Seeking Sanctuary

Stories of sexuality, faith and migration
Author(s):
  • Publication Date: September 2021
  • Dimensions and Pages: 229x152mm Extent: 296pp
  • Paperback EAN: 978-1-77614-710-6
  • eBook EAN: 978-1-77614-713-7
  • PDF EAN: 978-1-77614-712-0
  • Rights: World
  • Recommended Price (ZAR): 385.00
  • Recommended Price (USD): 30.00

Marnell brings together moving stories of LGBT African migrants and refugees in a book that
shows rather than tells. Seeking Sanctuary reveals the nuance, complexity, contradictions
and paradoxes that exist at the intersection of ‘faith, belonging, identity and mobility’ and
does so by grounding itself in the first-person narratives of individuals who too often are the
‘objects’ of academic study, rather than self-determining subjects. Marnell gives us access
to worlds and experiences that rightly challenge dominant and false assumptions about the
lives of LGBT African migrants and refugees of faith. It’s an important read.
— E. Tendayi Achiume, Professor of Law, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Contemporary
forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

This book testifies to the power of life storytelling, specifically in relation to sexuality and
faith in the lives of LGBTQI migrants in South Africa. Instead of reinforcing narratives of
‘African religious homophobia’, or simply presenting religion as panacea, the collected
stories offer an intimate insight into the lives of queer migrants and help to unpack religion
as a site of multiple, and often conflicting, possibilities. Seeking Sanctuary elucidates the
liberating potential of religion in signifying human life and working towards social justice.
— Adriaan van Klinken, Professor of Religion and African Studies, University of Leeds, and
author of Kenyan, Christian, Queer: Religion, LGBT Activism, and Arts of Resistance in Africa

Precisely because of its grounding in personal narrative, and the clarity of its prose, Seeking
Sanctuary is a book that will be of deep interest and great use to general readers, faith
communities and activists.
— Mark Gevisser, author of The Pink Line

 

Seeking Sanctuary brings together poignant life stories from fourteen lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) migrants, refugees and asylum seekers living in Johannesburg, South Africa. The stories, diverse in scope, chronicle each narrator’s arduous journey to South Africa, and their corresponding movement towards self-love and self-acceptance. The narrators reveal their personal battles to reconcile their faith
with their sexuality and gender identity, often in the face of violent persecution, and how they have carved out spaces of hope and belonging in their new home country. In these intimate testimonies, the narrators’ resilience in the midst of uncertain futures reveal the myriad ways in which LGBT Africans push back against unjust and unequal systems.

Seeking Sanctuary makes a critical intervention by showing the complex interplay between homophobia and xenophobia in South Africa, and of the state of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) rights in Africa. By shedding light on the fraught connections between sexuality, faith and migration, this ground-breaking project also provides a model for religious communities who are working towards justice, diversity and inclusion.

Keywords: Africa, LGBQTI, Gender&Sexuality, Faith, Theology, Migration, Discrimination, Racism, Sexism, Injustice, Intolerance, Homophobia, Transphobia, Xenophobia, Human Rights, Social Justice, Social Change, Diversity, Constitutionality, Social cohesion, Gay pride, Asylum seeker, Refugee/Migrant, Christianity, Holy Trinity Catholic Church, LGBT Ministry, Johannesburg, Jo’burg Pride, Faith-based community organizing.

Foreword by Rev. Canon Dr Kapya Kaoma
Introduction: Reframing sexuality, faith and migration
1. Background and methodology: On making and sharing stories
2. The politicisation of faith: Religious responses to sexual and gender diversity
3. A life on hold: LGBT migration and the (false) promise of freedom
4. Preaching love: A history of the LGBT Ministry
5. The stories
1. We must preach love, not hate /Narrated by Dumisani (Zimbabwe)
2. We deserve freedom / Narrated by Mr D (Cameroon)
3. Only love can bring unity / Narrated by D.C. (Zimbabwe)
4. Still searching for safety / Narrated by Eeyban (Ethiopia)
5. A caged animal set free / Narrated by Thomars (Zimbabwe)
6. Sexuality is a beautiful gift from God / Narrated by Dancio (Zambia)
7. This is where God wants me to be / Narrated by Mike (Zimbabwe)
8. God knows the depth of my faith / Narrated by Zee (South Africa)
9. I can serve God, no matter who I love / Narrated by Sylvester (Nigeria)
10. Don’t let the hate get you down / Narrated by Tino (Zimbabwe)
11. I am not willing to live a lie / Narrated by Angel (Uganda)
12. Love is about hearts, not parts / Narrated by Toya (Zimbabwe)
13. Stop calling us sinners / Narrated by Nkady (Lesotho)
14. I pray for strength and guidance / Narrated by Tinashe (Zimbabwe)
Conclusion. Looking ahead: The case for affirming religious spaces
Acknowledgements
Endnotes
Glossary
Bibliography
Index

John Marnell is a researcher at the African Centre for Migration and Society at the
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. His work uses various forms of story –
telling to interrogate the lived experiences of LGBT migrants on the African continent.

Kapya Kaoma, (foreword) is an Anglican priest, scholar and visiting researcher at Boston
University’s Center for Global Christianity and Mission. He is the author of multiple books
including A Call to Love and Christianity, Globalization, and Protective Homophobia.

Marnell brings together moving stories of LGBT African migrants and refugees in a book that
shows rather than tells. Seeking Sanctuary reveals the nuance, complexity, contradictions
and paradoxes that exist at the intersection of ‘faith, belonging, identity and mobility’ and
does so by grounding itself in the first-person narratives of individuals who too often are the
‘objects’ of academic study, rather than self-determining subjects. Marnell gives us access
to worlds and experiences that rightly challenge dominant and false assumptions about the
lives of LGBT African migrants and refugees of faith. It’s an important read.
— E. Tendayi Achiume, Professor of Law, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Contemporary
forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

This book testifies to the power of life storytelling, specifically in relation to sexuality and
faith in the lives of LGBTQI migrants in South Africa. Instead of reinforcing narratives of
‘African religious homophobia’, or simply presenting religion as panacea, the collected
stories offer an intimate insight into the lives of queer migrants and help to unpack religion
as a site of multiple, and often conflicting, possibilities. Seeking Sanctuary elucidates the
liberating potential of religion in signifying human life and working towards social justice.
— Adriaan van Klinken, Professor of Religion and African Studies, University of Leeds, and
author of Kenyan, Christian, Queer: Religion, LGBT Activism, and Arts of Resistance in Africa

Precisely because of its grounding in personal narrative, and the clarity of its prose, Seeking
Sanctuary is a book that will be of deep interest and great use to general readers, faith
communities and activists.
— Mark Gevisser, author of The Pink Line

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