and he doesn’t like to hang out with other gays, and if he wanted someone that acted like a woman, he would fuck a girl. In your journey as a gay man on God’s green earth, you surely would have met him. Heck! You could even be him. He is a typical straight man, only that he sucks dick.

A curious thing about femmephobia is that it is rooted in misogyny. Since femininity is often equated to womanhood, to be feminine is to be submissive, is to be passive, and is to be trod upon. To be feminine is to be weak. And because of patriarchy, seeing a man blatantly disregard social norms and display such “weakness” is offensive to societal sensibilities. Femininity, once noticed in a young boy, is treated like a tumor, and as with all tumors upon notice, is brutally excised. Sometimes it works, and the young man goes throughout his life despising men who behave like women. They resort to little microaggressions like yapping about how undesirable they find feminine gay men, how they are so over-the-top and bring attention to themselves. Some, in their benevolence, say this aversion is just their preference. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve heard that word ‘preference’ being used to justify femmephobia. All over the dating apps, you see it clearly “MASC4MASC, NO FEMMES ALLOWED”. The oppressed becomes the oppressor.

But the gag is that the heterosexuals that some of us try so hard to seek validation from still see us all as bloody faggots. To them, we are all condemnable cock suckers, whether you look like Arnold Schwarzenegger or you have a soprano that can rival Katherine Jenkins’; when it is time, they will burn you like yesterday’s trash and then congratulate themselves on doing the Lord’s work.

It is a source of endless irony that when Marsha P. Johnson and other transwomen and femme gay men fought for the rights that much of the world’s LGBT+ population enjoy today, a lot of straight-presenting gay men were very quiet. Yet today, one of the many ways by which we class ourselves is how much toxic masculinity one has in their gut.

The insidious thing about femmephobia is that it is more often than not rooted in childhood trauma. Little boys exposed to psychological and physical bullying due to them being feminine grow up thinking it is normal and do that to other people. I used to know someone who told me how he became the man he is because he was bullied for being effeminate as a child. Apparently one day, he was told to walk in front of the classroom like a man until the class was satisfied. For every time he walked like a girl, he would be beaten by his teacher. It was this singular act of violence against his person that made him to start going to the gym as soon as he was able to. He changed his mannerisms, bulked up, and became the dumb-ass masc4masc gay I later got to know him to be.

To the femme boys reading this, I say congratulations. You are one of the lucky people who have seen the abyss of toxic masculinity and have decided to stay true to themselves. Accepting yourself, swinging hips, soprano voices and all, must not have been easy. Shame is something you shouldn’t have to deal with – it should never even cross your mind that you should feel ashamed.

I know who I am. Who are you?

Written by Rosier

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  1. Mwaniki
    September 21, 07:32 Reply

    So what are we saying really? Can a gay man not find feminine gay men sexually attractive without being maladjusted? Well, perhaps women who cannot understand why a man would not be sexually attracted to them have a point in thinking gays are a twisted bunch!
    Make no mistake: I do not condone disrespect and abuse. But I condemn vindictiveness too. I think we have to accept that just because someone else is also gay, does not mean he will be attracted to me sexually. And he may well reject me. And yes, it may be that I’m to feminine or too masculine for him. Because that’s what sexual orientation is about. It doesn’t necessarily mean he hates me, or he is an internalized homophobe.

    • Eggsy
      September 21, 07:50 Reply

      You just took the words right out of my mouth! You can not find a person or a group or sub-group of people sexually attractive, and that’s okay. There is nothing wrong with you, and you should not be burnt at the stake for that. But we’re overly woke and PC now so I’ll probably be burnt at the stake for this comment.

      • Mandy
        September 21, 10:26 Reply

        Can you point out where in the write-up where the writer said that it’s not okay to not “find a person or group or sub group of people sexually attractive”?
        You’re simply getting unnecessarily triggered over a message he didn’t even pass across.

    • Black Dynasty
      September 21, 08:49 Reply

      We like what we like and it is ok to not be attracted to everyone. However, going out of your way to put down people because they are not masculine reeks of hypocrisy considering we are aware of homophobia doing something similar and I believe that is what this post addresses.

      Where does listing your discrimination masked as preferences stop? Where I live, some profiles say no blacks, no Africans, no over 25, no over 40, no fats, no average body etc. It’s not about being PC, it’s being enlightened enough to differentiate preferences from discrimination of varying sorts.

      It’s fine to not be attracted to feminine guys or any other category of men (that is usually not in our control) but being mean or just a plain jerk about it and expressing your phobia whilst calling it preference is very much a choice.

    • Mandy
      September 21, 10:20 Reply

      I see nowhere in the writeup where the writer said that gay guys must be attracted to their femme brothers. This isn’t about lecturing people on who to be attracted to. It is about learning to respect those who you aren’t attracted to. Some people are jerks about their lack of attraction to femme guys, using words and attitudes that don’t just say “Hey, I’m not into you” but also “Please go and die for even daring to think I’d be into you.”
      It’s wrong. By all means have a type, but respect the humanity of those who aren’t your type.

  2. Delle
    September 21, 10:48 Reply

    Trust people to twist the narrative of this very comprehensive piece.

    This isn’t about policing you to be attracted to feminine guys, it’s about you respecting them. Not throwing jabs at them because you think you’ve conformed. It’s about not being a douchebag simply because you do not find them sexually attractive.

    Y’all are just exhausting abeg. Sigh.

  3. julian_woodhouse
    September 21, 10:57 Reply

    so basically, I myself am attracted to dark skinned semi built masculine guys… if you’re witty on top then … you might as well put a ring on it. While, occassionally I get attracted to people who do not fit this description, the same way women don’t do it for me in their generality is the same way some guys do not do it for me at all. Don’t get me wrong, I might meet a white guy some day that will be every thing I ever wanted in a man.. Right now, dark skinned semi built masculine guys are an automatic given for me. So if I make this known on my grindr profile as well, is that a bad thing. Because speaking as a black guy, if I say I’m not into white guys, while seeming racist, fewer people will bat eyelids than a white guy who says he is not into black guys.. My point is , where do we draw the line between discrimination and preference. Because the fact that I may say no femmes on my grindr profile. doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love to have femme guys as friends. Grindr is after all a hookup app first and foremost. So, again to the question, where is the line?

    • Keredim
      September 21, 12:32 Reply

      “Where is the line?”

      On Grindr whether you use positive or negative language to state your racial taste in men, you can’t be deemed a racist if you are black. So its a preference.

      Not the same for white folk. Same scenario and he is called out as racist.

      And yes, you are correct Grindr is a hook up app and one’s preferences for a one night stand is hardly a reflection of the type of people they would intearct with in their daily life.

  4. Keredim
    September 21, 12:04 Reply

    Rosier, you probably don’t want to hear this, but a large majority of masculine presenting Nigerian gay men are BORN THAT WAY and are NOT femmephobic.

    Try hard as they may, they can’t present as feminine if their lives depended on it.

    They get stopped by bouncers at entrances to gay clubs/venues because “they don’t look gay enough”

    Most times when they come out to family/friends/work colleagues, they have to a tough job convincing them that they are indeed gay.

    I am one of such gay men and their is nothing Toxic about my masculinity. I am who I am and you are who you are.

    We are all “victims” one way or another of the effeminate gay stereotype represented in literature and the media from centuries ago.

    My Grindr profile says “Looking 4 Masculine guys……” They are the type of guys I am attracted to and I make no apology for that. It doesn’t mean I am femmephobic.

    We are in 2018 and not 1918. Take your “WOKE” self and however you present and FUCKING own it with PRIDE!

      September 23, 02:35 Reply

      Speak for yourself bro. Its a good thing you are not a femmophobe. But going from a psychoanalytical POV, it is very likely that a femmophobe is the way he is because of experiences akin to what Rosier mentioned in his write up. I was teased and bullied as a child. I still get some random stupid remarks about being feminine. Even got one this evening from a colleague who is supposed to be learned in an operating theatre. So you are naturally masculine, Alleluia, however, some of us had to “force it” just to get by everyday. We have to chisel bits and pieces of ourselves so we can have peace by not swinging our hips while we walk or throw a limp wrist while we stand. Its all a spectrum. Right from one extreme of those who say “fuck you, I was born this way” and stay true to themselves, to the less brave ones like me who try to conform but have empathy for other femme guys who endure bullying, right up to the other extreme who have perfected the act of being masculine to the point of hating their “feminine” side (internalized homophobia) and even then there are those who dont stop at IH who go right ahead to spew the hate on others. So, while there are naturally occurring masculine gay men, there r many adapted masculine gay men.

  5. J
    September 21, 14:25 Reply

    I am still experiencing femmephobia from both straight and gay people… I even prefer to be frown upon by a straight person than some stupid lying gay man.

    The hate is just too much! Any masculine man that looks at me like shit will be seen as a cocky gay freak filled with internalised homophobia. And I don’t give a flying fuck about such asshats! They save me the trauma of associating with them, not even to talk of seeing their hateful cocks. I dislike them too, so you can call me Mascphobic. I bet most of them smell ?

    Every action deserves equal or more reaction. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad.Be yourself, your original self.

    • Pink Panther
      September 21, 16:15 Reply

      You prefer to be frowned upon by a straight person than some stupid lying gay man?

      So the hate you get is graded on different levels? Better coming from a straight person than from a gay person?


      • Black Dynasty
        September 21, 17:25 Reply

        I understood what he meant to mean, it’s worse coming from a gay guy as it’d be expected the gay man should know better.
        Kinda like racism from a white person, vs racism from a black person discriminating against you a fellow black man; both are infuriating but the latter hurts even more.

        Both a

      • trystham
        September 21, 17:49 Reply

        It means a gay guy is SUPPOSED to be enlightened enough to know not to dispense with the ‘why are you feminine acting?’ bullshit. The ignorance of a straight is much more tolerable…except when it starts to be physical?

        September 23, 02:40 Reply

        Yes. I agree with J. Hate and rejection is easier to deal with when its coming from people who do not understand you cos they’ve never walked in your shoes. Of course it doesn’t make it right, but its not as painful as betrayal. Its less bareable when it comes from someone you share similarities with who should understand what you are going through but just chooses to be a dick. I see it as a form of betrayal if you ask me.

    • Patrick
      September 21, 17:09 Reply

      Jeez! J, easy now man. There are lots of guys who love femmes.

      I am attracted to both effeminate and masculine guys. And I think this is because I am at the middle of the spectrum of these supposed extremes. You wouldn’t call me effeminate or masculine if you saw me. Plus, I watch a lot of sports on TV. I don’t fit the stereotype of gay men not into watching sports.

      • J
        September 21, 23:22 Reply

        Patrick *hugs* we should be friends ? Discrimination from members of our community is more painful, I expect my fellow LGBTQI people to be more understanding and considerate.

  6. Quinn
    September 21, 18:58 Reply

    When I saw a snippet of this post on ig I was so happy to check it out and read the comments, and now we’re at this juncture discussing dating “preferences”…I’m mostly concerned w the lives of feminine men and how tough it can get for them sometimes, especially having experienced a hint of that abuse myself growing up and having it done to a child in front of me and then by a “friend” of mine by another equally queer friend (on more than one occasion)…I guess I’m biased when it comes to femme presenting queer men because I feel they’re the most visible and vulnerable face of the community and I feel a certain way about any form of discrimination against them, just as how I feel about people who talk shit about the community. I respect the fact that when it comes to dating a lot of folks have preferences, least you can do is be completely respectful for humanity’s sake, it’s hard enough being femme (or trans) …lool and you’re to assume I’m taking this matter too personal.

  7. Higwe
    September 23, 03:47 Reply

    Most people find masculine guys a lot more desirable (myself included) I don’t think it has anything to do with femiphobia.
    Would I rather be in bed with a flavor or a Bobrisky…
    I think you know the answer.

    • J
      September 23, 08:20 Reply

      “With a flavor or a Bobrisky?” As if they are inanimate objects ? The boy has a human blindness if he thinks Flavour is feminine ?

      • Higwe
        September 23, 15:25 Reply

        What are you talking about?

  8. Wiley
    September 23, 20:45 Reply

    First of all to each his own.
    But for those of you using hookbup preferences as a rebuttal, shebi you know it is supposed to be a brief description of you as a person, which may include your preferences YES.
    There’s a big difference between
    “I prefer sex with masculine/macho men” and “I don’t like femmes or fats or twinks etc” or “No fats, No Femmes, No blah blah blah”.
    The manner in which you state/phrase that preference, speaks volumes about what you really think about people who don’t fall into such preference.
    I personally feel attraction should be based on individual attributes of a person not generic group traits.

  9. Bee
    September 28, 21:26 Reply

    I’m just watching this, because I fall in and out of masculinity and femininity like the weather. I used to think I was more feminine than masculine, and then I found out that I was more masculine than I thought. And then, “Oh no, wait.”

    Same goes my preference. I thought I was all into masculine guys. And then I started loving feminine guys. And then both. And no, I don’t only like masculine guys when I feel feminine or feminine guys when I feel masculine. The whole thing just mixes upandan; I’m just tired and confused of picking sides.

    I don’t care anymore. You’re male? Cool. Be you trans male, masc male or femme male, cool.

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