To the Black trans and cis womxn, and non-binary loves of the coming revolution

Baratoa,

This is not a love letter.

This is not to say that I do not hold an immense, immeasurable amount of love for you. This is not to say that I do not feel a sometimes-distant, sometimes-agonisingly heart-close admiration for you.

To say that this letter is not a love letter is to attempt to distance it from the romance surrounding the “revolution” – a romance that seems to celebrate you on one hand, cloaked in hashtags and heavily-biased media portrayals, while simultaneously invisibilising your pain.

There is nothing romantic about the place in which so many of you now find yourselves. There is nothing romantic about the doubt, confusion, bitterness, rage and exhaustion so many of you feel, just a few weeks into this new year. A 2015 exhaustion (and in many ways, an exhaustion that began to brew long, long before that) bleeds its way into this new year. An exhaustion coloured by the violence and triumphs of this charged, ambiguous, brilliant, difficult time.

This letter is an attempt to express the vast gratitude I feel for your presence and for your survival not despite of, but in the face of the often indescribable, unpennable reality of your lives. I cannot speak to all of these realities, nor do I mean to. As a queer, Black, cisgender womxn only some (a very, very narrow set) of these realities are my own. I only write this in gratitude to the few occasions in which I was able to be a witness, and sometimes, a friend.

This letter is an expression of gratitude for those who could not go ‘home’ for the holidays, because ‘home’ was too far, too close, unsafe, misshapen, complicated, non-existent, occupied, empty or a space from which they were violently evicted.

This is also an expression of gratitude for those who did go ‘home’, only to be exposed to the intimate violence that those closest to us are uniquely capable of inflicting: the denial, misgendering or invisibilising of our identities; both the silence and the constant sounds that mark us as other. This is for the gender non-conforming, trans and/or queer loves that sat through Given Vhoromo and Nthabiseng Rachoene’s gorgeous wedding, only to be exposed to a torrent of transphobic, homophobic, classist responses in interactions at home, outside, or online.

In the face of these often theatrical and malicious displays and outpourings of disgust, you are still here. Ever-gorgeous and alive, capable of love, and sometimes laughter.

To the trans womxn and non-binary people who continually call us cis-womxn out on our bullshit, thank you. To the trans womxn and non-binary people who no longer have space or time for us and our bullshit, thank you. Thank you for keeping us accountable and keeping yourself safe. It’s past time we listen and stop it.

For the many struggles and fights and exclusions and words and silences and mistakes and challenges and occupations and gatherings and confusions and days to come. I wish you solace and support in the ways you need it.

Thank you for being here. Thank you for your work, thank you for resisting. Thank you for existing. It is never “simply existing”, because to be who you are, where you are and when you are is nothing short of miraculous.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

With palms full of gratitude.

M

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