For our design of the week, Welcome Lishivha picks a book with graphic short stories about everyday queer life in some parts of Africa.
Meanwhile is a comic book depicting ordinary queer life in southern and east Africa. At a time when queer bodies are under constant attack and queer voices are consistently being censored, Meanwhile offers a humane, regular and relatable representation of queer lived experiences.
It explores questions of identity, freedom and love, and features a cute opening comic about holding hands.
The comic book also explores the coming out process in a way I think will teach heterosexual parents about the ramifications of negative responses to their child coming out as queer.
The book demystifies a lot of the myths that have been created about LGBTIQ people in many African countries as a way to discriminate against them even further.
Other themes covered in a light-hearted and educational way include masturbation, the challenges of dating in the 21st century, growing up in a religious family as a queer body, and appreciating our bodies in a time of popular and exclusionary beauty standards. It even delves into challenges within the LGBTIQ community, such as bottom shaming. It also looks at how the top-bottom binary is harmful to members within the community.
Considering that being gay is still illegal in 34 countries on the continent, this book is a significant contribution to the representation of queer folks and will go a long way towards helping young queer people find the language to express their differences in their societies. It also normalises the queer lived experience in a world where being “other” is condemned.
The book is colourful, funny and makes for a great light read.