About Pocket Queerpedia
The Pocket Queerpedia is a resource Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education developed for activists, educators and the queer community generally, to assist in teaching on queerness. Queer education can be one of the most freeing of experiences, yet resources are not always accessible, suitable for a South African context or visually appealing to young audiences. The Pocket Queerpedia is an offering to respond to this. It has been reviewed by academics, progressive organisations and queer activists. The book comes in three languages during the first phase (English, Afrikaans, isiXhosa). It is available for free download below
The Story Behind Pocket Queerpedia
Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education is an organisation dedicated to resourcing and supporting activists towards their goals of equality, freedom, dignity and better futures. The idea for this glossary was sparked by a moment in one of our offerings ‘Feminism and Freedom’ a course we hosted for young activists in 2019. While grappling with discussions on gender, sexuality and freedom, we ran into a number of difficulties. As with most of our courses, the participants in the room were quite diverse – drawn from different communities, geographic locations and organisations. What we considered basic and familiar terms in queerness, we thought all would know, left many participants lost. What we thought were commonly accepted definitions proved otherwise. In that moment, we faced a big dilemma – how do we discuss the power and importance of queer politics, when so many terms are not commonly understood? This question led us to reflect deeply on some of the questions posed by our participants. Why are some terms used in different ways by different people? Where do I begin understanding the differences between biology and gender? What are these terms in my own home language? How would I explain all this in a way my mother can understand? Are there African examples and experiences we can draw on to better understand and make cultural links?
Words have power. They can offer recognition or erase experiences. We offer this glossary to activists who wish to broaden their understanding of the world and how gender and sexuality shape it.
About the creators
The book was conceptualised, designed, and illustrated by Seth Deacon, Tshisimani’s Visual Materials Developer and Art curator, with input from the entire Tshisimani staff. Seth is a queer artist who previously taught digital arts and multimedia design, and completed an MAFA in which he focused on the depiction of violence, gender, race and class in photographs of the body in a South African context. Content editing, consultation and copy edits were done by Tshisimani’s Social Media Specialist and Content Creator, Mohammed Jameel Abdulla. Further consultations outside Tshisimani were done with queer performance artist, activist and scholar, Tandile Mbatsha; Clinton Osborne, an activist, artist and educator of the Sex Workers’ Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT); and activist and scholar Mmakatleho Sefatsa. Veteran pan-african, feminist scholar, and co-director of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development, Hakima Abbas, provided extensive consultation on the written content of the glossary, as well as academic feedback. The many rounds of translations were held by a team of writers, activists, educators and translators consisting of Simone Cupido, Kealeboga Ramaru, Allan Maasdorp, Chulumanco Mihlali Nkasela, Dinga Sikwebu and Akha Hamba Mchwayo Tutu.