I don’t remember the first person I was attracted to, the first girl I kissed, or the first time I even thought about wanting to do these things. I only vaguely recall feeling a pull towards most women I came across and finding ways to start a conversation with them. Now I can’t imagine what that little JS1 girl had to discuss with her older sisters’ friends or the university babes living next door. My childhood memories are like scrambled TV signals in bad weather, alternating flickers of pixelated scenes superimposed on the faces of unidentifiable characters.
However, I distinctly recall how I felt when I heard about the big house down the street where those girls lived. Hearing about the ‘lesbians’ and what my little brain imagined they did lit me up in ways I didn’t have the vocabulary to express. And when I’d see one of them in a T-shirt, baggy jeans and boots casually bounce her way past my gate, I would gawk. Who was she, and how could I meet her? I sha knew that one day one day, we would jam! So, it was no surprise to me when a few years later, I was in the big house down the street, in one of their beds, figuring out if scissoring would finally make me come.
I was about 15 and curious. She was older. I frequently saw her on the street, at the neighbourhood supermarket, and at my house a few times. We would chat about sundry things while my eyes flirted with the fullness in her lips, the bounce in her breasts, and the spark in her eyes. She entertained me, reciprocated my unspoken desires, and fed my curiosity as did many after her. I enjoyed most of it. I enjoyed most of them. I shared pieces of me with them, and they invited me into their lives. I relished the process of mapping a lover’s body behind closed doors where we abandoned all restraints (…unless someone asked to be tied up).
I was delighted to find opportunities to brush my hand against theirs or whisper naughty fantasies when others weren’t looking. It was thrilling, albeit sad, because we knew what we wanted but we had bodies that our society, families, and religion had deemed unfit to receive and contain each other’s desires. I had to create those beautiful moments in secret, moments that introduced me to myself and helped me understand my appetite; moments I could only create with bodies like mine.
Over time, I have accepted that being queer is part of who I am – a woman who loves women despite being taught it is unnatural and wrong.
Few close friends know this about me. Family members strongly suspect but are likely in denial. I have had to be cautious living in a country that criminalises same-sex relationships, with police officers who can harass, assault, and detain you simply because they think you look gay.
Even though I have lived in a country that legalises same-sex relationships, I never stopped being cautious because I was worried that word could get to my family somehow. And because say pessin smile with you no mean say e like you. People get harassed even in ‘free’ countries, so I carry a closet with me whenever I step out of my room.
My first Pride march was all kinds of amazing. I was among like-minded humans celebrating their existence in all its colourful glory. On the other hand, I was surrounded by so much but still felt so alone. These were not really my people. The streets were not familiar to my feet. This was not the queer African community I would rather have around me.
Sadly, I may never experience what it feels like to fly my colours in my hometown, with my people, and with the support of the same government that currently antagonises my existence. I can only hope that day will come in my lifetime, but until then, I celebrate my existence privately and with the few I choose to share my life with.
Recently, I decided to reconcile the relationship between my sexuality and spirituality. This journey is a continuous struggle to find a balance between learning and unlearning, between choosing myself and others’ opinions of me. For someone who has always put others first, choosing myself seems selfish, but I would be miserable trying to be someone else.
I wasn’t influenced or taught to love women. The feeling exists as easily as my breath. It is who I am and how I was created. It is a piece of the Divine I carry in me. It is the evidence of abundant love walking the earth. So, I keep working at choosing my queer self, maintaining healthy relationships, and rediscovering my purpose.
To find out how you can share your story with the Quietly Queer Collective, please send an email to forcolourfulgirls(at)gmail(dot)com.
Share this post with your circle or someone specific by clicking any of the social icons below (consider using the #QuietlyQueer hashtag on Twitter & Facebook). Also, each author has the link to their publication, so feel free to leave a loving word for them in the comment section.