Swimming Against Binary Tides: The Gender Queer’s Use of Religion, Family and Advocacy as Escape in Selected Narratives of Diriye Osman’s Fairytales for Lost Children

Cynthia Derx Techie, Philomena Yeboah, Daniel Okyere-Darko


The constraints that African youth go through in their attempt to optionallypursue and declare their gender/sexual orientation and identity in theirheteronormative societies is an issue that calls for critical attention. Like theprotagonists in Osman’s Fairytales for Lost Children (2013), they face troublesand subsequent rejection by their family members. They must disguisethemselves if they want to be religious and survive. And they must forever be attheir wits end to defend themselves through advocacy in order to avoid harm orpersecution. This paper examines the two-edged nature of queer people’sstrategies of escape through how Osman, fictionalizing his autobiography,depicts them, with his choice of characterization, plot types, motifs, symbols andlanguage use, with tropes and elements like repetition, flashback, contrast anddetailed description. Using Freud’s psychoanalysis and Saunders’autobiografiction as lenses to examine and critique LGBTQ+ of a typicalAfrican society and culture and its youth in Fairytales for Lost Children (2013),the paper reasons that a critical analysis of Osman’s narratives reveal his literaryoutput. Hence, it concludes that such optional pursuance of gender/sexualorientation expression is not only perilous, but futile. Additionally, the papersuggests that as a people, Africans need to clearly distinguish between the nonbinaryor queer from non-conforming gender identities and sexual orientations.The findings of the paper have implications for policy makers in aiding them toformulate policies to protect the queer youth and demonstrate our stand as apeople on gender matters.

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