September 21, 2021 Books, maHp News

Seeking Sanctuary: Stories of sexuality, faith and migration

maHp/ACMS doctoral researcher John Marnell recently published Seeking Sanctuary: Stories of sexuality, faith and migration. The book brings together poignant life stories from fourteen lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) migrants, refugees and asylum seekers living in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The stories, diverse in scope, chronicle each narrator’s arduous journey to South Africa, and their corresponding movement towards self-love and self-acceptance. The narrators reveal their personal battles to reconcile their faith with their sexuality and gender identity, often in the face of violent persecution, and how they have carved out spaces of hope and belonging in their new home country. In these intimate testimonies, the narrators’ resilience in the midst of uncertain futures reveal the myriad ways in which LGBT Africans push back against unjust and unequal systems.

Seeking Sanctuary makes a critical intervention by showing the complex interplay between homophobia and xenophobia in South Africa, and of the state of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) rights in Africa. By shedding light on the fraught connections between sexuality, faith and migration, this ground-breaking project also provides a model for religious communities who are working towards justice, diversity and inclusion.

About John Marnell

John Marnell is a doctoral researcher at the African Centre for Migration and Society (ACMS). His work uses visual and narrative methodologies to explore the lived experiences of LGBTIQ migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Having joined the ACMS after many years working in LGBTIQ activism, John is passionate about working collaboratively with social justice movements and experimenting with different forms of participatory knowledge production.