Why I Wrote About An All-Queer British-Somali Family


Diriye Osman

Beloved reader,


My book, THE BUTTERFLY JUNGLE, is finally out in the world as I write this and I'm aglow with exhilaration.


This small collection of interlinked short stories is about an all-queer British-Somali family leading afrofabulist lives in Peckham, South London. There aren't many instances of homophobia in their world, but that's not to say that THE BUTTERFLY JUNGLE is a cosy read: it's joyous and funny and incredibly weird with a real sense of bite.


The reason there are comparatively few instances of homophobia in this book, and the reason that the book itself features an all-queer family, is because this - happily - is the lived reality of many members of my global community.


I'm just as flamboyant in my daily life as I am in my photos, but I haven't experienced homophobia in years.


I acknowledge the privilege of this existence because I have so many queer siblings, in the UK and beyond, who suffer daily from verbal and physical abuse at the hands of their relatives, strangers on the street, school kids, at the gym, at work and in the classroom.


I acknowledge the privilege of this existence because we are repeatedly told by lawmakers, school boards and faith leaders that our lives — and our children's lives — don't matter. THE BUTTERFLY JUNGLE is a refocusing of the lens wherein our dynamism is celebrated and acknowledged without shame or fear or anger.


This doesn't mean that bad things don't happen to our young protagonist, Migil, but he's given the opportunity to be young and queer, and - very important, this - unconditionally loved and supported by his family and community.


Within the spectrum of hyperdimensional queerness explored in this text, there is space for everyone. There is a dynamic, no-nonsense Trinidadian trans editor who has real power and agency. There are the carefree young neosexual co-workers who think nonbinariness is already passe. There is the sexy gay older Somali neighbour. There is the fictional nightclub for femme gay blokes and their admirers in the heart of the hood.


And then there are the parents — lesbian mum and her genderqueer wife, gay dad and his bisexual husband. It's a pluralistic vision of the world that closely mirrors the magic of my own community of chosen comrades and kin.


THE BUTTERFLY JUNGLE is a book steeped in the syntax of love, whether it's filial or parental, platonic or romantic. It's a book about navigating Brexit and Trump and the pandemic from a position of radical tenderness.


Finally, it's a book for you, beloved reader.


This narrative is a love letter to you regardless of caste or national chaos or global crises.


May you feel seen and held by THE BUTTERFLY JUNGLE.


Thank you for honouring me.


With love,


Diriye


You can order THE BUTTERFLY JUNGLE here: https://bit.ly/35NmNL0



Song of the moment: 'Try Peace' by TIANA MAJOR9.