Yes, I am! – a new 176-page collection of short stories, poems, letters, diary-entries, SMSes and emails – brings together the voices of forty-four writers to capture the experience of being gay and male in South Africa today.
The writers tackle a host of iconic, yet uniquely South African, “first experiences”. Among the stories they tell are of first love in the face of colour legislation that outlaws it, love that blossoms despite religious injunctions against it, a chance finding of a condom in the jacket pocket of a life partner and the sheer fun of being young and gay.
Brushing shoulders with a swathe of new and emerging writers are two Knights (Sir Antony Sher and Sir Nigel Hawthorne) and two winners of the Alan Paton Non-Fiction Award (Edwin Cameron and Jonny Steinberg).
There’s also the Dean of Cape Town Rowan Q Smith, novelists Gerald Kraak and the late K Sello Duiker, legendary TAC activist Zackie Achmat, arts journalist Shaun de Waal, Imam Muhsin Hendricks, defrocked and then reinstated DRC minister Laurie Gaum, the late Delmas Treason Trialist Simon Nkoli, the late actor Blaise Koc and playwright and performer Pieter-Dirk Uys.
There are a number of students and recent ex-students in the collection. Kyle Carson, a recent Chair of the student gay organisation Rainbow UCT, features alongside Digby Watson, a radiology student based at Groote Schuur Hospital, who writes about the first time he went to watch a gay movie, and Fabian Ah-Sing, a fashion design student at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, who recounts his first gay love.
“Its strength is its joyous portrayal of our diversity, the splendour of our difference from the heterosexual majority…”
Among the other new young writers is Twanji Kalula, a TV presenter and scriptwriter, with a piece called It’s none of your business, which deals with the trickiness involved in coming out in the corporate world.
Newly graduated from the Theatre Arts Department of Wits University, Rahiem Whisgary offers a short story called Aadil. Alisdair Campbell, a paramedic and nursing student at the University of the Western Cape, and Tshetlo Selebalo write about their first experiences of gay love and sexual attraction. Young medical doctor Imraan Jaffer’s outing to his family and friends is recalled through a series of emails he sent while he was a member of a support group.
In the foreword to the unique collection, Constitutional Court Judge, Edwin Cameron, writes, “…like our country, [the collection] is multi-coloured, intense and vivid. Its strength is its joyous portrayal of our diversity, the splendour of our difference from the heterosexual majority.”
On the front cover Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu proclaims this collection: “A valuable book for our country at this time – leading the way!”
Yes, I am! is compiled by veteran editor, Robin Malan, and local writer, Ashraf Johaardien, and is published by Junkets Publisher with support from The Atlantic Philanthropies.
For more information or to pre-order a copy, email email@example.com or call 021 448 7186 or 076 169 2789. Retail price is around R140.