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Pride 2021 Article

Pride 2021 Article

June, the month of pride! 

In the middle of June, we are the month of pride, a month with a special meaning for us as a community and activists.

I’m one of those people for whom activism focuses on positive things, celebrating our victories, stories, successes, and loves whenever I can. Not everything is rosy, but not everything is dark either. My heart goes out to the activists in Senegal, Cameroon, Ghana, Benin, where violence continues to be a problem. Benin, where violence continues to perpetrate against members of the LGBTQ community. Despite these difficult situations, I invite you to look for the positive and talk about it. 

What I am about to share with you, I believe something to celebrate, despite these problematic stages we are going through. I began a series of coming-out sessions in early June with people who were not family members, and I had not yet spoken about my sexual orientation. So I did it with a lot of fear because you never know how people will react to coming out.

But I needed to be in tune with myself, and I needed to know what kind of love my family had for me. Because as an activist friend of mine says, “All is love. A parent’s rejection of their child’s homosexuality is an act of love as much as the acceptance by some parents. So the first person with whom I began this process was my older brother. He talked to me a lot; he shared with me his fears about my relationship. He didn’t judge me; I didn’t expect him to accept me; I wasn’t taking these steps to be accepted. I expected any act of love, anger, joy, sorrow, violence from them. But, as I said before, I just needed to agree with myself. 

The other person I needed to talk to was my mother. Three years ago, one of my older sisters had seen fit to out me.

My mother never asked me that question; I think she felt it was my place to tell her. Last year she received calls from several members of my family, all of whom wanted to know if I was a lesbian. She answered that she didn’t know, she said it was my sister who made it all up. Despite all this, she never called me to ask me about my sexuality.

I finally decided to discuss it with her; I still remember how much I stammered before telling her that I had been living with a woman for four years and planned to spend my life with her. She looked at me and then asked me how we lived together, and I told her like a husband and wife. She smiled and asked me if I was happy, and I told her yes. Then, she referred to the Pope’s words about homosexuality. 

My mother is African, yet she broke the myth of the angry African woman who screams, who hits. I love and respect the anger of black African women. I am a constant angry woman, and I express my anger in many ways. After a short discussion, my mother said to me: I love you, and you are my daughter, if you are happy, that is the most important thing for me. I’m not going to reject you because the one who will suffer is me. I prefer you as you are, present, happy and alive”.

My mother’s words have made me feel good, and they have convinced me of my struggles in this month of pride. I share this message with you because I think, as my friend Aissy from Harmony Burkina said, about awareness within the family unit. The acts of love in our families can be different from one family to another, so let’s take the time to start this awareness but let’s do it.”

I am happy to be back home after two years and to have shared this part of me with my share this part of me with my mom. I hope to give you a lot of strength by my act.

Happy Pride month.

Emma ONEKEKOU,  

Program Officer in charge of the gender unit at AQYI.

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