Artist's Statement

Mikael Owunna

Growing up as a queer African person, I was told constantly that it was "un-African" to be gay, and that homosexuality was foreign to our culture. After enduring years of severe alienation from my Nigerian heritage and a series of exorcisms in Nigeria as well, I started "Limit(less)" to reclaim my African-ness and queerness on my own terms. 


Limit(less) is a documentary photography project on LGBTQ African immigrants in North America and Europe. Between 2015 and 2017, I have shot over 50 individuals for the project in 10 countries toward my goal of debunking the myth that it is “un-African” to be LGBTQ. 


To achieve this, the project specifically documents “queer African style” to represent this unique fusion of identities; visually expanding conceptions of African-ness and queerness in turn. 

The project is important because, paralleling my own personal experience, in many African communities today there is still a fairly pervasive and violent idea that being LGBTQ is “un-African”. Homosexuality is outlawed in 34 African countries - largely as a legacy of European colonial legislation - and the violence against and silencing of LGBTQ Africans extends to communities in diaspora as well.


Limit(less) explores how LGBTQ Africans in North America and Europe – at the heart of these colonial legacies – navigate their multifaceted identities and find ways to bridge the “gap” between being LGBTQ and African through fashion.