A few weeks ago, I shared on Twitter about how Valentine’s Day brings hard feelings for me as a queer person living in a homophobic country because the threat of danger and violence just looms over your head. The tweet resonated with many queer women. It felt good to be understood.
One of the hardest things about existing at the intersection of queerness, womanhood and Africanness is the lack of support systems. When your love is illegal, where do you go when you’re heartbroken, struggling in your relationship or experiencing intimate partner violence? This experience is isolating and demoralizing in many ways. But it’s also important to remember that we are resisting and building pathways of being and surviving for ourselves. In spite of all the barriers set by patriarchy, we are building community and learning how to support and show up for one another. Because even though love may be illegal for us, it is not impossible. And I think it’s important for us to always keep sight of this.
It is in the spirit of this resistance that I write this love letter to queer African women wherever you are, to remind you that you are not alone. Your love is a pure thing, a holy thing, a perfect thing. You deserve to love and be loved out loud in public. You deserve to be loved in whichever way you want. You deserve over-the-top love. You deserve corny cheesy love. You deserve a love that affirms you, that uplifts you, that makes you want to be better. You deserve love in your youth and when your hair is grey with the wisdom of the years gone by and your skin is glistening from the joy of a life well-lived.
You deserve romance that sweeps you off your feet, that makes you laugh and giddy with excitement, that makes your insides soft and mushy. You deserve to be happy in every sense of the word. You deserve care, support and community. You deserve to be surrounded by people who are happy for your love, who will celebrate your love with you, who will protect and fight for your choice to love.
You deserve to be free.