Stories of Queer Activism in Sub-Saharan Africa

Edited by Taboom Media

Publisher: MaThoko's Books

Publication Date:  May 2021


    • 978-0-620-93535-7 (digital)
    • 978-0-620-93534-0 (soft cover)

Price: FREE!

Email nobantu.nqolobe@wits.ac.za to enquire about hard copies. 

17 May, 2021. South Africa

Taboom Media and GALA Queer Archive are proud to launch our new anthology Hopes and Dreams That Sound Like Yours: Stories of Queer Activism in Sub-Saharan Africa to mark this year’s International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).


“We’re sharing our hopes and dreams — hopes and dreams that sound like yours.”

David Ochara, Just Knock and You Can Enter


Hopes and Dreams That Sound Like Yours: Stories of Queer Activism in Sub-Saharan Africa is an anthology of stories that describe how individual queer activists in Sub-Saharan Africa have come to be where they are today.

  • At their core, our hopes and dreams are universal and bring us together.
  • Within our queerness we are connected, and collectively we can find our place in history.
  • Despite having few places to meet in person, our queer community thrives online; where we document the struggles, joys and everyday expressions of our queerness.

The authors of the stories in Hopes and Dreams depict their queer African experiences as more nuanced and diverse than what we’re used to consuming in the media. Each story shows how something beautiful and inspiring has emerged from difficult backgrounds filled with loss, isolation and identity-based violence. Whoever you are, wherever you’re from, whatever your background, we invite you to find yourself in these stories, and within queer history itself.


“Instead of allowing history to retroactively explain who we are, let us write and build our own nuanced history by telling our individual and collective stories.”

  • Karin Tan; Senior Information Officer, GALA Queer Archive

The COVID pandemic sent Zimbabwe into lockdown. I couldn’t access my expensive hormones from Botswana.

The body l had spent years refining and perfecting to affirm my gender identity started disappearing into thin air. Months went by. l lost hope. My self-esteem plummeted. This new reality became a nightmare.

And then I started reflecting. I asked the walls of my apartment, “Why do we spend so much money on things that are temporary?” There was no response. Trans people change their bodies to gain affirmation. From themselves? From society? But how do we transform our souls?

“I’m a trans woman. I’m worthy of love”

Dzoe Ahmad, Zimbabwe

The Process

In January 2021, Taboom Media assembled more than 30 activists from 18 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa for a week-long media advocacy workshop. Due to COVID-19 the workshops took place online, and despite internet struggles and Zoom fatigue, more activists showed up than expected. Taboom then spent two months working with each writer to expand and refine their stories, exchanging edits back and forth.

A beautiful queer archive of stories began to take shape, and together with GALA Queer Archive, Taboom commissioned queer and ally artists to produce original illustrations for each story. Now, it’s all been packaged together into an anthology of bravery and resilience.

The book reveals how positive change comes from both collective action and a collection of actions. The stories, though sometimes difficult to confront, all come with messages of hope.

“On the final day, we asked everyone to write down their ‘stories of change’. Those initial responses laid the groundwork for something more...”

  • Brian Pellot; Anthology Editor and Project Manager, Founding Director at Taboom Media

In Hopes and Dreams, 20 human rights defenders from Sub-Saharan Africa share their activist journeys and reveal what inspires their fight for LGBTIQ equality. Some are deeply personal stories of self-discovery and acceptance. Others chart the challenges LGBTIQ rights groups face in discriminatory environments. All carry messages of hope and dreams for a better tomorrow.

Queer and ally artists bring each story to life with original illustrations that depict the joys and struggles of our collective movement. The result is a beautiful archive and powerful anthology of resilience.

More than 40 people contributed to Hopes and Dreams and its accompanying videos over three short months. The project emerged from a Media Advocacy for LGBTIQ Equality workshop Taboom Media hosted in January with activists from Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eswatini, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Hopes and Dreams was made possible through the generous support from the Arcus Foundation, and the National Endowment for Democracy, with additional support from The Sigrid Rausing Trust and the Norwegian Students' and Academics' International Assistance Fund (SAIH).

About Taboom Media

 Taboom’s media training, mentoring, publishing, monitoring, and response programs catalyse ethical journalism and public discourse around taboo topics. By shining light on taboos in the news, we aim to break their power. Our global work challenges stigmas, replacing stereotypes and discrimination with accuracy and respect. We facilitate responsible media coverage to safeguard and champion vulnerable communities and to advance human rights.

To learn more about our work and to download a free copy of this anthology, visit TaboomMedia.com


About GALA Queer Archive 

GALA is a catalyst for the production, preservation and dissemination of information about the history, culture and contemporary experiences of LGBTIQ people in South Africa. As an archive founded on principles of social justice and human rights, GALA continues to work towards a greater awareness about the lives and experiences of LGBTIQ people in South Africa, and Africa more broadly. Thus their main focus is to preserve and nurture LGBTIQ narratives and culture, as well as promote social equality, inclusive education and youth development.

GALA publishes under their imprint, MaThoko’s Books, a rare publishing outlet for LGBTIQ writing and scholarly works on LG BTIQ-related themes in Africa.

Contacts and links:

Brian Pellot: Founding Director at Taboom Media

060 443 2318 | brian@taboommedia.com


Keval Harie: Director, GALA

011 717 4239 | keval.harie@wits.ac.za


Karin Tan: Senior Information Officer, GALA

011 717 4239 | karin.tan@wits.ac.za



GALA Twitter: @GALAarchives

GALA Instagram: @gala_archive

GALA Facebook: @GALA97



Taboom Twitter: @TaboomMedia

Taboon Instagram: @Taboom_Media

Taboom Facebook: @TaboomMedia