By Jessica Horn
Editors Note: We were scheduled to post a reflection by Jessica Horn later in this second week of our global forum celebrating Audre Lorde’s life and living legacy. However, TFW Contributing Editor and co-editor, with Sokari Ekine, of Queer African Reader, Hakima Abbas recently informed us that the Ugandan President *just* signed the Anti-Homosexuality bill into law. There is no time like the present. For most of us, “Today Is Not the Day.” We must use our wherewithal to do whatever we’re able to do to support our LGBTQIA Brothers and Sisters in Uganda whose lives are in grave state sanctioned danger. Family in Uganda are using #IAmGoingNowhere to speak out. If you use twitter and are able, please follow the conversation today and use the hashtag in solidarity.
"Without community there is certainly no liberation, no future, only the most vulnerable and temporary armistice between me and my oppression… ~ Audre Lorde"
I found Audre Lorde as an undergraduate student at Smith College. She was one of the pieces of gold that emerged from a frantic search in libraries, bookshops, classrooms and student organising spaces, a search for echoes of anything that reflected the experience of my feminist left upbringing in what we then called the ‘Third World’, my east African ancestry, the African continent whose liberation I cared so much for, and the new identity of political blackness that I embraced as I came to understand the history of Black, Latina and first Nations struggle in the USA. I was in search of African feminists, of black feminists- and I found poet-philosophers. Yes, I found June Jordan, Sonia Sanchez, Gloria Anzaldua, Chrystosand Sandra Cisneros. And I found Audre Lorde.
Audre Lorde wrote. She wrote and she wrote and she wrote. The volume of her poetic and analytical production in relation to her years on this earth is itself a cause for celebration. She wrote in what feels like a different activist economy, an economy of independent feminist presses, and feminist collectives, left-wing bookshops and social spaces that gave physical ground to intellectual communities. She wrote from the vantage point of a liberated imagination, one that could even name itself as a black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet- a set of interlaced identities that signaled a unification of ways of being in this world often deemed as mutually exclusive.
These days we obsess about Beyoncés’ feminist contributions as celebrity culture and one-liner politics invade via cyber-space, and as the world burns around us in religious fundamentalist backlash. Audre Lorde’s writing reminds us of the power of depth. Of taking on a part of life and burrowing deep enough that you start to see the interconnections, to see that all the strands of this devastating, complex, beautiful life are in fact woven together. To be able to see how the macro-political and the micro-narratives of our intimate lives connect- that is what Audre Lorde’s work offers us.
Today the President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law. This follows on from the passing of the Anti-Pornography Act in Uganda which enables greater state surveillance of people’s private lives, and echoes the Nigerian Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act and other legislation in recent years in many other African countries aimed at solidifying exclusion and hatred in law. This legal trend brings into sharp relief the reality that our bodies remain the battlegrounds on which all struggles for patriarchal power and control are waged. Our sexualities are in the focus, with states seizing the sovereignty of our own bodies away from each and every one of us, while paying scant attention to the demands we ourselves put on them around our bodily integrity. We demand quality accessible healthcare, tackling impunity for violence against women and girls and the often appalling treatment of women and girl survivors by police and the courts, and creating economic environments that support our ability to live autonomous, meaningful lives. Instead, we get laws that call for imprisonment and collective censorship of our legitimate desires.
Audre Lorde warned us in her essay on Age, Race, Class and Sex: Women Redefining Difference that
"unless one lives and loves in the trenches it is difficult to remember that the war against dehumanization is ceaseless."
It feels like everybody is living and loving in the trenches now. Everyone is under attack, regardless of their identities. Its time to rise up, to throw away the silences as Audre encouraged us to, and to realize, as she did, that we may not be able to choose
"the time, and the arena and the manner of our revolution… we must do battle where we are standing".
Published 24 February 2014 on The Feminist Wire
Photo Credit: Fatima Talaia
*My first kiss with a woman: in the art room at boarding school one evening, I was 16. We kissed, both our mouths tasted of cake. Can’t remember first kiss with a guy* ❤
*Of course not all kisses are sexual or about desire!I kiss people on the cheek to greet them for example…* ❤
*I am actually not the biggest fan of seeing people really intimately kiss in public* ❤
*One of my fondest memories of New York is making out with my girlfriend at the time on a packed subway train.. and the people clapping when we got off. lol. i still don’t know if they were enthused at our, ahem, enthusiasm for each other or just happy that we were getting out of their faces. ha!* ❤
By: Guest Contributor
I willed her to take it all as she walked out of the door
I willed her to leave nothing behind because I didn’t need it
Take the morning cuddles and kisses
Take the romantic dinners and walks
Take the laughter and passion
The movie nights and poetry readings
Take it all as you leave but I beg you leave my heart behind
Take the memories of passionate nights
Hands held in silent knowing
Entangled bodies and deep comfort
Take the false security and delusions
Take it all as you leave but I beg you leave my heart behind
Starring now into those familiar eyes all these years later
Wondering how you have been since that day you left
Hearts racing as eyes lock, saying things I cannot verbalise
In the veins of my body I carry the wisdom of the pain you caused me
Yet in this moment, in this here and now
Love is sounding new bells, an octave higher than what we shared before
In this here and now, I feel a warmth I cannot deny
I can hear my friends telling me I have gone mad
Ranting about my addiction to pain because why else would I let you back
Opening the doors to create new memories
Movie nights and poetry readings
Yet I choose to live. In the here and now
I reopen myself, to exploring whatever this vibration between us might be
I reopen myself with the wisdom of the past and the fullness of the present
Welcome back lover, welcome back
nothing’s real but love. ~ rebecca ferguson
to feel the kind of sensation I was getting
the kind of weightlessness that comes with being a leaf floating on a wave.
The kind of weightlessness known only when you’re touched by love.
*I was one month shy of my 16th birthday. My second boyfriend. We were on the couch at my granny’s house. I was really nervous about it because I wasn’t sure what to do, was scared I’d be a bad kisser. I’d been avoiding it really. But we’d talked about it, he leaned in… and yeah. Talk about BORING and anticlimactic. I was opening my mouth and doing the tongue thing like I’d seen on TV but nothing. He seemed really into it. His eyes closed… my eyes were wide open and I was rolling my eyes most of the time. It was a long time before it was something I looked forward to vs. something we did. But that time did come and oooo how I love kissing now. So that was my most memorable and worst.*❤
Photo Credit: Fatima Talaia
*I love kissing, because for me it signifies anticipation, newness and possibility. My first real memory of looking at people kiss on TV and thinking I can’t wait was the movie Boomerang. Of course I’m watching it on cable because I was too young to see it in the cinema when it came out. But there’s a seen where Halle Berry and Eddie Murphy are kissing when they shouldn’t be and it’s no big pulling tongue action, just gentle lip and lip… ooo thinking about it now I’m getting all warm and cuddly inside. Kissing for me is one of the most pleasurable sexual activities. I like the intimacy of it that’s both playful and connected… Ooo I feel like kissing right now.*❤
*I think I’ve maybe kissed two people I wasn’t officially officially going out with or didn’t intend to date in the future. Sometimes I think it’d be nice to kiss more freely but I don’t like being intimate with people I’m not sure about. Ah, the dilemmas. Primarily I like to kiss on the lips, slightly parted, a little tongue now and then and if I’m feeling silly I might throw in some over do moments…*❤