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“Un-African” Homosexuality?

Jim Burroway

January 10th, 2010

Many of those behind Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill complain that homosexuality is a foreign import, despite the ironic fact that it was Europeans who imposed bans on homosexuality on their African colonies — and despite the huge impetus given the current drive to legislate LGBT people out of existence by three American anti-gay extremists. The idea of homosexuality being somehow “un-African” is widely believed, despite being ignorant nonesense. Douglas Foster, writing for the Los Angeles Times, provides proof of that from his visits to a Johannesburg, South Africa gay nightclub which served as a haven for Africa’s gay diaspora:

To get to Simply Blue’s curved bar and large dance floor, patrons had to climb a long flight of stairs and go through a security pat-down. You could always spot newcomers because they usually sat off to the side in the shadows, on broken-down couches, their eyes wide and jaws slack. Many of them literally had had the idea beaten into them that they were part of a cursed, despicable, tiny minority.

There was the middle-aged man from Zimbabwe, formerly married, whose brother had plotted to have him killed because of the shame he’d brought to his family when he’d switched to dating men. There was a young Nigerian who lingered on the sidelines for weeks before inching out onto the dance floor, but then moved in an explosion of long-suppressed joy at finding himself dancing in public across from another man. I met an older fellow, a soft-spoken farmer from Uganda who’d raised his children before leaving his home, his wife and his country. He’d finally decided he couldn’t live to the end of his life without having the chance to express his truest self.

[Hat tip: BTB reader Regan DuCasse]

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of the past year’s anti-gay developments in Uganda.

Comments

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Désirée
January 10th, 2010 | LINK

The idea of people essentially being forced to flee their homes for fear of death makes me want to weep. The idea that a place like Simply Blue exists gives me a little hope.

Ben in Oakland
January 10th, 2010 | LINK

As with so many “native” cultures, it took Christianity to introduce the idea that some kinds of sex were ok, and all of the others were bad, with homosex being the worst. The very tale of the ugandan king who was going to “rape” all of those young men is probably a good example of how anti-homo Chrsitianity turned something that was probably well accepted into something that was closer to the tale of Sodom than how Uganadans at the time percevied it.

Japan had a highly homoerotic culture among the samurai. and although tye are not particularly homophobic now, neither are they particularly accepting of something that waso nce considered ihghly noble.

Likewise, Hawai’i had the tradition of the ‘aikane, which has been pablumized to “bosom buddy.” I’ll say! ‘ai refers to sex, though it also refers to eating. Kane means man. you do the math.

My understanding is that homosex was considered quite normal in polynesian society, and the mahu, what we would now call transgendered, are still quite accepted in Hawai’i, though actual homosex not so much.

Thanks to the mormons, Samoa and Tonga are now highly homophobic, when they didn’t used to be.

Regan DuCasse
January 11th, 2010 | LINK

Absolutely right Ben. And all those locations more closely resembled Eden than anywhere else on Earth.

First Peoples had a little simpler view of men and women. The considered the fusion of man and woman a blessed thing, not something to fear or abhor.And actually, this shows an understanding of reality in the human world, instead of building artificial boundaries which inevitably can only be challenged just by existence.

It’s a shame that Eastern and African people and Native Americans have been forced to forget that by the influence of Christianity on these cultures.
Certainly has proven to be wasteful and restrictive of otherwise productive and talented people.
Just as religion based misogyny and racism has been wasteful of that same potential in other members of humanity.

anteros
January 11th, 2010 | LINK

And so what if it were “un-African” (which it clearly isnt)… should everything deemed “un-African” be criminalized? Is it even possible to define “un-African”, considering the continent’s massive population, its constantly changing cultural and social values and its incredibly vast diversity which includes countless minority groups such as LGBT? Whatever happened to protecting minority groups from discrimination and intolerance from the “majority”? It would seem, judging by the sadder parts of African history… that the protection of African minority groups is “un-African”.

anteros
January 11th, 2010 | LINK

…”un-African” …as though Africa were some distant utopian planet that would crash and burn upon any interaction with anything “alien” (as defined by a loud group of assuming “leaders”). What would Africa look like today, if all things deemed “un-African” were vigorously rejected by African leaders? What would education, healthcare, infrastructure, industry and technology in Africa look like today?

Ephilei
January 12th, 2010 | LINK

Africa, to my knowledge, is the strongest example of cultures having a history of same-sex marriage. When someone says same-sex marriage is new, I always point them to female-female marriages in southern Africa.

One example:
http://www.tribune.com.ng/19062009/opinion.html

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