When asked to think of voices on the continent who are telling queer stories it is hard to imagine the sound of the chorus without mentioning Carl Collison.
The photographer turned journalist and blogger says that he fell into writing completely by accident back in 1997 when he was asked to cover the first installment of SA Fashion Week.
Since then, the Queer Warrior has amplified the share of queer voices in mainstream media. He forged himself into a dynamic storyteller who is passionate about documenting the queer experience on the African continent.
“I think the media landscape, generally, is in a worse for wear state. There is definitely a lack of queer voices telling nuanced and well-researched queer stories. A particular issue that I have is the lack of trans or GNC voices telling their own stories. It is something I really wish we can see it being addressed soon.”
Recently he looked back to visuals and directed the visual short about queer life in Tunisia in the short film Out in Tunis: “We don’t want to just survive. We want to live”.
When asked why these stories are so important, he said, “South Africans can be a bit like the Americans of Africa, we have a high sense of self-importance, and we largely close ourselves off from the conversation in the rest of Africa. These are stories that are a reflection of queer people who so desperately need us to pay attention to their lived experiences and to assist where we can.”
Collison believes that the reality of queer asylum seekers in South Africa deserve particular attention and that as South Africans we need to become more aware of the experiences of these people so that we can “open our hearts and minds”.
Collison’s work is inspired by everyday people who still find the tenacity to be beautifully queer in societies that are so against their very existence.
He does say he feels as if the queer experience on the continent is progressively getting better and that there are major wins we can see due to the tireless efforts of many activists across the continent.
Collison remains hopeful for a liberated African Queer experience.
Words: Treyvone Moo