Brian : Queer Rwandan

Montreal, Canada (2016)


“My Africa is one that is intrinsically hate-free, welcoming, comprehensive and protective. It’s not about knowing if LGBTQ is “un-African” or not but it’s more about understanding that homophobia and transphobia are clearly not derived from African values, culture and traditions.” – Brian

Mikael Owunna [Photographer]: Growing up as a queer African person, I was told that it was "un-African" to be gay, and that homosexuality was foreign to our culture. After enduring years of severe alienation from my Nigerian heritage and a series of exorcisms in Nigeria as well, I started Limit(less) to reclaim my African-ness and queerness on my own terms.


Limit(less) is a documentary photography project on LGBTQ African immigrants in North America and Europe. Between 2015 and 2017, I have shot over 50 individuals for the project in 10 countries toward my goal of debunking the myth that it is “un-African” to be LGBTQ.


To achieve this, the project specifically captures “queer African style” to represent this unique fusion of identities; visually expanding conceptions of African-ness and queerness in turn.


Paralleling my own personal experience, it is not uncommon to hear individuals in many African communities say that LGBTQ identities are “un-African”.  Homosexuality is outlawed in 34 African countries as of 2015- largely as a legacy of European colonial legislation - and the violence against and silencing of LGBTQ Africans extends to communities in diaspora as well. 


Limit(less) explores how LGBTQ Africans in North America and Europe – at the heart of these colonial legacies – navigate their multifaceted identities and find ways to bridge the “gap” between being LGBTQ and African through fashion.

Full project website: www.limitlessafricans.com

4 Queer African Women

Brooklyn, NY, USA (2017)


Headwraps by: @wrapsbyjames (IG)


Models: (From Left to Right)


Yéwá:

Country of Origin: Nigeria 

Badu:

Country of Origin: Ivory Coast


Amadi

Country of Origin: Nigeria


Mai’Yah:

Country of Origin: Liberia

4 Queer African Women

Brooklyn, NY, USA (2017)


Headwraps by: @wrapsbyjames (IG)


“I dedicate this collaboration to all the queer Africans that aren’t able to come out because that would put their life at risk. To the queer Africans that would be shunned by their community, family and/or country. To the queer Africans that are in desperate need of an answer and feeling lost as to where to look for it[...]You are not alone. I’m with you. Limitless is with you.”

- Mai'Yah (Queer Liberian, furthest right)

Sizwe and Kim - Queer and Trans Burundians

Toronto, Canada (2016)


"Living so far from the African continent and navigating life as a racialized immigrant, has not been easy. I had no choice but to reclaim my Afrikan queer identity as a way of survival and self preservation. This process of accepting my whole self." - Sizwe, Queer Burundian (left)


"I love reading east African stories about warrior princesses and powerful witches (who are often trans and queer) leading their army in wars against the colonizers and slaying. I think of those women when I’m walking down the street, bracing for a comment or a look or finger pointed at me, I think of how they fought to keep their lands and bodies." - Kim, Trans Burundian Woman (right)

Wiilo : Queer Somali

Arlington, VA, USA (2015)


"Wiilo in Somali means girls who dresses like boy. It’s a nickname that I was given by my elders when I was younger. It’s something that has always comforted me when I was going through my process of discovering my queerness and helped me to overcome the shame and the feeling of being pushed away from my culture”

- Wiilo 

Gesiye : Bisexual Nigerian-Trinidadian

Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago (2015)


"I had to grow to be comfortable with who I am, and how I choose to express myself outside of what society expects; there’s no way to satisfy what everyone thinks I should be, and no way to be happy living as someone else." - Gesiye

Netsie : Queer Ethiopian-Namibian

Seattle, WA, USA (2016)


" I love wearing bold patterns that clash, things that could be pretty but aren’t, anything to remind people that when they look at me, I am looking right back at them." - Netsie

Em : Trans Nigerian

Washington, D.C, USA (2016)


“I definitely think I’ve pushed away from my African identity in a way. I haven’t been able to be both because I don’t really feel safe to be African and LGBT or like it’s possible. That’s something I have to explore and really understand. The LGBT identity is really new to me, so I’m really trying to understand what that means also as Nigerian. I feel like when I find out what that means to me, it’ll be revolutionary.” – Em

Taib : Queer Ethiopian-Namibian

Toronto, Canada (2016)


"Queerness is alive and well on the continent of Africa. Queerness has no borders it has no limits. I’m excited to have an encounter with a bigot who says queerness is un-African then send them a link to [Limitless] and ask them to explain then ‘how all these children of Africa came to be who they are ?’ " - Taib

Tyler : Queer Kenyan-Somali

Toronto, Canada (2016)


"In many ways we are pushed out of [the LGBTQ and African] communities in unique and specific ways and pulled in in just as complex ways. For me, this is a source of power. When we are neither here nor there, we are free to carve out and customized space for ourselves through community, art, and self-exploration." - Tyler

Carol : Queer Nigerian

Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago (2015)


“To view African LGBTQ folks as “un-African” is to fall into the trap created by white supremacy centuries before. Gender binaries and heterosexuality are imperialist social concepts created, in part, to regulate and differentiate black and brown peoples from white people. In reality, intense homophobia and transphobia are the true “un-African” sentiments.” – Carol 

Aru : Queer Congolese

Brussels, Belgium (2017)


"Being accepted [by my family] looks like me being given the same treatment in life that my older sibling and relatives expect of me as they do for my younger siblings. Without them feeling uneasy or rewording their sentences to avoid certain words or phrases. Acceptance simply is me living my life without needing to justify it, or prove myself worthy." - Aru

PO : Afro-Queer Congolese

Brussels, Belgium (2017)


"[B]eing African and queer was two outsider identities and for me it never seemed impossible to combine. In both spaces I was supposed to be fitting a norm that I wasn’t able to fit. Whether it’s the white one or the straight one, and when you say “fuck it” to one it’s easy to say “fuck it” to both."- PO

Jihan : Trans Algerian Man

Brussels, Belgium (2017)


"I don’t have any contact for more than 20 years with my paternal family, which is the most oppressive part. It’s a radical choice I made well before questioning myself on my gender, and so it’s not directly connected with my transition." - Jihan

Abdi : Gay Somali Asylum Seeker

Umeå, Sweden (2017)


" [The Swedish government] want to send me back to Somalia because they think I’m not gay. I am free in my feeling [here], but as I said for [Swedish] immigration I am not free. I feel like in the chains. I was scared all the time in Somalia, but I feel like [Sweden] closed everything to me. I cannot go to work, I cannot go to school. I cannot buy [cigarettes]. It’s so difficult. I don’t want to come back to Somalia, and I know that I can never come back there. If I come back Somalia I will be killed, I know that. Al-Shabab and religious groups." - Abdi, Gay Somali Asylum Seeker, Sweden

Full Project Website:

www.limitlessafricans.com

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