(Special mention to those who lived in a time when ‘queer’ was an insult. We see you. Guess what, we took it back! Queer is ours and it means love & liberation & colour. Thank you! We stand on YOUR shoulders)
Pink & orange
Black & white stripes
A bold cobalt blue
Portrait of Grace Jones
So much neon!
Love, love, love
Our best selves
The real version
The Glam King
It’s play time!
My coming out went like this-
It was seven to eight months into living with my mother during COVID-19 quarantine. My life’s pandemic upheaval included temporarily moving back home (because I was already two months behind on rent when the entire in-person entertainment industry shut down). It was an adjustment being back home considering the last time I had properly lived with mum especially was when I was 12, before I went to boarding school.
(Parents had been separated since I was 8 so I split time between both of them and left home the second I could: boarding school at Class 7, boarding school in high school, moved out in university, moved out as soon as I could after graduation).
Seven months later, mum and I had had a proper re-introduction to each other. She got to meet the antithesis of the daughter she raised badly behaved, ungovernable, feminist, BISEXUAL??!… *clutches pearls.
I got to meet her too. I saw the source of my passive aggressive behaviors, my conflict avoidance, my need to control and rescue others. And the most heartbreaking part, I saw the disapproval, the rejection, the dethroning from my special place in her eyes (last born, perfect child manenos).
I told her I was bisexual in the most casual way. It was Sunday evening, she was in the middle of making dinner, packing for travel the next day and cleaning or something. Busy and up and down, not really paying attention. I’d learned in those long quarantine months that her response to a conversation she didn’t want to have would be to simply up and walk away, so I wasn’t going to give her some dramatic introduction.
Me: Mum, I want to tell you something.
Mum: (she’s intuitive so she knew it was something) What is it? Did you get a job? Do you have a new boyfriend?
Ultimately I couldn’t say the words so I typed it out on my phone, “I’m bisexual” and handed it to her to read.
(I identify more as queer/pansexual/future-lesbian but felt it would be wiser to keep it simple for her)
Mum: What does that mean?
Me: It means I’m attracted to both men & women.
Mum: (switches off the gas, stops packing, stops cleaning, brings me to the living room and says) Sit down, let’s talk about this and never speak of it again.
Oh lord. Me filling up with dread imagining what’s to come.
Mum: Ok, tell me again.
Me: I’m attracted to both men and women, so I date both men and women. Remember X? Yeah, she was my girlfriend.
Mum: (a mash up of…) This is the worst thing ever. How can you do this? Why is God punishing me? What did I do wrong? You are trying to kill me. Blood pressure something something…
Me: (nonchalant, allowing her space to feel and process, surprisingly unmoved by the emotional breakdown)
Mum: (as if suddenly struck by enlightenment) Is this why you love colored braids? Is this why you don’t wear bras? Is this why you hate men? Is this why you don’t want to have kids? Is this why you don’t want to get married? Is this why you have depression? (…and on and on)
Me: Are you going to disown me now?
That question seemed to sober her up a bit.
Mum: No, I won’t disown you but you are making the wrong choice. Just find a boyfriend and settle down.
Me: It’s not a choice. Have you seen how gay people are treated? Do you think anyone would choose that?
Mum: (dissolves into rant that for me signals the end of any productive conversation)
I called it a wrap at that point. We had an awkward dinner, and an awkward 2 weeks after that before I decided to go to my little paradise for a few days; give us space to love each other again from a distance. (Spoiler alert, I left for paradise and never came back. Packed my laptop, yoga mat, hula hoop & beach clothes for 10 days. 10 days turned into 7 months turned into a whole new life).
Yes, it’s because I’m queer. And punk.
I don’t have breasts mum. The math doesn’t add up. Also, stop buying me C-cup bras (and then getting mad when I give them to my C-cup friends).
Come the fuck on. Dad is exhibit A and you know this. We’ve talked about it.
Not wanting kids?
I see how this one’s hard for you. You get a pass (within limits. Acceptance must be arrived at at some point.)
Cause of my depression?
How about we start by blaming that on the chaos/instability I grew up around? I moved to a new place, far from the usual triggers (a.k.a family chaos) and I’m doing much better. I see a reality where I’m off meds and I’m thriving. I’m not scared of the darkness because now I know what it is.
Making the wrong choice?
It is absolutely not a choice (and if I could just simply choose I wouldn’t choose men). I grew up fucking men. I found my gay later in my twenties and my gay lies on the spectrum. I’m also a man-hating feminist. Even I would think that it’s an easy equation to just opt out of fucking men. It’s not. I resent that I’m attracted to men and in the same breath I’m excited by penis sex and in that same breath I’m gay AF.
In our happy places, queerness is joyful freedom.
Pride Month means their laws & the hatred that they teach is meaningless. The judgments that they hold onto are unnecessary weights they choose to carry.
I came out to my mum as an act of defiance, to free myself and to free her from these chains. I know that ultimately she loves me too much to hate me for being gay. And thus, she will have no room in her heart to hate others for being gay.
The straight folks wish they could be us. Have you seen them? They wish they could have specially curated spaces like we do. Spaces free of men, free of straight men, free of straight women. Straight women really truly work against the cause. Shame. Fucked up irony is we only need the specially curated spaces because of them.
Queerness is joyful freedom.
Shoutout to Strictly Silk: An All-Female Dance Party. I attended one in Nairobi and had the time of my life. Absolutely no niggas in the room. Someone bring me a podium, I’m ready for my Martin Luther moment because I have seen the dream y’all!
Extra special shoutout to The Terrace Bar & Bistro, the one space in my little paradise that is black woman-owned and queer first. We come here, we lay claim and we dream together. We create, experiment, express, celebrate… enjoy sunsets and sundowners. It’s paradise.
Beneath the Baobabs Festival gets a mention too. A reluctant mention because they serve heavy colonizer vibes. A mention nonetheless because it’s the first place where I found a sea of queers. I found my tribe, I met myself, I radicalized and I’m more powerful for it!
Shout out to Rainbow Dust! for bringing us our first Kilifi Pride Party. The gayest party of the century! (I bet you I’m about to get hella laid this month. Stories incoming :)!
We are queer and we are here!
(Read next: Imagining A World Free Of The Compulsory)