Queer Crossings: a participatory arts-based project

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QUEER CROSSINGS Edited by Elsa Oliveira, Susan V. Meyers and Jo Vearey


Lonely & Lonely



French Guy


a participatory arts-based project


QUEER CROSSINGS Edited by Elsa Oliveira, Susan V. Meyers and Jo Vearey

First published 2016 by The MoVE Project African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS) University of the Witwatersrand Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND

ISBN 978-0-9946707-3-1

About the editing process At the start of each workshop, participants were offered the opportunity to select pseudonyms if they wished. Therefore, names used in this publication are not necessarily the actual names of those involved. To preserve the integrity of participants’ voices, editing of the stories featured in this book has been minimal. While attempts have been made to correct small typographical errors for the purpose of creating clarity for readers, the editors have worked to ensure that the voice of each author is maintained.

This work can be shared with others, but The MoVE Project must be credited. The work cannot be changed in any way, and it cannot be used commercially. Editors: Elsa Oliveira, Susan V. Meyers and Jo Vearey Publication design and exhibition curation: Quinten Edward Williams Printed in South Africa MoVE MoVE is a project housed at the African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS) at the University of the Witswatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. Queer Crossings Project The project received ethics approval (H140 931) from the University of the Witwatersrand Research Ethics Committee (non-medical). Much of the material in this book was originally published on the MoVE website.

MoVE Social Media www.facebook.com/themoveprojectsouthafrica www.migration.org.za/page/about-move/move www.issuu.com/move.methods.visual.explore www.methodsvisualexplore.tumblr.com www.instagram.com/movesafrica www.twitter.com/movesafrica

Project Context Anthony Manion Preface


Ingrid Palmary Setting the scene


Elsa Oliveira About Queer Crossings   19


Participant Expressions Babymez It’s a long road sweet and sour


Petunia Now, I live the life that I want


French Guy I decided to date men


Shane You can’t do it alone


Hotstix I needed to be heard


Timzy I still love him so much  75

Jonso My mother loves me


Tino I found out he was gay a year later

Lonely & Lonely An experience of true love


Marlon Like a caged bird set free


Modise I am still going there  57


Reflections on Process Susan V. Meyers and Elsa Oliveira This road was made by walking   John Marnell Art for activism


Gabriel Hoosain Khan Nothing went as planned



LeConté Dill Thinking about the poetry workshop


Jo Vearey Collaborative arts-based research: challenges and opportunities  101 Elsa Oliveira Representation and knowledge: testing new paths  105 Susan V. Meyers Re-seeing writing


Organizer Details Facilitator biographies 


Partners and funders 


“It is hoped that the stories contained in this anthology will contribute to a better understanding of the experiences of this marginalized group and stimulate further discussion, research, and activism.�

PREFACE Anthony Manion Director, Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA)

This anthology is the first time that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) migrants and asylum seekers in South Africa have shared their stories and memories in print. It includes short non-fiction, poetry, and visual art created by eleven LGBTQ migrants and asylum seekers who took part in two participatory projects in partnership with Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA), the African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS), Seattle University, and SUNY Downstate Medical Center School of Public Health between 2014 and 2015.

cases, the contributors to this anthology share stories that they had kept hidden out of fear that they would be victimized if their sexuality or gender identity were discovered. Recognizing the need to increase public awareness of the lives and experiences of LGBTQ migrants and asylum seekers, GALA and the ACMS partnered in 2013 on a one-day seminar that brought together—for the first time in South Africa—LGBTQ migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees with academics, activists, and organisations working on broader migration issues. This event underlined the importance of civil society working collaboratively if we are to succeed in ending the violence, harassment, and discrimination experienced by LGBTQ migrants and asylum seekers. Following the success of this event, GALA invited the ACMS to partner on a visual arts and narrative

The works in this anthology powerfully convey the experiences of LGBTQ migrants and asylum seekers who had hoped that Johannesburg would be a safe haven and instead have met serious challenges in terms of safety and access to services. In many 11


writing workshop with members of this community in late 2014, and the ACMS led on an innovative poetry workshop with the participants the following year. Part of the intention behind these workshops was to create a safe space for the participants to tell their stories and to support them in making their voices heard. The editors have developed this unique anthology out of the material produced in these workshops. It succeeds admirably in making the stories of LGBTQ migrants and asylum seekers in South Africa real and visible. It is hoped that the stories contained in this anthology will contribute to a better understanding of the experiences of this marginalized group and stimulate further discussion, research, and activism. It has been a privilege for GALA to partner with the thoughtful, dedicated, and energetic members of the ACMS team. In particular, we would like to mention Elsa Oliveira, Jo Vearey and Ingrid Palmary. We hope that the future will bring many further opportunities for collaboration.

Opposite: Real stories A range of everyday life experiences emerged during the body mapping workshop. 12

“In this volume, the contributors experiment with art based methodologies to elicit and explore the complex and contradictory experiences of being LGBTQ in South Africa.“

SETTING THE SCENE Ingrid Palmary Professor and Director, African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS)

“Although Sexuality might represent notions of pleasure and the continuity of humanity itself, the term conjures up discussions about sources of oppression and violence.” (Tamale, 2011, p. 1)

that falls outside of sexist and heterosexist frameworks as illegal and unnatural to Africa. After the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) was awarded observer status at the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) in 2015, there were appeals by the African Union Executive Council for this status to be removed. During the consideration of the report of the African Commission of Human and People’s Rights, the Executive Council of the African Union made the following request:

Sexual politics have experienced something of a revival in Africa at the moment. As the opening quote suggests this revival is complex and contradictory. It represents a growing and vibrant activist movement that is increasingly grappling with the diversity and complexity of sexualities even as we have been faced with conservative, violent and sexist attacks on any gender non-conforming behaviors. In the current African context it is very easy to feel that possibilities for rights, tolerance, and respect are very limited. We have, for example, seen ongoing repressive laws in Uganda, Zimbabwe and many other countries that seem to position any expression of sexuality

“REQUESTS the ACHPR to take into account the fundamental African values, identity and good traditions, and to withdraw the observer status granted to NGOs who may attempt to impose values contrary to the African values; in this regard, REQUESTS the ACHPR to review its criteria for granting Observer Status to NGOs 15


and to withdraw the observer status granted to the Organization called CAL, in line with those African Values.”

particularly given the increasing levels of repression against gender non-conforming practices on the continent.

From this rather depressing position it is easy to forget the positive events of recent years. This year Mozambique has rather quietly decriminalized same sex relationships by removing a clause in its penal code on “vices against nature.” At the same time however, Nigeria has banned public displays of affection between same sex couples and has introduced a possible 14‑year prison sentence for those found guilty of homosexual acts. In this political context it is often difficult to create the space for debates on sexuality that are about pleasure, relationships, and a celebration of diversity.

However what has become clear is that the implementation of this progressive legislation has been very weak. Research on the topic has identified a range of problems plaguing the asylum system from corruption to inaccessibility of the system to appallingly poor decision making by the Refugee Status Determination Officers. Efforts to challenge this weak implementation have been ongoing and have focussed on using the courts to enforce government action. However, in recent years it has become clear that the barriers to effective protection for asylum seekers go beyond weak implementation of a good law. Rather we have seen a waning commitment to providing asylum with frequent claims by the Department of Home Affairs that the asylum system is abused and that in fact very few people need protection. Whether or not some people do abuse the system is up for debate but this has been used to suggest that the entire system of protection should be abandoned. In particular we have seen recurring claims for establishing refugee camps that would limit the mobility and livelihoods of asylum seekers. Of course this is not unique to South Africa and this follows a globally restrictive implementation of asylum and suspicion of those who move.

Given this fraught context, the South African asylum system occupies a fascinating space for the potential protection of those persecuted due to their sexual orientation and gender identity. South Africa’s Refugees Act was drafted in 1998 at a time when the South African commitment to rights was strengthened by the memory of the abuses of apartheid. Out of this context came perhaps the most progressive Refugees Act in the world. Most notably the Act explicitly identifies sexual orientation and gender identity as a basis for making an asylum claim whilst most other countries rely on non-binding guidelines to make asylum decision-making more gender sensitive. This is indeed something to be celebrated 16

The difficulties plaguing the South African asylum system are just one example of the failure to protect within the justice system. But certainly as important are issues of violence and protection within our homes and families—the places that are often most saturated with heterosexist norms and practices. Nevertheless, these failings should lead us to ask not just how to fix these systems but also what an effective system for the protection of the rights of sexual minorities might look like? What mechanisms on the African continent can be used against those States that abuse the rights of gender non-conforming people and how can we mobilise those States with progressive legislation to protect people from countries that do not offer such protection? How can we build families and social spaces that are inclusionary?

allow us to reflect on how stories are told and how different ways of telling might allow for different kinds of narratives to emerge that create new forms of awareness and activism. This volume is the result of collaboration between amazingly talented people and organizations that we at the ACMS have been honored to work with.

These are questions that cannot be tackled without understanding the lived experiences of LGBTQ people. In this volume, the contributors experiment with arts-based methodologies to elicit and explore the complex and contradictory experiences of being LGBTQ in South Africa. The contributions challenge stereotypes by offering complex, honest, and thoughtful reflections on what it means to live on the margins of South African society and how people simultaneously live, love, and strive in a context that is at once brutal and caring; hostile and hopeful. These contributions also

Sylvia Tamale (ed.). African Sexualities: A Reader. Cape Town: Pambazuka Press, 2011. 17


“In an effort to expand research and advocacy on issues pertaining to the lived experiences of LGBTQ migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in South Africa, two artsbased workshops were conducted in 2014 and in 2015.�

ABOUT QUEER CROSSINGS Elsa Oliveira PhD candidate and co-coordinator of the MoVE Project, African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS)

The rights of gays and lesbians in South Africa are clearly articulated in the Bill of Rights, Chapter Two of the South African Constitution. Although great strides have been taken to legally protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) individuals, many continue to face discriminatory treatment.

Whilst we acknowledge South Africa’s progressive legal framework, it is important to recognize that constitutionalism on its own cannot transform mentalities and behaviors. Current restrictive immigration policies—coupled with institutional xenophobia and homophobia in South Africa—fail to meet the needs of sexual and gender non-conforming migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. There is certainly a need for more than constitutional endorsement if attitudes that are rooted in long-standing cultural and religious practices are to be contested and even eradicated. This top-tobottom approach has, to a large extent, failed to allow LGBTIQ individuals—including migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers—to fully enjoy their constitutional and legal rights, or to express their sexuality without discrimination or stigmatization. It is thus necessary that a bottom-to-top approach is

Due to inequitable legislation that criminalizes same-sex relationships in many African countries, many LGBTIQ persons seek refuge in South Africa. In addition, some LGBTIQ persons living in rural areas of South Africa find themselves moving to urban centres in search of more hospitable spaces. However, the experiences of many LGBTIQ migrants and asylum seekers are virtually ‘invisible’ in local and global movements, research, popular media, and political discourses. 19


devised in order to close the gap between de jure and de facto LGBTIQ rights in South Africa. This approach places emphasis on the target groups instead of the law or policy-makers. It therefore looks at effecting and implementing change starting from the grassroots.

limited to—migration, sexuality, and gender. In 2015, LeConté Dill from State University of New York Downstate, School of Public Health and Khosi Xaba from GALA, facilitated a participatory poetry workshop with nine of the eleven 2014 participants. Reflecting on the work produced in the initial workshop, participants created and shared poems drawing on their experiences as LGBTQ migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.

In an effort to expand research and advocacy on issues pertaining to the lived experiences of LGBTQ migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in South Africa, two participatory arts-based workshops were conducted in 2014 and in 2015. The body of work that is showcased in this publication is the culmination of these two projects.

The Queer Crossings exhibition and associated publication reflects on the role of art as a tool for activism, knowledge production, and dialogue. This publication seeks to extend the dialogue for those interested in the ways in which creative production and research can explore—and engage with—issues of sexuality and gender identity, migration, immigration policies, and human rights.

The first project took place in 2014 and involved collaboration between the African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS), Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA), and Dr. Susan Meyers, Associate Professor and Director of the Creative Writing Program, Seattle University. Eleven participants, all of whom were over the age of 18 and represented six African countries, were recruited by GALA to attend a seven-day participatory visual and narrative workshop held at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Through visual and narrative methods that were developed in partnership with Gabriel Hoosain Khan, Susan Meyers, and myself, the participants—alongside the facilitators— explored a range of personal and societal issues and experiences including—but not

Here you will find images of the art work created, narratives produced, and poems written by the participants during the two workshops. This project was made possible by the MoVE Project at the African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS), the AIDS Foundation of South Africa (AFSA), Seattle University, State University of New York Downstate, School of Public Health, and the Wellcome Trust.


Text Writing was a key mode of expression in the Queer Crossings project. Image making Visual arts were an important mode of production in both the poetry workshop and the body mapping workshop. 21



“People don’t know, but we are all the same. If they come close to us, they realize there is no problem at all.”


Biography Babymex is a 32-year-old self-identifying lesbian from the KwaZulu Natal Province of South Africa. She has been in a relationship with Modise (another Queer Crossings participant) since 2011. Babymez says that she only faces discrimination on the basis of her sexual orientation when she is out with her partner Modise: “When I am alone, people can’t tell that I am a lesbian because I look like a girl. I don’t face challenges when I go out on my own. But when I go out with my baby, people say names sometimes.”

Babymez says that the workshops have given her a new perspective on the ways in which art can help tell stories: “I did not know that I could tell a story through painting. I realized that we were creating good stories without opening our mouths. I was just drawing but afterward, when I looked at my work, I saw a lot of stories that I was not expecting myself. I also learned during the workshop that we are one; we are together. I hope that everyone that reads this book will understand that there is no need to hate us.”

Babymez has five children back home. She hopes to be able to build them a house in the near future. During her spare time, she enjoys going out for drinks with her friends and with her partner. She describes herself as a loving, patient, and humble person.




Body Mapping Workshop Regrets On my way back home one day, this guy started to say nasty things to me in a taxi. I was young and didn’t understand what was happening. When I got out of the taxi, he followed me and my friend. In order to get home, I had to walk through a lot of forested area. Once we were in the middle of our walk in the bush, the guy took out a gun and a knife and told me that I either had to follow him, or I had to choose which weapon I wanted to die with. As I was shaking scared and lost in crying, he grabbed me and pulled me deeper into the forest. My friend ran away in order to find help but she was too late. When she came back with people they didn’t find me. I was in the middle of the thick forest. I heard people calling my name while he was busy pulling down my pants. The voices disturbed him so I had a chance to grab the knife and throw it away. I pushed him and ran away. Pity me because while I was running I saw a light nearby and I ran towards it but I didn’t see that there was a nailed fence before you got inside the yard. So, the fence knocked me down, just as he went after me. That’s how he got me there and that’s why I have this scar on my face— because of that fence. Even worse, it was raining. That man pulled me down there on the mud, and he raped me. As it was my first time, afterwards it was hard to walk. I was feeling cold and helpless. He had just left

me there—but then he came back again. He took the t-shirt that he had had on and put it on me. Then he carried me up a ways. I was very scared because I thought he was going to kill me. Amazingly, he put me down by the gate at my home. When I got home, I was so scared, but I felt relieved to be alive and home and away from that monster. I didn’t think that he was going to let me live after what he had done to me. My dad was very heart-broken that day. He took me to the hospital, and I told him everything, including the reason why I was wearing the man’s t-shirt. My dad took the t-shirt to the village chief, and they knew who the owner of the t-shirt was. Later, we went in search of the knife in the forest. Luckily, we found it. The chief also knew who the knife belonged to, so the man was arrested, but he didn’t stay in jail long. That monster hadn’t only taken my virginity; he had also took my pride and had made me pregnant. Eventually I quit school, and soon after that my daddy passed away. So, I was left with my baby, as my dad hadn’t wanted me to abort it. When my mom came back after my dad died, I ran away for two years leaving the baby with her. Eventually, I returned home and she supported me a lot.



During the entire time that I was away, I thought of ways to kill that guy when I returned home, but God did the job for me. I found out that he had died, but I wish that I could have killed the dog myself. I wish that I could kill him again because my life was completely changed because of what he did to me. I hate men. I love my son a lot. He has grown into a man now. He’s sixteen years old. He loves school and likes soccer a lot. Still, now I see a lot of men doing scary things. For me, they are monsters with no heart. Destroyers.


Poetry Workshop It’s a long road It’s a long road sweet and sour A pity I have to go threw it also I wish I can find a place to hide It’s a long road When I look ahead I see that I still Have a long way to go On this road. It’s a long road But its not easy to go threw Sometimes its hard when its Get dark Its better when I have a Torch Coz I need to keep walking But im scared Even thou I know It’s a Long Road For me I will never finish Walking.



“I think therefore I am.�


Biography French Guy is a 30-year-old Congolese that currently lives in Cape Town, South Africa. French Guy identifies as a bisexual male and says that he left his country of birth because he wanted to safely express his sexuality.

At the time I did not speak a local South African language. The interpreter was a woman from Congo and she told me that I could not tell this story, that I was a shame for our country. She changed my story and told the Immigration Officer at the DHA that I was a soldier. When I started to learn English I realized what she did.”

French Guy’s experience in South Africa as a bisexual person has not been easy. In 2015, he moved to Cape Town in order to get away from the harassment and threats that he was facing from some of his fellow Congolese: “It hurt me a lot. I was living in fear so I decided to leave Johannesburg.”

French Guy believes that the workshop was beneficial and interesting: “I discovered myself and acknowledged the importance of my existence. Through painting, I understood who I am, where I come from, and where I am going.”

After French Guy arrived in South Africa in 2010 he went to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) to apply as an asylum seeker on the basis of his sexual orientation. However, his interview with the DHA Immigration Office did not go as he had hoped: “I spoke about my life and about my homosexuality.

French Guy was unable to join the poetry workshop due to work obligations.




Body Mapping Workshop Not Sure I was seventeen years old and my girlfriend was eighteen years old when I met her. We met one another during the holidays at the local swimming pool. Everything was perfect. Her family let her come and stay with me because the place where her family stayed was poor and far away from our school. We lived like husband and wife because we could do everything that married people do. She was my first girlfriend. She was the one who showed me what it is to be with a woman in a caring and honest way. This was the best thing that had happened in my life up to that point. But after I finished school, everything changed. I decided to break up with her. After that, she came to me, telling me that she was pregnant, and that it was mine. I took her back because of that, but when the baby was born, it was colored, so it was not mine. From there, I decided to date men.



“You only live once. If you see an opportunity coming, grab it with both hands.�


Biography Hotstix is a 25-year-old self-identifying lesbian who was born in Harare, Zimbabwe. In 2009, at the age of seventeen, Hotsitx left her birth country and headed for South Africa on the back of a truck.

the way you respond.” Hotstix says that the workshops were a positive experience: “I met a lot of people of different kinds. I realized that it’s not just me with a story to tell. Everyone had a story. I preferred the painting. You search what your mind is thinking. The workshops also help you to come out clearly and stand up for your rights.”

Hotstix now lives in Soweto and makes dreadlocks for a living: “I go to places and people come to my place. I am proud of what I do and I am proud of myself. My experience in South Africa is awesome.” Although Hotstix’s family in Zimbabwe knows that she is a lesbian Hotstix decided to move to South Africa because, “ . . . all of my friends in Zimbabwe came to South Africa. Here, I can be young, wild, and free.” Hotstix is enjoying her life in South Africa despite what some people may think of her: “People might be brutal but if you respect yourself, they don’t do a thing. It is about 35



Body Mapping Workshop A Friend Who Then Hated Me I often send groceries back home to my family in Zimbabwe. One day when my girlfriend and I were at the bus station trying to find someone to take the groceries, I met a guy who seemed really cool. He was short, dark, and tiny. He had this huge smile on his face, and he was so friendly. He helped us take our luggage to the buses, and everything was fine. After getting everything ready to send to Zimbabwe, I took his number and asked him if he smoked, and he said that he did. After that, we quickly became friends and would hang out a lot. I introduced him to my girlfriend, and he introduced us to his friends. Everything seemed fine. He didn’t seem to have a problem with the fact that I was a lesbian.

make dreadlocks, and he was a fast learner. As the days passed, he started hanging around with Rastafarians. The Rastafarian culture doesn’t tolerate the gay world. They think that you practice Satanism if you are gay. Realizing that he was falling for this culture, I began to distance myself from him and his new friends. One day I went to a park in Johannesburg to get some stuff to smoke. Eventually, I went to the usual place where me and my friend used to smoke, and he was there. I rolled up my weed and after smoking a few drags, I passed it to him; but when I did, he said that he doesn’t smoke with a “Chi-Chiman” (gay or lesbian). That hatred went on for a long time but I kept telling myself that I shouldn’t care that he felt that way.

When I wanted to smoke, I would give him a call, and we would head over to the rooftops of the Vodacom Tower or the Carlton Center and share drinks. We would spend entire afternoons together listening to music, laughing, and enjoying one anothers company. Being so high up on the rooftops of the buildings, we would look down and watch the people moving about their lives like little ants. We had the world around us, and it was great.

Days went by and I was living my life just as I had before I’d met that guy. But every time I went to the bus station he was there and he would say nasty things about my girlfriend and me. He didn’t mind making a scene in front of people. At one bus station there were a lot of Zimbabwean guys, and most of them are homophobic, so he had an advantage. He knew that they would always have his back when he started his drama. It was horrible. All I wanted to do was send groceries home, live my life, and not be harassed.

Days, weeks, months went by, and everything was fine. I taught my new friend how to 37


One March morning as the rain was falling, I was walking to my place, and I saw him walking towards me. I tried to avoid him and his friends, but I couldn’t. He came toward me and told me how nasty I was because I dated women. So, I responded by asking him what his problem was. He kept insulting me, and eventually I shouted back and he became very angry. He tried to hit me, so I started running, but he caught me and pushed me to the ground. I fell into the street and was almost run over by a motorcycle. I could have been seriously injured or killed but luckily I survived.

was happening. I asked the police if there was any chance that he was going to get out after I was gone. They told me that the law is the law and that no one is above the law. If you commit a crime you are going to pay for it.

Realizing that I was facing a serious problem I went straight to the police station in Park Station. I believed that if I didn’t report him that he was going to keep on harassing and trying to hurt me and that it was just going to get worse. On my way to the police station I wondered if they would take my case seriously but I told myself that it’s better to try than to let abusers just get away with it. When I arrived at the police station, a woman attended to me. I explained everything to her and she opened up a case. The police took me to where he would normally hang out and they arrested him. When we found him, he was with his fellow Rastas. I could see in his eyes that he couldn’t believe what 38

Poetry Workshop My Body work I am human I am any imagine of God Coming from my country was not easy Not because they cased we away but my soul needed to I came from a place were no baboons would want to stay I am a lesbian and I’m proud I needed to be heard I needed to have my rights I needed to feel safe and out of closet The crocodiles were my coune” at Limpopo river The only thing I knew I wasn’t going ^dying The greener pastures capability of doing Things my own way Making new friends and new life Above all discrimination doesn’t stop, eather” You in SA or Zimbawe but I learnt to survive I don’t hide myself anymore I don’t doubt myself anymore I only live for my life and my life only There is nothing that feels great Than to have freedom Hell gates are close The heaven is always opened for me You hate me but we all humans You talk I don’t care because I am, that I am… I am a human. I am LESBIAN.



“I am just a cool person.”


Biography Jonso traveled by truck from Harare, Zimbabwe to South Africa when she was 21-years-old. As a result of the political and economic climate in her birth country and the desire to, “live my life the way I wanted to” Jonso decided to give South Africa a try.

Jonso really enjoyed the workshops: “I started to feel confident. I realized that I am not the only one who has problems.” Jonso hopes that this book will have a positive impact on people: “It is going to teach a lot of things. People will learn from these stories. Everyone should read the book. Us gays and lesbians we have so many problems, but maybe if they see our stories they will feel released.”

While in Zimbabwe, Jonso was a member of GALZ (Gay and Lesbians of Zimbabwe) and although the organization provided a safe space for many people, Jonso was still not free to openly express her sexual orientation: “I was hiding myself in Zimbabwe because it was very dangerous. We used to go there [GALZ] but at our own risk. We used to talk about our life.” Jonso feels that life is better in South Africa because, “here people are less judgmental than in Zimbabwe. It is free. There are some rude people but you can go to the police and report them.”

Jonso is proud of her two-year relationship with her girlfriend and hopes to get married soon. Jonso’s dream is to open gay bars in Zimbabwe and South Africa.




Body Mapping Workshop Acceptance and Love When I was twenty years old in Zimbabwe I dated a lady that was seven years older than me. She would come to my place and we would spend time together. My younger sister was the only one who knew that I was dating her. My parents thought that she was just a friend. One day I had an argument with my younger sister. My mother was at work and we were the only two at the house. She didn’t want to do the dishes and clean the house so I got angry and we started fighting.

negatively she will protect you because she doesn’t want you or your feelings to get hurt. So I have learned that my mother loves me regardless of my sexual orientation.

Later in the evening when we were having supper as a family, I asked my sister to pass me the salt. I didn’t know that she was still angry with me until she started swearing at me. I was sitting next to my father when she said that I was a lesbian and that I was dating a sugar mama. My family just stared at me. I was so scared that my parents might throw me out because of my sexuality, but my mother instead began to shout at my younger sister and said, “You must respect her! I don’t want to hear you saying those words again.” That’s when I realized that mothers know their kids better than anybody else in the world. Because your mother is the one who raised you so she knows who you are and even if she hears the family speaking 43


Poetry Workshop I am nobody Noone cld recognize me I tried to get an identification card bt it still dosnt Work cz im a foreigner Its very hard for me to get a proper job or a house of My own coz they say im not a citizen of this nation Now I have nowere to go, cz I used to think SA its gonna be umbrella for me bt I uses wrong Its very hard to stay in a foreign country Nobody will give a fuck abt me. People will twice you like a dustbin cz everyone will put their trash in you It feels like im living in hell I am Eland I am the bull Eland The one who is very soft I only gets angry once in a year If u saw me cryn u better run away Coz I destroyed everything. They even call me chazezesa mutunhu unnemago Coz they hesitate me when I gets angry I am the son of schemutema




“Be yourself and be proud of that.”


Biography Lonely & Lonely is a 31-year-old selfidentifying gay man from Accra, Ghana who moved to South Africa in 2011 in search for a more hospitable country to live more freely.

I told them the whole story—that I had fears because I was gay. They did not want to believe me. I had to call my partner to prove it to them.” Despite these difficulties Lonely & Lonely is happy to live in South Africa: “I have a partner here. I have everything.”

During high school, Lonely & Lonely had a secret relationship with a man for several years: “At that time, I was not that sure of why I am doing those things with this guy. I did not understand it. But I was in love with him.” Because both of the young men’s families considered homosexuality a sin they were forced to hide their relationship.

Lonely & Lonely hopes that this book will encourage members of the LGBTIQ community to feel less afraid of ‘coming out’. Lonely & Lonely says, “I want the world to know that I am gay. I want people to feel free and not worry about what people say. Just focus on what you want in the future and be yourself and be proud of that.”

Lonely & Lonely has been living in Johannesburg since he arrived in South Africa. He works as a hairdresser, make-up artist, and barber. Although he received his refugee status two years ago the process with the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) posed many challenges: “I was nearly denied!

Lonely & Lonely was unable to join the poetry workshop due to work obligations.




Body Mapping Workshop Time That You Lost Something I still remember that day very well. I was about twenty-three years old when I first met Richard at the University in Ghana. He was studying there. We fell in love with each other, and he would visit me at my place every single weekend. My mom also became extremely fond of him during that short time that we were together.

had died of HIV/AIDS. It hit me so hard that I had to go and test for HIV/AIDS in order to find out whether I had contracted the deadly virus. Upon inquiring the doctor about the root cause of Richard’s death, I learned that it wasn’t HIV/AIDS that had killed him. It was typhoid fever. When I went to his funeral, I found out that he had a daughter, and his family told me more about him—very good things, and what a good person he was!

I became friends with Richard, and with time, my feeling for him became stronger and stronger. We began dating, and before I knew it, we had been together for four years—until my mother found out we were secret lovers. My mother did not object to our relationship because her attitude towards Richard was still very positive. But then Richard fell extremely sick and was admitted to the hospital, which was about four hours away from where I lived.

My mom was devastated upon hearing about his death. Thereafter, getting over him was the most painful trauma that anyone who has ever experienced true love can ever go through.

One day, in the early hours of the morning, my mom said that she had seen Richard outside the gate of our house. I explained to her that he was very sick and that he had been admitted to the hospital. Two hours after I saw him, I received a devastating phone call that he had died. I went to see the body of the man that I had loved. When we received the shocking news of Richard’s death, there were rumors that he 49


“Back home, you have to go to a certain place to be who you are. Here, I am fine. I am just me.�


Biography Marlon is a 28-year-old self-identifying lesbian from Mutare, Zimbabwe. Marlon left her birth country in 2012 with hopes of finding work and being able to safely express her sexuality.

One of the biggest challenges that Marlon faces in South Africa is the immigration system: “It is difficult to get inside as there are a lot of people. You have to bribe them and pay the guards R100 to get in and you might not be served.”

While in Zimbabwe, Marlon was a member of GALZ (Gay and Lesbians of Zimbabwe). On weekends, the members of GALZ would gather and support one another: “This helped us find refuge from the hostile environment that we were living.” Although GALZ provided an important and safe space for gays and lesbians in Zimbabwe the police often raided the premises unannounced: “they would come and take whoever was there. They would put them in jail and beat them.”

The workshop was a positive experience for Marlon: “Sometimes you can’t express yourself just through words. Writing and painting brings out more.” Marlon hopes that this book will help marginalized LGBTIQ persons. “Some people keep everything inside. I hope that by reading the book that they learn to bring it out and talk” said Marlon. Marlon enjoys playing pool, going out with friends, and playing on a lesbian basketball team. Marlon is proud of her life and everything that she has accomplished: “I have my own place, a job, and a partner.”

Marlon says that she feels safer in South Africa but that she still hears hate speech. 51



Body Mapping Workshop Freedom to Love and Be Who I Am I had to be free to love, to hold hands, to embrace. I could no longer live inside a shell. So, I made my decision to move away from Zimbabwe—my home. Everything I had known, my whole life, I had to leave behind—my home, my family, my roots—on a quest to find freedom. I boarded the last bus to South Africa on a rainy Monday night, constantly asking myself: “Am I really leaving?”

continued. I was so excited; I didn’t sleep a wink, absorbing everything in. All things seemed different. The air even smelled different. It all brought with it a mixture of strong emotions: anxiety, happiness, and melancholy. Before I knew it, as I looked outside the window, there was this big sign that read, “Johannesburg Park Station.” As I took my first steps in Johannesburg, I felt like a caged bird set free—free to fly.

The journey ahead of me was long. I felt nervous mainly because it was all unknown. Hours passed, as I took in every last visual of my home—from the lush green trees to the grey cloudy sky—as if such things didn’t exist where I was going. Eight hours later, I arrived at Beitbridge border post. “This is it,” I thought to myself. But like everything else, nothing comes easy. There was a queue at the border. It seemed like it was a mile long—a mile that meandered like a river. It took me a good seven hours to get my passport stamped. The hours seemed like days. As I watched the immigration officer stamp my passport at the last entry point, I exhaled heavily as if I had been holding my breath. I had done it. I was on South African soil, but still another eight-hour journey awaited me. I got back on the bus, and my journey 53


Poetry Workshop I come from I come from still waters to flowing rivers I come from cold winters to hot summers I come from dry desserts to wet forests I come from closed closets to open closets I come from rainy nights and woke up to rainbows I come from shaghels that bind to shakels brocken I come from dead silence to words spoken I come from paths unknown to paths chosen Untitled I stand before them Neck to feet thats all they see I am still Stagnant Motionless With my head in the dark I am faceless As I step into the light, my face revealed I am in motion, moving, I am proceeding




“I want the world to know that I am a proud lesbian and that no one should ever judge me.�


Biography Modise is a 29-year-old self-identifying lesbian from the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. Modise moved to Johannesburg in 2011 to be with her partner Babymez.

Modise enjoyed the workshops and discovered new stories about her own life through painting, drawing and poetry. Modise hopes that the book will, “open people’s eyes and kill stereotypes and stigma.” Modise is most proud of her relationship with Babymez: “I am with someone that I really like. I love her. I hope to marry her one day.”

Contrary to popular perception that rural areas are less hospitable to gay lifestyles, Modise argues otherwise. Modise says, “Back home you can do whatever. There are no killings because you are gay or lesbian.” Modise believes that people in Johannesburg are more uncomfortable with her sexual orientation and non-conforming gender identity that people were back home. Modise said, “It became too hard here [Johannesburg]. People see me as a male. Even when I go to the toilet they will call security. They say, ‘No men! I know that there is a sign here!’ This happens often to me. But I think that it’s better not to retaliate and to just let it go instead.” 57



Body Mapping Workshop Discrimination Road This road does affect my body when I’m going through it. It leads me to Bro Joe, where I’m always going to a pub or tavern to meet men and women. The times when they should search me, females won’t search me. I’ve also got a problem when I go into public toilets. Ladies will scream when I am in there and call security, or bouncers will kick me out or beat me. But, as for me, I am still going there. There was this one day when I was smoking outside, and a chick came along asking me for a cigarette. I gave her one, so we smoked. We were just chatting, when out of the blue, her boyfriend came along. He slapped me and beat me for a long time, thinking I was a man. Then, the bouncers came to help me out. The guy came back and apologized for what he had done. I was still afraid, so I got out. Even so, I still keep on going there. As I said: Khosi Aliphegi Moya.



Poetry Workshop Citizenship You can see me but am invisible, I feel small but big Who we are you to discriminate, who we are to judge Am me and I love being me. Citizen or not am here For sure. Am trapped to the box, who can carrier it So I can breath and shout Untitled Am me and am happy to be me The world went rough on me but I didn’t change Of being me. They call names, bitch, slight whore, isitabane But I kept going and stronger day by day Who are you to tell me what I am If you don’t what you see, Phuma Kimi




“I am a nice and quiet person.”


Biography Petunia is a 27-year-old self-identifying lesbian from Harare, Zimbabwe. In June 2014, Petunia moved to South Africa in order to be with her partner, Jonso.

Petunia hopes that the book will shed light on a range of issues from xenophobia to homophobia: “You really don’t want to be illegal but you cannot get status as an asylum seeker. It is really tough. Some people think that you are a lesbian on purpose. They don’t understand that we are actually born like this.”

Since moving to South Africa, Petunia feels safer and freer: “At least here [South Africa] you have rights and you are free to show your sexual orientation. In Zimbabwe you can never try. In South Africa, you can go to the police but if you go to the police in Zimbabwe they will end up beating you up.” For Petunia, the workshops were an enlightening experience: “It was my first time writing my story. Before, I could not write.” Petunia really enjoyed the poetry workshop: “For me, the poetry workshop was hard because I never wrote a poem but I enjoyed it so much. I enjoyed writing in a way that I never thought that I could write.” 63



Body Mapping Workshop I am Proud When I was thirteen years old, I met a girl and I liked her. I liked her so much. I would think of her all the time: in class, at sports, and even when I went to bed. I could not stop thinking about her. But whenever she tried to chat me up, I would snub her. I would give her one-word answers and walk away. She probably thought I hated her. If only she had known that I was a confused girl madly in love with her!

accept who I was or else I would end up living the rest of my life miserable. They would say, “You only have one life don’t live as though you have another one in the bank.” At last I began to live my life for me. I found myself a girlfriend. She was a good friend of the lesbian couple. The first time I met her was at my friends’ house. We were just chilling—watching movies—when she walked in. My friends were overjoyed to see her. Her visit was a surprise.

I did not want to accept the simple truth that I loved her: that I loved girls, and that I was a lesbian. I grew up being told that lesbians were mentally disturbed women and that they would all go to hell and that only ugly women are lesbians because no man wants them. I definitely did not want to go to hell, and I knew I wasn’t an ugly girl.

She was a very beautiful girl. The first thing I noticed about her was her big beautiful smile. I called her “ever smiling.” We became friends, and she started to visit more. One day my friends told me why she was visiting so often: She liked me. I couldn’t say anything; I just blushed. Then one day she came again. It was a Wednesday afternoon, and we were busy making necklaces with beads. She asked if she could talk to me in private, and I agreed. We went outside to the pool area and that’s where she told me that she loved me. My heart filled with joy.

At the age of seventeen, I began to research my sexuality. I was happy to find out that there are a lot of people like me. I also became friends with an older lesbian couple that stayed in our neighborhood. I met them at the shops when I had gone to buy some bread. We were standing in a long queue and began to chat, and that is how a lifelong friendship began. My new friends would talk to me about the lesbian lifestyle and advised me to just 65


Poetry Workshop The alarm goes on 5 oclock it is Tym to get up, a new day has begun Joy flows in his veins Anticipation for the new day He washes his body, brushes his teeth He applies lotions and brushes his hair Just another man getting ready for the day He puts on his favorite attire A stripped navy blue suit. Looking in the mirror, he loves what he see A goodlooking, well dressed young man. Then suddenly all the joy is gone As he comes back to reality Why don’t people see what he sees? If only people could see past genitalia He would be a happy man.


Petunia She is a woman Full hips, big breast A body built to make babies Men chase after her They want to marry her They want her to cook & clean They want her to make babies After all she is a woman Her mother, a woman of culture Sees her married to a good man With a big home and kids A life just like hers After all she is just a woman But is she built to be a wife or to have a wife Is she a cook or does she want a cook Does she want to birth babies or she prefers rabbing the belly of her pregnant wife Yos she a woman Just not your ordinary woman.



“I am a simple and easy-going person that is trying to make a living in a foreign country.�


Biography Shane is a 29-year-old self-identifying gay man from Zimbabwe who arrived in South Africa in 2008. His journey took him over a week. In order to cross the border from Zimbabwe to South Africa, Shane walked through a game reserve and jumped several fences before he arrived at his destination. Shane made this trek as a result of economic hardships and the fear that he felt as a gay man in Zimbabwe: “Homosexuality is condemned in Zim. People are arrested and beaten if they find out that you are gay.”

a gay the treatment is not the same. I don’t feel safe.” The workshops were a positive experience for Shane. He hopes that this book will positively impact the views of everyone who comes across it: “The community at large—everyone, not only the LGBTIQ people—everyone can change the way that they see gay people.” Shane is proud to be who he is and is not afraid to say that he is gay. He likes to read, watch movies, and stay indoors. He aspires to have a stable job and a good relationship.

According to Shane, although South Africa is safer in many ways, there are still many challenges that he faces as a result of his sexuality: “When you come here [South Africa] it is very different. You can be free constitutionally but the discrimination from the community is always there. You go for an interview but when they realize you are 69



Body Mapping Workshop My Body and Life My body is like a river, just like my life. Like a river, it does not go straight or flow the same all of the time. Rocks, wind, and other things make it so that the river changes. Sometimes it moves more quickly, and at other times, it moves slowly or is impeded by the weather or things that fall into it. My community saw me and accepted me as a human being from the time that I was a young boy. There have been up’s and down’s in my life. Not everything is perfect. Sometimes I am happy, and sometimes I am not. Like a river, life carries a lot of things in it. Some of the things we don’t even know because, like a river, only life itself knows what’s inside of it, affecting it. There are a lot of things in my life. Some of them, people might know about, and others, no one will ever know. That’s my life. Some people will see me differently; it depends on the situation. What I show the world is not what I am or who I am. I present myself differently based on what I want to share. I believe the more room you give yourself to express your true thoughts and feelings, the more room there is for your wisdom to emerge. And it’s all about your journey of becoming who you are. You can’t do it alone. Every great person has a mentor.



Poetry Workshop Untitled I wanted to write you a letter my love A letter that would tell desire to see you The fear of loosing you Of this more than benevolence that I feel Of this indefinable that pursues me Of this Yearning which I live in Total Surrender. I wanted to write you a letter my love A letter of intimate Secrets A letter of memories of you of your lips as henna of your hair black as mud of your eyes sweet as honey of your chest broad as And of your caresses Such that I can find no here I wanted to write you a letter My Love That would recall the days of our haunts Our night last in the long grass That would recall the shed failing on us from the trees The moon filtering through the endless Trees That would recall the madness Of our Passion And the Bitterness Of our Separation


I wanted to write you a letter my love That you would not read without sighing That you would hide from everyone That you would withheld from your friends That you would reread without coldness of forgetting A Letter to which in all manicaland No other would stand Comparison. I wanted to write you a Letter My love A letter that would be brought to you by Passing Wind A Letter that mangoes and Guava Tress The hynas and Buffaloes The allagators and grayling Could understand. So that if wind should lose it on the way. Tho beast and plants With Pity for our Sharp Suffering From Song to Song. But oh my love I cannot understand why my dear you are in Zimbawe. I cannot take the Risk.



“I am proud of what I am: my body, my friends, everything that I am doing. I am proud of it.�


Biography Timzy is a 28-year-old self-identifying gay man from Malawi. Timzy was born in Zimbabwe and moved to Malawi with his family when he was six years old. In 2007, he took a bus to Johannesburg in hopes of finding work and safer place to live his gay life. In Malawi, homosexuality is a crime and a person who is found guilty of homosexual acts can be sentenced to 14 years in prison: “I never felt safe in Malawi. You can get arrested! Nobody knew about my sexuality.”

job but did not get it because I did not have papers.” As a result of this challenge, Timzy makes a living running his own informal business. Timzy enjoyed the workshops and says that he learned a great deal about stories, poetry and diversity: “I learned a lot about myself. Painting and drawing opened my mind…. Poetry was also very nice. I have had some realizations after the workshops that are important to me.” Timzy hopes that one day, he will get married, adopt children and own a big house.

Timzy’s experience as a gay person in South Africa has been positive: “I feel freer than I ever have with my sexuality. My friends here accept me the way I am and understand me. People here are not the same as in Malawi.” Gaining proper documentation to reside in South Africa remains a real challenge that impacts all facets of his life: “I almost got a 75



Body Mapping Workshop Journey I remember my first journey from Malawai to Mozambique. It was a very long journey. I spent more than sixteen hours traveling, and it was very hard for me because I didn’t have enough money to buy food or pay for accommodation. But when I arrived, to my surprise, I met a classmate from primary school. When he saw me, he recognized me, but I didn’t recognize him. He said my name and then reminded me of how we knew one another. He seemed very happy.

my name and where I was staying. I told him everything while looking down, unwilling to meet his eyes. He asked me if I would like to join him for a drink and eventually he told me that he was gay. I was shy and uncomfortable but I knew that he liked me, so I gave him my number and said that we should talk again later. The following day he called me and asked if we could meet. I said, “Yes!” and started getting myself ready to see him again. We met at the same club where we had met that night before. He told me how he felt about me and I waited for a few seconds before I replied to him. Then I decided to tell him the truth. I told him that I am also gay and that there was no problem. I told him that we could be partners. The guy started jumping inside the bar. He bought me a beer so that we could have fun. We enjoyed hugging each other and kissing each other. But the sad story is that after two years of being together, I decided to go back home to visit my family. I spent a lot of time back home and although we communicated with one another we eventually lost touch. He changed his number and I couldn’t make contact with him. When I returned to South Africa, I found that he had found someone else. Deep down, it still hurts me, but there is nothing that I can do about it. I still love him so much.

He asked me what I was doing in Mozambique and I explained that I was looking for work. He asked where I was living, and I told him that I had just arrived and didn’t yet have accommodation. He offered to take me to his house and gave me food and a place to sleep. Eventually, I found a job, and after about a month, I found my own place to stay. Although I had a job and my own place to live, things still felt very hard for me. I was the only gay person where I was, and I was afraid that someone would find out. After some months, I decided to leave Mozambique and head to South Africa, where I could perhaps live out my gay lifestyle with less fear. When I first arrived in South Africa, I felt a bit nervous to come out. But then one day while sitting at a bar I saw a gay man with a beautiful smile walk towards me. He greeted me and asked me 77


Poetry Workshop Mama Africa Oh mama Africa Its been long Since we Children of Africa We have been crying for freedom We don’t even knows where we belong anymore OH MAMA AFRICA We don’t have a place to call home anymore Since we run away from our original homes To the foreign country OH MAMA AFRICA We are one we belong to the same place Lets Put our weapons down OH MAMA AFRICA Look at our leaders they don’t talk about Our freedom anymore all their carebout is Power OH MAMA AFRICA We cry for freedom I can see fire in Somalia blood shade in Egypt Xhenophobia in SouthAfrica Families are separated every their don’t fun Know where there are going OH MAMA AFRICA Look at children of Africa Where they are now there is no school no food No shelter. OH MAMA AFRICA We are one we belong the same place All that we want is freedom and stop the war OH MAMA, OH MAMA, OH MAMA AFRICA




“What I want the world to know about me is that I have people in my heart. Whoever you are, you are my neighbours. Love your neighbours as yourself.�


Biography Tino is an 18-year-old gay asylum seeker living in Johannesburg. In 2007, he left his home country of Zimbabwe hoping to find refuge in South Africa. “Things in Zimbabwe were really hectic,” he said, “but the major reason why I left was because of my sexuality. It has always been in me. But one day, I thought maybe if I went to South Africa, it would be much better.”

Tino believes that the asylum system in South Africa needs to be revamped: “There is a lot to be done in the asylum process here in South Africa. The constitutional rights in South Africa say that LGBTIQ people are equal, but it is not enough. We are being represented and shaped in a certain way. But what people believe to be true and what is really happening is totally different.”

Overall, life in South Africa has not been what he expected. He is applying for refugee status at the South African Department of Home Affairs on the basis of his sexual orientation. However, his sexuality has been questioned by immigration officials: “When I tell them that I am gay they often respond by telling me things like, ‘you don’t look gay. You look like somebody who just wants asylum in South Africa.’”

Tino believes that the workshops were a positive experience, because he had the opportunity to reflect on his own story and to gain knowledge about gender and sexual politics. He hopes that his story will reach and uplift other people in need, both in South Africa and around the world. Tino hopes to share his knowledge and work with the community in order to improve the lives of LGBTIQ people.




Body Mapping Workshop My Cousin is my Betrayal I was 18 years old when my cousin betrayed me. He told my elder brother, the person who took care of me after my beloved parents passed away, that I was dating boys instead of girls. As kids we played soccer on the streets, swam, watched movies, and horsed around. We trusted each other and shared our deepest secrets. Though he was running after girls, I was having feelings for boys. So one day, I explained to him that I was attracted to boys and it was cool with him. We remained good friends.

After some time, I approached my brother’s wife. She was very close to me and I hoped she could speak to her husband. She spoke to him and we resolved the differences. After that I felt relieved that the tension between my family and me was over, but the damage had already happened. Some of the people in the neighborhood were already aware that I was gay. They pointed fingers at me and I imagined them whispering to one another judging my morality. My heart felt like it was bleeding as if I was stabbed by a sharp spear.

One day, he outed me to my lovely conservative family of which I was not yet ready to be distinguished as gay. My family is a Christian family, who considers someone gay as a taboo, satanic, demonic, unnatural, unAfrican, and against culture and God’s creation of Adam and Eve. Up to now I really do not know why he did that. Was it because when I was around my gay friends we would sometimes call each other ladies’ names, or maybe because older men would buy us booze? I don’t know. Only God knows. I was really hurt, disappointed, and I felt betrayed, painful, and lonely since someone that I had trusted did such an unexpected thing to me. It also affected my relationship with my brother. I spent a couple of months visiting my gay friends and not communicating with my cousin because of his action.

From what happened I learned that some people we call best friends sometimes betray us. My cousin who I considered my best friend really betrayed me. I also learned that sometimes people who want to talk and judge other people’s sexuality have unresolved issues. That cousin of mine who outed me and caused me deep pain is now gay. I only learned that about him a year ago when I was already in South Africa.



Poetry Workshop The son of soil Wicked I am in their eyes, My satisfaction is reserved, They Believe what they feel is The only accepted feeling, And proved wrong when I Spilling to them that the Oposit is my enjoyment Taboo, unnatural, outcast, became, Lesson learnt at least now You know, a shame, disgust evil I brought, both to the family and to the nation. Here I am the son of the Soil, never learnt read, borrow or inherit it, I am convinced Iam not one, we a lot, only that you are kidding or denying about it. Its unAfrican western thing, I never attended a white school Or never been with them, I am Pure African-Zimbabwean, never been Out of African-I am a real black faggot.





“To our knowledge, the coupling of creative writing and body maps was a first in this workshop.”

THIS ROAD WAS MADE BY WALKING Susan V. Meyers Associate Professor and Director of Creative Writing, Seattle University

Elsa Oliveira PhD candidate and co-coordinator of the MoVE Project, African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS)

Art is powerful. Stories, drawings, sculptures, theater performances—all these things can connect and inform us, entertain, and persuade us. For artists themselves, the act of creation itself can open memory, translate experience, celebrate the good times, and help them let go of those more difficult things. Writing, painting, performing—all these things change us. And, it can transform the feelings and perspectives of the people who witness the outcomes. So, as researchers and activists interested in developing innovative ways to research and support marginalized populations, it made sense for us to adopt an arts-based methodology. We wanted to create a workshop experience that would have the capacity to help LGBTQ youth commemorate and come to terms with life events, as well as to inform people outside of that community—both for the purpose of informing research and

advocating political and social change—so we decided to combine narrative and visual arts and we focused on critical consciousness raising. However, creating images and writing stories for personal fulfillment isn’t quite the same thing as creating them in order to inform others about one’s experiences. Working with LGBTQ youth migrants and asylum seekers in South Africa, we quickly learned that what we hoped for from our workshop was a tall order indeed. We had, in short, three purposes. First, we hoped to serve those youth who participated in our workshop. Second, we hoped that what they produced would function as advocacy materials to support immigration rights awareness. Third, the work was to contribute to research on issues of migration, sexuality, and health more broadly. 89



In support of this work, we realized that we would need to both create free and open space for creativity, and infuse the workshop with activities and discussions aimed at critical consciousness raising. Therefore, we employed a visual method called body mapping. Briefly, body mapping is a very accessible visual arts technique that allows practioners to create augmented images of themselves—images that include varieties and layers of personal symbols and stories. During the opening stages of the body mapping exercises, practioners were asked to reflect on both personal identity and social expectations related to gender and sexuality through representations of their own bodies. Thereafter, varieties of personal stories and symbols were added to these “maps,” followed up by layering of coloring and shading to evoke a sense of selfhood and physical form. These guided steps integrated lessons in both visual literacy and written expression, and engaged the group in discussions of bodies, gender, and identity in order to raise critical awareness.

Opposite: Drawing on the body maps The participants would often sit on the floor on top of their body maps. They used pencils, oil pastels and soft pastels to trace their bodies, and then later, added personal details to their images.

To our knowledge, the coupling of creative writing and body maps was a first in this workshop. Having practiced each modality separately in the past, workshop leaders came together to combine the two methods in the hopes of deepening each. That is, we hoped that the use of visuals—particularly visual art connected to the physical form of the human body—would deepen 91


Spread: Writing in the workshop The body mapping involved writing alongside image making processes.




participants’ reflections and storytelling. Moreover, we hoped that storytelling—and the actual integration of text into the body maps—would contribute to a stronger visual product: one that conveys story and experience in a fuller way.

of the way, and we ultimately found that the most effective components of the workshop were those that got participants interacting with each other. For instance, we opened nearly every session with a physical exercise that got people moving through the room, working together, and sometimes defining and redefining themselves. From there, we used the process of making body maps to trigger memories and to help participants’ reflect on the ways that they have interpreted their experiences—and sometimes have had their experiences interpreted for them by other members of society. Finally, we engaged all of the participants in writing groups to give each other feedback about

In the end, each of these things happened— though the process was not without its challenges. Given the three different purposes that we had in mind (i.e. writing for the self vs. writing for audience and advocacy) and the narrow time frame (only nine days!) that we had to work with, we quickly realized that we would have to make adaptations to our original set of plans. Staying nimble and open-minded, we adapted daily goals and activities every step 94

the drafts of personal stories that they wrote to accompany the body maps. The stories in the pages of this book began with a simple request to consider the problem/response/ solution to a key experience in life. However, while that essential formula may seem simple, life stories can be complex. In their writing groups, the authors in our workshop listened to each other’s drafts, offered feedback, and revised their work until they were satisfied that their stories both evoked a central memory and expressed the details of that memory in a way that might teach others about the experiences of being young, LGBTQ, and a migrant. We hope you enjoy them.

Spread: Painting the body maps The participants used food colors for washes and acrylic paints for detailing on their body maps. 95


“Those who participate not only produce striking visual materials, they also begin to feel confident in their own voice.�

ART FOR ACTIVISM John Marnell Publications, Outreach and Communications Officer, Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA)

There is a long history of creative methodologies being used with marginalized communities, both here in South Africa and beyond. This is because creative methodologies offer a number of benefits not afforded by other forms of intervention. Visual art, in particular, can help community members to reflect on their life experiences in new and exciting ways. It also opens up space for learning, in that those taking part begin to analyze their experiences using different lenses.

creative methodologies like those used in Queer Crossings can educate, empower, and inspire communities. The theories of Freire and Boal are crucial to understanding the value of a creative methodology, be it art, writing, drama, or any other form. Both Freire and Boal argue that education is an inherently political act, in that it can be used either to reinforce or to challenge inequality. Both theorists reject the traditional understanding of education as a one-way flow of information. Instead, they champion participatory, learner-centred forms of engagement.

The Art for Activism approach used by Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA) is inspired by the works of Paulo Freire and Augusto Boal, as well as by the incredible work being undertaken by local organizations such as the Curriculum Development Project (CDP). Over many years, the CDP has shown how

Participation is at the heart of the Art for Activism process. Instead of sitting silently behind a school desk, those taking part are required to be up and active, to be involved in the learning process physically, mentally 97


and emotionally. This ensures that those taking part not only enjoy the experience, but are also central to the learning process. Creativity is a powerful tool. Creative works can make us feel happy or sad, excited or angry, confused or inspired. They can also make us look at the world in different ways. And they are powerful not just for the viewer or listener, but also for the creator. Whether it’s singing, drawing, writing or acting, creative expression allows us to capture our experiences, emotions, and hopes—and to share these with others. This is why the Art for Activism model is such an effective tool for engaging communities. The end goal is not to produce award-winning art works— though the outputs are certainly amazing— but rather to promote self-reflection, self-awareness, and self-expression. The process is also about creating change. Those who participate not only produce striking visual materials, they also begin to feel confident in their own voice. This is no small achievement, particularly when working with communities who are denied the opportunity to articulate their concerns or struggles to a public audience. The Art for Activism model offers marginalized groups a powerful platform from which to draw attention to their lived realities and to demand change.

Opposite: Celebration The 2014 workshop culminated in a private exhibition where the body maps and narratives were displayed in the workshop space for all of the partners and participants involved. 98

“The aim has been to investigate different approaches to collaboration in order to determine what is needed to promote the best chance of success.�



Jo Vearey Associate Professor and co-coordinator of the MoVE Project, African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS)

Increasingly, collaboration between academics and civil society is set as a condition by research funders, positioned as a desirable—yet often undefined— by-product of a successful academic project. This is particularly so for social research projects that aim to better understand the experiences of marginalized groups, such as refugees and asylum seekers, in order to generate evidence to inform improved policy and programmatic responses. Often, a clear indication of why such a collaboration is required and what it should involve—for example, how should it be initiated, by whom and for what purpose—is lacking. Without such guidance, “collaboration” can all too easily be translated into a list of action points to be undertaken in order to satisfy the funder. This allows the academic grant holder to indicate that they have “identified”, “consulted” and “engaged”

with relevant civil society representatives, often achieved through a series of (costly) consultative and dissemination workshops at the start and end of the research process that are held “in collaboration” with a key civil society partner(s). What do research funders assume will be achieved through such forms of collaboration? Who should benefit from such collaboration, and in what ways? Can the effects of these processes be measured? Are there possible risks associated with a poorly defined collaborative project? Through undefined (and uncritical) demands for “collaboration” within an academic project, it is difficult to determine the benefits (or harm) of such arrangements to researchers, to civil society, or to the population group of interest.



In response to these frustrations, researchers engaged in the MoVE project at the African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS) have been exploring ways of collaborating with and involving civil society stakeholders— including migrants themselves—in the production and use of knowledge. The aim has been to investigate different approaches to collaboration in order to determine what is needed to promote the best chance of success. In this case, success relates to the generation and use of evidence in order to improve the lived experiences of marginalized migrant groups, through policy and programmatic responses, for example. This has led to a series of projects, including Queer Crossings, that have involved collaboration with civil society partners in order to define the research agenda, research process, and ways of using the data generated.

can shift between partners and participants over the lifecycle of the project, our experience suggests that collaborative projects such as Queer Crossings requires that all involved in the project learn and respect ‘different ways of doing’.

A key lesson learned is that each partner enters with differing, albeit complementary, reasons. These reasons include, but are not limited to: participation in order to generate research; the development and use of advocacy materials; and, the testing of methodologies.

Opposite: Collaboration The research process is made possible by collaborations with multiple stakeholders including funders, partners, facilitators, and participants.

The collaborators’ different interests require careful navigation. This involves negotiation between partners, and it requires the time for discussion with all partners during the different stages of the project. Although power and control of the research process 102

“Here you will read about love, perseverance, deceit, dreams, and heartache.�



Elsa Oliveira PhD candidate and co-coordinator of the MoVE Project, African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS)

How is it that we come to know what we know? Who gets to represent us? Do stories impact the way that we think?

Inspired by the intellectual work of Paulo Freire and over twenty-years of professional experience as a social worker turned researcher I wholeheartedly believe in the power of story, collaboration, and participation when seeking to explain—and understand—the complexity of what it means to have a human experience.

These are only a few of the questions that drive the work that I do as a researcheractivist at the ACMS. Since 2010, I have had the great pleasure of working on a series of collaborative participatory visual and narrative projects with various migrant groups, civil society organizations, artists, and researchers in South Africa. All of the projects that I have been involved with to date—including Queer Crossings—have sought to explore the lived experience(s) of migrants through a process of art making and storytelling. These projects have also aimed to support the production of artifacts—that are created and selected by the individuals who participate in the workshop—for public engagement.

As a researcher it is my job to explain and describe events, spaces, people, and so forth. I believe that I can only do this effectively if I make central—the inclusion of those whom I seek to understand—in the research processes. Although I believe that all research must seek to move beyond the traditional academic publishing avenues, I believe this to be of upmost importance when the research work directly engages with social 105


issues and marginalized groups, such as those featured in this publication. Eleven amazing individuals who face very significant political and societal barriers as a result of their citizenship and/or sexuality and/or gender identity produced the bulk of the work in this publication. Here you will read about love, perseverance, deceit, dreams, and heartache. You will—I hope— join us in the call to end discrimination, stigma, and violence on the basis of sexual orientation, nationality, and gender identity in all sectors of society.

Opposite: Co-produced knowledge The researcher should only be one voice in the production of knowledge. 106

“People love to listen to stories because they find it pleasurable; and they love to tell stories because it helps them remember, make sense of, celebrate, or come to terms with the events of their lives.�

RE-SEEING WRITING Susan V. Meyers Associate Professor and Director of Creative Writing, Seattle University

People are so often afraid of writing. After twenty years teaching writing, that’s one of the things that is most clear to me. We’re afraid of writing because, if we write, we might be judged—possibly negatively. And we’re afraid of writing, too, because those people who do it well seem to get to make all of the decisions. For instance, executives write business proposals, politicians write policies, journalists write news, and academics write history books. It can indeed seem like those are the people who get to decide what (and who) counts, or does not. And that can be a little scary.

to stories because they find it pleasurable; and they love to tell stories because it helps them remember, make sense of, celebrate, or come to terms with the events of their lives. Still, so much of what happens in stories is the same thing that happens in a business proposal or a newspaper column. So why are we so fearful of one kind of writing and so enthusiastic about another? And, maybe even more importantly, is there any way to draw the two closer together? These were the foundational questions that inspired me to participate in Queer Crossings. As a teacher, I love writing, and know that it can be such a powerful tool to help people. But how can community members living along the social margins both find comfort with writing and potentially use it to influence decisions in the world? Further, how might story—or art in general—fit into all of this?

On the other hand, people—across time, culture, and distance—tend to love story. Stories connect us; they inform, entertain, and reassure us. Stories, of course, may be told out loud or written down; it almost doesn’t seem to matter. People love to listen 109


One of the first challenges that we came across, though, wasn’t related so much to the acts of writing or making art as it was to figuring out what was most important to us. As workshop leaders, Elsa, Gabriel, and I hoped that the materials resulting from the workshop could go public. We hoped that we would be able to use them as advocacy materials—such as the book you are now reading. We wanted to get those stories and experiences out into the world so that they could expand the range of voices that usually go unnoticed. At the same time, we didn’t want to require participants to publish their work unless they really wanted to. It is one thing, after all, to write for oneself—to

express ideas and feelings for the pleasure or usefulness of doing so—but it’s somewhat different to write for someone else. During our earliest discussions, everyone agreed that it would be a powerful thing indeed if we could record the stories of migration, immigration, and border crossings that the members of the workshop have lived through. They, too, wanted their stories to make a positive difference in other people’s lives—whether to reassure other individuals with similar experiences that they are not alone or to inform people who may not ever have heard about lives like these. “All right, then,” I 110

agreed. “We’ll spend our time together making stories for other people to read.” The process, though, was not easy. For the first few days, in fact, I wondered if we would succeed. The challenge was that writing good, compelling stories takes time. As workshop leaders, we continued to wonder what we should be doing: allowing time for participants to make selfdiscoveries, or making sure that we were progressing toward having documents that could be published? Of course, we wanted both, but it was tough to figure out how to let people explore and how to make sure that those explorations led somewhere. At one point, we thought that perhaps the best thing would be for me, as the resident writing teacher, to read the stories and let people know how they could revise them. But that wasn’t enough, I thought. I didn’t want to be yet another voice telling these community members what they should think or say. Instead, what I hoped is that they could work with each other to strategize how to revise their stories for outside readers.

Opposite: Participant’s Desk The workshop materials included pens, journals and notes. Pseudonym This workshop gave participants like Hotstix an opportunity to produce narratives.

And that, finally, is what we did. After the participants had had some time to think about life stories that they might want to tell, they spent more time working in groups to read and critique each other’s stories. Their goal was to revise those stories so that they would be clear and compelling to someone who had never lived a life like theirs. So, they had to be strategic. 111


They had to figure out how to help each other write stories that the whole world might want to hear. And this, finally, was the most powerful part of the project for me. What you see here in this book is the outcome of several brave people opening up to tell their stories—and being willing to grapple with and revise those stories because these authors want to make an impact. They want your perspective to be changed by the time you finish reading this book. Certainly, they have changed mine. For years, I’ve taught writing classes, working with students to improve their texts. In this case, though, I witnessed the people themselves transform. Not only were the participants exploring their histories and expressing their feelings, they were also taking ownership of writing itself. They had begun to see how they could have opinions about how something is written and have the authority to suggest changes. Leaving the workshop, they have, I hope, a little less fear of writing, and much more conviction about why and how it matters that they, too, need to get their stories out into the world. Opposite: Working space The workshops took place in a classroom at the University of the Witwatersrand. 112

“I quickly realized while facilitating the body mapping exercise that we needed to be guided by participants’ expressions.”

NOTHING WENT AS PLANNED Gabriel Hoosain Khan Formerly: Youth and Education project coordinator, Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA)

It’s been almost a year since I worked at Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA) developing creative methods to engage and empower lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities. I look back at that time fondly. But even as my distance and focus has changed—I remember the intensity of the work—both the logistics of using art and the nuances of collaborative and creative research practice.

always leave the workshop feeling somewhat different to when I started. There is always a plan when beginning a workshop. Elsa, Susan and I met and unpacked how we would link visual art and writing. We also discussed the opportunities and challenges that might surface when working with a linguistically diverse group of people. We talked as outsiders—caring, politically conscious and skilled—but still we remained outsiders. Even though we challenged ourselves to be as critically conscious as possible we also understood the importance of being flexible.

As a facilitator, the process of guiding a workshop is both exhausting and emotionally fulfilling. As someone who was kicked out of my parents’ home because of being queer I feel extremely committed to working with LGBTI communities, unpacking their challenges, and finding collaborative solutions. As a facilitator, I am also deeply impacted by the process. The experience of the workshop is intensely lived and I

During the workshop, while facilitating the body mapping exercise, I quickly realized that we needed to be guided by participants. We wanted to learn about their experiences as LGBTQ migrants, 115


and while some participants spoke directly to this, many of them were more interested in other everyday life experiences. Creative methods offered the participants in this project agency over which narratives they wanted to share, which symbols they used to articulate their stories, and which colors they selected to express emotional intonation. The body maps in this publication, reflect the fragmented, multiple, and intersecting realities of the participants’ lives. The images and narratives produced by the participants/ artists in this publication foreground the complex and diverse narratives of LGBTQ asylum seekers and migrants. This body of work can challenge the academy to rethink what constitutes valid knowledge and who has the opportunity to be heard in the process of knowledge production.


Artistic voicing Participants produced their own subject matter in their particular artistic expressions. 117


“On November 13th 2015, it was momentous to see the poets claim the Women’s Gaol at Constitution Hill as their stage to publically read their poems.”

THINKING ABOUT THE POETRY WORKSHOP LeConté Dill Assistant Professor​,​School of Public Health​,​State University of New York Downstate

Tons of emails and WhatsApp messages, the 2014 International Conference on Urban Health, shared vision and goals, trust and faith, and a 14-hour flight brought me to the Queer Crossings #weareallpoets workshop. Jo Vearey has been a colleague, collaborator, and co-conspirator of mine since the Fall of 2013. #weareallpoets finally formally and physically brought me to Jozi, Wits University, and the African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS). During the week of November 9th 2015, the basement of the Wits Engineering Building became the landing-place and then the launching-pad for me, my co-facilitator, Khosi, and nine brave and bold poets. Throughout the week, I worked to integrate poetry and literature, history, politics, visual art, and music from the pan-African Diaspora, namely South Africa and the U.S., into our dynamic discussions and writing prompts. The poetry,

speeches, and lessons of South Africa’s 2006 National Poet Laureate, Keorapetse Kgositsile, crept into our discussions and prompts every day. June Jordan’s, Poetry for the People helped to guide us as we critically read and analyzed published poems, distilled the essential messages from them, and set out to write new poems. The participants began the workshop writing “I Come From” poems, reflecting on the places, spaces, cultures, languages, families, and identities that they call “home.” They went on to write in different poetry forms, such as Ekphrastic, Erasure, and Praise Poetry, and also to write free verse. On the last day in the classroom, Khosi really pushed and supported the participants to think about the performance of their poetry . . . who they wanted to be on the stage and how they wanted their poems to leap from the page.



This was a powerful moment for all of us to have such an established poet and scholar along with us on each day of this journey in such a giving and humble way. On November 13th 2015, it was momentous to see the poets claim the Women’s Gaol at Constitution Hill as their stage to publically read their poems. Poets read one to three poems each, supporting each other with fingers snaps, and clapping, and smiles, and hugs. As a stolen or displaced African from the U.S. myself, it was also moving for me to be gifted a family totem of Shumba (“lion” in the Shona language) by one of the participants, further binding me to this poetry family; this Jozi family; this family full of migrants; this family full of strength. I end this reflection in a similar way that I bid adieu to the poets, with an excerpt from the Indigenous, Two-Spirit poet Chrystos: I cannot go home until you have taken everything and the basket which held it When my hands are empty I will be full

Opposite: Poetry reading Constitution Hill in Johannesburg was used as the venue for the public poetry reading. 120


The facilitators of Queer Crossings are researchers, artists, and activists that came together through their dedication to confront social justice issues.

FACILITATOR BIOGRAPHIES Gabriel Hoosain Khan Gabriel Hoosain Khan is a development worker with experience in community development and designing human rights interventions at a regional level. Gabriel currently works as Programme Officer in the Sexual Diversity and Rights programme at Hivos. As part of his work at Hivos Gabriel coordinates the People’s Power project, a project working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community based organisations across South Africa. Previously Gabriel worked as the co-ordinator of the Youth and Education Project at Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA), a position held since January 2013. Gabriel has used his base at Hivos and GALA to explore the use of creative methodologies to build the capacity of marginalized communities in the southern African region. Daniel Jack Lyons



Elsa Oliveira Elsa Oliveira is a PhD candidate at the African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS) at the University of the Witwatersrand located in Johannesburg, South Africa and co-founder of the MoVE Project. Since 2010, she has engaged with visual and narrative methods in research that seeks to explore the lived experiences of migrants in southern Africa. She is motivated by research projects that seek to expand beyond traditional academic dissemination avenues and is passionate about projects that seek to support social justice issues. Address correspondence to: Elsa Oliveira elsa.alexandra.oliveira@gmail.com African Centre for Migration & Society University of the Witwatersrand Johannesburg 2050 South Africa 126

Susan V. Meyers Susan V. Meyers has lived and taught in Chile, Costa Rica, and Mexico. She earned an MFA from the University of Minnesota and a PhD from the University of Arizona, and she currently directs the Creative Writing Program at Seattle University. In 2013, her novel Failing the Trapeze won the Nilsen Award for a First Novel and the Fiction Attic Press Award for a First Novel, and it was a finalist for the New American Fiction Award. Her field study on education in rural Mexico, Del Otro Lado: Literacy and Migration Across the U.S.-Mexico Border, was supported by a Fulbright Fellowship and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Association of University Women. Other work has recently appeared in Per Contra, Calyx, Dogwood, The Portland Review, and The Minnesota Review, and it has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. 127


LeContĂŠ J. Dill Dr. LeContĂŠ J. Dill is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences in the School of Public Health at the State University of New York (SUNY ) Downstate Medical Center. Dr. Dill received her B.A. degree in Sociology with a minor in Creative Writing from Spelman College, her MPH degree in Community Health Sciences from the University of California, Los Angeles, her DrPH degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and was a Health Policy Leadership Fellow in the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine. As a qualitative researcher, Dr. Dill examines the relationship between adolescent development and processes of the built and social environment, such as migration, residential segregation, gentrification, foreclosures, and neighborhood and sexual violence.


Makhosazana Xaba Makhosazana Xaba is the Writing and Documentation Fellow at GALA working on a book on life stories and an exhibition on religion and LGBTI persons. She co-compiled and co-edited, with Karen Martin, an anthology of short stories, Queer Africa: New and Collected Fiction (2013) which won the 26th Lambda Literary Award for the fiction anthology category in 2014. Queer Africa has been translated into Spanish and an Arabic translation is under discussion. It is also used to teach literature and queer theory at prestigious universities. She holds an MA in Writing (with distinction) from Wits University. She is a feminist activist at heart with many years of experience the women’s health sector and the struggle against apartheid.



Queer Crossings was made possible with the support of organizations that believe in the importance of strengthening civil society.



MoVE focuses on the development of visual and other involved methodologies to research the lived experiences of migrants in southern Africa. Our approach aims to integrate social action with research, and involves collaboration with migrant participants, existing social movements, qualified facilitators and trainers, and research students engaged in participatory research methods.

The African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS), formerly known as the Forced Migrations Studies Programme, is based at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. The ACMS is an independent, interdisciplinary and internationally engaged Africa-based centre of excellence for research and teaching that shapes global discourse on human mobility, development, and social transformation. Through research, teaching and outreach ACMS is a regional leader for migration on the continent, with partnerships around the world.







Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA) is a centre for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) culture and education in Africa. Our mission is, first and foremost, to act as a catalyst for the production, preservation and dissemination of knowledge on the history, culture and contemporary experiences of LGBTI people. In recent years, GALA has also strengthened its commitment in areas such as education and movement-building. Through our different areas of work, GALA makes an important contribution to the achievement and development of the human rights of LGBTI people on the continent, and to social justice more broadly.

The AIDS Foundation of South Africa (AFSA) is a development organisation that exists to mitigate the impacts of HIV & AIDS and poverty, through the implementation of projects to enhance provision and take-up of HIV & AIDS and sexual reproductive health (SRH) services, and reduce vulnerability. AFSA has provided support to GALA to implement activities with LGBTI migrants and refugees as part of a broader, multipartner programme titled Making sexual and reproductive health rights real in South Africa.




Wellcome Trust


The Wellcome Trust is dedicated to improving health. We believe this can only be achieved if advances in biomedical research are accompanied by advances in our understanding of the social, cultural and historical contexts of medicine, health and wellbeing. Only with an understanding of those contexts can we address the practical, political and ethical challenges that are raised by the global burden of illness, disease and health disparity. Queer Crossings is supported by a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award held by Jo Vearey.

The migration and health project southern Africa (maHp) at the ACMS is supported by a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award. Involving a series of unique research and public engagement projects, maHp explores ways to generate and communicate knowledge to improve responses to migration, health and wellbeing in the SADC region. Multiple disciplinary perspectives, mixed methods, and the involvement of various stakeholders—including migrants—are considered central to exploring the production of knowledge and its application.







Seattle University’s Office of Mission and Ministry supports outreach around the globe by Seattle University faculty and staff. The purpose of this outreach work is to connect members of the international community in projects related to social justice and social change.

The State University of New York (SUNY ) Downstate School of Public Health is located in Brooklyn, New York and is committed to health education, health promotion, disease prevention, population health research, advocacy, and achieving health equity for urban and immigrant populations.









“This anthology is the first time that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) migrants and asylum seekers in South Africa have shared their stories and memories in print. It includes short non-fiction, poetry, and visual art created by eleven LGBTQ migrants and asylum seekers who took part in two participatory projects held in partnership with the Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA), the African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS), Seattle University, and SUNY Downstate Medical Center School of Public Health between 2014 and 2015. The works in this anthology powerfully convey the experiences of LGBTQ migrants in South Africa who had hoped that the country would be a safe haven, and instead have met with serious challenges in terms of safety and access to services. In many cases, the contributors to this anthology share stories that they had kept hidden out of fear that they would be victimized if their sexuality or gender identity was discovered.� - Excerpt from Preface by Anthony Manion (GALA)

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