A PanAfricanist Queer Womanist Collective
This is one of those letters.
Where you don’t know where to start because you’re scared that to start this will spell the end of something else.
Normalcy for one.
The way you view me for another.
One of those pages of writing that could change the course of history. Not for the world but for the way you see me.
Erase my past and replace it with only the present.
Replace the spectrum of everything I was and replace it with a single identity.
No longer the little girl who played in the yard. Or wore a fluffy white dress for your wedding.
No longer the little girl who you dropped or school. Or who you helped learn to fly a kite.
No longer the ‘lil lady’ you were all proud of. Who you told would grow to be something amazing.
No longer the young woman whose graduation you attended and whose future filled you with questions and excitement.
But an abomination of nature.
Something that can barely be named.
Or looked at.
‘This is not right.’ You will say.
‘We don’t do that here.’
‘How can you be one of them?’
‘One of whom?’ I want to cry. ‘Last time I checked I was one of you, a member of the family who raised me to be all these years’.
My past is erased and what is only left is my present. And an uncertain future. If there is one at all.
My mind races ahead of me to a beautiful wedding…that you may not attend.
A first birthday of a child you may never acknowledge.
All the beautiful things shared in African culture, that are celebrated, rejoiced over will be denied to us…or them. As I no longer form part of the collective.
The laughs and congratulations and unsolicited advice seem so distant. Like a faded memory of something that could have happened. The pictures blurry and the sound barely audible.
That is the quality of the scene before me .
If I end up with a man I can have it in HD. With surround sound.
If I end up with a woman, I may be lucky to get black and white picture with bad reception.
My thoughts come back to my present. The gift I feel that may soon be returned. At this moment you’re still happy to see me. Know me.
And I’m scared to change that.
So I consider my options.
I could send this letter and shift the course of history.
Or I could hit the draft button and enjoy my neatly constructed reality for a little bit longer…
Cause that’s how I feel…
That I have a little bit longer.
Till something has to give.
Reality can only put on its Halloween costume for so long.
I can only pretend to be something else for so long before the heels begin to hurt, the panty hose start to itch and the mascara begins to run.
And the party ends.
Monday morning comes and you have to look life dead in the face.
But for now I still want to party.
Still want to pretend that the music is enough, that the laughter will not end and that the good times will roll for ever.
And that you love everything that I am.
Or at least, the me in this very tight and constricting party dress.
Pretending to be something.
I want to pretend that there isn’t the slightest possibility in infinity that you wouldn’t love me. Or want me around. That I will not form part of the ‘us’ and will become…
So I smile.
I argue my case for ‘gay rights’.
I tell you off for your scathing homophobic comments that cut to the core.
I allow you to think that I’m just being my quirky self and nothing more.
‘Kagure believes in these things…that’s how she has always been. It must be all that time spent in the UK.’
Its all that time spent in my dark Luyha skin.
In this body that cannot mask where it is from.
In my mind housed behind my Kikuyu forehead.
Nothing foreign. Nothing western about what is inside.
The accent and the English words give a voice and a sound to a feeling very African in nature.
I would say in Kikuyu if I knew how. I would say it in any African tongue if the words that were associated with what I am didn’t make deities of dialect blush.
If I could go back in time I would seek out the syllables that spelled what I am, not with disdain but description.
I know they exist.
We have just chosen to forget.
As a continent we have forgotten the words but the feelings have not forgotten us.
I write all this with a clairvoyant perspective. Or what I have scared myself into thinking is clairvoyance. Maybe I shouldn’t blame myself but blame the beauty of hindsight given by the ugliness of others situations.
This continent can be dark not only in skin, but in deed.
So I file this letter away. Not to be sent.
Not right now anyway.
The fear keeps me in this uncomfortable costume a little longer.
My stockings run and the mask of make up begins to crack but I need…
…a little longer.
For my past to remain.
For there to be an ‘us’ a little longer.
I need to live in your eyes…
Just a little longer.