Hivos International

Global launch of ‘Boldly Queer: African Perspectives on Same-Sex Sexuality and Gender Diversity’

Hivos has officially released the publication Boldly Queer: African Perspectives on Same-sex Sexuality and Gender Diversity. The book is a rich collection of articles, essays, stories and photographs that highlight a growing understanding of LGBT rights struggles and realities on the African continent. Seventeen scholars, activists and writers from across Africa contributed to the book. What the contributions have in common is audacity and boldness, not accepting the status quo of suppression by conservative values, severe criminalisation or increased religiosity. In short, these contributions are “boldly queer”.

This is an enormously important book – in its scholarly depth, its activist passion, its profusion of interesting and arresting contributions, and, most vitally, in its full-hearted affirmation and recognition of LGBTI Africans” - Edwin Cameron, Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa

The book is a product of the second Conference on African Same-Sex Sexualities and Gender Diversity, which took place in March 2014 in Nairobi, Kenya. About sixty persons, all scholarly engaged in or knowledgeable about same-sex practices, identities and communities, together with sexual rights advocates from sixteen sub-Saharan African countries, participated in the conference. They presented and discussed a great diversity of topics related to strategic interventions, lived realities and research. Both the conference and the book are fully sponsored by Hivos.

Boldly Queer facilitates our “unlearning” of simplistic understandings and misconceptions about sexualities and gender in Africa”- Sylvia Tamale, Professor of Law, Makerere University, Uganda

Boldly Queer was edited by Theo Sandfort (Columbia University), Fabienne Simenel and Kevin Mwachiro (Hivos) and Vasu Reddy (University of KwaZulu-Natal). According to Fabienne Simenel of Hivos’ Sexual Rights & Diversity programme, the objective of this publication is to contribute to the on-going debate on same-sex sexuality and gender diversity from an African context. “Above all, we hope that showcasing African knowledge will produce change and promote understanding and acceptance”. The content and style of the book reflects a diversity that mirrors the various ways activists and academics are challenging homophobic stigma. 

“This book […] adds an essential component to the growing body of work by Africans on Queer, Same Sex and Gender Identities.The truth is, as Queer Africans, we know very little about our own societies, our diversities and our possibilities. We cannot be without self-knowledge” - Binyavanga Wainaina, Kenyan writer

Boldly Queer was officially presented in The Hague, the Netherlands in June 2015, where Dutch Human Rights Ambassador Kees van Baar, received the first copy from Hivos. Two of the contributors to the book, Mark Gevisser from South Africa and Ato Malinda from Kenya, presented their views on the current state of affairs for LGBT groups and ways to handle LGBT issues in Africa. On 16 July, the book was launched in New York, USA, where editor Theo Sandfort handed the first copy to Michael Ighodaro, a Nigerian gay refugee and activist, recently honoured by the White House as a World Refugee Day Champion of Change.

Boldly Queer launched in Kenya on 20 August. You can relive the event here through Storify: #BoldlyQueer Launch in Nairobi

The launch in South Africa is scheduled for later this year.


Boldly Queer: African Perspectives on Same-sex Sexuality and Gender Diversity
Theo Sandfort, Fabienne Simenel, Kevin Mwachiro, Vasu Redy (editors)
Published by Hivos under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 license
ISBN 978-90-70435-12-7

You can download ‘Boldly Queer’  in its entirety or chapter by chapter from the right sidebar