Conversations with my cousin

by Krystle Amoo

KA: Have you always been confident? 

CA: I wouldn't say I have always been a confident person, especially in the early years because I was young and lacked experience. I didn't know how to make sense of self love. I think the turning point for me was when I decided, I was happy with myself. I choose to do what makes me happy and if what I'm doing doesn't physically affect others, then why should I deny myself that happiness.? Do you know what mean? I'm a happy person, my intentions are always caring, so how I see it is if you can't accept me for me, then why should I have to change to fit your feelings?

KA: Was it easy to learn to live this way? 

CA: Eeeerrrmm I wouldn't say I could put timing to my growth... Looking back secondary school wasn't hard for me, so I feel I liberated myself before that point. I’m not sure if Dionne (my sister) going to the school before me contributed to that, but I felt comfortable in my surroundings, people knew me because of her, so it made settling in a lot easier. I also feel my easy-going personality helps with my confidence, I tend to get on with anyone with easy...but I guess confidence and growth is ongoing, gradual steps - nothing happens overnight.

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KA: can you turn your back like before It looked good like that?
CA: sure, do you want my hair on my back or shall I move it forward?
KA: yeah forward.
CA: OK.
KA: OOOHHH Yes!

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KA: Do you think your confidence has allowed you to explore love for yourself and others in a different way? More in a way that isn't defined by the status quo? 


CA: Yes definitely. I'm bisexual, I realised I was attracted to both men and women when I was 16. I didn't worry too much about it because I thought I was just finding myself. In my first year at uni I got a job as a medic at number 65 at Vauxhall. They do straight and queer nights (mostly queer) and I felt at home. There’s no judgement or stereotypes, just people having a good time. It was a weird but great environment to be in, you can literally be yourself. It was good times, that's where I met Sophie. She wasn't willing to be my first in that sense, I guess she wasn't sure if it was just an idea, or if I actually knew what responsibilities came with being queer. I then met Roxanne and it allowed me to explore that part of me; she was my first girlfriend. We were both women and we understood each other, so it was very intense and full of love. It felt different, like it was OK to wear your heart on your sleeve because I felt emotionally more connected.

KA: are these your only relationships with women?

CA: No, my longest relationship was about 6 months ago with Sen. 

KA: How Has it been, telling family and friends? 

CA: With Sen she met my mum, aunties, but I introduced her as a friend. They all got on and welcomed her into our family. As time went on and they realised we were getting serious, I was like "I need to tell her (mum)" there was no reason why I shouldn't. It was a bit nerve racking, I decided to tell my brother, and he was like "Oh, OK well I'm happy for you."

KA: oh, I love George!

CA: I explained I was really happy and I couldn't wait for him to meet her...but he said make sure when you tell mum that some of us (my siblings) are there. At first, I agreed but then I thought about it and felt me telling her shouldn't impact how she responds based on who is there. This goes back to my belief that if I'm not doing anything wrong, I don't need to worry about others’ feelings towards the situation. So, when Olympia (my youngest sister) got her first job after university, I decided to take her and mum out to celebrate. It was a good time, food, drink, flowers, it was really nice. I told her after the meal. On the drive home, as a person I don't like to over think things... Because if I over think it, I won't do it.

KA: oh god Chels I need to be you -

(loud burst of laughter)

CA: So, for a split second my inner voice was like "just do it. Just let the words fall out of your mouth." so I said it, I told her Sen was my girlfriend. She was unsure and said "why, I don't understand." The conversation was open and I told her I get her upbringing was different, but this information doesn't change who I am. She persisted to say she doesn't understand why I wanted to be with a woman? In all honesty, I didn't expect her to understand; what I love was that she wasn't completely shut off to what I was telling her. Her concerns were valid, stuff like asking about having children, all healthy questions. I challenged her by saying what if I was with a man who couldn't have children? It's the same thing. I didn't get offended with her questions, I can be quite impulsive at times and respond by how people are reacting...but this was different. It was not a conversation out of anger or frustration I just wanted her to understand who I chose to love. It didn't take long for her to understand; I think it helped that I had family who I could stay with, my little sanctuary that allowed some distance for my mum to process all that I had told her. She soon realised her relationship with me was worth more than disagreeing with my choices made. 

CA: With Sen she met my mum, aunties, but I introduced her as a friend. They all got on and welcomed her into our family. As time went on and they realised we were getting serious, I was like "I need to tell her (mum)" there was no reason why I shouldn't. It was a bit nerve racking, I decided to tell my brother, and he was like "Oh, OK well I'm happy for you."

KA: oh, I love George!

CA: I explained I was really happy and I couldn't wait for him to meet her...but he said make sure when you tell mum that some of us (my siblings) are there. At first, I agreed but then I thought about it and felt me telling her shouldn't impact how she responds based on who is there. This goes back to my belief that if I'm not doing anything wrong, I don't need to worry about others’ feelings towards the situation. So, when Olympia (my youngest sister) got her first job after university, I decided to take her and mum out to celebrate. It was a good time, food, drink, flowers, it was really nice. I told her after the meal. On the drive home, as a person I don't like to over think things... Because if I over think it, I won't do it.

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KA: oh god Chels I need to be you -

(loud burst of laughter)

CA: So, for a split second my inner voice was like "just do it. Just let the words fall out of your mouth." so I said it, I told her Sen was my girlfriend. She was unsure and said "why, I don't understand." The conversation was open and I told her I get her upbringing was different, but this information doesn't change who I am. She persisted to say she doesn't understand why I wanted to be with a woman? In all honesty, I didn't expect her to understand; what I love was that she wasn't completely shut off to what I was telling her. Her concerns were valid, stuff like asking about having children, all healthy questions. I challenged her by saying what if I was with a man who couldn't have children? It's the same thing. I didn't get offended with her questions, I can be quite impulsive at times and respond by how people are reacting...but this was different. It was not a conversation out of anger or frustration I just wanted her to understand who I chose to love. It didn't take long for her to understand; I think it helped that I had family who I could stay with, my little sanctuary that allowed some distance for my mum to process all that I had told her. She soon realised her relationship with me was worth more than disagreeing with my choices made. 

******

KA: oh, I love the way you play with your hair in that shot...can we do a few more like these

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KA: So, the reason I wanted to have this conversation with you is because for me I love the energy in your household. I admire the liberation you and your sisters (Dionne, Heaven and Olympia) exercise always. I admire the ownership you take over your bodies, and I really wanted to understand where it comes from. For me I tend to over process things and I allow others opinions of myself to control how I see myself... I'm working on it, but maybe talking with you will help me understand how to push through. 

CA: Yeah, I hear you but I think you’re not the only one that processes their own image in that way; society plays a big role in that. For example, platforms like Instagram encourages insecurities, most images are edited, it's unnatural. I have friends that have a number of filtering apps to process pictures before uploading. It's affecting how people accept themselves. In terms of being comfortable in my skin, I have had many moments where I think "oh this person is looking at me and I wonder what they are thinking” but I realised you can't live life like that, I just feel if you don't like what you see don't look at me. But I get it’s hard, and I have really had to train myself to worry less about people's perception of me. 

KA: Do you think your upbringing has allowed you to nurture your self love? 

CA: Yes definitely, I have grown up around women who are comfortable in their body. My dad left when I was 3 and I have always had positive representation of women around me. Literally women walking around naked in the house so I just felt it was normal. 


 

KA: Who inspires you? 


CA: Olympia (my little big sister) definitely, she teaches me so much. She's more than my sister, she is my best friend. She is so knowledgeable, understanding and caring... But also, very blunt. (laughter) and I love that about her because you know who you are around her. She is my rock and has been from a very young age. 

KA: What have you taken from the journey the universe has dealt you? 

CA: To be happy, and never to compromise on my happiness, and never to live in regret.

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