Last month the Foundation’s staff forum hosted an internal conversation on gender constructions, using the Caster Semenya IAAF ruling. The conversation served to introduce the Foundation to queer theory.
This month, under the Dialogue teams work on race and identity, the Foundation’s Communications and Advocacy Manager, Kneo Mokgopa hosted a workshop in Cape Town titled Writing Black Queers Into Existence in collaboration with the Open Book Festival. The workshop was concerned with the ways in which blackness has something to do with pastness, with past trauma, Apartheid, colonisation and responding to historical erasure whereas queerness is constantly positioned as a thing of the future, as though queer people are a perpetually new invention. To be both is to exist at a point of double erasure.
Moreover, the workshop focused on the ways in which black queer people lack a coherent grammar with which to articulate their experiences of society and reality and the ways in which poetry provides a mechanism with which to make that experience intelligible. Further, the workshop explored ways in which writers are instrumental in narrating the world and contributing to the social agenda in meaningful and powerful ways.
The workshop ended with participants sharing poems and short stories implementing the content of the workshop, exploring ways to write ‘black queers into existence’.