Limit(less) Project: Mai’Yah

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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Mai’Yah: Bisexual Liberian-American 

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

I am Mai’Yah, I am from Liberia, she/her and I believe my LGBTQ identity is bisexual.

Q. How would you describe your style?

I would consider my style to be afro conscious most of the time, but I have such an eclectic taste; I love everything.

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

I find myself incorporating a lot of African prints within my wardrobe to identify with my ethnicity as well expressing my sexuality and comfortability through my style of clothing–crop tops, head wraps, tailored pants and shorts, and dresses. It’s a perfect balance between femininity and of course being relaxed/ comfortable.  

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?

There were times where I would go to church and they would preach about how homosexuality is a sin and partaking in such behaviors would send me to hell, because it was considered behaviors of the devil. For years I felt so insecure and  uncomfortable with myself until I realized my happiness had to come from within. Pleasing others by living according to their perception wouldn’t bring the results I wanted in my life. I overcame the negative stigma associated with homosexuality by embracing who I am and rejecting beliefs anyone tried to impose on me.

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

I am not out to all of my family members yet, but the ones I am out with, we have an extremely amazing relationship. Not all relationships are perfect and being accepted is still having their unconditional love. And it includes not mattering what my preference is. It does not make me any less of a human being.

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

First and foremost, I define me and what anyone says doesn’t matter. I am still the descendent of my mother who was born and raised in the motherland, my preference will never change that.

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

Participating in the Limit(less) shoot was an amazing experience. I felt comfortable with being my true self and I loved the feeling of being in front of the camera and unlocking my inner Naomi Campbell !

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

I am excited to see my people coming out and standing for what they believe in. I am also excited that Limit(less) gives the people who participate the opportunity to be role models to people who are lost and afraid (like I was once upon a time) and help lead them to the light.

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

Anywhere !!

Instagram: @Lovexeastside
Tumblr: @dwelah 

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