Featuring a collection of creative non-fiction, poetry, art work, photography by straight and LGBT artists, this is the first volume of the annual anthology project, 14: An Anthology of Queer Art, titled We Are Flowers.
Launched by 14, (a group made up of Nigerian artists and writers who aim to create a safe space for resistance and expression inspired by LGBT life) led by Rapum Kambili and published by Brittle Paper, We Are Flowers a rich mix of lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender narratives, artworks and sketches attempts to shine a light on the rarely-told stories of the Nigerian LGBT community.
Unoma Azuah says:
As titles of the different entries reveal, these works are indeed flowers sprouting in a desert of hate and homophobia, but they are watered by the rains of hope and dogged determination. The audacity of this collection is carried through the chronicles featured. Its risqué slant gives it an alluring edge that delivers defiant blows. These strikes more or less tell homophobia to shove it down its constricted throat. This trend is seen in the blatant masculine objectification of Nzeogwu’s “Black Testosterone,” for instance, where he celebrates his fantasies about the grandeur of black male bodies, albeit sexually charged; the conveyance is raw and sassy. Additionally, the assorted artistic mediums utilized in this book are yet another angle that makes it a distinctive anthology, from poetry to collages, to sketches, stories and reportage techniques. It also does not fail to capture the tension with which the Nigerian LGBT community navigates its rather hostile terrain. And the extremities they are dealt is reflected in Ice’s story “Fizzled.”
According to Ikhide R. Ikheloa; In much of Africa, to be gay is an expensive and unsustainable existence, one spent furtively trying to live in spaces that are designed to humiliate, maim and in some instances kill the innocent. There are few safe physical spaces for those whose crime is to live the life they were gifted with but the brave soldier on, creating safe havens away from a judgmental hateful world. Art for the vulnerable is a way of creating physical and psychological space that is comforting and nurturing. We are Flowers is not just an anthology of queer art; it is a collection of breath-taking beautiful works of art, every piece stuns with its in-your-face courage and beauty. And sadness. Many of the names are pseudonyms of real human beings who wisely must remain anonymous because to be out could be a death sentence. But no, this is not a time to be sad. Enjoy this gorgeous body of work and marvel at the gift and resilience of beautiful people who refuse to be ugly in an ugly world. Fond Memories of this collection will comfort me for as long as I live.
Go ahead and read the first volume for free here.