The Queen Harold Project is dedicated to the late Harold Thomas also known as Queen Harold. Queen Harold was a young Sierra Leonean gay drag queen who was the victim of a homophobic attack in late January 2020 and later died as a result of sustained injuries on February 4 2020. Queen Harold used the pronoun she.
For those who knew Queen Harold, they knew she was a fierce and unapologetic drag queen. She was a strong LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex) activist in Sierra Leone and refused to live in fear. She was a beacon of hope and inspiration to many. In this series, the stories of four LGBTQI Sierra Leoneans will be told every Sunday in the month of July. All interviewees' identities are falsified; their names have been changed to protect their identities but their stories are real. It is their hope that through their stories they can empower others to live their truth, embrace who they are and love who they are. Meet Finda Abdulai* Finda Abdulai* (name changed) is a 20 year old bisexual woman. Finda was born and raised in Freetown. She works in creative industry and is a university student. She wants people to know you are not your circumstances and that sexual attraction is not based on what gender by which you were molested. Finda was molested as a child several times by family members both men and women growing up and was sexually assaulted at age 19. She is an advocate for sexual abuse.
Q: How would you describe your childhood?
A: I would say not your typical or desirable childhood. Though my parents were in the picture but they were busy working professionals. My father travelled a lot for work and my mother was a health care professional. I was mostly with my cousins, I trusted these people and they abused my trust by violating me. As far as I can remember I was sexually molested as a child. Some parts of my childhood are blocked out because of this, but I was molested as a child till my teens by both male and female family members. My parents divorced in my early teens, what saved me was writing. Finding a creative outlet to express myself.
Q: How do you feel your abuse has affected the way you view relationships and intimacy?
A: I know a lot of people believe I am bisexual because I was molested by both sexes but that couldn't be further from the truth. I had known at a young age that I was attracted to girls and that I was also attracted to boys. Though my molestation was a confusing period for me and contributed to my intimate issues, it's not the "reason" I am bisexual. I am bisexual because I am attracted to both men and women.
Q: Who knows that you are bisexual?
A: I actually am quiet open to [certain] family members and my friends. The only reason I decided to be anonymous in this article is because I do not want my mother to think I haven't forgiven her or that I [still] blame her for what happened to me as a child. Otherwise, I'm quite open about who I am.
Q: What would you like other people to know about in LGBTQI community in Sierra Leone?
A: I would like people to know that you are not your circumstance. Just because I am bisexual doesn't mean it is because of my sexual molestation as a child, and that bisexuality isn't a "phase". We are not confused people. Trust me, I have been told that all my life that I am just "confused". I am not, we are not. It is actually very offensive and dismissive.
Q: What is your message to other queer Sierra Leoneans who are in the closet due to fear, stigmatization etc, especially those who are bisexual?
A: You are not alone and you are not crazy. Listen to that voice inside of you, I understand if you being "out" may jeopardize your safety, I am not saying do that. But listen to yourself and trust your instincts. It takes a lot of soul searching and self love.
This is Finda Abdulai's story. Please share widely. And to other Findas out there, you are not alone.
For more information on LGBTQI safe spaces and organizations in Sierra Leone, please visit the following websites:
Pride Equality - http://prideequality.org
Human Dignity Trust - https://www.humandignitytrust.org/country-profile/sierra-leone/
Youth Arise - https://youthariselgbtsl.wixsite.com/website