They were long distance dating and the partner who lived abroad was returning home after spending some time in Addis Ababa and I was driving them to the airport.
They were sitting in the back, cuddling and murmuring sweet nothings to each other. I felt like an intruder and left the car to give them privacy as soon as we arrived at Bole Airport. As I stood outside waiting for them to say their goodbyes, I felt their agony at being separated yet again and wished there was something I could do to bridge the physical distance between these two overly sappy and madly in love women. It took me a few minutes to realize that, short of magically making the oceans that separated them disappear, driving them to the airport was the best thing I could do for them at that moment. My presence as a fellow lesbian gave them a license to be who they are: Two people newly in love saying goodbye to each other. They did not need to worry about their safety, they did not need to hide their love or how they expressed it, they could instead focus on what was most important at that moment which was saying goodbye to each other in a way that felt authentic to them.
My presence gave them that license for I am “the family of choice” that Bahir talks about in our just released podcast about the lesbian dating scene in Addis Ababa.
Despite the risks that come with being a practicing lesbian, Bahir with great humor relates how she navigates the lesbian dating scene in Addis Ababa. From the initial introduction to the long lasting love and to the troubles in between she reminds us about what it means to be a human with a beating heart. Her recounting of a couple she knows who met randomly at a shopping center and how that meeting grew into a love that is still going strong gives the romantic in us hope. We may not have that experience ourselves but knowing that it is possible fuels us to keep trying to reach out to people on Facebook, through friends and friends of friends.
The couple that I drove to the airport are still happily together after several years and we continue to be a family of choice for each other. Their love reminds me that life, liberty and the pursuit of dates is our unalienable right.
Keep dating and in the words of Maya Angelou, “Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”
We wish Bahir lots of luck. May the lucky woman find her way to her.