Foreign Being

Foreign Being

There are so many crippling yet vital and fundamental realities to being born a lesbian, a woman, an African, a black person in a world as fragmented, as phobic and as patriarchal as this one.

For as long as I can remember, I have felt foreign. Being a foreigner is a very dis-empowering and alienating feeling/position to occupy in the world.It is like being born in the wrong body – or what I imagine that feels like.

It’s strange how when one is in the privileged position of heterosexuality, sexual orientation is not one’s core position of personal identification in the world. As a lesbian I have felt foreign and alien to my environment, this has ramifications, I end up creating a distance/wall between me and THEM.

The people who I find myself being alienated from are the same people I share strong connections and bonds with, DNA strands that have effects like similar hair texture, tones of voice, nail shape, etc.

The idea that as a woman I am supposed to hold certain expectations of myself, that I am supposed to walk, talk, cover myself in a certain way.

The idea that as a woman I am supposed speak softer, be submissive, meek and obedient, press my knees together when I sit, keep silent when a more knowledgeable and testosterone charged person has an opinion to express and hold the male species of the human race in high esteem and regard is so alien to me.

I must be people-less, landless, tribe-less, childless,nameless, god-less, Bloodless, DNA-less,language-less and where necessary faceless, my only contribution to the world as a vessel of life.

Not only do these make me foreign to the world, they make the world foreign to me.

Being a black person in the world and from a ‘dark continent’ means that I have to accept the idea the world holds of me.

It means that where as an American or European feels that the universe is open and inviting and just ripe for the picking, the long waits in visa application queues and consequent rejection lead me to accept a part of myself that is not desirable to others.

While others take entitlement for granted, I take my undesirability for granted.

As a black person, I take my poverty for granted, I take my anger for granted, I take my history of oppression for granted, I take the misinformation and stereotypical representation of my race for granted. I actually believe that history could not have unfolded any differently.

The consequences of chronic dis-empowerment are many and varied.

Where as one might take their first look in the eyes of the world and see blonde, blue-eyed, beautiful, desirable, necessary, vital,important, I have to look deeper to sell what I have.

Where as one takes one look into the eyes of the world and sees male, strong, important, APPROVED, empowered, yes, affirmed, vital, I have to dig deep to sell my qualities to the world, I have to search for qualities that may have been missed and present these in a voice that is loud and clear.

Where as one looks into the eyes of the world and sees heterosexual, natural, normal, expected, accepted, APPROVED, necessary, needed,Christian, African, yes, nod, wink, want, affirmed, I look up from my bent head of shame to see a lack of recognition, I don’t see faces, I see parts of heads turned away from me, side lines….., aversion.


Bottom line, walking the world as a foreigner on so many levels of one’s core identifying attributes and then actually living as a“foreigner” makes me vulnerable.

It means that I can not feel entitled in anyway, I can not feel that my marriage is a right, a natural occurrence, or my need for service is earned, when I stand in a line and wait for everything too long, I do not feel that I have the right to claim space and speak out or complain because I don’t feel like I own that space in the first place.

© Jen