Limit(less) Project: Kim

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.

Kim: Trans Burundian (Canada)

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

My name is  Kim, I’m a trans woman from Burundi. I answer to she.


Q. How would you describe your style?

On my best days, i’m serving dementor who has eaten all the souls she needs to get her life back lol. But i also channel some pink princess looks when im feeling cute and deceptive. It really depends on what character i want to be and the story i want to tell that day.


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

I think I blend my queer identity and my african identity in my style through storytelling. 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. Everytime i step outside of my house, i am at war with white supremacy so my looks are some sort of armours that i wear.


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?

I think that it still happens that i feel pushed away by people deeming me not “african enough”, the difference is that now i don’t actually make space for them to make me doubt my identity. I find pride in all the things I was taught to hate about myself and i am doing that work constantly, everyday.


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

I’d tell them to read a book tbh unless they are paying me to hit them with a few facts. It actually doesn’t even make any sense as a concept so I wouldn’t engage in that conversation lol


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

It was so fun! 


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

I’m excited to see more of these beautiful faces and stories. 


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

Instagram: @blacksupremacist



Limit(less) Project: Juliet

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.

Juliet: Queer Ugandan-Rwandan (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 Juliet Atto, also called Jules, and I was born in Uganda and raised in Sweden. I mainly have roots in Uganda but also Rwanda as my grandmother was Rwandan. My ethnicity is Acholi, a minority ethnic group in northern Uganda. My pronoun is she/her and I identify as queer.


Q. How would you describe your style?

Hard to say, but I would say “edgy” with a feminine twist, or perhaps feminine with an edgy twist? A mix of street and chic with vintage elements. My style evolves over time and I like to update myself and my wardrobe every 2-3 years or so, reflecting where I am in life at that moment.

The best word to use to describe my style today is ‘carefree’. I’m very comfortable with my body and I like to show it and have fun with my style. You can definitely tell that I’m a big city girl in the clothes I wear. My outfits tend to be very modern and expressive of who I am as a person: a young carefree black queer girl!


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

I would say my style is quite queer in the sense that it doesn’t fit into just one box. I love tight dresses and crop tops but also sneakers, button-up shirts and leather jackets. My style is not particularly African in the traditional sense, with African prints etc., but I have elements of what I’ve seen women in my ethnic group, Acholi, wear like bright colors and long skirts. I would, however, like to incorporate more traditional African prints in my wardrobe.


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?

Oh, yes. I’ve felt pushed away from my African identity because I was raised in Sweden and with barely any Ugandan traditions. I used to speak my native language, Acholi, when I was little but forgot it as my family and I were learning Swedish. Language is very important when it comes to culture and identity, so it’s a regret of mine that I’m not able to speak it anymore.

I haven’t until about a year and a half ago fully embraced my LGBTQ identity. I’ve been in LGBTQ surroundings for years and saw myself as an LGBTQ person but was never quite treated or seen as one by others. I’ve always been around white LGBTQ people and they didn’t really see me as queer. Also, being a femme woman and not being a lesbian hasn’t helped either. I’m seen as “unreliable” because I’m attracted to men as well, even though I’ve been out since I was 12 and discovered my attraction to girls long before boys and other gender identities.

I’ve overcome all of this by finding other black queer people and forming Black Queers Sweden, the feminist and anti-racist movement and independent organization for black LGBTQ+ people, where we can be ourselves; both black and queer. Finally I am around people who understand and I feel proud to be queer, black and African, all at once without compromise. I have also met other bisexual, pansexual and queer people and met gay people who are accepting, which has helped enormously.

As far as my African and Ugandan/Rwandan identity goes, I would like to get more in touch with it and my roots and I feel a stronger need for it the older I get.


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

My relationship with my family in terms of my sexuality is great. I only felt the need to come out to my mom and for the rest I’ve made it an obvious thing, as obvious as being straight is. I haven’t made a big deal about it and neither have they. I understand how extremely privileged I am to be out to my family and I cherish it deeply. Although she may not always understand my sexuality, the fact that I’m attracted to all gender identities and not just one, my mom always taught me to be my own person and live a life that makes me happy. She taught me to be independent and strong and her acceptance was the only one I felt I needed so I’m truly blessed to have it.


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

That is such an ignorant thing to say and believe. LGBTQ-phobia is actually Western, not African. Being LGBTQ is not limited to one race and is definitely not a “disease” from white people; LGBTQ-phobia is. The idea that only white people can be LGBTQ is. The more black queer people that get represented the more it becomes normal that hey, we’re loud! We’re here! We’re black and we’re queer!


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

It was amazing! Seeing Mikael in action was a great experience. He’s super talented and creative. I was a bit low on energy due to it being a stressful week when we had our shoot, but it was a lot of fun and I felt sexy and powerful! It’s an honor to be a part of this amazing, super important, ground- and norm breaking project!


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

The exposure, visibility and normalization of black African LGBTQ people. It’s a long time coming but we’re finally organizing world wide and showing our flawless black and queer selves and mainstream society and the rest of the LGBTQ community are starting to take notice. A global revolution has started! 


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

Everywhere! Haha. I use Instagram and Twitter, @JulesAtto. I am also co-founder of Black Queers Sweden and we’re also on Instagram and Twitter: @BlackQueersSwe. We also use the hashtags #BlackQueersSwe and #BlackQueerMagic.

My IG: https://www.instagram.com/julesatto/

My TW: https://twitter.com/julesatto

Black Queers Sweden TW: https://twitter.com/BlackQueersSwe

Black Queers Sweden IG:  https://www.instagram.com/blackqueersswe/



1 Year Struggling with Depression

1 Year Struggling with Depression (Photos below description)

Between June 2015-June 2016 I struggled a lot with depression, ranging from mild to severe. On the good days, I felt pretty normal but like a monster was lurking around the corner waiting to plunge me back into sadness, on the bad days, I struggled to even get out of bed and felt completely numb and even detached physically from my body, like I was watching myself at a distance smile at people and pretend to care about our conversations as I wanted to curl into a ball and escape inside myself. At first this was just a day or two here or there, but eventually it began to drag on for days on days, weeks. At the worst times, suicidal thoughts briefly passed through my head. “Would anyone even care if I died?” I thought. I was already so numb that death didn’t seem like it would be that different than how I already felt. Even as professionally  much of my life was going well, emotionally and mentally I felt like I was falling apart. At the urging of several friends, I began seeing a therapist in October 2015 which helped immensely, but also surfaced a lot of suppressed trauma from abuse I endured particularly as a teenager. When I thought things were getting better in late 2015/early 2016, I plunged back into depression from my suppressed trauma in spring 2016. I was again totally numb. I didn’t even enjoy photography anymore. I eventually began to rest more, reflecting on the year and the trauma that I had suppressed before synthesizing and beginning to really recover in a real way in June 2016.

Throughout this time, I documented my experiences and feelings through photography. At the time, I ambiguously titled many of the photos as “Xx”. I knew that the series I was doing was about my depression but I was scared to talk about it. The stigma against mental illness is so strong, especially in black and many immigrant communities and particularly amongst men, that I felt smothered into silence. I stalled seeking help as long as possible until much of my life emotionally felt like it was in pieces. I suffered in silence much of the time, especially as people shamed me for not being social and more. Mental illness is not a joke and depression and anxiety in particular are incredibly common, especially in black and brown communities that have endured tremendous historical trauma. That is why I find it important that I share my story, as a queer person, a black person, an immigrant, a victim of abuse and more. We need to destigmatize mental illness so that people can and do get help when they need it and feel loved and supported by their communities in doing so. And if it weren’t for my closest friends repeatedly urging me to go to therapy until I relented, I’m not sure where I would be today. 

Below are the photos I captured over that year I spent struggling with depression in (roughly) chronological order from when I first started to slide into one of the hardest years of my life to when I began to truly recover and heal. 

06.15 - Xx

06.15 - Xx

06.15 - what remains pushes on

07.15 - Royal

07.15 - Xx

07.15 - Xx

08.15  - heritage

09.15 - suspended animation

09.15 - Xx

09.15- Xx

09.15 - Drink up

10.15 - Xx

10.15 - ever forward

10.15 - the materia series

11.15 - untitled

12.15- Me

02.16- wednesday morning

02.16- day.z

03.16 - spring

03.16 - moonlight

04.16 - . . pause

04.16 - untitled

04.16 - untitled

04.16 - untitled

05.16 - embrace your magic

05.16 - untitled

05.16 - untitled

06.16 - comp 2

swimming in sunshine

When I touched heaven

The last two pictures from 06.16 were accompanied by this poem:

swimming in sunshine 

in too deep

you paused for a moment

conjuring the beat 

When i touched heaven

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