Last year, the group simply known as 14 debuted its agenda with an anthology of LGBT art and stories themed “We Are Flowers”, which was very well received.
This year, maintaining that agenda of protesting the injustice of the draconian anti-LGBT law signed into existence by President Jonathan and celebrating the diversity of the Nigerian LGBT, 14 has returned with a second issue themed The Inward Gaze, an anthology that collects works by a host of exciting, familiar names on the literary scene. There is poetry by the novelist and activist Unoma Azuah, writing professor at Illinois Institute of Art, Chicago and editor of Blessed Body: The Secret Lives of Nigerian Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (2016), the first anthology documenting queer Nigerians, and Mounting the Moon (2017), Nigeria’s first poetry anthology about queerness. As well as by Chinthu Udayarajan, Onwubiko Chidozie, Chisom Okafor, Ebenezer Agu, the musician-poet Sajid Ahsan Dipra, author of A Fireside Chat with Lucifer (2015), Akola Thompson, and Karen Jennings, 2013 Etisalat Prize-shortlisted author of Finding Soutbek (2012).
There is fiction by Kiprop Kimutai, finalist for the 2017 Miles Morland Scholarship and the 2018 Gerald Kraak Award, Cisi Eze, Arinze Ifeakandu, finalist for the 2017 Caine Prize, Erhu Amreyan, and Brittle Paper deputy editor Otosirieze Obi-Young, finalist for the 2016 Miles Morland Scholarship and 2017 Gerald Kraak Award.
There is also a conversation between Chike Frankie Edozien, journalism professor at New York University and author of Lives of Great Men (2017), Nigeria’s first memoir to focus on gay men, and Troy Onyango, a founding editor of Enkare Review and finalist for the 2016 Miles Morland Scholarship and the 2017 Brittle Paper Award for Creative Nonfiction.
There is photography by Louis, Chukwudi Eternal Udoye, and Mal Muga. There is a drawing by Patrick Chuka, a painting by Ibukun Ayobami, and visual art by Osinachi, whose work can be viewed on Instagram and has appeared in the Art Naija Series.
Here is the Editor’s Note:
The Inward Gaze
The LGBTQ community in Nigeria has experienced so much since the publication of our first issue, We are Flowers, a year ago. 2017 saw the violent attacks on artists of queer expression, the arrest of some forty young men who had gathered for HIV sensitization, the raiding of rooms of LGBTQ students, and widespread backlash in the literary community to the emergence—or, rather, flourishing—of gifted queer voices in the literary space. These things, and many more, are capable of causing rage (and we are pissed), of driving the gaze outside and shining it on the object of provocation. And yet, here we are, with pieces that look inward, unconcerned by the Outside Gaze. Our artists are speaking a language they have spoken in safe spaces, in rooms full of queer people, and they are speaking it fluently, in works that are sometimes ‘loud’ and sometimes tender. They are in love, they are angry, they are heartbroken, they’ve just had sex—whatever stories our contributors are telling, they are confident that they will be understood.
The Snippets by Taiye Selasi and Gbenga Adesina, heartfelt wishes for people they cherish, share a common vision: That a day would come when their beloveds will be seen. The works in this issue reflect that longing to be seen: By a lover or a love interest, a parent, oneself. Yet, by looking inward, we have all been seen, fully and in perfect light, by one another.
DOWNLOAD: 14: AN ANTHOLOGY OF QUEER ART | VOL. 2: THE INWARD GAZE