After reading Akwaeke Emezi’s The Death of Vivek Oji, an imaginative novel about a queer human in an immigrant community in Aba, Nigeria, I scoured the internet for short stories that feature LGBTQ+ African characters. There’s something captivating about good short stories. I just can’t seem to get enough of them, especially now in the midst of a pandemic that has left me with a shortened attention span. It’s taking longer to read full length novels, and short stories have given me some relief: wonderful narratives that are just long enough to prevent one from getting distracted or bored while reading. For your reading pleasure, here are a few short stories featuring queer African characters that you can read for free on the internet.
1. Her Stripes by Odah Brian
This short story is one of many in the Go the Way Your Blood Beats collection published by Brittle Paper in April 2019. An anthology, chock-full of stories about queer African lives. “Her Stripes” tells the story of a trans girl in Kenya navigating her identity in the face of disapproval.
Arinze Ifeakandu was shortlisted for the Caine Prize for this short story about two men, Lotanna and Kamsi, who need to keep their mutual attraction a secret because of the threat of violent homophobic attacks in Northern Nigeria, and the presence of Lotanna’s girlfriend Rachael.
3. Inscape by Yaa Gyasi
I am convinced that this short story is a prototype of the author’s latest novel, Transcendent Kingdom. The main characters have the same name, and the stories share the themes of religion and mental illness. “Inscape” follows Gifty, a Ghanaian American woman as she cares for her mother who is ultra-religious and mentally ill. While Gifty’s attraction to women is not the forefront of this story, it is a relevant part of her identity, and I enjoyed how Gyasi narrates this character without making her queer identity her whole story.
4. God’s Warriors by Maxine Sibihwana
“God’s Warriors” is a quick tale that explores religion, sexuality, and forbidden love. Written by Ugandan writer, Maxine Sibihwana, this short story explores the romantic relationship between Kidogo and Sunshine (a pastor’s daughter) and the forces that keep them away from each other.
In this short story, we see an unapologetic gay character, Phumlani, question his older brother’s choices and the internalised homophobia that led to those choices, as they deal with their mother’s death.
Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoy these short stories as much I did. Leave a comment below about how the pandemic has affected your reading habits.