Limit(less) Project: Samuel

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

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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?


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 - . I do not have insta or snap. But we have @BlackQueersSwe instagram :)

<3 <3 <3 

My First Gallery Exhibition!

My first gallery exhibition happened this past weekend!

BIG thanks to Never Apart​Massimadi Montréal · Festival des films et des arts LGBTQ afro-caribéens​ and Arc-en-ciel d’Afrique​ for the amazing weekend and for helping make my FIRST gallery exhibition possible!!!! So overjoyed and overwhelmed by the response especially to my artist talk on Friday about my work Limitless Africans​ on LGBTQ African Immigrants. Thanks so much!!!

Massimadi Montreal is the first ever black LGBTQ film and art festival (to my knowledge) in the world and is in its 9th - and biggest ever- edition this year. I saw several AMAZING black queer films and shorts during it while i was in town and it was incredible to watch rich and compelling stories about us as black LGBTQ people - narratives we rarely see in mainstream!! Massimadi does an amazing job of this and will be running thru march 4th this year so check out the other amazing black lgbtq films and programming that they have available on their page: 

Never Apart is an incredible gallery and cultural space for LGBTQ people, artists and creatives. Several of Massimadi’s events and screenings took place in their space as well (including my Limit(less) artist talk) which shows the richness of the programming and showings they have! Limit(less) will be showing there through April 4th and they have so many other incredible exhibits up now that put QTPOC narratives and artists front and center. Definitely check them out even after Limit(less) :)! 

So proud and happy to have had a chance to work with both teams and can’t wait to come back to Montréal and engage with the amazing work you are all doing again. 

And heres a small pic of me cheesing seeing my name on the walllll at Never Apart during Massimadi :D. 

Photo credit: Uwayo Dushime​

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