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You Have to Be Gay to Know God

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  63 ratings  ·  8 reviews
Siya Khumalo grew up in a Durban township where one sermon could whip up a lynch mob against those considered different. Drawing on personal experience - his childhood, life in the army, attending church, and competing in pageants - Khumalo explores being LGBTQI+ in South Africa today. In 'You Have to Be Gay to Know God', he takes us on a daring journey, exposing the inter ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published April 12th 2018 by Kwela
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May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I must confess to not having heard about Siya Khumalo before reading this book. The book did shout out to me when I first saw it at Exclusive Books, and I am glad that I read it. It is a telling reminder of how much South African literature has changed post-1994, and yet how much it still remains the same.

Decades after democracy, authors (and readers) are still debating race and the legacy of apartheid. What fascinates – and haunts – Khumalo though is the intersection of race, religion, sex, and
Mish Middelmann
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
A timely and beautifully written book, full of sharp wit, brilliant commentary, intellectual and political challenge and touching personal experience. I am so glad he persevered to write this book. It's in three parts...

Part One: what it is like growing up gay, black and Christian in South Africa. It is such a painful split – both unfolding a passionate self emerging and “by definition” believing that it is wrong to be gay. Khumalo is lucid about the experience of his sexuality from the first pa
~The English teacher had told the girls in our class, 'You must run away from a man until you catch him.' I wasn't a girl, but I liked men and I took great notes.~

~If religion, politics and sex were the three things that weren't spoken of in polite company, we were all dying of politeness.~

~'Boys will be boys' really means women are expected to keep patriarchy's tools sharpened by offering their bodies as whetstones: to keep patriarchy's archers competent by offering themselves for target practi
Zuki Bolani Buthelezi
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great book. You laugh out loud on the funny parts and cry tears on the sad parts. Well done to Siya for allowing us into his life, his thoughts, his fears and achievements. Beautyfully written.Siya Khumalo ...more
Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
There are many reflections about this book. All- in - all I think it is a necessary book that deserves to be given attention. It is not a gay book. It is a memoir that reflects on the state of the nation, homophobia, sexism, religion and patriarchy. Siya’s thoughts on patriarchy are interesting.

I got to speak to Siya about this book, here is the episode:
Charlotte Luzuka
Aug 01, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 ⭐️

“I don’t share these stories about my colleagues for judgement’s sake. When we weren’t whipping out knives or racial slurs at one another, we were developing a shared sense of unconditional acceptance. It was what it was.”

This was an enjoyable read, it questioned so much in new ways and you could see a lot of thought and research was put into it.

Siya is a formidable writer and clearly a genius, so some concepts went over my head whenever you became technical. I do think he could turn some
HyeJin Starlight
Check my video review here:

Overall, this book - while meant to be a memoir - did not deliver. While the topics itself are both important and interesting, its writing style is very inconsistent. It starts in a typical memoir fashion, but switches half way to a more journalistic/essay monograph. It has far too many end notes that break the flow of the text, especially if one is not familiar with specific issues and events in South African history...

I would recommend th
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