The Problematic Nature Of “TB”

The Problematic Nature Of “TB”

DISCLAIMER: This article speaks on a general note. In other words, there’s a low-key understanding that a few exceptions exist. By exceptions, I mean those who use the word and still reason differently from the mentality the post tackles. The inferences in this post is mostly from personal interactions with people and observations of other people’s experiences.


The TB controversy is one that is very much the heat in most LGBT discussions or gatherings, both online and in real life, in very recent times and most likely spurred by the assertions some of us (myself especially) have made over the time. My particularism on TB is simply because I have an issue with the word. Issues I’ve spared no moment to share at every given opportunity.

For me it isn’t just about the word in itself, it’s the idea behind it. The essence. After all, a word is only the meaning you give to it.

Until I got to understand that there’s a mindset, a deep-seated one, popular amongst those who would rather identify as TB, I thought just like I know most think – that it was an essential coinage. A camouflage. Nigerian gay culture lingo designed to keep nosy heterosexuals from knowing our business.

But then, the problem started when I noticed people didn’t see the word, TB, as a disguise anymore, but as a means to further reject the homosexual identity.

This is problematic.

I found out that this set of persons peddle most, if not all, of the following:

1. That the homosexual is only going through a phase. One that would go away as soon as marital vows are exchanged at the altar. Because for a lot of TBs, the exchange of (hetero) marital vows are a must. Delayed, yes, but a certain future.


2. That homosexuality is a learned behaviour, a lifestyle. One that one chooses and as such, MUST not be proud of. You’ll very well hear a typical TB say, “You just dey carry this gay thing for head.” They mostly do not see the need for activism or advocacy, and would rather not be a party to any form of conversation that recognizes the necessity of the LGBT movement.


3. That a few deliverance sessions can take the homosexuality away. So, while you, the gay person, feel dehumanised when you are taken to some church to pray the gay away, they subject themselves to the torture willingly.


4. Most TBs do not fully understand the LGBT umbrella and as such, are diehard biphobes and transphobes. To them, Bisexuals are confused; Transgenders and Transsexuals need divine intervention – and what in the name of rose-budding is an Asexual?


5. They believe you have to be feminine to be Bottom and masculine to be Top. In some cases, if not most, Versatiles do not exist for them. I mean, how else do you think TB came about? Throwback? It’s Top-Bottom, duh!


6. It’s all about sex for them – which in itself isn’t a bad thing – until you come to realise the reason they focus solely on sex is because they do not think homosexuality is authentic enough to transcend beyond physical pleasure and orgasms. After all, they’ll settle soon enough with some straight woman and stop being gay.


7. They are the kings of Internalised Homophobia, and in a stretch, the perpetrators of kito.


8. At the end of the day, you monitor the lives of these so-called TBs and realise a majority of them live the most reckless and careless sex lives. There’s a higher chance of a man with the TB-mentality to contract an STI than a gay man who understands the importance of safe sex to do so. Plus, a man who thinks being gay is only about the sex will end up having a lot of sexual partners, compared to he who believes he can stick to one person at a time and make a lasting relationship out of it.


This is not an elitist view. I do not want the men who perpetuate this mentality annihilated, no. I just want that idea to fade into oblivion. Asides the fact that it tells little or nothing about what homosexuality truly represents, it’s a mole within the community. Whilst there are those striving to build a better society for the queer community, these ones are busy disrupting the process by maintaining that this is a phase we should eventually grow out of or dabble in every now and then.

I understand that a lot of us have friends, colleagues, acquaintances that don the toga of TB mentality, but we can conscientize them on the values and right understanding of the homosexual identity, to ultimately attain a better-structured community than what we presently have.

Besides, if it is camouflage we want, there are lots of other nondestructive words to choose from: Happy. Queer. French. Coloured. White. Church-member.

But if we must use TB, let us be sure to be rid of the mentality it’s been tainted with. You can’t win the outside world when there are cracks and a shaky foundation within. So, let’s begin with ourselves. Let us refine our thinking, do away with the TB mentality and just maybe, we’ll stand a better chance at having that moment we seek.

Written by Delle

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  1. craze
    April 02, 07:38 Reply

    Also, people who use “tb” are almost always razz. The loud people who’ll demand for “transport fare” or steal your things.

  2. Francis
    April 02, 07:58 Reply

    But if we must use TB, let us be sure to be rid of the mentality it’s been tainted with.

    That’s all ??

  3. Shiffi
    April 02, 09:10 Reply

    @ Francis , are you a TB ? ???

    • Francis
      April 02, 23:47 Reply

      Over my dead body. I HATE hearing that word. Makes me feel useless ?‍♂️?‍♂️?‍♂️

  4. Black Dynasty
    April 02, 09:22 Reply

    Interesting write up and I agree as it largely mirrors my observations as well.

    I can’t say that word has ever or will ever be part of my vocabulary (this is probably elitist, but I’m perfectly fine with that) as it frankly evokes images of someone dealing with internal homophobia and the various messed up ways it manifests itself.

  5. Kenny
    April 02, 09:45 Reply

    Point number 4 though, how can a ‘TB’ who thinks he has to end up with a woman be a biphobe. Shouldn’t he endorse bisexuality and champion the cause of bisexuals?

    • Delle
      April 02, 16:29 Reply

      Well seeing as they usually aren’t the sharpest tools in the box, this will be expecting too much ?

  6. Shadow
    April 02, 09:46 Reply

    I thought i was the only one who doesn’t like that TB word. It’s just razz and demeaning.

  7. Rex
    April 02, 12:02 Reply

    Are you “TB”?… someone met me at a concert in Uyo and asked me that question, only God saved him from the dirty slap that was shaking for release in my hand.
    The mentally is sick, the fact that two gay guys can’t stay alone in a house and not fuck, the fact that two bottoms can’t be friends. It’s just sick.

  8. Williams
    April 02, 12:36 Reply

    How can I like this article more than once.. You said it all, those things that usually linger in me most times. Kudos?

  9. Patrick
    April 02, 13:54 Reply

    This was a great read.
    I largely share your views on the subject.
    Well done!

  10. Black9jaIcon
    April 02, 15:03 Reply

    Words are meaningless in themselves. They are whatever you choose to give them. People don’t internalise homophobia and have contorted vuews about homosexuality because of the word tb. They would have the same mentality regardless of what word you change tb to.

    I didn’t like the word myself but it is ours. It is our culture. All those words you proposed are foreign, unoriginal. The mere fact that we have a word coined by us for us proves that we are not a group of people copying things from foreign cultures.

    Your grievances are valid, but they’re not tied to the word tb. They’re tied to the mentality of people which will stay the same regardless of the word they choose to address themselves. We should try to change that. The name tb or tibi stays because it is ours. The goal should be get it in the English dictionary not wipe it off the face of the earth.

    • Delle
      April 02, 16:49 Reply

      But sweetheart, all you said is what the post is about. All.

      Maybe you should reread the post ?

      • Black9jaIcon
        April 12, 17:05 Reply

        Reread your clasist gibberish? Because your brain cells and better-than-thou-ness won’t permit you to identify the ways in which my comment countered your loud, lousy and left-field opinions on people who refer to themselves as “tibi”?

        Just go and sit over there with your community of church members (or is it French horns) and leave us alone with our tibi jare

    • Bushbaby
      April 05, 22:48 Reply

      9jaIcon, well said.

      All these indomie generation trying to form wokeness with borrowed culture and all.


      Delle, your article is a pleasant read and nice, but you shouldn’t dismissed the point 9jaIcon made with such soft shade.

      And no, that’s not what the article is about. You want it removed from the naija gay lexicon, while he wants us to own it but debunk the useless mentality it bears.

      You’ll be shocked that your fellow 22nd century woke folks perpetuate the masculine for top feminine for bottom syndrome the most.

  11. Jay
    April 02, 15:43 Reply

    Delle, double kiss for you! These are trending issues that should be solved. I had an argument with a friend on No 5 and he was so adamant. Well-done!

  12. keredim
    April 02, 17:12 Reply

    I do remember asking this question last week thanks for taking the time to give this insightful response.

    My understanding of the abbreviation “TB” is that, it was a code used by the Nigerian students / young community in London in the late 80s / early 90s to discreetly ask if another guy was gay (possibly in their presence).

    It is thought to have been abbreviated from “tibi tòun” (Please forgive my Yoruba) . In this context a discreet way of asking if you are of ‘the other’.

    I guess it has evolved into more general use and through the years the meaning of the abbreviation has changed to “Top/Bottom”, for convenience.

    For decades euphemisms have been used in countries all over the world like the United States, when homosexuality was illegal and they are still used today. For example “FOD” – Friend of Dorothy. These are codes persecuted minority gay groups use to identify themselves. Perhaps the problem is that we are too affected to use our own coined words but rather appropriate western ones. (Read “white”)

    The mentality of TB people you have presented is typical in societies where homosexuality is abhorred both legally and culturally and still exists today even where homosexuals are no longer persecuted.

    I am glad your characterisation is based on your personal experience, because most of the “TBs” that I know both in Nigeria and abroad, I am happy to say are in stable long term relationships and a few have even gone on to get married to other men.

    Now I am not exactly sure, why they are not up and about waving the rainbow flag and advocating for gay rights in a hostile environment like Nigeria just like you seem to be doing, but I can only imagine it’s for reasons not too far off from why you and I are not using our real names and pictures on this platform. It doesn’t mean they are less passionate about gay rights in Nigeria than you are; they are just not as vocal, albeit behind the protection of a set of keyboards.

    I know you went to great pains to point out that you were not being elitist, but this piece and others you have penned in the past and your comments came across as exactly that. – Elitist. It seems that any gay person who doesn’t share the same gay ideals as you is “less than” you are and of a “lower social class”. Ideals that do not take into account the hostile environment we live in and how people react differently to them.

    Saying that TBs are more likely to have reckless and careless sex lives, among others is downright offensive and divisive. It further widens the cracks in the community you mentioned in your piece.

    At this stage of the so-called Nigerian LGBT movement (online or otherwise) being classist does not help anyone. At the end of day, when you as an “erudite” gay man and a TB coarse gay man are both brought before a judge – assuming you both survive the baying homophobic mob, s/he is not going to ask you if you are gay or TB? You will both get the same jail sentence.

    I don’t think the so-called Nigerian LGBT movement is any more hampered by the problematic TB mentality than by the apparently increasing bougie gay personalities within it.

    • Rehoboth
      April 02, 17:52 Reply

      Finally, a comment that mirrors my thoughts. The post was filled with classism despite the author’s attempts at not coming across as one. I’m TB, gay, fag, homo etc. My views on what you listed has nothing to do with what I chose to be called.

    • Justin
      April 02, 20:59 Reply

      Keredim Sir!
      While I agree with to a very large extent, I think your ninth and tenth paragraphs were totally unnecessary. You launched a direct attack on his person.
      Y’all already chased away many of my amazing active commentators and contributors. Please leave the last one I have left alone.
      Warm Regards

    • Taul
      April 02, 21:00 Reply

      Oh my! I’m not one for especially lengthy comments, but the first few sentences in yours kept me glued.

      In as much as I feel Delle didn’t intend to come across as you’ve painted him – a pathetic, selfish elitist – I still feel your rejoinder has got lots of sense in it.

      Delle, you should know I’m a huge fan, but then, declassifying homosexuals who are all going to be subject to the same brutal, rash treatment based on what tag they choose to be identified by irrespective of the fact that some could probably not be as literate as you are is outrightly demeaning.

      Whichever way we want to be identified as shouldn’t be a cause for division when our community has got greater forces to contend with.

      Nice descriptive skill as usual anyway.

    • Delle
      April 02, 21:36 Reply


      I appreciate your input, Keredim, no matter it was laden with a lot of sentiments (personal if I’m allowed to).

      First, I think what’s offensive (downright, like you used) is dismissing the fact that I made sure to point out this post was not penned from a place of Elitism, but rather personal inferences, and you disregarded it. Totally.
      Your insistence on it being classist, bougie amongst other adjectives you used is funny as I’m sure I do not know you beyond this monicker, so I’m wondering where you’re getting these vibes from.
      It’s just like a writer telling you his story is fiction and another insisting it isn’t.

      Quite offensive.

      You say this and my past works (even comments) have come off as divisive and pushes the notion that anyone who disagrees or does not buy my view is below my social class? Whatever you think you know about me is false then ?.
      I laughed at this assertion cos I have no idea if it’s the English words I use (we all speak English and I do know for a fact that good use of the English language is not dependent on social class). Again with the sentiments. If I didn’t know better, I’ll think there’s a beef somewhere. Oh well…


      You think I have a problem with a mere word? You and the others who share your view? That’s ridiculous.
      To think I made sure to point that out all over the post and yet, magically, y’all saw what you wanted (which is fine in any case. I won’t be bothered by falsehood).

      The problem here is actually you believing in what’s really not existent.

      Lower social class.

      Exhausting ?.

      Once again, the word TB isn’t what irks me. It’s the idea behind it. But you can go on seeing what you want. What I know, I have penned down.


    • Jay Armstrong
      April 03, 09:57 Reply

      Hiña! An article under another article ? I hate reading.

    • Her
      April 04, 20:49 Reply

      1. Marry me
      2. We’ll share your Pulitzer
      3. Sadly, we know the would-be classy folk here don’t appreciate your intellectitude. Pity.

    • Bushbaby
      April 05, 22:58 Reply

      Waiter, one crate for this gentleman!

      Tibí tóòún


  13. Same La’Smithereens
    April 02, 17:40 Reply

    This is such a nonsense and long diatribe, and most certainly a laughable reach for elitism.

    The audacity for you to sit where you are, armed with your popularity on KD to say what word is bad for the community and if we should or shouldn’t use it.

    People ARE problematic, gay, straight, tb users and none tb users. For you to largely blame a set of people for all the things you wrote there is to be a problem yourself.

    1. Nice to know that most people who do not use the word ”tb”, do not deal with homosexuality and phases. You just narrowed my search.

    2. In a country filled with gay people, it is amazing to see all the activism going on and how this miserable tb users are taking the movements alphabets back.

    3. Raise your hand if you have had the pray the gay away phase and haven’t used the word tb. Let’s see how ”few” we are.

    4. Such a ludicrous statement. Platform like KD has probably been the most instrumental in educating a sizeable number of gay men in this country, but you know, take the education you have been privileged to have and laugh at others.

    5. Do not be silly! Your quintessential Hollywood movies still cast your beautiful gay characters as feminine and masculine, give tb users a break.

    6. Hello, grindr! You know the popular sex app that they didn’t create?

    7. Let us all pretend this long ass post with all the reasons aren’t signs of internalized homophobia.
    8. Rubbish

    Please stop this mentality that you have. Leave people who use the tb word alone. They are not your problem.

    • Trystham
      April 03, 08:20 Reply

      No. I can’t remember ever having a “pray-the-gay-away” phase. My guilt centered mainly on having masturbation issues. I never got comfy in church then. I HATED the church and Paul after he wrote something derogatory about Effeminate men and my pastor tried washing it off as ‘gay’ when I cried to him.
      No. I have also not had the ‘I’m a TB’ moment. I didn’t even like the term from the first minute I had heard it even when I was still testing the waters. You’d be shocked to know an ex, schooled outside the country and much more exposed than I am uses that term and STILL has issues with coming to terms with who he is.
      Perhaps, its the kind of ppl I have interacted with, but I have noticed that using the “I AM gay”, (‘gay’ is whispered here), helps them accept who they are. TBs will want to teach u how to live your life and not be gay just as the straights would

    • Jay Armstrong
      April 03, 10:21 Reply

      With all due respect Same Latrines, I believe you came here with a closed mind and read into it your own bias… The writer was clear with his problem not being about the word, but the mentality that comes with the word…. The writer also said it is not always true with some people who identify as tb, however it is more prevalent with those who do. So next time, please take you head out of your ass and read the full post, not try to read your bias against the contributor into the post.

      And no, I am neither an elitist nor rich but I find the tag problematic as it blurs out my very existence as a pure Versatile gay person. I love to top, as well as bottom… I love sex and disregard the roles or assignments that come with those roles…. But no… I meet TBs and I have to conform to the notion that I have to be Top or Bottom exclusively… I know a person who’s currently still fighting for his right to top because news spread within the TB_osphere that he was B. I know this because not one, not two, several people who know him have to me the exact same thing… But I didn’t remember him suck as a top when he topped me… But no… He’s TB… Top or bottom… Can’t even dream of being verse because it is “pretentious”.

      Or should I talk about the number of likes and “haha” reactions a post that calls verses pretentious, and actually bottom, gets.

      I’m really sorry, I don’t mean to be rude or disrespectful but this subject affects me personally. I hate classism and elitism within and outside the community but this post isn’t, and if you see it as so… Your problem is not here.

      • Bushbaby
        April 05, 23:09 Reply

        Jay you just called the nigga Latrine and added a useless apology at the end!

        E be like.say bomb dey your brain abi?

        Can we air out views without coming for each other?

        PS. The bomb part is because you called the nigga Latrine. Hug a transformer sir.

        With love,

    • Delle
      April 03, 22:27 Reply

      Hey Same!

      I’m sincerely hoping you get better. Lots of love from here?

    • Bushbaby
      April 05, 23:04 Reply

      Same (your name.long bruv)

      I Stan!!

      8 all the way.

  14. Mystique
    April 02, 20:33 Reply

    I Totally Agree With You…the Nigeria lgbtq community Needs a Revival 🙂 🙂 i Wish Some Persons Outside Here Can See This and Probably Start To Have A Better Many Of Us Are Living This Life Wrongly and It Hurts

  15. Sim
    April 02, 21:30 Reply

    Delle.. always a sweetheart.

    I still use the word TB, thts the only code known to old school folks like me. I use it freely while conversing on the phone too, since my heterosexual colleagues will think I am referring to tuberculosis ?. Those tht demean this word, pls desist, moreover how can one enjoy this life without every taking it up in the ass ?‍♂️

  16. Owen
    April 03, 08:49 Reply

    Most of the guys that uses this tb term are still very ignorant. Let’s continue to educate and enlighten them

  17. Ebuka
    April 03, 08:56 Reply

    I normally don’t comment on posts but yours warrants a response, and I must say it is without a doubt one of the most illuminating read I have ever read on this platform. Tackling the issues of names and ownership of names from self loathing homosexuals or homosexuals in denial of their homosexuality, tops the bar. Well done

  18. Derick
    April 03, 09:46 Reply

    Going through the comments, I can still detect the TBs.

    That’s all I have to say.

    Delle, You put my thoughts into writing.

  19. Eddie
    April 03, 10:11 Reply

    So which word would you use instead, to identify with a “brother/sister” who might be in the presence of an hetero… seeing as “tb” is now crass and distasteful!?
    I use other words but I’m not averse to using”tb” once in a while…just asking ?

  20. Mandy
    April 03, 11:39 Reply

    The thing I took away from this writeup is that if you’re in a position of more self awareness as a gay man, you should do more to conscientize those around you who may not understand or be as aware of the importance of the LGBT cause as you are. My takeaway is that when you’re on Grindr getting asked by someone “T or B?” or you’re on Facebook Messenger getting asked by someone “Are you TB?”, beyond the hookup and the sex, we owe it to ourselves as a community to enlighten those we come in contact with when they exhibit these problematic behaviours that the gay identity is not all fun and games.
    All of you that are getting all vexed about this writeup are being a bit naïve. There is a reason this TB word that used to serve us so well as a camouflage has become so tainted and associated with ratchetness. Instead of attacking Delle, perhaps investigate this. Because it is real. And we can reclaim the word, make it a part of our gay culture to be proud of once again. And it starts by us all attempting to dismantle the mentality that invalidates our identities as gay men.

  21. J
    April 03, 17:09 Reply

    ??? Gay people are like cats, they can never agree. Cats hardly form groups everyone is on their own… Just like atheists, gays are just like atheists, no unity. Dagula-dagula, house of intellects, rebels, judges, hoes and etc ???

    What a stressful lifestyle!

    Oh Keredim darling, I never thought you could speak up for the voiceless TBs ? Most TBs don’t have time for any long ass article reading or debate. They live for the D ? Honey the term TB is quite hopeless on a serious note, no real gay person struggling with stability and the issues of a serious relationship would ever want to be referred to as a TB. Most self-acclaimed TBs are our ignorant, naive and hopeless brothers who are so used to homophobia and abuse, and I guess they are okay with it.

    Pink pantherTB has not said anything yet, our lady of open-mindedness and inclusion has no sides on this one ?

  22. Dimkpa
    April 03, 18:02 Reply

    I feel a lot of assumption has gone into this article. We ought to be careful what we write especially if there is no data to back it up. TB is just a slang which I learned refers to gay men. I do not know when it was ascribed to a subset of gay men or when it became a mentality. The behaviours listed could be called out without associating it with what was a slang. The slang is now being given a new meaning which will do nothing but cause division in the community. I think this should not be encouraged.

  23. Colossus
    April 03, 20:02 Reply

    This post is like when someone starts a sentence with “I’m not judging you but….”

    The post is clearly elitist no matter how you claim it isn’t. If the crass gay people can own their use of the word TB then own your elitism at least.

    This is still your personal inference based on your relationships, I’ve not really met a lot of guys who used TB but i remember the first person that ever asked me that, quite the gentleman who I’m still friends with. By this my own experience, i can say the use of the word isn’t bad at all.

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