Queer Womyn is a series that seeks to celebrate bodies that are queer and that identify as womyn. It is an intimate conversation on what both identities mean for us and how they intersect. Above all, it is an opportunity to be seen as present. A not so subtle raising of the hand, clearing of the throat and raising of the voice to say ‘I am here’.
In continuing with the series, we are crossing a few borders and heading over to Malawi. Where Chmba comes from. I am in awe of this hugely talented woman and the wonderful work she is doing. Currently based in the States, she has set up a full time community based organization back home in Malawi that seeks to not only empower women by enabling them to start businesses but also providing skills training. I am so proud of the womyn she is and I truly cannot wait to see the remarkable things she will continue to do. She took some time to answer my questions on womynhood and queerness.
What do both words: woman & queer mean to you?
Huh, queer for me it’s not being cis heterosexual alone or at all or even just loving all people for some reason. And it can also be a culture, such as being sex and body positive, and an afromarxist (maybe just me on that)
As for woman, more complicated to define. In my ideal future, gender is so blurred, so irrelevant, even inexistent. But in present times especially on our motherland, woman is the strongest player, holds it all down with shields of soft, empathy, passion, vulnerable, femme, notfemme, and beauty
How do the two identities intersect for you
Haha…apart from me and others that share both identities being that intersection, I see them also meet at spaces of vulnerability, both are quite experienced in lacking privilege, both needing to take up more space, both have many borders to cross to full liberation. As such most folks in this paradigm are organizers, quick to recognize and get active about inequality.
How do you celebrate your queerness & womanhood
Queerness: well, I am learning. For most of my life I was ashamed, I fought it. Now I go with the first type of revolution, loving myself- so I’ve cut off a lot of toxic folk in my life, I spend hours in front of the mirror trying gay outfits and dancing, and showing extra love to other queer folk, we need each other, oh and pausing the show at a perfect shot of a beautiful woman.
Womanhood: funny this I was also ashamed of for a while, my style is androgynous, I never felt like myself being full on femme. I assumed that was womanhood then and hated being a woman. I won’t lie our society doesn’t make it easier growing up African, seeing your uncles and fathers eating first or seating on chairs or being the only ones speaking at a ceremony, I was too stubborn to just accept that as my future.
So I hated it. But I was also blind to all the strengths of womanhood according to present society. Now I also see how my grandmother and mom hold our homes together, women are feeding children, women are sending children to school, women are killing it at work and in the house. I am so blown. I aspire to that.
Even though I appear masc, I celebrate my sensitivity, my uninvited tears, my annoying empathy that has me doing what I didn’t need to do but at the end of day I’m proud I did, and it means something to someone.
What are your hopes for the future as a queer woman
I just want to see us more. More freedom, more visibility, more of us loving and being ourselves. I freaked and got teary seeing Lena Waithe on the cover of Vanity Fair Magazine. I shouldn’t freak out like that, I want that to be normal some day especially in the motherland.
Also in this series: