Sexuality in fiction: Exploring the literary portrayal of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) characters in selected African texts: Speak no evil, the interpreters, fairy tales for lost children, i am a homosexual mum, the hairdresser of harare and the oracle of cidino

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University of Namibia
This study explores the literary portrayal of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) characters in selected African texts. The study is based on the following literary works: Speak no Evil by Uzondinma Iweala, The interpreters by Wole Soyinka, Fairy tales for Lost Children by Diriye Osman, I am a Homosexual, Mum by Binyavanga Wainaina, The Hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu, and The Oracle of Cidino by Sifiso Nyathi. The focus of this study was to examine how LGBTQI characters are depicted in the selected literary works as well as explore the sociocultural challenges experienced by LGBTQI people. This is a qualitative, desktop study that focused on six African literary texts which were purposively selected and analysed. Queer theory was used to analyse the literary works. In literary context Queer theory focuses on eradicating the binary oppositions and stereotypes of sexuality and gender within a body of text as well as to break down the use of categories and labels that stereotype and harm those who are in marginalised positions such as the LGBTQI people. The findings of this study reveal that, although literature from different scholars has painted Africa as a homophobic block, this study realises that African people have varying views towards the concept of LGBTQI. Some react with revulsion, vigilantism, extortion, blackmail, hostility and negative stereotypical behaviour, while others react with a sense of empathy, pity, understanding and support. Nonetheless, it is clear that negative reaction amongst others overpowers positivity. This study has also noted with concern that there is no successful story about coming out of the closet, all literary works under study paint the concept of coming out as a devastating and regrettable choice by those who opted for it. Although they have plenty of survival and coping strategies, LGBTQI people are faced with several social challenges and therefore live a burdened life full of pretentiousness in order to fit the ‘norm’. The study recommends universities to consider teaching queer inclusive literature in their courses to enhance understanding regarding LGBTQI matters. Finally, researchers should consider engaging in social justice research, as this may help to sensitise the public on the danger of homophobia.
A dissertation submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in English Studies
Homosexuality, Heteronormativity, Homophobia, Sexuality, LGBTQI