Limit(less) Project: Brook ብሩክ

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.

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Brook ብሩክ: Queer Ethiopian-American 

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 Brook. My preferred gender pronouns are he/him or they/them. I identify as a queer person of color. I’m from a town called Dire Dawa in Ethiopia.

ስምህ ማን ይባላል? የመጣህበት ሐገር ወይም ዘርህ፣ የጾታ መግለጫህ፣ እና የ LGBTQ መገለጫህ ምንድን ነው?

ስሜ ብሩክ ይባላል። የመጣሁት ከ ድሬዳዋ ከተማ ፣ ኢትዮጵያ  ሲሆን LGBTQ መገለጫዬ queer (ዜጋ)ነው።


Q. How would you describe your style?

I love earthy colors and textures. I usually just wear button-up shirts with a sweater. I guess you can say my style is a little preppy with some soul.

ምን አይነት የአለባበስ ስታይል ነው ያለህ?

ተፈጥሮአዊ ቀለሞች እና ቴክስቸሮች ደስ ይሉኛል። አብዛኛውን ጊዜ ሸሚዝ በሹራብ ነው ምለብሰው። ንጥፍ ያለ ነፍስ ያለው አለባበስ አለኝ ማለት ይቻላል።


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

A lot of Ethiopian traditional clothes aren’t supposed to be worn for casual wear- it’s always worn for holidays or special events. But I usually incorporate my style with different Ethiopian accessories or those that have hints of Ethiopian culture.

የአለባበስህ ስታይል ከአፍሪካዊ ማንነትህ እና ከ LGBTQ መገለጫህ ጋር እንዴት ይዋሃዳል ብለህ ታስባለህ?

አብዛኛዎች የኢትዮጵያ ባህላዊ አልባስት በልዩ ልዩ በዓላት እና ዝግጅቶች ላይ እንጂ በአዘቦት አይለበሱም። ከአለባበሴ ጋር አንድ አንድ ኢትዮጵያዊነት ያላቸው ጌጣጌቶችን አገጣጥማለው ።


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?

Being at an intersection of two (mostly conflicting) minority identities, I definitely felt like I had to choose one or the other. The LGBTQ community was a lot more accepting for me, so it was easy to distance myself from my African culture. But I’ve always been deeply rooted in my Ethiopian culture, history, even religion. Distancing myself from pretty much everything I’ve known and loved made me feel empty. Support from a few people in the Ethiopian community helped a lot. But more than anything, rediscovering old Ethiopian music made me realize that I have as much right of heritage as any other Ethiopian.

ከአፍሪካዊ ማንነትህ ወይም ከ LGBTQ  መገለጫህ  ውጪ የመገፋት ስሜት ተሰመቶህ ያውቃል ? አዎ ካልክ ያንን ግፌት እንዴት መቋቋም ቻልክ?

በርግጥ አንዳንድ ጊዜ በኢትዮጵያዊነት እና LGBTQ መሃል መምረጥ ያለብኝ ይመስለኝ ነበር፣ ምክንያቱም ሁለቱ ነገሮች አንዳንዴ እርስበእርስ ስለሚቃረኑ። LGBTQ  ማህበረሰብ በማንነቴ የበለጠ ተቀባይነት ስለተሰማኝ ከኢትዮጵያዊ ማንነቴ እራሴን ለማራቅ ሞከርኩኝ። ነገርግን ለሀገሬ ባህል፣ ታሪክ፣ እንዲሁም ሃይማኖት ስር የሰደደ ፍቅር እና ቀረቤታ ሰለነበረኝ ከዛ መራቅ ውስጤን ባዶ አደረገው። አንዳንድ ኢትዮጵያውያን የሰጡኝ ድጋፍ በጅጉ ረድቶኛል፣ ከምንም በላይ ግን የ ድሮ የኢትዮጵያ ሙዚቃዎችን ሳዳምጥ ምን ያህል የሐገሬን ባህል የመውረስ መብት እንዳለኝ መረዳት ችያለው።


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

For me being accepted by my family is being able to be who I am without fear of what anybody else says; and also being loved, supported, and encouraged to be my best self and reach my fullest potential. With the exception of some people (my brother and cousin) I honestly don’t feel accepted by my family. After lots of conversations, my family and I have reached an understanding to be civil with each other and be in one another’s life as we need each other. But I don’t feel accepted.

ከቤተሰቦችህ ጋር ያለህ ግንኙነት ምን ይመስላል? ላንተ በቤተሰብህ ተቀባይነትን ማግኘት ምን ይመስላል?

ለኔ በቤተሰቤ ተቀባይነት ማግኘት ማለት ሰው ምን ይለኛል ብዬ ሳልፈራ እራሴን መሆን መቻል ሲሆን በተጨማሪም ደግሞ በቤተሰቤ መፈቀር፣ መበረታት፣ እንዲሁም ሙሉ እምቅ ኃይሌ ሚያደርሰኝ ድረስ መገፋፋት ነው።  ከወንድሜ እና ከ አንድ ዘመዴ በቀር በቤተሰቤ ተቀባይነት ያገኘው ያህል አይሰማኝም።


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

I think this “Un-African” sentiment is due to western influence during the colonial era and continual pressure now. There is lots of historic evidence showing LGBTQ inclusion in many African cultures’ pre-colonial eras. Homophobia is what’s foreign to the continent. People like Richard A. Cohen, whose book and personal life was used as a base to introduce the “kill the gays” bill in Uganda, or groups like International House of Prayer who preach rather conservative American political agendas that even some Christians may contradict (abstinence over contraception, avoiding abortion, and of course complete eradication of LGBTQ people) are the reason why this “Un-African” sentiment is widely spread throughout the continent. Ironically what [these missionaries] are preaching is what’s “Un-African”.

LGBTQ መሆን ከአፍርካውነት የወጣ ነው ለሚሉ ሰዎች ምን ምላሽ ትሰጣለህ?

LGBTQ  ከአፍርካውነት የወጣ ነው ሚለው አስተሳሰብ በራሱ ከአፍሪካ ውጭ በቅኝ አገዛዝ የመጣ ነው። ይህንም የሚመሰከሩ ብዙ ታሪካዊ ጥናቶች አሉ። ነገር ግን አንደ Richard A Cohen አይነት ያሉ ስዎች በሚያስተምሩት ውሸት ምክንያት እንደ ዩጋንዳ ያሉ አገሮች የግድያ አወጅ ያውጃሉ ። እንዲሁም ደግሞ እንደ International House of Prayer ያሉ ግሩፖች ምሰብኩት የ conservative America (ኮንሰርቫቲቭ አሜሪካ) ፖለቲካዊ አስተሳሰቦች (አንዳንድ ክርስትያን የ ሆኑ ሰዎች እንኳን ማይቀበሉት ሃሳቦች) ናቸው ከአፍሪካ የወጡ የሆኑት።


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

It was very interesting. I’ve never done anything like this before so naturally I was nervous. But it was fun after a while. I learned a lot about modeling lol.

Limit(less) ፎቶ ሹት እንዴት ነብር?

በጣም የሚስብ ነብር። ከዚህ በፊት እንዲህ አይነት ፎቶ ሹት አድርጌ ስለማላውቅ ትንሽ ረብረብ ብዬ ነብር ግን ትንሽ ቆይቼ ዘና አልኩኝ። ስለሞዴሊንግ ብዙ ተማርኩኝ ቂቂቂ።


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

I honestly don’t know what to expect. I’ve never done anything like this before. But I’m really excited to hear the responses. It feels good sharing some of my life stories as much as sharing some of my style with the pictures.

ከዚ Limit(less) ፕሮጀክት ምን ትጠብቃለህ?

በውነቱ እኔ ምን መጠበቅ እንዳለብኝ አላውቅም። ከዚህ በፊት እንደዚህ አይነት ፕሮጀክት ውስጥ ተሳትፌ አላውቅም። ግን የሰዎችን ምላሽ ለመስማት ጓጉቻለው። አንዳንድ የሕይወት ታሪኮችን መጋራት ደስ ይላል።


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

People can find me @bura_bure on Instagram and if they can read in Amharic they can check out my blog http://huletnetib.blogspot.com/

ሰዎች አንተን ሶሺያል ሚዲያ ላይ እንዴት ሊያገኙህ ይችላሉ። @bura_bure በ Instagram ላይ ውይም ደግሞ አማርኛ ማንበብ ከቻሉ በ  http://huletnetib.blogspot.com/ ብሎጌን ማግኘት ይችላሉ።