“I’m happy because I know who I am”

“You’re going to hell”. Mouthed my cousin. “You’re coming with me”. I mouthed back. Completely not the scenario you’d think. This was all said out of amusement yet I always wonder whether she meant it. Sat in my uncles living room on a Sunday afternoon, with my older brother, aunt and 5 cousins, my uncle went on to read verses from the bible followed by his usual ritual of cursing every human that has walked on the face of this earth a non virgin, a piercing and tattoo junky, a smoker, an alcoholic, and his all- time favourite the LGBT community. I might as well have walked out of that living room then and there. I could have objected and made a scene, got angry and packed my bags and left his tunnel visioned household. Instead I sat and listened to the insults thrown out at all that I represented, smiled and actually tried to hold in a giggle which I ended up covering with a cough while my cousin smiled at me from across the room. (I wasn’t being rude; it’s just very amusing when my uncle goes off on one).

I came out to my best friend when I was 17, I knew when I was 14 that I liked girls yet was very much in denial about it for fear of losing friends. Being gay inAfricaback then was not a hot topic at all. Still isn’t really in most countries. Turns out my best friend knew before I had even told her, damn I’m that obvious. It all turned out great, she didn’t mind one bit, and neither did my other friends. I got my 1st girlfriend, and had even told my older brother I was in a relationship with a girl, to which he didn’t mind or care. I was happy. 5 years later, I’m hiding posts and blocking family on facebook (facebook was bound to pop up somewhere in this piece) . I was deleting messages in case my family went through my phone, shocking I know, but I even became weary of the friends I’d introduce to my family in case my cover was blown. It’s shameful behaviour but I was scared. Being a young black lesbian and feminist in the making just meant I was more prone to abuse than if I were just black. Or just a feminist. I cannot stress the amount of times I’ve had to listen to my elderly male “role models” in the family go on about how I cannot marry a white man and that I should be obedient to the African Congolese man that I will be enslaved to. Being told what a woman can and can’t. So imagine the movie I’d get if they knew not only am I NOT going to marry an African man let alone a man. But I’m going to be an independent LGBT activist. That’s a recipe for African disaster. It’s like not knowing how to cook chicken?! Moving to theUKhad seriously opened my eyes. When I started college I still hadn’t come out to my British friends, I had the mentality that they would treat me the same way that I feared I’d be treated by my family if they knew. So I went through my college days in hiding. Once I started uni it hit me that I was away from typical African mentality and made a decision that for now and ever I’ll never regret. That I’d simply make a change and get active. I added the LGBT society on facebook in my second semester and bloody wished I’d done so in my first. I’ve NEVER felt so comfortable in my own skin. I could talk so openly and actually be myself, was ridiculously liberating. I got involved with the society and helped out in the smallest ways I could. I can proudly say some of my closest friends come from that society.

You are probably wondering what the whole point of me writing my first paragraph was. And why I laughed. I laughed because as I sat there watching my uncle curse the heavens for our existence I thought to myself I’m secretly happy. I’m happy because I know who I am. Even though my family do not know I’m gay, I’m happy because I’ve come to terms with seeing that there is absolutely nothing wrong with me. And that at the end of the day the bible can be shoved into my face as much as they please, I can be prayed for a million times over, I’ll still be happy. Million dollar question everyone is wondering. If I’m so happy why don’t I just tell my family now. Well as selfish as this sounds they do support me financially, and once I’m out of uni and have a proper job I’ll be free as a bird. And I’d like to spend as much time with my siblings before I leave Uni in case the cats out the bag and I get kicked out. Regardless of all this I am still happy. And I would highly recommend that all those who are in the same situation and are not ready to come out, to simply find the gay (happy) in you. Slowly but surely, all things good will unravel.

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