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Lesbian Literature: Sub-Saharan Africa

Many Sub-Sahara African novels/ebooks depict homosexuality negatively and as a product of the West.

There are some incredible pro-gay novels.

An example is No Past, No Present, No Future (1973) by Yulisa Amadu Maddy. This novel follows the lives of three African men who migrate to Europe. One of the characters, Joe Bengoh, is homosexual and the novel not only traces his earliest experiences with a mission priest, but also explores his two friends prejudice towards him – they view homosexuality as sick and morally inferior and so reject him. In the end, however, Joe is the only one of the three whose acknowledgment of his true self does not destroy him. Another of Maddy’s novels, Our Sister Killjoy, openly discusses being lesbian.

After the end of apartheid, and the growth of LGBT rights, there was a growth of LGBT South African literature. These include Mark Behr’s Embrace (2000), Ian Murray’s For the Wings of a Dove (2000), Michiel Heyns’s The Children’s Day (2002), Barry Levy’s Burning Bright (2004) and Craig Higginson’s The Hill (2005), which all deal with boys’ developing sexuality.

Women have made a smaller contribution to LGBT literature in South Africa compared with their male counterparts.

One LGBT-themed book is Open: An Erotic Anthology by South African Women Writers (Schimke 2008), which contains a significant number of stories about being lesbian or bisexual. Other female writers who have LGBT themes in their wok include Suzy Bell, Makhosazana Xaba, Liesl Jobson, Sarah Lotz and Lauren Beukes.

Unfortunately, few works published so far examine homosexuality from a black woman’s perspective, although Jane Bennett’s collection of short stories, Porcupine (2008) includes a representation of being black and a lesbian.

Go Tell it to the Sun by Wame Molefhe has a short story “Sethuya Likes Girls Better”, depicting a married woman forced to suppress her sexuality to conform to societal pressures; while Black Bull, Ancestors and Me is a memoir of sangoma, a traditional healer and lesbian.

paula key has a comment.

I am still in the process of making my ebook stories universal. Jo of the Outback, I set in Australia and it explores the love of a white woman and aboriginal woman. (interracial).

Lt. Dee: Army Nurse, Vietnam. Explores a fictitious love in a war zone. Lieutenant Dee is from a white Mennonite family and she falls in love with an American Native Indian woman. (interracial).

Jazz: Jet Setting Carpenter. This ebook is set in London, England. She is a daughter of an Indian father and mother. Her partners are from various nationalities as she treats the city of London as her bedroom.

My intention is to set one of my next novels in Africa. I would like both women to be African. If you have any stories or it is your African lesbian story – please contact me through the comments section. I would love to invite you to be a guest writer. paula.

If you live in Africa – my ebooks are available on

Paula, 2015,


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