4 Nigerian Queer People Tell Us What It Is Like Job Hunting

February 8, 2021


The experiences of queer people any and everywhere are far from monolithic. Oppression takes many forms and, sometimes, the fact that you can or cannot pass as a member of a non-marginalised community is what determines how much or what type of oppression/marginalisation gets thrown your way. 

Passing, in the simplest terms, is the ability of a member of a marginalised group to look like they are not from that group. For example,  a gay person can be considered to be straight-passing if, based on stereotypes, other people can’t tell they are gay.

We asked four queer people who are visibly queer and are non-passing on what it was like job-hunting.

Frank, 27.

I recently made a switch to working for tech startups and the culture is more accepting of my “eccentricities” and queerness, but with traditional companies, job hunting was hell. People would ask questions about my nails, piercings etc. I kept trying to point out that these things weren’t limiting the value I would bring. I would show my certificates and portfolio but nope. I started working for remote companies, especially non-Nigerian ones. 

Ugu, 24.

I am a masc-presenting woman, and I think it upsets men. One time, I applied for a job and the person asking the interview questions asked why I was dressed like a tomboy and said they like “their women” looking fine and attractive. I was shocked. I was glad when I didn’t get the job. Another time, during my undergrad days, I went for an internship interview, and I was the only woman employed — there were four other interns. During the interview, they kept making jokes about how the only woman they were employing isn’t really a woman. Job hunting is a minefield. You spend the whole time dealing with subtle and even blatant homophobia, disregard and so much more. Imagine what it is like when people look at you and all they see is your queerness.

Ronke, 29.

I don’t know why I assumed being a creative would make navigating the job market better or easier to navigate the job market when you looked different. However I came to that conclusion, it was quickly disproved. The first job I had was being a social media manager for a store, and when I resumed, they told me not to bring those friends of mine. I was confused by that statement, then someone told me that the owner had gone through my Instagram and saw me “being a lesbian”. The owner remained passive-aggressive towards me till I left. 

Another time, I was working in the marketing department of a bank and my superior told me it was important to be sexy as a marketer, so I might want to lose the T-shirt. Luckily I got fired a while after. I say luckily because I joined the place I’m at now right after, and it has been blissful. 

Ayo, 21.

Job hunting is the absolute ghetto. I’ve been lucky enough to have only done it twice and only for a few months at a stretch, but it was horrible. I think the worst thing is how employers and people in charge of hiring feel that because you need or want a job, it is okay for them to talk to you anyhow. I am one of those people who you can guess their sexuality by looking at them. I look and sound and walk gay. It is easy to clock me. And that just means it is easy to be homophobic, and Nigerians never let the opportunity to be homophobic pass them by. I was an intern at this place, and I ran a lot of errands. They made comments about the way I walk and how tights my jeans were all the time.

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

May 25, 2021

A Week In The Life” is a weekly Zikoko series that explores the working-class struggles of Nigerians. It captures the very spirit of what it means to hustle in Nigeria and puts you in the shoes of the subject for a week. The subject of today’s “A Week In The Life” is a POS agent under […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

Recommended Quizzes

November 11, 2019

Everyone has something to say about what kind of person they are. But how well do we truthfully evaluate these things? Not that much, I can assure you. The average person is always lying to themselves to make sure they look good. But you know what and who doesn’t lie? Zikoko quizzes that’s what. Take […]

November 1, 2019

Twitter is buzzing right now, bringing a new conversation to the concept of cool vs not-so-cool, especially in relationships. If you’ve been thinking about how much of a red flag you are, why don’t you let this quiz help you decide once and for all?

March 24, 2020

While we know that a lot of the best Nigerian artists deservedly have fans across generations, that won’t stop us from attempting to guess how old you are based on your taste in Nigerian music. So, take this quiz to see if we got it right:

April 14, 2020

Every friend group consists of very different and specific characters — from the parent to the fun one — and it can be a little tough figuring out where you fall. So, we’ve created a quiz that lets you know exactly what kind of friend you are. Take to find out:

October 30, 2019

2010 was a game-changing one for Nollywood, with our movies making serious cash and getting international acclaim. So, which of these hits released between 2010 and 2019 — from the pace-setting The Wedding Party to the divisive Trip To Jamaica — best suits your personality? Well, that’s what this quiz is here to answer:

More from Hustle

December 21, 2021

Whether you started reading last year, this year, or last week, here are 10 must-read stories from the “A Week In The Life” series. These stories will either inspire you, make you pause and think, or simply allow you to appreciate the mundane.

Read:

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X