June is LGBTQ+ Pride month, a time to celebrate the icons who have paved the way for today’s queer youth. It is also a period of visibility, where the marginalized lgbtq community organizes and reminds the greater public of the need for us all to fight for their rights.

According to Amnesty UK, homosexuality is illegal in 35 African countries–with the death penalty being imposed in Mauritania, Sudan, Northern Nigeria and Southern Somalia.  Despite this, queer African creatives are going against the grain and are sharing their art with the world. Here are 10 brave African lgbtq creatives that you should know!

1FAKA

FAKA and Donatella Versace

FAKA is a South African musical duo composed of Fela Gucci (Thato Ramaisa) and Desire Marea (Buyani Duma). They are a sexually fluid, non-binary combo whose art is a medium that displays the realities of young LGBTQ South Africans. FAKA was invited by Donatella Versace to Milan to attend the Versace SS19 menswear show. Their track “Uyang’khumbula” opened up the show.

2Fayth Wanjala

Art by Fayth Wanjala

Fayth is a 26-year-old Kenyan artist who identifies as a non-binary lesbian. Her work touches on the subject of sexual orientation and queer identity. She strives to shed light on Nairobi’s LGBTQ community and art scene.

3Gape Khudu

Gape Khudu

Gape Khudu is a 21-year-old non-binary creative and LGBTQ activist from Botswana. In 2016, he created the viral hashtag #BoysInSkirts to influence a change in Botswana’s views on gender conformity. This has since become an online movement that has garnered a large following on social media. Khudu often takes to the streets of Gaborone in skirts and dress as a form of sartorial activism.

4D-lain

D-lain

D-lain is a Malagasy gospel singer who has translated into becoming an instant LGBTQ icon. He became a queer national hero after a video of him kissing his fiance, a gay man, was posted by someone else on Facebook. D-lain currently lives in Corsica, France.

5Adejoke Tugbiyele

Adejoke is a Nigerian-American visual artist and LGBTQ activist.  Her art work focuses on the intersections of race, gender, religion and sex politics. Her work is displayed in a number of American and African museums as well as galleries. Her 2015 work A Queer African Spirit  was inspired by the public whipping of Mubarak Ibrahim, a Muslim man from Northern Nigeria who was convicted of sodomy.

6Kudzani-Violet Hwami

Cupboard(Andre’s Room) and Blue Shirt by Kudzanai- Violet Hwami

Kudzani-Violet is a Zimbabwean artist who is currently based in Britain. Her first solo painting exhibition, If You Keep Going South You’ll Meet Yourself showed at the Tyburn Gallery in London. Her works are inspired by the experiences of the African diaspora and its many cultures. It conveys the contradictions and the hardships of the struggle for LGBTQ rights.

7Eric Gyami

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9Julie Mehretu

A mural by Julie Mehretu

Julie is an Ethiopian born artist who currently resides in America with her wife and 2 sons. She creates large scale pieces, some as large as tennis courts. Her work ranks her amongst the top 10 of the most expensive living female artists. In 2013 her painting was auctioned off for $4.6 million .

10Edward Enniful

Edward Enniful

Edward is a Ghanaian born British stylist and fashion guru. He is currently the editor-in-chief of British Vogue. He started out as a model for i-D Magazine and eventually worked his way up in the industry. Enniful is considered fashion royalty and has worked with many fashion icons including Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and Pat MacGrath.

11Mnek

Mnek

Uzoechi Osisioma Emenike aka Mnek is a 23-year-old multi-award winning singer-songwriter. He has written songs for many industry giants including, Beyoncé. He has also worked with numerous artists such as Zara Larson, Diplo and Madonna. His song  “Colour” with Hailee Steinfeld is a new anthem within the LGBTQ community.

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