Bezaye, they say you never forget your first love or sexual experience. Especially for a queer woman like me when people ask me about how I learned about myself while living in a country like Ethiopia… how I met you etc, how can I tell the story without mentioning your name! Even before we were in our twenties, way before we knew what sexuality was… we weren’t able to really savor what we had due to our internal struggles and our society’s influence, and instead watched it devolve into this undefined thing filled with daily fights. Oh, youth! Do you remember how we used to make out against the dorm door until we couldn’t breathe for fear that we would get in trouble if anyone noticed that the door was locked? Do you remember how I would have mint liquor, all I could afford as a student, to ease my inner questions and then come to your dorm and nag the hell out of you? We fought, we made up, we ignored each other, and went right back to calling each other, those youthful times were more than a decade ago…
My old partners who weren’t interested in starting a relationship with men… are now married to men and have children. I wonder what are they feeling? Do they remember their own experiences when they watch movies and songs about queer people?
We had lost touch for a long time, so when I think about our most recent phone conversation, it shocks me… I still get goosebumps. Even though you have never had a relationship with another woman, you told me that you are not sure about the man you are with… Not only that, but you also often told me how women ask you for relationships. Even if you don’t think or outright tell me you’re queer/a lesbian… your reluctance to talk about it tells me a lot. I feel bad I couldn’t understand you. Remember when you read the first issue of Nisnis, on Faith and Sexuality, and said, “I relate so much”? I didn’t push you because we all have different ways of doing things. But you telling me that you are about to get married soon has raised so many questions in me… Bezaye, I hope both your pregnancy and marriage are of your own will. I could hear your reservations through the phone, but what can I say? I can’t do anything about your choices. It’s sad if the society that claims to know you, is what’s stopping you from being yourself. What else could it be? I don’t know. The bigger question is… You asked me to have a romantic relationship, many years after we broke up, and I refused at that time… But then you added that you are not interested in other women… This chaotic life… I also understand your fears.
Without talking about the relationship we shared, or who we are… My old partners who weren’t interested in starting a relationship with men… are now married to men and have children. I wonder what are they feeling? Do they remember their own experiences when they watch movies and songs about queer people? Or is it a day-to-day struggle? Do they think about what we shared together on numerous occasions? If not, I hope they have the freedom to at least think, living in a country that robs us of our freedom. Maybe it’s just my wish.
I don’t know what to say to you. I wish you are able to see light about your choices and actions, and can think freely through your inner truth and secrets. Even if it’s at the ultimate cost, I wish you the liberty to truly be yourself. We all deserve freedom! I love you. I will always be by your side… however long it takes, whenever you are ready to talk about it, know that I will be right by your side.