I have neither the privilege nor the guts to introduce myself using my real name. So, I choose to use the name ‘Thriza’.
Are you wondering why this name? Let me tell you the story so you can understand for yourself.
So, my name (for the purpose of this blog) is Thriza, and I am 24 year old Ethiopian woman. I was born and raised in the capital Addis Ababa and I am the first of four in my family.
I found out that I was gay when I was 20 years old and being an Ethiopian and part of the LGBT community is probably the worst combination ever.
Although I discovered my sexuality over four years ago, I only came to accept it a few months back. This is because I was busy trying to change myself from what I know I am now (and can’t ever change) to what is supposedly ‘socially and morally acceptable.’
To the right sexuality – straight.
But the truth is I JUST CAN’T THINK STRAIGHT!
I have finally embraced what I am though. I choose not to fight it any longer for many reasons I will raise in the future.
So, I am going to try to use the online space as a platform to bring Ethiopian LGBT issues to the wider society.
How it all begun
I was born in Addis Ababa but when I was almost 18 (17 years and 10 months old to be exact) I had to move to another city to join University.
I knew no one there except one girl who went to the same high school in Addis with me. Luckily it didn’t take me too long to make more friends. I was home sick for the first couple of months but thanks to everyone I shared dormitory with things got better.
Almost everyone I knew didn’t make it to the second semester of freshman year so I had to move into another dorm to join others who made it past the so-called ‘Ye Gena Maebel’ (Christmas Storm) to join the second semester of first year.
No major change happened after that.
In my third year and final year, I decided to move out and live outside campus.
I became lazy, seldom attended class. I got into some trouble having missed too many classes but with the help of God, a bit of luck and thanks to other classmates who were like me, I was saved.
As all I did was skip classes, stay at home and spend my days watching movies or surfing the net and that is how I ended up joining one Ethiopian social networking site. The social networking site had what we called ‘a lobby’ in which people who are online talked en mass.
I became close and pretty much popular with active members there, I guess because I myself became an active member too. The site was very fun and addictive.
There were men and women. Male members liked to talk to female members and female members preferred talking to male members. The lobby was all about fun but the site also had a private chat which two people who wanted to talk about something private could use.
I never really responded to private messages and all I did was have fun in the lobby by talking about different issues and I mostly talked to men. But there was this woman who I grew close to. She was friendly and easy going and I didn’t really see her as being different from the men I was talking to.
I don’t remember how it started but one day there was conversation about homosexuality and all the men in the room were talking against it while this woman was saying things like ‘who are you to judge?!’, ‘who here is free from sin?!’ but she didn’t say she was gay or not.
I don’t exactly remember what I said but I know for sure that I was very much against it.
So, I went to her privately and asked why she was pro-homosexuality. She explained it was because she was gay.
I was really shocked. I remember very clearly that I offered to help change her even though I don’t really know how I was planning to do that.
We kept talking privately and before I know it I fell in love with her and suddenly everything made sense.
It became clear why I was not sexually attracted to men. It made sense why I didn’t find very good looking men appealing even whilst my friends screamed and shouted for them.
It made sense why I was more nervous around women than I was around men. And thank God it was just an online thing that I didn’t have to freak out and move out of the city or vanish. I accepted it. I made peace with my feelings and confessed to her. Luckily she felt the same way.
This is how it all began for me, and the rest is history.