South African Writing – Day 15: Queer literature for every body

I thought the GLII audience would benefit from hearing more about some incredible SA queer collections of writing and books. These are just a few, and I really encourage you to engage more!

The Pink Line – Journeys Across the World’s Queer Frontiers – Mark Gevisser [ISBN: 9781250798596 GoodReads]

Six years in the making, The Pink Line follows protagonists from nine countries all over the globe to tell the story of how “LGBT Rights” became one of the world’s new human rights frontiers in the second decade of the 21st Century. From refugees in South Africa to activists in Egypt, transgender women in Russia and transitioning teens in the American Mid-West, The Pink Line folds intimate and deeply affecting stories of individuals, families and communities into a definitive account of how the world has changed, so dramatically, in just a decade. And in doing so he reveals a troubling new equation that has come in to play: while same-sex marriage and gender transition are now celebrated in some parts of the world, laws to criminalise homosexuality and gender non-conformity have been strengthened in others. In a work of great scope and wonderful storytelling, this is the groundbreaking, definitive account of how issues of sexuality and gender identity divide and unite the world today.

Exhale Queer African Erotic Fiction A HOLAAFRICA! Project [ISBN: 9781990977145 GoodReads]

Exhale is a queer anthology wrapped in the idea of a release, a letting go, breathing out. An orgasm. These are the stories that come out when you play sip or spill, truth or dare, never have I ever and lasts longer than 7 minutes in heaven. With sexual experiences from all over Africa, this anthology introduces some exciting new literary voices and brings you some of your established favourites.

Transgender Refugees and the Imagined South Africa: Bodies over Borders and Borders over Bodies Dr B Camminga [ISBN: 9783030064860 GoodReads]

This book tracks the conceptual journeying of the term ‘transgender’ from the Global North—where it originated—along with the physical embodied journeying of transgender asylum seekers from countries within Africa to South Africa and considers the interrelationships between the two.  The term ‘transgender’ transforms as it travels, taking on meaning in relation to bodies, national homes, institutional frameworks and imaginaries. This study centres on the experiences and narratives of people that can be usefully termed ‘gender refugees’, gathered through a series of life story interviews. It is the argument of this book that the departures, border crossings, arrivals and perceptions of South Africa for gender refugees have been both enabled and constrained by the contested meanings and politics of this emergence of transgender. This book explores, through these narratives, the radical constitutional-legal possibilities for ‘transgender’ in South Africa, the dissonances between the possibilities of constitutional law, and the pervasive politics/logic of binary ‘sex/gender’ within South African society. In doing so, this book enriches the emergent field of Transgender Studies and challenges some of the current dominant theoretical and political perceptions of ‘transgender’. It offers complex narratives from the African continent regarding sex, gender, sexuality and notions of home concerning particular geo-politically situated bodies. 

Queer Africa: New and Collected FictionKaren Martin and Makhosazana Xaba (eds) [ISBN: 9781920590338 GoodReads]

Queer Africa is a collection of unapologetic, tangled, tender, funny, bruising and brilliant stories about the many ways in which we love each other on the continent – In these unafraid stories of intimacy, sweat, betrayal and restless confidences, we accompany characters into cafes, tattoo salons, the barest of bedrooms, coldly gleaming spaces into which the rich withdraw, unlit streets, and their own deepest interiors.

Queer Africa: New and Collected Fiction (2013) won the 26th Lambda Literary Award for the fiction anthology category in 2014, and was translated into Spanish in the same year. It is now used to teach literature and queer theory at prestigious universities in South Africa.

Queer Africa 2: New StoriesMakhosazana Xaba and Karen Martin (eds) [ISBN: 9781928215424 GoodReads]

In Queer Africa 2: New Stories, the 26 stories by writers from Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Uganda and the USA present exciting and varied narratives on life. There are stories on desire, disruption and dreams; others on longing, lust and love. The stories are representative of the range of human emotions and experiences that abound in the lives of Africans and those of the diaspora, who identify variously along the long and fluid line of the sexuality, gender and sexual orientation spectrum in the African continent. Centred in these stories and in their attendant relationships is humanity. The writers showcase their artistry in storytelling in thought-provoking and delightful ways.

You Have to Be Gay to Know GodSiya Khumalo [ISBN: 9780795708244 GoodReads]

Siya Khumalo grew up in a Durban township where one sermon could whip up a lynch mob against those considered different. Drawing on personal experience — his childhood, life in the army, attending church, and competing in pageants — Khumalo explores being LGBTQI+ in South Africa today. In You Have to Be Gay to Know God, he takes us on a daring journey, exposing the interrelatedness of religion, politics and sex as the expectations of African cultures mingle with greed and colonial religion.

Reclaiming the L-Word: Sappho’s Daughters out in Africa Alleyn Diesel (ed) [ISBN: 9781920397289 GoodReads]

This brave and moving collection of stories by South African lesbian women from different backgrounds reminds us, again, that rights are never finally won in legislatures or in court rooms. They are won by people exercising them. The authors of the stories and poems in this book have done just that. They have stood up to celebrate the dignity of lesbian women in South Africa. Each contribution is different. And each intensely personal. And each one reminds us of the urgent need for us to stop hate crime and to create a safe society for all LGBT South Africans.

They Called Me QueerKim Windvogel and Kelly Eve Koopman (eds) [ISBN: 9780795709654 GoodReads]

They Called Me Queer is a collection written by Africans who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual. South Africa has become known for its tolerance towards us, the LGBTQIA+ community. However, we live in a devastatingly segregated and unequal society, where sexual identities still heavily impacts every part of our daily lives. This collection of stories is a testimony to who we are. It is an assertion of our struggles, but also our triumphs, our joys. 

This month’s blog is curated by Jen Thorpe.

Jen Thorpe is a feminist writer. Her first novel, The Peculiars (2016), was long listed for the Etisalat Prize for Literature (2016) and the Sunday Times Fiction Prize (2017). Her second novel, The Fall, was published in July 2020. Thorpe has edited three collections of feminist essays – My First Time: Stories of Sex and Sexuality from Women Like You (2012); Feminism Is: South Africans Speak Their Truth (2018) and Living While Feminist (2020). Her writing has been published in Brittle Paper, Saraba Magazine, Jalada, and Litro. Find out more via https://jen-thorpe.com. Jen is also the host of the Living While Feminist Podcast available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Anchor, or wherever you get your podcasts.

3 thoughts on “South African Writing – Day 15: Queer literature for every body

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