Queering the Queer

Engaging Black Queer Christian Bodies in African Faith Spaces





queer, heteropatriarchy, heteronormativity, power, black queer Christian bodies


Due to the systemic reality of heteropatriarchy, queer bodies often struggle to find a place of belonging within the African context in general and faith spaces in particular. Even though there has been a shift towards a more inclusive theological discourse within the African Christian faith landscape, the bodies of African Izitabane are still predominantly viewed as a Western import and a threat to African culture and its traditions. Because of this, queer bodies continue to find themselves within hostile environments. This has contributed to queer people moving towards alternative spaces of worship and the development of the queer church in which all bodies are welcomed. Although queer bodies have created these alternative faith spaces to move away from the systems of heteropatriarchy that force them to conform to heteronormative standards within the church, a study conducted in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, found that queer people often recreate these systems in their own spaces. The pervasive systemic nature of heteropatriarchy finds expression in the insistence on masculine bodies being placed in positions of authority and the exclusive recognition of relationships that conform to heteronormative standards. In the process of trying to escape the confines of a male centred heteropatriarchal African church, we argue that queer people have not succeeded in tapping into the full potential of the power of “queer” as a tool to disrupt and destabilise the pervasive system of heteropatriarchy. Our contri-bution aims to reflect on our collective queer journey, orientated towards understanding and interrogating the systemic realities underlying and informing the queer appropriation of patriarchy and heteronormativity in Afri-can queer faith spaces.

Author Biographies

Tracey Sibisi, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Tracey Sibisi is a PhD candidate at the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics at the University of KwaZulu Natal, Pietermaritzburg and a queer activist situated within the Uthingo Network in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Charlene van der Walt, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Charlene van der Walt is the Head of Gender and Religion at the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the Deputy Director of the Ujamaa Centre for Biblical and Theological Community Development and Research.