14 Artists speaking out against homophobia in Africa

Our selection from the more than 40 works by world-renowned artists that go on show in New York for the launch of Africa's Out!.

Collage artist Wangechi Mutu has rallied the art world in New York City, London and throughout Africa to lend their voices to a new campaign to change perceptions of Africa today and unite Africans all over the world. She has co-founded Africa's Out!, a platform that holds exhibitions, events and discussions to showcase and interrogate the diversity of African creativity. Its first event is an exhibition of work by more than 40 renowned artists at Gladstone Gallery in New York. The artists have each selected one piece of work to auctioned at the event, with funds going to support the work of UHAI - the East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative, an NGO that advocates for the rights of sexual minorities in East Africa.

Here 14 artists show us the piece they selected and tell us why they got involved:

"Untitled (Yo 2)" by Nina Chanel Abney

“I created this piece to represent Africa moving from a place of intolerance towards a place of understanding. An understanding that will acknowledge that everyone will not be accepting of those who belong to the LGBTQ community, but will realize that all Africans deserve to be treated equally and therefore should be granted the same equal rights.”

"You Have the Right" by Toyin Odutola

"As someone who was born in West Africa, has family there, and is an avid supporter of global LGBTQI rights, I find it heartbreaking, frustrating and painful to see such hatred spreading, aimed at our fellow country men and women. I feel much pride in being a part of something that aims to counter that hatred and raise awareness for those who are attacked and made voiceless.”

"Untitled (From the Geographic Delay Series)" by Firelei Báez

“This piece is from my Geographic Delay series, in which I painted portraits of West Indian carnival dancers, moko jumbies. On this day, the dancers are able to celebrate who they are, regardless of gender, age, weight or sexual orientation. They can invent a past and imagine a future of their liking, building psychic guards against social forces outside of their control.I would love to bring this energy to AFRICA’S OUT! This piece represents my appreciation and hope for this new open beginning.”

"Procession to the Rooting Place" by Alexandria Smith

“I hope for greater dialogue around gay rights in Africa. The danger of silence will yield less understanding amongst the communities and result in greater oppression of marginalized groups. Ultimately though, I’d like for all individuals to be treated equally and with respect.”

"Emanare" by Derrick Adams

“I chose to donate my collage, Emanare, primarily because it is a substantial piece that I hope will make a significant contribution to this cause. And this particular collage because it resonates with the mission; as the title, Emanare (Italian for Emanate) suggests, this collage is about illumination and forward projection.”

"Untitled, 2014" by Julie Mehretu

“Everyone has the right to be who they are, define themselves, love freely, with dignity and respect. Events like this are crucial cornerstones for the necessary awareness that ultimately affects change.”

"Neutral 1, Neutral Too, Neutral 3" by Aisha Bell

“I wanted to make a work that was gender neutral. Something that focused on the individuals humanity without gender-specific labels.”

"Severed suddenly from land she swam for freedom ran, hand and hand for out of land escaped the burden of a dictator's government plan" by Rina Banerjee

"To be free means to move away from certainty to uncertainty, toward a danger and an untraceable identity that waits. If we can sail into new knowledge, we can evolve away from the present and get swept away. ”

"V is for Vulnerable, Iniva Commission for A-Z of Emotions" by Phoebe Boswell

“I recall these conversations with my mother, one of the kindest, loveliest, most considerate, most measured humans I know, and she would be stubbornly telling me – insisting – that to be gay is ‘un-African’.The idea that homosexuality is un-African runs deep. It’s time to challenge this. Africans need to be shaken into a new consciousness, one in which to love, to love whomever one chooses, and to love deeply, is deeply African. That’s why AFRICA’S OUT! is so important.”

"Lotus" by Sanford Biggers

“It is a courageous and dangerous statement to be visibly out in most African countries and I hope sometime in the near future, attitudes will change for the better.”

"Untitled (Sketch Number 19)" by Xaviera Simmons

“I am currently researching the queer male gesture in photography and painting, and this gesture is one that I am reflecting on and working with for a later performance. I felt this image to be extremely apropos to the mission of AFRICA’S OUT! and UHAI EASHRI in general.”

"Which One?" by Nari Ward

“One of my favourite quotes by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ Concern for gay rights is an issue of human rights, and people need to be educated to think about it in this manner.”

"Plane Study 1" by Yashua Klos

“I hope that all Africans are re-instated in their birth right to express their sexuality open and legally.”

"State Correctional Institute, PA" by Duron Jackson

"This piece is part of a series of aerial views, or footprints, of US prisons. The series is inspired by the Quilts of Gee’s Bend Rooftop Variations series, highlighting a very specific place and way of being. I chose this work to create a connection between two seemingly disparate populations of the diaspora that share an oppression of how they navigate their daily lives.”