Larissa. 25. Mount Holyoke graduate. Psychology grad student. Fall Child. Audiophile, bibliophile, cinephile. Feminist Killjoy. Bisexual cisgender woman. Fat positive. This blog is occasionally NSFW. Please don't follow if you are underage.

 

A decade ago, I sat talking to a young mother on welfare about her experiences with technology. When our conversation turned to Electronic Benefit Transfer cards (EBT), Dorothy* said, “They’re great. Except [Social Services] uses them as a tracking device.” I must have looked shocked, because she explained that her caseworker routinely looked at her EBT purchase records. Poor women are the test subjects for surveillance technology, Dorothy told me ruefully, and you should pay attention to what happens to us. You’re next.

diriyeosman:

TO BE YOUNG, GAY AND AFRICAN
BY DIRIYE OSMAN
When I first came out to my family, most of them stopped talking to me. My father, who I was very close to, stopped speaking to me for two years before picking up the phone late one night to let me know that my being gay was not only an amoral form of psychic and sexual corruption but also an act of perverse, Western mimicry. I was not only going against my Islamic upbringing but my African heritage as well.
I was born in Somalia, and I spent my formative years living in Nairobi, Kenya, before moving to London. Somalia and Kenya may have many sociological and cultural divisions but both states stand firm on one soil when it comes to the issue of homosexuality. Any form of sexual difference is considered not only repugnant, but also devious precisely because sexual difference in Somalia and Kenya, like most African states, is a narrative best kept to oneself. If you want to spin this story publically and share your experiences as an LGBT person, you had best buckle up and brace yourself for physical abuse, ceaseless harassment, imprisonment or death. Things are considerably more lenient in Kenya than Somalia amongst the cultural elite, but both nations still have a long way to go when it comes to ensuring basic rights for their respective LGBT communities.
When I came out to my family I did not flinch. I spoke my truth and stood my ground knowing that I would be punished in some way for having the audacity to assert my identity. What upset my family the most was the fact that I was proud of being gay. They could not configure the possibility that after years of silence, timidity and self-doubt I had finally cultivated courage and the kind of confidence that comes with a hard-won sense of comfort in one’s own skin.
I come from a community that has been emotionally and psychologically traumatized by decades of civil war, mass migration and dislocation; a community that has through sheer collective willpower and survivalist instinct managed to rally together to form the tightest, most close-knit networks, with family life as the nucleus. In order to fully belong you must live up to absurd standards of virtue, honour and piety. The reality is no-one manages this, but the trick is to try or act like you’re trying. There are multiple degrees of scorn poured on any form of transgression: a girl without a headscarf is a harlot-in-training, and a teenager with a rebellious streak is ripe for daqan celis – a return to a grim part of Somalia for some much-needed ‘re-education’. All these taboos become miniscule in comparison to homosexuality. The fact that I wanted to write about my experiences as a young, gay Somali did more than grate on my family’s nerves. They were incensed enough to threaten me with violence, but I was smart enough to know that as a citizen of the UK there are laws that protect my rights as a gay man. This is a position of privilege, but it’s only a position of privilege because I fully understand and exercise these hard-won rights. I arrived at this point of self-acceptance by doing what came best to me, what generations of the Somali community have always done in order to sustain themselves when crisis kicked off, I told stories. I told stories of what it meant to be young and endure struggle. I told stories of what it meant to fall in love with another man and for that love to be reciprocated in the face of rejection and familial disapproval. I told these stories repeatedly and I wrote them down by drawing on the gorgeous history and culture of the Somali people. It’s a natural human impulse to denounce the traditions of those who have rejected you, but I refused to do that. I wrote these stories down and compiled them into a collection of short fiction called “Fairytales For Lost Children”. These stories follow young, gay Somalis on the cultural and social periphery of both their adopted homelands of Nairobi and London as well as their motherland, Somalia. These characters experience a wide spectrum of dilemmas whether it is mental illness, civil war, immigration or complicated family histories. But they still hold on to their sense of humanity and optimism without the need for apology or victimhood.
When I published this book last year I received emails from young LGBT men and women from Somalia, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda telling me how much the stories meant to them, and how they felt a sense of solace knowing that I was telling these narratives without shame or fear. Shame and fear are the most potent weapons in the homophobe’s arsenal. If one rejects the notion that one has to be ashamed of being gay or lesbian, then half the battle is won.
With each email that I received I would not only encourage and motivate these young men and women as best as I could, but I would also tell them to go out into the world and form meaningful friendships and support networks where they could be themselves without fear of judgement. At a time when LGBT youth across the world are losing their lives to homophobic stigma it’s important to remind them that they are worthy and their lives have value.
As for me, I’m wise enough to know that struggle will always happen. That’s just the general texture of a life’s pattern. But I keep moving forward in the knowledge that I’m simply a voice in a chorus of voices united in the belief that equality on all fronts is not a privilege but a basic human right that we must continuously fight for and defend.
As for my young fellow LGBT Africans, I will say this again and again because it bears repeating.
It’s a beautiful thing to be young, gay and African.
Diriye Osman is photographed by Boris Mitkov.

diriyeosman:

TO BE YOUNG, GAY AND AFRICAN

BY DIRIYE OSMAN

When I first came out to my family, most of them stopped talking to me. My father, who I was very close to, stopped speaking to me for two years before picking up the phone late one night to let me know that my being gay was not only an amoral form of psychic and sexual corruption but also an act of perverse, Western mimicry. I was not only going against my Islamic upbringing but my African heritage as well.

I was born in Somalia, and I spent my formative years living in Nairobi, Kenya, before moving to London. Somalia and Kenya may have many sociological and cultural divisions but both states stand firm on one soil when it comes to the issue of homosexuality. Any form of sexual difference is considered not only repugnant, but also devious precisely because sexual difference in Somalia and Kenya, like most African states, is a narrative best kept to oneself. If you want to spin this story publically and share your experiences as an LGBT person, you had best buckle up and brace yourself for physical abuse, ceaseless harassment, imprisonment or death. Things are considerably more lenient in Kenya than Somalia amongst the cultural elite, but both nations still have a long way to go when it comes to ensuring basic rights for their respective LGBT communities.

When I came out to my family I did not flinch. I spoke my truth and stood my ground knowing that I would be punished in some way for having the audacity to assert my identity. What upset my family the most was the fact that I was proud of being gay. They could not configure the possibility that after years of silence, timidity and self-doubt I had finally cultivated courage and the kind of confidence that comes with a hard-won sense of comfort in one’s own skin.

I come from a community that has been emotionally and psychologically traumatized by decades of civil war, mass migration and dislocation; a community that has through sheer collective willpower and survivalist instinct managed to rally together to form the tightest, most close-knit networks, with family life as the nucleus. In order to fully belong you must live up to absurd standards of virtue, honour and piety. The reality is no-one manages this, but the trick is to try or act like you’re trying. There are multiple degrees of scorn poured on any form of transgression: a girl without a headscarf is a harlot-in-training, and a teenager with a rebellious streak is ripe for daqan celis – a return to a grim part of Somalia for some much-needed ‘re-education’. All these taboos become miniscule in comparison to homosexuality. The fact that I wanted to write about my experiences as a young, gay Somali did more than grate on my family’s nerves. They were incensed enough to threaten me with violence, but I was smart enough to know that as a citizen of the UK there are laws that protect my rights as a gay man. This is a position of privilege, but it’s only a position of privilege because I fully understand and exercise these hard-won rights.

I arrived at this point of self-acceptance by doing what came best to me, what generations of the Somali community have always done in order to sustain themselves when crisis kicked off, I told stories. I told stories of what it meant to be young and endure struggle. I told stories of what it meant to fall in love with another man and for that love to be reciprocated in the face of rejection and familial disapproval. I told these stories repeatedly and I wrote them down by drawing on the gorgeous history and culture of the Somali people. It’s a natural human impulse to denounce the traditions of those who have rejected you, but I refused to do that. I wrote these stories down and compiled them into a collection of short fiction called “Fairytales For Lost Children”. These stories follow young, gay Somalis on the cultural and social periphery of both their adopted homelands of Nairobi and London as well as their motherland, Somalia. These characters experience a wide spectrum of dilemmas whether it is mental illness, civil war, immigration or complicated family histories. But they still hold on to their sense of humanity and optimism without the need for apology or victimhood.

When I published this book last year I received emails from young LGBT men and women from Somalia, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda telling me how much the stories meant to them, and how they felt a sense of solace knowing that I was telling these narratives without shame or fear. Shame and fear are the most potent weapons in the homophobe’s arsenal. If one rejects the notion that one has to be ashamed of being gay or lesbian, then half the battle is won.

With each email that I received I would not only encourage and motivate these young men and women as best as I could, but I would also tell them to go out into the world and form meaningful friendships and support networks where they could be themselves without fear of judgement. At a time when LGBT youth across the world are losing their lives to homophobic stigma it’s important to remind them that they are worthy and their lives have value.

As for me, I’m wise enough to know that struggle will always happen. That’s just the general texture of a life’s pattern. But I keep moving forward in the knowledge that I’m simply a voice in a chorus of voices united in the belief that equality on all fronts is not a privilege but a basic human right that we must continuously fight for and defend.

As for my young fellow LGBT Africans, I will say this again and again because it bears repeating.

It’s a beautiful thing to be young, gay and African.

Diriye Osman is photographed by Boris Mitkov.

thepsuedosatanist asked
Someone is sending people anon hate for following this blog telling people to kill themselves, so everyone should be careful checking their inbox.
merakimaker:

ask-ashestorture-thedemonvampire:

sakibatch:

altnonfic:

Feb 28, 2013 - By wearing different colored hats, over 2,600 employees at Genentech (in San Francisco) celebrated the 60th anniversary of the discovery of DNA

holy heck this is brilliant!

the science is strong in this one

Science!

merakimaker:

ask-ashestorture-thedemonvampire:

sakibatch:

altnonfic:

Feb 28, 2013 - By wearing different colored hats, over 2,600 employees at Genentech (in San Francisco) celebrated the 60th anniversary of the discovery of DNA

holy heck this is brilliant!

the science is strong in this one

Science!

nice friend person: hey, how've you been?

me: capitalism is crushing me. i am barely surviving. i am full of toxic resentment. i want revenge.

footstepsinthefrost:

Why is the blame for romanticizing mental illness lodged at teenage girls documenting/trying to cope with their struggles with mental illness and not grown men who make movies about how medication is evil and schizophrenia is magic powers.

Survival of the Sexiest

thisisthinprivilege:

Many EP studies tautologically assert that widely held social values are… well, widely held. Study finds that most men are attracted to women who are deemed conventionally attractive by society!

This one if for all for those people claiming that men find thin women sexy because they’re healthier. 

1) Evo-psych has basically no evidence behind it, because it rests on the premise that our society’s tendencies are universal to humanity throughout history — something that can be trivially disproven for most of these claims, since there are many societies that have different tendencies, and periods throughout history when they’ve been different.

2) No, thin women are not actually healthier than fat women. We’ve posted about this over and over again. Search the archives, search the internet, it’s fact.

3) Societal preferences about weight have varied massively over history and across the world, and are trackable as social trends. If it were a genuinely evolutionary adaptation, this would not be true.

4) You cannot actually know what someone’s health is like by looking at them. Period. Not only true of fat people, true of everyone. Very thin people who are assumed to be anorexic or ill may actually be very healthy. Likewise very fat people. Likewise any physical trait.

5) You do not actually understand how evolution works.

-MG

curvellas:

talk to kids like they’re people and take full interest in what they’re saying because they’re forming their personalities and it’s really vital that they know that their opinions are important and what they have to say deserves validation and respect. so when your three year old niece tells you that dragons don’t like cupcakes because the color blue is a spoon you better nod your head and ask her to explain more about that. 

jaimarie:

They should put prizes in tampon boxes, be like yeah your period sucks but here’s 50% off of some icecream.

I really want to dye my hair again but I also really want to let my natural color grow in do you see my predicament?