Limit(less) Project: Alicia

Limit(less) is a documentary photography project by Mikael Owunna exploring the fashion and style of LGBTQ African immigrants. The purpose of the project is to debunk the myth that it is “un-African” to be LGBTQ.

For more on the project, follow us on TumblrInstagramFacebook and Flickr.

Also please Donate to Support the Project.

Alicia: Trans Burundian Woman (Canada)

Q. What’s your name, country of origin, ethnicity, preferred gender pronoun, and how do you identify in terms of your LGBTQ identity?

My name is Alicia, I am Burundian by my parents; I was born in Burundi and stayed there until I was 5 years old but I grew up in Senegal the following 12 years before moving to Montreal in 2007. My pronouns are She/Her.

I am Alicia, a trans Burundian woman.

IG : @john_wayne89

Facebook : John Wayne

Q. Quel est votre nom, pays d’origine, éthnicité, votre préférence de pronom pour votre identité de genre, et comment vous identifiez-vous dans votre identité LGBTQ ?

Je m’appelle Alicia, je suis burundaise d’origine ; je suis restée là-bas jusqu’à l’âge de 5 ans mais j’ai grandi au Sénégal pendant 12 ans avant d’immigrer ici à Montréal en 2007. Je m’identifie au pronom « elle ».

Je suis Alicia, une femme trans burundaise.

IG : @john_wayne89

Facebook : John Wayne


Q. How would you describe your style?

To be honest I never overthink my style because it reflects my mood and will depend on my plans of the day or the events I will attend. My style can be described as classy, chic and elegant but it can be a very laid back and sometimes include African prints or even be very professional.

My style is definitely more feminine than masculine even though very rarely I find myself adding a little masculine touch to my attire so as to have a more androgynous style.

Q. Comment décririez-vous votre style ?

Franchement je n’y pense pas beaucoup parce que ça dépend de mon humeur et des occasions et des évènements. Il peut être class, chic et élégant mais aussi être un look décontracté et parfois des motifs africains ou même un look professionnel.

Mon style est plus féminin que masculin même si très rarement je vais incorporer une petite touche de masculinité qui me donnera un style plus androgyne.


Q. How do you think your style incorporates/blends elements of your African and LGBTQ identity?

I love mixing African styles with the Western look; I love how I stand for my African roots in my outfits, allowing me to never forget where I come from. All African outfits that portray African feminity really catch my eye.

Q. Comment pensez-vous que votre style incorpore ou mélange les éléments de votre identité africaine et LGBTQ ?

J’adore mélanger le style africain et le style occidental ; j’aime aussi représenter mes origines africaines par mes tenues qui me permettent parfois de ne jamais oublier d’où je viens. Tous les vêtements qui sont représentatifs de la féminité africaine m’attirent beaucoup.


Q. Was there ever a time where you felt pushed away from your African or LGBTQ identities? If so, how did you overcome that personally?

No, I never had the idea to push away my African identity but when it came to my LGBTQ identity, I have tried to bury my trans identity when thinking about the reactions people would have towards that. I thought for a long time that I was gay before understand I was trans, because deep down as long as I can remember I always felt I was a woman. And it was then that I started my transition. It has been a very introspective and personal choice.

Q. Vous est-il arrivé de repousser votre identité africaine ou LGBTQ ? Si oui, comment avez-vous surmonté cela ?

Non, je n’ai jamais eu l’idée de repousser mon identité africaine mais par contre pour mon identité LGBTQ j’ai plusieurs fois tenté de refouler mon identité trans parce que je pensais aux réactions des gens face à cette identité. J’ai longtemps cru être gay avant de comprendre que j’étais trans, car je me suis toujours sentie femme. Et c’est ainsi que j’ai décidé d’entamer ma transition. Ce choix a été très introspectif et personnel.


Q. How is your relationship with your family, and what does being “accepted” by your family look like for you?

It is a sad story. I don’t speak to my father anymore and my mother passed away right after my birth. And I always thought to myself deep down that my mother would have accepted my identity. My father remarried approximately 10 years later with my step-mother and I later had 2 half-sisters and a half-brother. Unfortunately, we are not in touch anymore and we haven’t talked for more than 10 years now.

Q. Quelle est votre relation avec votre famille, et que veut dire pour vous “être accépté” dans votre famille ? 

C’est une histoire triste. Je ne parle plus à mon père et ma mère est décédée à ma naissance. Et j’ai toujours cru au fond de moi qu’elle aurait plus accepter mon identité.  Mon père s’est remarié par la suite un dizaine d’année plus tard avec ma belle-mère et j’ai ainsi eu 2 demi-sœurs et un demi frère. Aujourd’hui malheureusement on ne se parle plus depuis plus de 10 ans.


Q. What would you have to say to people who say that being LGBTQ is “un-African”?

To be honest and straightforward I don’t lose my time and my energy with those type of people. I have learned to ignore negative people in my life. I love how my life is an act of defiance towards ignorant people.

Q. Que diriez-vous aux personnes qui disent qu’être LGTBQ est “non-africain” ?

On va être très sincère et honnête je ne perds pas mon temps et mon énergie avec ce genre de personnes. J’ai appris à ignorer les gens négatifs dans ma vie. J’aime comment ma vie est un acte de provocation aux ignorants.


Q. Where are you comfortable with people reaching you on social media?

IG : @john_wayne89

Facebook : John Wayne


Limit(less) Project: Samuel

Limit(less) is a documentary photography project by Mikael Owunna exploring the visual aesthetics of LGBTQ African immigrants. 

For more on the project, follow us on TumblrInstagramFacebook and Flickr.

Also please Donate to Support the Project.

Samuel: Queer Ethiopian (Sweden)

Q. What’s your name, country of origin, ethnicity, pronouns, and how do you identify in terms of your LGBTQ identity?

My name is Samuel Girma and I am from Ethiopia, born in the beautiful Gonder in northern Ethiopia. My gender pronoun is he. I identify as a queer person. I love how the term gives me both the freedom to be as I am,it allows me to express myself freely.


Q. How would you describe your style?

I love to experiment with my fashion. I do not know if i can put any labels on my style, would say my style is very fabulous. I try to break rules and dos and don’ts about fashion. One day i might be wearing a fabulous jumpsuit and the next day i might be suited up. I love accessories, like rings,gorgeous necklaces and headwraps. 


Q. How do you think your style incorporates/blends elements of your African and LGBTQ identity?

It incorporates very much! I love to wear my traditional Ethiopian outfits. And when I do wear it i feel as if my Queerness and my Africanness just blends in a perfect mix. I love to represent my Africanness, specially in white queer spaces since there is this notion that, mostly from white queers that Africanness and Queerness does not go hand in hand. My style just makes me more whole i guess, and I feel complete. 


Q. Was there ever a time where you felt pushed away from your African or LGBTQ identities? If so, how did you overcome that personally?

YES! Honey! Many times, i had a hard time coming out and telling people around me about my queerness, i mean it was probably one of the most difficult times of my life. I think a lot of Habesha ( Ethiopians and Eritreans) queers can relate to that stress. I really did feel i was pushed away from my queerness.

After a lot of soul-search and a lot of struggle and with the help of friends around I started to dare more, to live as I want and it just got better. And the more i became myself the more I loved myself. There is really not much that can be compared to being yourself. It is amazing! 


Q. How is your relationship with your family, and what does being “accepted” by your family look like for you?

Well, my family is important to me and I have a son from a previous relationship. Being accepted means just being able to be myself all the time without switching some sort of on and off switch. For me being accepted means both the ability to introduce a possible boyfriend to  just living as I want. 


Q. What would you have to say to people who say that being LGBTQ is “un-African”?

Hm..fuck off? Lol. Well it is a form of Anti-blackness and racist when white people say that. And when africans say that they really do not know African LGBTQ histories and herstories.  I mean can we talk about colonialism and its fuckery that still is affecting our Africa today? People do not know that the idea of LGBTQ being “un-African” is a product of the colonial/ racist history of our continent. 


Q. How was participating in the Limit(less) shoot?

AMAZING


Q. What are you most excited about for Limit(less)?

The future. Future collaborations. 


Q. Where are you comfortable with people reaching you on social media?

I have twitter: @TheBlackfabness and facebook -https://www.facebook.com/samuel.girma.399 . I do not have insta or snap. But we have @BlackQueersSwe instagram :)

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