Diary of Queer Ghanaian: The rise and fall (and rise) of my identity

By Boateng Boateng  

My childhood  was difficult. I learnt my mum always tried to make me wear skirts and dresses and I started rebelling around age four. Those were the days where she would allow me to pick my clothes from the shop myself. Her reply when they asked why was, ‘she never wears the stuff I pick for her.’

I miss that part of my life.

My self-confidence was intact.

Looking back now I think the pressures of growing up got to me. If you have read some of my articles here, you already know I grew up a chubby kid. I became very conscious of myself and my surroundings from around age 8 to 16. I felt being a tomboy was ‘abnormal’. I always felt that people were watching and judging me, and the funny thing is, at that time, I didn’t know a thing about being queer.

I had my first kiss at 16. With a guy.

It all started when my mother would cane me for playing football with the boys. I guess they never thought the tomboy in me would ever graduate to that level. After a series of canings, I finally stopped playing. That made me withdraw. I had a few friends and till now I have a genuine fear of canes. Most of my classmates from junior high school don’t even remember I was there with them. That was how invisible I was.

So in senior high school, when I was by myself, I learnt a whole lot on my own and started regaining my confidence and losing more weight, I became extremely happy. I can say I had the best days of my life there. I learnt more about everything including queerness. I had just one girlfriend and she’s the only one I had.

IMG-20151012-WA0004-1024x575After senior high school (the boarding house), we came back to the real world, the University. It was the same cycle all over again. We all braided our hair, some wore weaves and I lost my identity again. I never dressed how I wanted to because of fear of judgment, and at that time, I did not enjoy my life. It was boring and I was unhappy during that first year. Note, I don’t mind being boring but when I’m unhappy, then there’s a problem.

Two years later, I sat myself down and told myself I had to take charge of my life and my happiness. Making people happy whilst being miserable could lead to self-destruction. So I asked myself what I needed. And a haircut was the first thing I thought of not because I wanted to look queerer but because I wanted to start this ‘hair after school’ business on my own terms.

As if we don’t face enough problems in the society in general, there are also unnecessary issues in this small queer community of ours. Once you have masculine traits, there are particular hairstyles and items clothing you are expected to wear. And most of these ‘studs’ prefer the male pronoun which I totally loathe. People used to tell me I’m ‘too masculine to be straight and too feminine to be gay’ way back in school. I’m still figuring out what that means.

I am more feminine than I am masculine. I love sneakers and unisex dress shoes. I prefer skinny jeans and I hate boots (of any kind). I wear heels, dresses and skirts once in a while and I’m not ashamed of that. I love unisex T-shirts and button down shirts from the female section of the shop. I have c-cupped boobs and I am not ashamed of that even though I am expected to be because I’m considered to be a ‘stud’. I haven’t dated anyone for three years now but the joy I get in loving and finding myself every day is priceless.

I will neither be categorised nor labelled.

I don’t intend on transitioning. I identify as a woman who loves women and what I wear should never matter.

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