‘History dooms us to condemn the guiltless (and ourselves with them) when we don’t choose mercy over sacrifice. Homophobia in God’s name is horseshit. The blasphemer who condemns gays in the name of God loves neither gays nor God. No one who hates his brother, whom he has seen, can claim to love God, whom he has not seen, for all we know, God could be lesbian’ – Siya Khumalo, You Have to be Gay to Know God.
This paragraph ends Siya’s timely and poignant memoir ‘You have to be Gay to Know God’. Siya describes himself as someone who enjoys writing on religion, politics and sex. He calls it the trifecta of religion. His memoir allows us to journey with him through various stages of his life and evolve with him as he grows. It sheds some light on his life with family, both immediate and distant. It touches on his first boy crush and the lengths he went through to achieve this crush. It tells the story of him joining the military and then later deciding to leave it because of his sexuality. He also allows us to know intimate details about his life, in particular his sex life. He uses the telling of his story to provide social commentary about the politics of South Africa and how they can be used to subjugate people in the LBGT community. He powerfully critiques the Constitution and the way people have interpreted the Bible to exclude and shame people who identity as being part of the LBGT community. He also talks about love, coming out and the beauty of being gay.
In this episode of the podcast, Letlhogonolo sat with Siya to discuss this book. They conversed about love, family, religion and social issues. A deeply personal conversation about being gay and Christian. This book adds to the cannon on African queer literature. As Letlhogonolo once described it in an interview: “It is not a queer book, it is a book about prejudice”.