LGBT Literature in Africa

by - 08:55

In many African societies homosexuality is still thought to be "un-African", a western import, with laws in place to control it. In this climate of homophobia, I was interested to know what type of LGBT literature is coming out of Africa. I already reviewed The Hairdresser of Harare and The Yacoubian Building, which both have gay characters, but I was curious to know how homosexuality is portrayed in African literature and what else is out there that I should be reading. African LGBT fiction (and non-fiction) seems to be dominated by South African writers but here are some that either explicitly focus on homosexuality or have LGBT characters. 

Shadow Power was the first depiction of a love affair between a white and a black man in South Africa; Love Themes for the Wilderness references a historic art and and queer party, the Locker Room Project; Bitter Fruit has a bisexual woman as a secondary character; Seven Steps to Heaven occasionally shifts into same-sex relationships, such as the relationship between a white and a black man; in Confessions of a Gambler, a Muslim woman with a gambling addiction must come to terms with the fact that her son is gay and dying of AIDs; The World Unseen explores the relationship between a lesbian and a married woman; The Quiet Violence of Dreams looks at a male sex-worker and the gay underworld in Cape Town; The Beautiful Screaming of Pigs explores being gay in a macho society; in Bitter Eden men who identify as heterosexual struggle with issues of masculinity and intimacy; Embrace is the story of a young boy's school life as he falls in love with his best friend and choirmaster; The Hairdresser of Harare is about a young man leading a double life in Harare; Go Tell the Sun has a short story "Sethuya Likes Girls Better", which tells the story of a woman suppressing her sexuality; In Tangier We Killed the Blue Parrot, Paul and Jane Bowles are a bi-sexual American couple living as expatriates in Tangier involved in same-sex love affairs with Moroccans; Porcupine includes a representation of being black and a lesbian; Open: An Erotic Anthology by South African Women Writers, contains a significant number of stories about being lesbian or bisexual across a range of cultural settings; Black Bull, Ancestors and Me is a memoir of sangoma, a traditional healer and lesbian; The Invisible Ghetto is an anthology of gay and lesbian writers from South Africa; Transgender Life Stories from South Africa features stories about the transgender experience in South Africa.

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  1. Wow, this is an impressive list, actually. I had no idea there were so many titles - though it is still a quite small number. Am adding many of these to my wish list.

  2. Thanks :). We still have a long way to go, but I feel the fact that there is some LGBT literature in Africa is a good start.

  3. This is an amazing website! And thanks for this list of books! I'm currently looking for short stories, book reviews or interviews with queer artist for so, if you could pass this on to people that might be interested or know of some people that I could contact or are interested in writing something yourself, please get in touch! Thanks so much!

  4. I wonder where can I get my novel to be published too