XXYX Queer Africa: More Invisible


On the subject of voicing that inner scream that is your song . . .


LGBT Africa held two truths: you fuck, you die. Both truths were intimately woven like tapestry spun by a wild heart against an overreaching national government silenced from the world stage, answerable solely to itself, wielding unmolested corrupted powers. If caught, the government had every right to kill you, shot dead-on-the spot or tortured by electrocuting your vagina, penis slow but steady as water was poured so the amplified shock proved so lethal you’d fry to death for quick bodily disposal. If lucky, you fucked like you might die, meaning with intensity, not wasting that gorgeous urge to connect with that queer special someone who shared your wish to be Alive, truly Alive because what proved to be deadly was living a fucken lie everyday.


Third World fucking is hardcore sex zero nonsense: we sucked, swallowed, dicked, gulped, licked, fingered, penetrated, moaned, groaned, grunted, squirted, sprinkled, dribbled, bent down, bent over, spread wide, even wider, head-down-ass-up up up higher, swallow-every-drop-nonstop whenever and wherever nobody was watching, and if they did chance a glimpse, we fucked even harder, not wasting a drop of love or life or the scraps of sex pieced together in zero-time with a loaded gun aimed at your skull. Healing powers were summoned to quiet that extra-crispy brand of brutality reserved especially for queer Africans. We licked the death-wish within the body’s hidden caverns, our skilled African tongues glossing over bruises from beatings—pipes, stones, Daddy’s belt while your mother watched stunned to silence. We seduced delicious poetry from crushed glass inserted deep within a young lesbian’s tight vagina so her rapists could make her “less gay” to make her more of a “traditional African woman” who preferred “real African men” to masculinity in women. When it was over, if you survived, you crawled into the shadows where your scream against Death hit pitch-fever, head back howling your warning so the community might paint their future through your sound.


We never saw ourselves on TV; never heard our stories on radio; never held parades to celebrate hard-won struggles against non-stop, relentless, day-after-day oppression; had no materials, no paraphernalia, no lube nor tube; no twelve-inch, uncut, jet-Black dildo with glow-in-the-dark sprinkles to decorate your cock; no flag, no label, no symbol, no language, no code, no metaphor, no books, no anthem, no lyrics, no songs, no shops, no clubs, no bars. No celebrated space to pour our souls into alternative realities. No church or sacred community prayed over us or blessed gay people because they said Africans like us have no souls. We were invisible, that unreality within reality, a truth so true that when we first appeared they said we were a lie.


The ones who couldn’t take it anymore, the ones who refused to stay silent or hide, the few brave ones who faced fear to stand up and declare themselves openly gay and proud Africans became exclusively gay meaning instantly unAfrican: abandoned by family, disowned by lovers, denied by community, beaten by the police, criminalized as queer by the court, misgendered then deadnamed by the law to be eternally spat on by the Ancestors. They went from office workers with (relatively decent) salaries to bums fishing garbage from dumpsters, roaming the streets as sex workers prostituting among tourists to get by hand-to-mouth—if lucky.


In a matter of days they got that wild look of someone pushed far out on the edge where the thin line between sanity and insanity was a teetering question of time. Nobody reached out to help or hope–toooooo risky—so they wasted away in distant lands as whores pimped by some mysterious baby blue-eyed tourist, returning home with HIV, then dumped in the backwoods of their village to die a slow, painful, punishing death in disgraced anonymity. Our very first foot soldiers, heroes and sheroes and queer-oes and transexual-oes who sang their noble song, risking Life’s preciousness to voice a more precious truth. LGBT+ Africans armed with beautiful queernesses prepared to die for an ideal, unprepared to force-fuck heterosexuals in exile, stunned when treated like strangers at home in their own motherland. They did not die from HIV-AIDS; NO!NO!NO!; they died from loneliness, acute isolation sapped their strength to rise beyond the grave and reclaim their queer bodies so proudly declared before the world from Africa’s Alpha into Omega, beginning from their end.


In the end, they never knew their own worth to their community. But we know it now and will sing it forever, proclaiming eternity as we reach for Infinity where queer Africa lives forever and ever, Ase. For us few watchful survivors on the sidelines, the village sent a very clear message: “Fight back, you will fall. Fall, nobody will catch you. Die and no Ancestor will receive your rotten, queerly gay body in the hereafter where judgment is even worse.” We looked in the mirror, measured our stubborn pride and saw death. It’s that look you get when you don’t stand in your own truth, when you spin lies to fuel dreams that account for your emotional isolation. We were safer and yet hypocrites; wounded survivors too lost, too confused to trust or risk beyond the paralyzing fear that had us actively stuck in a loveless world: in other words, we were not ourselves.


We broke down, cried like motherless infants—vulnerable, unwanted, abandoned, starving for touch. Rather than unravel, rather than end up crazy or strapped to some bed locked away for life in a mental institution because some medical “expert” had determined we were “too insane” to live in a world that wished us dead. Rather than end up in prison or an asylum sentenced for life. Rather than lose what little power we gained through love, tears and precious queer African bloodshed, we decided to stay invisible.


Yes-yes-yes, we worked very, very hard to make ourselves absolutely nothing. “Better safe,” we thought, so we played at being “normal,” “ordinary,” “average,” “nice.” We made ourselves “predictable,” “routine,” “stale,” “flat,” modeling our behavior after “good citizens” who worship the grave. We fabricated shallow but necessary lies, swallowed spoonfuls of homophobia to stay safe inside the cozy queer closet. We looked at each other sideways if at all. “Wide-eyed blind” is what I call it, when you look not to see your queer family but to make sure they stay absolutely invisible. It’s affirmation through negation so your negation births queer annihilation. Easy enough: how can anyone identify when your process involves erasing “Self”? We betrayed each other, hurt each other, cursed, destroyed each other, then worked extra hard to caress the special wounds birthed by queer Africans scarred by extra-crispy (neo-colonial, white supremacist) assault and harassment. And we drank—too, too much—liquor plus laughter bubbling tonic during troubled times.


Suddenly, one bright morning, everything broke: the sun rose high to cast penetrating light on our lies but they were gone, disappeared; that false, artificial ring in our voice sounded true, even authentic; plastic gestures that made us normal became natural; we were masters of this fickle, fucked up world with its shallow, stupid, toxic standards. So we were comfortable, yes-yes-yes, finally safe. Next day, we were still safe and just as plastic. Following day, still fake, still safe. Next day, more fake, more safe therefore less alive.


And then we were too safe because we were too fake because we were less alive because we were too dead.


More fake, more safe; more safe, less alive; less alive, more dead; more dead, more artificial; more artificial, more insincere; more insincere, more accommodating; more accommodating, more polite; more polite, more approved of; more approved of, more accepted; more accepted, more connected; more connected, more alone; more alone, more alienated; more alienated, more confused; more confused, more lost; more lost, more scared; more scared, less secure; less secure, more insecure; more insecure, more drinking; more drinking, more drugs, more drugs, more numb; more numb, more lies; more lies, more artificial; more artificial, more fake; more fake, more safe; more safe, less alive; less alive, more dead. Such was the formula.


Because queer Africa is invisible while Black lives matter. Because the white gaze requires African gayze. Because (hetero-)patriarchy. Because homophobia. Because biphobia, queerphobia, transphobia. Because Dear Government, it is impossible to legislate desire. Because gender is a lie. Because African women with penises walk the continent. Because the transmasculine womb is my Motherland. Because English, a colonial language, can never decolonize nor free our dreams. Because White Supremacy is Africa’s most precious global export. Because racism. Because Africa equals poverty porn. Because the Black womb is exploited by capitalism. Because the Black body, Black family, Black love is under siege. Because the prison industrial complex. Because government claims you’re alive while non-existent. Because queer history is white space. Because the police can break into your home, jam a baton between your legs pried wide open, shine a torch to inspect your asshole for queerness because you cannot exist. Because hypervisibility means you are unseen.

Invisible.

Msenge. Kuchu. There is no “official” word for “queer” in any “official” African language, did you know?

Invisible.

Whenever I kiss my lover, it is an act of sexual perversion, but Chief can legally marry up to five under-aged girls as his wives at the same time, did you know?

Invisible.

There was no word for “prison” in pre-colonial Africa. Our beautiful Black bodies, queer or otherwise, were not born to be caged, locked up, labeled or erased, did you know?

Invisible.


And yet, despite invisibility, you know beyond head-knowledge, you know as only wisdom allows, you know queers are gods born to liberate humankind from “civilization.”


You Know You Know You Know You Know.


There is a war between my legs. It keeps me pure. To reach out, to touch someone who touches me back fuels the frenzy feeding my lust. Living inside someone for limited eternity. Love defeats death, my soul defeats my mind, scars testify to shared pain so that our chaos is made absolutely gorgeous. When partnered it means I am not erased, not invisible, not silenced, not unheard, not abandoned, not unwanted, not unlovable, neither slave to fear nor death. When partnered it means there is someone out there, another queer African just as starved for life as queer loving. Maybe, just maybe a tribe is in my future if I survive the (present) moment. If I claim the body that holds the story to voice my song. If I taste the death-wish during illegal fucking, swallow; if I re-imagine the world behind my eyelids, recreating reality to make it mine, aaaall mine. In a world committed to making queer Africans crazy, when I finally look beyond this evil empire, beyond circumstance in search of identity, have I done everything in my power to fully meet this moment? Isn’t this why some of us refuse to hide? Don’t I like myself more when living in integrity? Aren’t I more alive?


The year is 2073. Recently released data from census reports links dramatic drops in suicides to queer acceptance on the continent. Sickness, every deadly disease known to humankind has been eradicated from planet Earth, except White Supremacy. In keeping with genderlessness, borders have been dissolved, passports banned, citizenship declared a lie, tribalism stricken from the lips of dictators. Birth certificates have been renamed “Creation Portals” where oral scribes chant human complexity, celebrate fluidity, cleanse past pain and suffering born of mandatory labels from the gender binary, race, heteronormativity, those haunting curses that imposed false “truths” to distort reality for so many bodies. No more rigid identities. Now, we who were once the wretched of the Earth are its righteous gods—unscripted, complex, celebrated, powerful, freely divine human creations. Finally, our bodies are more than enough; they hold our song. Sing it!


Now,

Forever

Never

Ever

            Invisible!  

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