In contemporary history questions of African identity, culture and representation have by and large been determined externally without any genuine attempts being made to gain the input of Africans themselves. The result has been the creation of monolithic and often erroneous ideas around what it means to be African, African personhood, how Africans love and the manner in which societies are ordered. It is naïve to think that present day Africa is not a result of its colonial past but it is critical that Africans play a role in determining how the continent and its people are represented in future.
Questions around alternative sexuality and gender identities are often met with revulsion and rejection within African communities, as many Africans believe that homosexuality and any non-conforming gender identities are “unAfrican”.
These notions have received very little redress from political, religious and legal institutions. The result being that many Queer Africans remain invisible members of their respective societies. Often Queers are coerced into silencing fundamental parts of their identity for fear of being socially ostracized, excommunicated or victimized. Attempts have been made to show that heteronormative sexuality and gender identities were not a hegemonic aspect of the social fabric in pre-colonial African societies. Historians, anthropologists and scholars alike have written about the numerous ways in which Africans loved and lived. However this research has done little to change the lived realities of Queer Africans in the present day.
The most effective way of challenging an idea and changing perceptions about a particular phenomenon is by telling one’s story. In order to subvert sentiments around homosexuality being a “foreign import” Queer Africans must give voices, names, ethnicities and faces to queer-sexuality and gender non-conformity in Africa.
This anthology seeks to create an archive where the lived realities, challenges, dreams, personhood and experiences of Queer Africans are told through poetic verse.
The statement that this anthology seeks to make is a simple one:
“I exist, I am African and I am queer. I could be your child, parent, grandparent, neighbor or friend. I am no different from you and this is my reality.”
Queer African stories matter simply because they, too, are African stories. Tell yours.