Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Opinion: The reflections of a day-old Lesbian

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Tawakalitu Braimah
Tawakalitu Braimah is a Ghanaian, former broadcast journalist and currently a Masters Student in Intercultural Management at the University of Burgundy, France.
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As one would expect, I have done my fair share of introspection on the events of the past 24 hours (from February 24-25, 2021) and I can understand how anyone with subpar or at best average intellect would make the inference that was made from my earlier post.

I did say I was grateful for the community of like-minded people I have by which I meant the feminist community on social media, other allies and friends I could call and vent to about some of the ludicrous arguments being made in support of homophobia.

I also alluded to how one’s activism could reflect on one’s family, a point predicated on an earlier conversation I had with my mum who was concerned that by using the ally logo as my profile picture on Whatsapp, I was giving people cause to associate me with the queer community.

So yes, I agree that without much context, anyone with a cocky confidence in their ability to read and understand the English language could conclude that I was outing myself.

The story also said I am studying in Europe on scholarship, the only part of what I can only describe as a joke of an article I wish was true.

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Again, I appreciate why this was a necessary addition because it feeds into the argument that activists are doing the bidding of western sponsors.

Honestly, if all takes to secure a scholarship is to come out once in while to say something remotely radical as supporting gay rights, then I would gladly sell my soul to a white God. Ooops, we already have one of those, don’t we?

This incident has made me more aware of the privilege I enjoy as a heterosexual woman because after the initial shock of seeing what had been written about me, it was easy to dismiss it for what it was; crass journalism.

You see, unlike a closeted queer person, I wasn’t faced with the dilemma of denying or claiming my identity. Neither did I have to worry about whether or not family and friends would accept me for who I am.

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I could afford to laugh about this with my friends; a luxury that members of the LGBTQIA+ community in Ghana do not have.

A dear friend of mine who is gay and living in Ghana called me yesterday and told me how he feared that in an attempt to defend me, he might out himself. I empathise with him and other members of the community who haven’t dared to speak up since this conversation resurfaced.

For them, to survive is to remain silent and to trust in the allyship of activists, a call I will continue to honour everyday, with all I have.

I understand how difficult it must be to launch a sustained attack on a people you can’t put a face to.

And by virtue of my previous job and my publicly shared opinions on the matter at hand, I see how a section of the media would consider me a good candidate to be used as the LGBTQIA+ poster child.

Apart from this being a malicious misrepresentation of my views, I do not feel that this article is a dent on my reputation. That would be suggesting that being queer is something so abhorrent that I should vehemently fight to dissociate myself from. If I do that, I would be alienating the same people whose rights I am advocating for.

Ultimately, this experience has been one of those liberating moments for me. Tagging gay rights activists as being members of the queer community themselves, is by far the ‘deadliest’ weapon in the arsenal of detractors.

Now that that card has been dealt, I feel free to go about defending the values and beliefs I hold most dear. The stoic philosopher Seneca once said, “There are more things likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality”.

Far from taking away my power and dimming my light, this development is just the motivation I needed to be more confident in my convictions and to use my voice and platform to advance the cause of humanity.

A luta continua!!!

Author: Tawakalitu Braimah (a Ghanaian, former broadcast journalist and currently a Masters Student in Intercultural Management at the University of Burgundy, France.)

Over 100 feminists solidarize with LGBT+ Ghanaians

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