Effeminacy, according to Wikipedia, can be described as having traditional feminine traits. This gender atypical behaviour is viewed in different ways in the different cultures of the world. In some, effeminacy is very much welcomed, with these ‘delicate’ men viewed with adoration and respect cos they’re regarded as being a conglomeration of the male and female in one. In Africa_ Nigeria being the focal point_ it is a CURSE.
In a big, corrupt country like Nigeria where anything goes, effeminacy is generally viewed with a kind of disdain that’s almost palpable to behold. In Nigeria, if you were born a “campy, slim, feminine, beautiful” boy, with the requisite delicate look and gentle mannerism that goes with it, then you’re bound for a lonely life of heartbreak, fear of physical and mental abuse from both the males and females, and a myriad of wishes that you’d never been born.
Nigeria is a country with zero tolerance for non-conformity, and if a guy happens to deviate from the accepted norms pertaining to male behaviour, then you automatically become a social outcast, outlawed by your acquaintances, classmates, and even YOUR own family. In fact, ESPECIALLY your family. You become a disgrace and an ultimate source of annoyance and disdain to them. You will be severely stigmatised, and that stigmatisation starts from your family, with the net spreading outwards to encompass the society you live in.
In Nigeria, being born effeminate is the worst that can happen to a guy, because you wont be accepted wherever you are. Some people may like you in a genuine way for who you are, but they wont really come close to you_ never. Why? The answer is simple: they dont want to be seen with that “nwoke-nwanyi” in Igbo dialect which means: that womanish man. It becomes unbearable for effeminate guys in a hostile society that hates them and spite them with so much venom and disdain. Because of this crawling malady, effeminate guys are isolated as a group to be specially hated and stigmatised, and this stigmatisation starts from childhood till death for an effeminate guy who’s unlucky to retain his outward feminity till adulthood. And this has made many to leave the country for friendlier countries.
In Nigeria, an effeminate boy suffers more stigma than his adult counterpart because he’s so thoroughly abused everywhere and by everybody_ at home, at the church, the marketplace, the school. The school is the worst place for an effeminate boy because he faces taunting name-callings, beatings, and the worst_ sexual abuse and molestation from his agemates and older boys. To make matters worse, they dare not report to parents, friends(they basically have none except amongst themselves), teachers, siblings. They suffer in silence because, if they report the abuse, it’ll only confirm what everybody suspects: he’s gay, and it doesnt matter if he really is or not.
A barage of questions now queque up: why would a country that accepts thieves, money launderers and swindlers, etc, refuse to accept a facet of nature? Because they are afraid or scared? Intolerance?
The answer is a difficult one to unravel.
Bottom line: effeminate guys are humans and deserve to be treated with respect, not disdain and abuse. Abuse kills, and Nigeria is terribly skilled at that. It should stop. Thank you.
I am a novelist and I intend to write a novel on this issue. Expect it soon.