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Tommy Boys, Lesbian Men and Ancestral Wives: Female Same-Sex Practices in Africa

Ruth Morgan & Saskia Wieringa

This unique book documents same-sexuality in eastern and southern Africa. Eight of the chapters have been co-authored by women activists spanning six different countries, each of whom has collected personal narratives on a range of issues related to sex and secrecy. This is an incredibly difficult area to research, as many African leaders declare it taboo on the basis that these practices are alien to African culture and an import from the depraved West.

Tommy Boys demonstrates that there are silenced, traditional, institutionalised ways in which African women contracted same-sex relations. Second, it proclaims the right of African women engaged in same-sex practices or relations to their identities as Africans, as several interviewees state: we, lesbian women, are born here in Africa, we belong here. Who can say we are un-African? Third, it provides a vivid portrait of the lives of African women engaged in same-sex relations and practices, portraying the joys of having found love as well as the pains of betrayal and the hatred encountered in their communities, as well as the many shades of emotions in between.

Tommy Boys eloquently testifies that, although silence isolates and protects these women, some are beginning to speak out.

About the authors

Ruth Morgan is currently a lecturer in the South African Sign Language Department at the University of the Witwatersrand. She was the director of Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA) from 2002–2008. She has a PhD in linguistic anthropology from The American University, Washington D.C. Her work has focused on collecting and analysing life stories of LGBTI and Deaf people for the past twenty years.

Saskia Wieringa is Honorary Professor at the University of Amsterdam, holding the Chair on Women’s Same-Sex Relations Crossculturally. She has a long experience of activism, and since the late 1970s she has done research on women’s movements, sexual politics and same-sex relations in many parts of the world, particularly in Indonesia. She has written and edited more than thirty books and 200 articles. Her latest publications include Sexual Politics in the Global South (2012, coedited with Horacio Sivori), The Future of Asian Feminisms (2012, coedited with Nursyahbani Katjasungkana), Women’s Sexualities and Masculinities in a Globalizing Asia (2007, edited with Evelyn Blackwood and Abha Bhaiya) and Engendering Human Security (2006, edited with Thanh-Dam Truong and Amrita Chhachhi). Professor Wieringa has received various awards for her scholarly work, most recently the 2011 Journal of Contemporary Asia Prize for best paper.


Publisher: Jacana Media
ISBN: 9781770090934
Format: paperback
Pages: 336 pp

Tommy Boys