As far as I can remember, there’s always been a girl by my side. A close friend, a sister-in-the-struggle, a teammate, the one who got all my attention. Someone I care for, someone I don’t count time for, someone who can ask me almost everything (for sometimes I can be terribly ungenerous). There’s always been a girl. And if I think about some of the boys I’ve dated, that girl wasn’t very far, and in some way I hoped that through these dudes, I would be able to reach her. Of course this thinking is wrong cause by thinking that way, I was only performing heteronormativity and kind of partaking in the proverbial “sexist female competition”.
And, as far as I can remember, for me, being heterosexual was always inextricably linked to race. As a mixed-race black girl, who looked a little « butch » and was neither pretty nor attractive to boys, one day in my 20th year I decided to join the kind of « normal » young adults life we had been forcefed through 90’s teenage TV shows. Something about conventional white middle-class femininity, some “how to” when interacting with boys, some negrophobic rules about what a decent body is. I faked it in order to join this club. Now I see the bill and it cost me so much in terms of self-hatred, low self-esteem and depoliticization.
But secretly, I’d keep thinking about girls… Most of the time, unconsciously. I’m not saying I fell in love with all my best friends. I’m simply saying that there’s always been a girl. Sometimes a close friend, sometimes a stranger sitting a few chairs away from me. I’m simply saying that being straight was not all that there was. That I’m now beginning to picture myself in a relationship with a woman, and it appears to be a peaceful vision. Over the years I evolved on having white partners and – without drawing a parallel with the current situation – I’m evolving on having male partners. I’m not going to discuss my concerns and doubts here. They have been with me for many years. I’m just writing, telling, to grasp the political potential of that truth.
So what now? As one of my Sisters is struggling with transphobia and precarity to achieve her transition, I’m just finding enough sincerity to confess, eventually, that I like women. And I miss my Sister as I’m writing it, to share with her this weird and sweet mix of fear and joy that I feel. And I miss my Sister ‘cause I feel once again she needs support, she needs me and other Sisters. The confession I make today is nothing compared to what she has to go through. I have lived 35 years as straight woman, and I have only begun my journey through lesbianism recently, I can still choose how much I will share my truth and with whom ; will I tell my old father who seems to me more tired as each day goes by, is it the first thing I have to tell to the new people I meet? As long as I don’t tell it, because of my straight background and almost entirely straight social network, no one will know. At least for now. Indeed that’s not what I want, and I have time to prepare for it. Transition for a black trans woman raises much more crucial issues than those I have, ranging from visibility and safety, to family and social bonds, as well as self-love and health issues.
So this text is not about finding out what might have been obvious about me to a few queer Sisters I met ; it is about the privilege I have to save energy from my recent black queer perspective to support and be by the side of my trans Sister who is on her way to her own truth. As a black queer woman to another.
Xonanji_Cases Rebelles (April 2017)
(to read this text in French, click here)