I have a theory. I am going to paint a picture. I will be creating the average life of a gay man in Nigeria.

Let’s call him Tayo.

So, we have Tayo growing up, understanding that heterosexuality is the norm. He grows up around boys who talk about liking girls and his parents joking about his future wives, and yet somehow, he likes a boy, named Nonso, who lives on his street. It’s not the regular kind of feeling he has for his friends. His body reacts oddly anytime he is around Nonso. His friends talk the girls they are crushing on and how they feel around these girls, and he understands what they’re saying – except those exact feelings are what he feels around Nonso. His body is stimulated whenever Nonso is around – and sometimes, when Nonso isn’t around – the same way his friends have described their bodies getting stimulated around girls. He realizes he has been feeling this way about some other boys, but he has been dismissing it.

He starts to get concerned because since he seems to be the only one who feels like this for another boy, then he must not be normal. He goes on to tell his parents. If he is lucky, they call it a phase and dismiss him. If he isn’t, they get alarmed and call it a mental illness or a demon possession. This is where his first sexual psychological conditioning starts developing a fault. Through the reaction of his family, he begins to see himself as dirty or possessed. He is taken to a church and things get worse. An emergency deliverance session is put together and prayer warriors are assigned to the cause. That is when the shaming starts, woven into the prayers that are hurled about his head while he is on his knees. There is a further deterioration of his mental state. You don’t want to know how far churches can take the deliverance of homosexuality.

Eventually, Tayo breaks and agrees, much to everybody’s relief, that he has been healed. He has come to realize that that’s the only way to stop his parents from hurting and to stop all the excesses being meted out on him. He feels that is the only way to stop people from talking about him.

He starts to conform – Well, no actually, he doesn’t really conform. He starts learning to hide that part of him. Maybe he is effeminate; so as he works on tucking in his feelings, he is also working on his mannerisms and interests. It is hard. But he works at it; every waking moment is dedicated to working on handling and reacting to the bullying better, to being the person everybody approves of.

Of course, his uncle has heard of “that thing he used to do”. So, one day, Tayo gets sent to his house for the holiday. That morning, his uncle’s wife has gone out to work. He calls Tayo into his room. Once in there, he locks the door and instructs Tayo to suck his dick. It may end with the fellatio or there may be other sexual activities he’d ask of Tayo. At the end of it all, he warns Tayo that he can’t tell anybody. That nobody will believe him anyway. His uncle reminds him that everybody already knows that he is a homo, and telling anyone what happened would only make things worse for him. Tayo is scared and ashamed. He believes his uncle and keeps what happened between them a secret. He convinces himself he liked it.

The unfortunate thing is that this is his first exposure to sex. It confirms what he has always believed about this part of him; that it is both dirty and good. He is shamed by it but he likes it.

As the years go by, his sexual urges grow. Sometimes he satisfies them by masturbating and watching porn. He isn’t thinking of growing feelings. He knows it is wrong to have those feelings. He can even keep a lid on those feelings. But his sexual urges and curiosity for the kind of sex his body wants is what he can’t control. He gets an erection around boys, this part of him that he cannot control. He is even caught touching boys once or twice. Maybe there’s punishment, maybe there’s just a stern warning – but nothing that gives him the discipline to control his desires.

He is introduced to dating sites for people like him. He is getting older now, and understanding bit by bit that he wants more. He seems interested in dating or finding someone he likes, but he soon realizes that he doesn’t have the luxury. He falls into the hands of those who victimize him, and thus learns the painful lesson that there are those out there that want to harm him over his desires.

He is also faced with people asking for his role, people requiring him to be either top or bottom. He realizes that people on the dating circuit expect him to have sex and not make love. He comes across those who are on the down-low, those who describe themselves as “very discrete”. As an effeminate person, he may never get to know them past the “Hello, Hi” stage. Everybody sees him as a walking homosexual sign; they don’t want to be seen by associating with him. These people have become so good at making their sexuality go away, only fetching it when it’s time for sex. If they even allow their acquaintance with him to get past the “Hello, Hi” stage, Tayo realizes he doesn’t have the luxury of dates, fun nights, or basically doing anything with them in public. The only place they are comfortable with him is in a room with all the windows covered and the doors locked.

He isn’t thinking about a relationship because he tells himself it is unrealistic. Or that he doesn’t deserve one. All his peers have discovered love and are navigating their feelings, while he is struggling to understand what is wrong with him. He doesn’t know anything apart from the fact that his body reacts around men and that translates to sex. He grew up not being able to talk to anyone about his feelings or having the opportunity to get educated on this type of sex. Or maybe he has understood his feelings, just like his peers, but he focuses on the sex because he knows that in the end, he’d have to get married to a woman. What would be the point of investing in love with his fellow man?

I have been in a lot of funny, weird, extremely short, abusive relationships. I could make horror movies, thriller flicks, crime dramas and rom-coms out of my dating life. One of the problems I’d always had was that I didn’t just want sex. And so, I’d always attach feelings to whatever sex I had. The result of it all was that I found myself creating situationships with guys whose connection to me was that we shared the same bed and got naked together. I didn’t have anyone to talk to about navigating my feelings so I learned to wing it. Every relationship was a lesson.

Unlike heterosexual people, for most gay men, being in a relationship is a conscious effort. They intentionally try to form a bond with someone. There’s nothing regular about it. You don’t meet someone and leisurely get to know them through one date after another, gradually coming to a place of realizing you want to be together. No. The opportunities are very limited and so, you try to make the best of it all. And sometimes, not everyone wants to put in that effort. Because it doesn’t come easy to them, because the odds are stacked against them, they prefer to go with what doesn’t come with much complication: sex.

Tayo doesn’t think his sexuality is all about sex. Truth be told, Tayo isn’t stopping himself from loving or being in a relationship with anyone. But he is going up against a system that didn’t teach him, growing up, that he could love someone like himself when he becomes an adult. A system that ensured that all he knew about his sexuality was the sex that it actively abominated. A system that makes it hard, as an adult, for him to love and enjoy being loved in return. To love, he needs to be deliberate in his efforts to stand against that system – and not everyone has the endurance for that.

When next you say that all “they” know is sex, remember that Tayo is not the problem. The system is.

Written by Nonso Chukwu

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  1. Lonz
    June 17, 07:30 Reply

    Lovely write up.

  2. Jinchuriki
    June 17, 08:25 Reply

    To all the Tayos out there, just because the system has not given you room to express, love, share, need and get doesn’t mean you won’t get to. Keep at it, keep wanting it, you’ll get it, you deserve it! ?????

  3. Pezaro
    June 17, 09:35 Reply

    Never read anything so apt!!! Bless you poster

  4. Love
    June 17, 10:29 Reply

    What exactly is the definition of the system???
    Is it not a collection of Tayos and Other humans that exude learned or innante behavioral patterns that end up defining perceptions and no rms.
    The truth is a large percentage of Gay folks like sex , it may not be a bad thing but there comes a point in growth where sexual Exploration then becomes Appreciation which leads to men choosing to settle Down.

    Tayos story is valid and true but it’s just one of many outcomes, I was never molested (I even almost molested my uncles and cousins) , I always wanted what I wanted and I went out to get it and when I discovered sex I got it .

    Our sexuality is not discussed as a practiced norm so when a young man discovers that he likes boys he’s almost left to himself to discover the feeling so he’s bound to awaken his sexual urges early or too early.

    • Raj
      June 18, 01:27 Reply

      I agree with your comment, I find it frustrating when we say it’s the system. What exactly is the system? We say the system is preventing us from loving but that same system isn’t stopping us from having sex as often as we like, we need to get real with ourselves.

  5. Anon
    June 17, 10:52 Reply

    I’ve a question to ask? Why is it that we assumed the reason why a gay man won’t want to date an effeminate gay man is because of femmephobia or internalised homophobia?. I’m sure they are people like me who doesn’t find anything effeminate sexually attractive but that doesn’t me I’m not cool being friends with them. You rarely see a typical effeminate guy date another effeminate guy, cos they are hardly sexually attracted to their likes but we don’t say they have femmephobia. It’s also okay for a straight guy not to find a girl who is a tomboy attractive. Where I draw the line is when they don’t want to associate with you as friends/acquitance but you can’t fault people for who they find attractive. It’s not fair

    • Cruzly
      June 18, 03:46 Reply

      Hi Dear,

      I am Effeminate and crazily inlove with Sam Smith. So…

  6. Higwe
    June 17, 11:31 Reply

    I honestly don’t think liking too much sex is a gay men thing …I think it’s rather a MEN thing .

    Let’s face it – men are a lot more sexual than women .
    Men exercise far less self control than women .
    Men are able to enjoy sex frequently without investing any cathexis.

    Women are the only ones flattening the sex rage curve in heterosexual relations …..whilst in homosexual relationships it’s Incubus vs Incubus .???

    While I’d like to be a Tayo and blame some system for making me a man whore …I know I was born naturally with an excessive libido.

    While it seems very convenient for me to say ‘I sleep around because the society denied me the right to love freely – I know nothing would change on my part even if homosexuality is legalised and accepted wholesomely in Nigeria.

    Perfect examples being our lesbian sisters…. in spite of growing with the same misconception and prejudice we grew up with , have far less sexual escapades then we do.

    Not taking anything away from your article because I’m pretty sure you put a lot of thoughts into writing it but in Dua Lipa’s voice – I don’t make the rules.


    And yes, this is a generalisation. Whilst panthers do exist , I think there are just about enough spotted leopards for me to use this generalisation .?

  7. Sunzy
    June 17, 20:12 Reply

    Wow! Not even my parents, siblings, relations, colleagues nor friends know that I’m gay. May God help us I pray

  8. Lyon
    June 18, 00:46 Reply

    This, all of this, reminds me of some serious banter I’ve recently been having with some homophobic asshole in a Facebook group, The Men in Nigeria. Bitch was hell bent on believing that being gay is all about the sex and the “dangers” of anal sex, as well as some demonic thing that would rob one of true life in Christ.

    Most of us have been through stuff like this. We have had to struggle with our homosexuality from childhood. Some of us have contemplated suicide. Eventually, some of us have come to some level of self-acceptance.

    Being gay goes way beyond sex but the situations in which we find ourselves have deprived us of the chance to live our lives our own way, and have taken advantage of the characteristically male libido to make it seem like being gay is all about sex.

  9. Raj
    June 18, 01:22 Reply

    It’s so hard being gay in a country like Nigeria, but I still find it hard to see the correlation between not being able to stay in committed relationships and the system. The truth is many use this as an excuse for their lack of self control, and I believe we need to stop giving ourselves this excuse if we want things to change.

  10. Henrie
    June 18, 09:50 Reply

    This is a stereotypical justification I strongly disagree with. Many, if not most, gay men have the luxury of being in a relationship, albeit closeted, and still CHOOSE not to or simply Don’t. There are better reasons or explanations for this situation. Tayo is not barely representative.

  11. Malik
    June 18, 11:40 Reply

    I think this community needs to be a bit more honest. This our generation of “it’s okay…” needs to reassess a lot of things and be truthful. It’s not always okay. I’ve learned to be cautious when towing the paths of least resistance. It’s hard but most times, you, we, I can do better.

    Self love/acceptance shouldn’t be based solely on excuses. Excuses are often valid but blessed is the man who rises above them.

    That’s all.

  12. Audrey
    June 18, 16:41 Reply

    Nice write up Non-so and I get your point but I hope I’m allowed to disagree with some of the points you raised.

    And I hope you’ve ordered that Kayamata thing you promised using on me or do you need referrals to one of my strongest plug???
    In all we do as a community let’s just try to project ourselves better and have an open mind towards commitment. Kisses from this end Nna

  13. Trey
    February 27, 01:44 Reply

    It’s the extent to which I relate to the story for me!😂

    I’m a Tayo, definitely not sex-crazed but in being conformist (for my sanity – I don’t like drama) I am finding myself and maybe pon more comfort in my bi-preferences, I can actually find love.

    I can write 10 epistles on my ‘secret life’ but a constant is always how attraction finds you yet denies you especially in public.

    So called straight guys, hitting on you, grouping, sharing secret kisses, sex requests, flirting basically ..they are also Tayo’s.

    I guess everyone should just be given the room to come into their own.
    It’s not easy but it’s possible.

    Thank you Nonso…

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