Reclaiming the L-Word


Sappho’s Daughters Out in Africa

Dr Alleyn Diesel

A collection of biographical writings by South African lesbian women. The women’s stories eloquently deal with the depth and complexity of lesbian experiences, and serve to contradict stereotyping.

Co-published with Ma Thoko’s Books

Ma Thoko's Books

The writers come from all walks of life, race groups and religious persuasions. The book includes a photo essay by well-known artist and activist, Zanele Muholi, and her article on lesbian rape in South Africa, originally published by Agenda.

“This brave and moving collection of stories by South African lesbian women from different backgrounds reminds us, again, that rights are never finally won in legislatures or in court rooms. They are won by people exercising them.  The authors of the stories and poems in this book have done just that. They have stood up to celebrate the dignity of lesbian women in South Africa. Each contribution is different. And each intensely personal. And each one reminds us of the urgent need for us to stop hate crime and to create a safe society for all LGBT South Africans. ” Kate O’Regan, former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa.


The compiler of the collection, Dr Alleyn Diesel, is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, specialising in the study of the place of women in Hinduism in South Africa, particularly their veneration of the Goddess. In 2007 she edited Shakti: Stories of Indian Women in South Africa (Wits University Press: 2007).

“The more one reads this collection, the more one becomes aware that these stories are not about getting the right to walk around proclaiming “what I am”; for many of these people being lesbian is just another facet of their personality, much like I do not define myself as primarily heterosexual. What this collection is ultimately about is the right to love – the right to love whomever we choose.”
Janka Steenkamp, LitNet