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BOOK EXCERPT | Open Letter in ‘They Called Me Queer’

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Edited by Kim Windvogel and Kelly­ Eve Koopman, They Called Me Queer is a collection of essays written by Africans who self identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual (LGBTQIA+).
Edited by Kim Windvogel and Kelly­ Eve Koopman, They Called Me Queer is a collection of essays written by Africans who self identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual (LGBTQIA+).

This is an update of an open letter I posted to social media at the start of 2016. I had been deeply unhappy for such a long time. I hit rock bottom on 15 January 2016. I was at work thinking about how I’d nearly flung myself out the train that morning. I’d been thinking about suicide a lot. It scared me. Suicide and mental illness run in my family, especially amongst the men. My dad committed suicide when I was three. A number of other close family members tried too – some succeeded, some didn’t. I hadn’t felt alive in a very long time. Is this what they’d felt like before they decided to put a gun to their head? The death of my father planted a seed in my mind. Those seeds had sprouted like flowers over a grave. I spent many years denying a big part of myself. I carried my shame and my self-hatred around like a rotting limb. The rot was spreading and it was killing me. I didn’t want to die. I swore I would never be like my father. I would never put my mother through that again.

Thank God for rock bottom. Everything became clear and I knew that I needed to let go of all the shame and all the pain I’d been harbouring. And I did, and I was free. Two years later though, I found myself back there. I’ll explain.

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