THE Q WERD
An experiment in pan-Afrikan creativity en resistance
[first, a disclaimer: Q here denotes Queer.
It is used as a politically provisional identity.
as reclaimed language.
as an umbrella term that covers all sexual orientations other than straight, and for brevity, all gender identities other than cisgendered.
there is a statute of limitations on the use of this word in this context. this work of film/art (for social change) is framed to find suitable indigenous counterparts to queer & trans.
after all, for an exercise in re/constructing identity and language, we have to find our true true names]
The documentary/series/tragi-comedic depiction of the drama, politics, sex, loves and scandals that follow a group of young-ish (en older) queer/trans Afrikan friends.
[parabola treatment: the first season focuses on the stories & lives of not-so-random folks involved in putting this together, and all the people that have been influential and we’ve crossed paths with in life. These are the diaries of a few and interviews with many......Akinyi, Alix, Amai, Anne M, Audrey, Blessol, Ciku, Faith, Hakima, Karie, Kasha, Leslie, Nikki, Owang, Patricia, Po, Roxie, Sylvia, Victor, Zawadi....to start....
there are more interviews with womyn & trans folk of Afrikan descent in the second ‘season’, interviewed by real/life/artists en activists]
Q werd positions itself in conversation with the (Western) L word in acknowledgement of its pioneer status in breaking through in/to mainstream consumer culture conscious.ness as a named/branded entity. It locates itself with/in a dialectical exchange of the construction of identity & the power of resistance & self determination.
It addresses the problematic and turbulent politics of race/ethnicity/sex/class/gender variations/ religion(s) in our society and interrogates the white/western/capitalist/imperialist/lesbian hegemonic thought that the L word (seems to be/) is based on. It explores the ruptures inherent in the U.S shit-stem, and neo-liberal petit-bourgeoise discourses in Afrikan countries.
[parabola treatment: the first documentary is more than Kenya, Uganda, or Canada...which is where the main stories are told...it is locating the political &pan-Afrikan in the personal.
It is a direct result of working with what we got...
we warn you, ladies & gentlemen (and those of you yet to decide), we have only jus’ begun...]
Q werd is a work/shop in progress. It is organic and collective. It is a living story.
These are the diaries of warriors en queer/trans rights activists (of colour/ed shades en vivrant revolushunary ideologies).
The stories of survivors & hustlers. Of youth en (not-so) single mamas.
These, are the days, and the night/scapes of our lives.
Of contradictions, in/hyper/visibility and fear.
This is nothing more than an attempt to share our realities,
For the purpose of Art (for social change)…
This is more than jus’ a(nother) video…these are our testimonies,
Documenting and archiving Afrikan cultures.
Firmly grounded in (pan) Afrikan/black feminist thought it acts as a portal and reflection of the diverse realities of black and Afrikan women and is being re/created in resistance to the marginalisation/exploitation and distortion of black/Afrikan experiences fe/male experiences.
This ‘conversation’ with the L word is a matter of talking back. Taking back and reclaiming our identities. It examines the (many) gaps and fills them in with what we think should be.
The ‘werd’ charts the process of the embodiment of particular/queer identities that are inhabited/rejected/disavowed/subverted and portrayed in (public) discourse.
Like Bette, the ‘bi/racial/black’ one, being blacker……and, Papi, being there. It is more black butch women. And many different kinds of trannies. It is the Birkenstock/vegan/second wave white feminist, and the stereotypical ‘community’ worker. It is the activists and the freaks. The many, many, many, many people in the closets.
It is parading myriad identities. It is family and lies, and the truth of (the need for change en) compromise. It is fighting degrading influences, like the fascination with the West we grew up with. It is learning to love ourselves (again). It is masturbation and bi/dykes doing non-monogamy. It is education as the practice of freedom and listening to the lessons of the streets, and the village(s).
It is war. It is resistance. It is every day and every other thing that concerns as as queer women and trans folk. Ni mtaani. It is black ghettoes. Growing class divides. It is Fanny Ann Eddy and Audre Lorde. It is abuse en violence. Unreported hate crimes. Fucked up ‘behavioural practices’. It is self.defense. It is (about) freedom now. Tracy chapman. The ‘invisible’ face/voice of the WSW. It is reality. (necessarily) phantastical.
[parabola treatment: because as the story develops, as we get to more about the womyn in the Q word, we recognise that there is alot that can’t be revealed. We are bound by fear of the repercussions of ‘outing’ others and so we put ourselves on the line(of vision), so to speak, and alter/hide the names of those we’ve loved, fucked, worked, or crossed paths with…and yet, we speak…..]
The Q werd unashamedly tries to be many things for many people and it is singularly focused on the black/Afrikan experience as the central concern of it’s stories.
It is a multi-pronged political act that is about sharing the process of self-recovery, healing and positive living. It is about love. Mama Afrika. It is about loving ourselves, more than hating (on) any/thing else. It is about critical/reflective thinking and mostly it is about change.
The ‘werd’ responds to the paucity of re/presentation of queer/black/Afrikan brothas. en sistas, in the L word.
It is more about U-People than the L word.
It brings in more positive stories of darkness and being real.
It re-politicises the commodified characters.
It does this through the subversive use of the resources available (to the writers/participants/theorists/actors, and, producers).
The L word. A few cameras. Many hours of interviews with many different Afrikan womyn, men and trannies. Lots of gossip and drama. A collective of womyn creating a tv show. Different media. Pen and paper. Cartoons. Private space & public ground. And all this ‘fiction’ is the Q. werd.
The Q werd is about womyn loving wom(b)en en trannies loving wo/men en men loving women. It is normal. It is troubled by all the shit. It is ‘other’ than. It is (some of) ‘the people’. It is about re/membering the past and using our reality to a portray a true picture of ourselves. It is rastas en beautiful (dark) dread lock sistas. It is tomboys & brazen femmes. It is immigrant/emigrant and migrant bodies. It is prisons and boarding schools. It is the girl(s) you (knew who liked other girls who you) played with in high school.
It is the chief’s wife and your aunty from ushago. It is the ho on K-street. The ones standing on the secretive corners of Arwings Kodhek. They are the ‘lesbian’ cliques of dandora, umoja, jamhuri & hurlingham. The old man (?) of the village of N It is ‘western’ gays and lesbians and conflicted Christians. It is queer muslims and Al-Lat worshippers. It is kinky. It is bourgeoise safety/urban privilege in just being ‘out’ and passing life’s existence in sharp contrast to other queers & trannies around the country. It is the contradictions of those ‘in the life’.
It is sh/itty living. Escape. Safe refuge(s). it is the (lack of safe) shelter(s).
It is endless conversa-shun. Specu-la-shun. It is ‘such-a-lesbian-ting’ processing.
It is fights and (adamant) denials. Its bruises. death. sacred ‘interverntions’ and being saved (again). It is something by an ‘other’ name. it is not lesbian. Tho many of the women innit are…
it is not the L word.
It is a parody of the parody of a parody of queer reality and re/presentation in film.
It is multi-dimensional.
The show (also) places itself firmly with/in the contradictory position of refuting the existence of lesbians. This is it’s ‘achilles heel’….so to (western) speak. It might be it’s death ultimately.
It refutes the existence of lesbians – naturally in Afrika; where wo/men were loving wo/men from ancient (times) en we knew different….
where Great Gawdess was prolly a dyke hirself too, somewhere in the beginning. Same-sex. And n’way that woman sappho only went over to that isle of lesbos not even a few centuries ago…
There was a light and then there was the (q) word.
(of new beginnings and endless repetitions).
It is re-inscribed,
from (Pan) Afrikan landscapes
and the L word…
this diction/stories/poetry of life/death/life cycles.
It is controversial.
and as much as it tries to give space to the largest number of views and interpretations of the state of world politics and (oppressive/necessary/positive) relations with each other.
It is (avowedly) revolutionary.
It is anti-capitalist/pan-Afrikan/anarchist in it’s narration of the issues as (the collective) and ‘particular’ oppressed people(s) see them.
It is hip(s). sex in the afternoon.
It is cook(s)in. steamy kitchens.
Mchuzi wa samaki na mahamri.
It is mango kisses and ejaculating cunts.
It is locked on the floor, reading poetry to each other.
It is the mundane.
The clothes that need to be washed.
It is work. It is necessary.
Unfolding quest of (re) building (communities).
Growing (old) together.
It is beauty.
Incarnate in sistas loving each other,
(re) learning our groove(s) and
sticking up for the ‘other’
more fiya \sista….
en brothas loving each other,
questioning dem (much) maligned (dark) selves and
looking out for the ‘other’
It is thighs(s) rocking against each other. Tight embraces..
It is activism. Battling conformist tendencies.
Shunning the ‘politically correct’ in favour of ‘the truth’.
It is the soul of (queer/trans) folk.
Searching for a new soul.
Gathered to the beats of (wa akina) mama (wa) Afrika.
Young and old, black and proud (new) Afrikans.
It is reflective. Reflexive. Introspective.
Remembering the sacrifices of our ancestors/their lives/once/shattered,
From glorious (inter) connection(s)/peace (pipes)
Ruptured from (the) connection with (the) divine,
Distracted by petty wars and insidious presences.
It remembers the prophecies.
The sangomas and (wota) priestesses,
(earth) healers en magic(k)al herbalists,
the warriors who fought and died for (our) freedom.
(repeat) not the ‘L’ word.
(tinged) perceptibly with (self) consciousness.
Ni ma kucha na ma sagana…..
Ni ma shoga na mabisexuals.
Na ma pansexuals na MSM.
It is questioning and curious. Womyn. Men. Trannies.
It is conflicted.
Working on self/social acceptance and fully involved in the struggle for (Afrikan) liberation.
Pan-Afrikan(ist). Black nationalist.
It announces it’s feminist/wom(b)anist/anarchist intent in the shots of contested terrain(s).
It is talking (sharp) with each other.
It is not about (hating) the (white) man or excluding the white woman.
It is just that we need to talk amongst ourselves. Put ourselves first.
It is blood.(claat.) shedding and (shifting) public spaces.
It is subjective and communal.
It is bedrooms and the state(s) of (dying/thriving) nation(s).
It pokes its nose into every oppre-shun.
Doesn’t (necessarily have to) stick to the script.
The stories are old, and many of the characters (un)predictable.
All are contradictory and all a dem harbour (not-so) secret fantasies and wild dreams.
Some of the womyn have learned to ground themselves, are eager to share with others;
Others run (like luna-tics) in those ‘mythical’ red shoes.
Red (black & green) is the motif.
Blood. claat present in every episode,
Coz as the opener declares….
[opening quote subject to change]
‘as long as (one of) my sista(s) and brotha(s) is oppressed then so am I…
to be a true revolutionary one must understand love.
Love. Sacrifice. And. Death
This is the poetic capsule of a conversa-shun with the L word.
This (en so much more) is the Q werd.
This is the product of a collective imagin-ashun.
The dreams, wishes en collected conversashuns,
Of super sistas, queens en kings,
struggling to rebuild their communities.
These are the challenges and achievements of (all) the people.
This a proposal and a call (out) to join the process of participatory research and co-operative publications.
the (living) framework that guides our search for truth, justice, peace…
To speak in our languages,
Mould the cultivated tongues,
This used to be the master’s language, en the mistress’s tools,
This English version of a plea to burn all dem lies,
En rediscover (black/dark) self/communal love.
This is for the ancestors,
In memory of great gawdess,
I release all disappointments,
Coz I know that spirit guides me
And love lives inside me,
That’s why today I live life as it comes,
Trusting in each moment,
That Jah, Al-Lat, Asiis, Yemoja provides,
What I’m searching for,
This feeling in my heart,
That brings joy to my soul,
I found it…
I found you,
love was intense/a sweet surprise,
So everything that I’d been looking to be(come)….
You changed me…
This is a tragic (love) story,
[and not even]
Translated into (not so) convenient fictions.
It is the diary of one luna/tic warrior,
were the ravings of a cheated/lover.
This is hot, hot, hot off the press of current reality…
You want to know what it’s like being queer in Kenya?
It’s mostly hell,
borrowed terms & radical inclusions.
It can be (like) heaven
Found in secret places,
And growing communities
Mis/placed with (little) knowledge & obscured intentions.
We’re still in the process of finding ourselves.
You want to know what it’s like?
It is a contradiction in itself,
(and writing about it)
Dear viewer, to waste no further no time in introducing the plot of this story,
My conversation with you, this guided tour of the complexities and boundaries of the communities across my country and the continent…
This is the q word,
yeah, and yet really, if we’re going to be (about the ) truth/full here, it’s mostly my werd, see this isn’t some fanciful/bourgeoise/western interpretation of what it means to live as a ‘sexual minority’….this is best practices in implementation…
if there are so many people in the closet, if it’s so un-african, as most of these religious/fundamentalist brain washed bigots keep foolishly repeating,
(being little aware or posturing ignorance of the weakness & glaring Achilles heel of their oft repeated argument – there could be possibly nothing more borrowed, distorted & un-african than the modern version of Christianity: the very same agents who were trekking into heathen lands, not far away from the explorers & the anthropologists & all the hungry prospectors, carrying the bible in their hands and proclaiming divine justice, if only one believed in jesus Christ, the only son of God……those are (some of the) ones responsible for our fall and rapid destruction)
If we really don’t exist, or shouldn’t,
Then why we here?
We were among the first to fall,
Destroyed along with our indigenous traditions and cultures,
Which is when I call myself sagana,
There are mostly questioning stares
Which is why the best i could come up with for myself,
The most fitting and convenient,
Remains to be queer – i can move within the contours that were shaped in resistance to hate & oppressive language
The ‘q word’, like I told you before, is not what you think it is, it’s really just about me, and my group of friends, revolushunaries and lovas, allies & enemies i’ve made along the way…
To keep this simple and submit to the dictates of economics & available resources, I’m gonna try not make up (too much) of the gist & chronology of events….
To keep this simple, i’m just gonna walk you through my journey in the last year…
I chose to stand on the fringes,
All the better to see the crowds, and the capacity of….
Resistance, and the people,
I have under gone a meta-morphoses in it/self,
Sacrificed many privileges,
And the truth is I’m struggling,
And I’ve had my heart broken, adjusted to ‘pseudo’ po living,
And working for all [ractical purposes, in an isolated environment,
Battling with a few brave others,
And finding allies where I hoped I would….
I yam where I want to be, and I’ll tell you the story of how I got to be here,
Be/cause I can, be/cause I must
I warn you,
we have only just begun…
living document…. we’ve got a bunch of interviews collected….and a growing list of womyn (who are willing) to share their stories…akinyi, allison, alix, anne m., blessol, cindy, ciku, dama, ivy, karie, kasha, keisha, laurence, lydia, nikki, notisha, rachael, omisoore, po, roxie, royal, sylvia, syrus, thelma, teo, victor
we want all this to be participatory and tied in to other educational & arts initiatives…..how can we work together? what are your ideas? how can we help each other share our stories, for art, for social change…