Stolen 1000 giggles: Thinking on being a non-heterosexual African woman
By Jerry Kariuki
Quietly, she slithered out of his embrace, being the little spoon is all fun and games until you need to leave without waking the other person up. She zombied around in the darkness reaching out for stuff until she felt a sweater, his sweater. It had his scent soaked down to the seams -a perfect blend of mossy wood, wild vanilla, notes of full grain leather, and a slight musk of his natural body scent. That was the scent she wanted to take in with her dying breath, it was the symbol of the best parts of her life. She moved on her tippy toes, pulled the sleeves as mittens then made her way to the balcony, leaned in on the rails, and took in the view. The stars seemed to hit the earth at a precise intersection with a sea of skyscrapers. That magical view surprisingly looked better on the afternoons when the sun was streaming through, reflecting into a near perfect Aurora, while they lay cozied up next to each other soaking in each others essence. Over time, that view captured the chronicles of how they had made love easy. It was on that balcony that he asked her to move in with him.
Instead of the unending sleepovers and mixed schedules that was their life they could have a home and fight over wallpaper choices.
That was the thesis statement that convinced her to agree to move out and a few hours later, there she was: on the balcony floor leaning against the half-shut glass doors scared to go all in. She felt his touch on her feet, it was soothing, warm like a plush blanket on a rainy Sunday. He knew her well enough that at that moment his presence was enough to report her fears and comfort her simultaneously. It had only been three weeks since they started dating. They had both accepted that time was not an accurate measure of their connection because they felt like infinity. She looked at him and for the first time ever let out her truth with all the weight it had.
Her love and sex life was considered a confusing mess by most people. She had been with different people moving from one sex to another with ease and fluidity. To her, all that ever mattered was the person she was with. She remembered her ex, that girl had a heart of gold and caught her by surprise. She was her heartthrob for the entirety of their forever. At some point, she wanted her to pick a checkbox and simplify things but that wasn’t who she was. Her heart broke because it had taken a lifetime to find such love and she was scared that she would need another life to meet someone she could share life with. The truth was that simple. She loved to love and her love chose to be oblivious to the sets of rules defined by people who did not understand love and those who were scared of its power.
As soon as she finished talking she heard him heave a little sigh, he pulled her in his arms, letting his breath tickle the nape of her neck. Almost reflexively a laugh sneaked out of her lungs. Snuggled up together they watched the night grow old and talked about her coming out: It was the first time she had ever explained her sexual orientation to anyone.
“Thank you for sharing this part of your story with me. Now, let’s get inside cause it’s cold and we won’t let anyone or anything steal any more giggles from you.”
His reaction was something she appreciated, he didn’t ask questions or make statements that made her feel like she was a hypersexualized fetish or an error that needed fixing. He understood the complexity of her situation, how much of a fight she had to go through, how lonely the world must have been and he loved her even more. She no longer felt restless, or tired or lonely. After a lifetime of cuddles and conversation, they got up clumsily waltzed back into the room.
Non-heterosexual women are often seen as a sexual fetish that can excite men, a challenge that men can overcome.
Unfortunately, there are still so many people trapped in situations they are unable to change and they are scared of being who they are. Even worse the hostility around sexuality and sexual orientation of African women has made it harder for so many women to understand their sexuality and embrace it. Most African women grow up with limited information about our sexuality. We are given tiny bits of information on our reproductive potential and “duty”, we are taught how to hide everything about our menstrual cycle, and are cultured to believe that our sexuality is shameful.
As a result, it is harder for us to explore and understand our sexuality and this is more difficult for women who do not fall into the heterosexual space. Non-heterosexual women are often seen as a sexual fetish that can excite men, a challenge that men can overcome, and a lot more derogative definitions that I choose not to mention. Young girls are taught to fear queer women as they are described as dangerous and hypersexualized women. In the end, it’s lonely and dangerous to be a woman that doesn’t fit into the norm because you are subject to hate and violence from almost every corner. This is what makes finding a person or community (virtual or real) that is accepting of who you are so special. It’s home for the restless soul and often reminds us what humanity really is about.
The increasing number of banners stating that “love is love” and the campaigns for LGBTQ+ rights are a heartwarming development and as part of the world’s population chooses to unlearn prejudice, discrimination, and hate of people based on social constructs there are more people finding the power and freedom to express who they are, who they love, and who they are attracted to. A big shout out to everyone who is courageously doing their part in creating a world where love is allowed to flourish!
Make sure you check out Jerry’s blog diaryof1000girls
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