Monday, 28 November 2011

Debunking the myths: Is Homosexuality, Bisexuality or Transsexualism UnAfrican and UnNatural?

Homosexuality has existed from time immemorial, as far back as when same sex persons ever came in contact. Africa is said to be the cradle of human race, it therefore can be logically inferred that homosexuality started in Africa, before human race started migrating to other places to spread its branches in different colours, shapes and sizes.   

Many African cultures and religions viewed Homosexuals and Transgender persons as gods, they were revered before intolerant religions and cultures started flourishing. It was the advent of colonisation and the import of foreign laws like Sodomy laws that brought Homophobia and intolerance into many African societies. I say “African societies” with a consciousness that AFRICA is not a monolithic society as it consists of many diverse ethnicities and cultures and therefore there can lay no claim to a single, monolithic, African culture. 

Many Africans became intolerant of homosexuality and transsexuals only after foreign religions were imposed on them. In many African cultures, homosexuals and transsexuals were revered and worshiped as spirits of the gods. Sango, the Yoruba god of thunder was often described as a beautiful man who dressed like a woman, had his hair braided and accessorized like a woman. Sango priests, all men, still dress in women apparels when performing traditional rituals. Now tell me that is unafrican!

Anthropologists have found evidence that homosexuality was widely tolerated in many parts of pre-colonial Africa. For example, EE Evans-Pritchard reported that until the practice died out in the early 20th century, male Azande warriors in the northern Congo routinely married male youths who functioned as temporary wives.

Also, in Uganda, some members of the Buganda royal family suggest that homosexuality was existent and tolerated before colonial rule. To this day, it is said that many members of the Buganda royal family are gay. 

And of course Calabar women are well known lesbians and bisexuals. In fact, Matriarchy was and is still strong in Calabar. In the absence of a male child, the eldest daughter in the family is culturally allowed to marry another woman; this woman bears a child from a chosen man to keep the family name of the woman who acts as the husband. The eldest daughter who acts as the husband gets to keep the child and her wife! of course no one can say for certian what goes on behind closed doors once 'husband' and wife retires to their bedroom; the possibility of the couples getting cosy is quite high.

Northern parts of Nigeria e.g. Kano and Kaduna  are homes to many gays and effeminate men. Homosexuality was openly practiced before Sharia Law came with its threats of stoning homosexuals to death! This alien legacy,  a report by Human Rights Watch is a good read on Sodomy laws in Africa. 

I am Proudly African and I am mystified whenever I am accused of "promoting and defending European sexual perversity" (whatever that means). In fact from various historical paintings on Ancient Africans walls, our ancestors enjoyed homo sex , affection and Love and that was one reason why Christian missionary colonisers immediately imported their sodomy laws into our constitutions; they imported HOMOPHOBIA because they thought our free loving ancestors were barbarians who indulged in same sex loving! 

No one culture is superior to the other. African, European, Asian, American, Canadian, Aborigines, Jewish etc NONE is superior to the other. Learning about my history does not mean I should cherry pick only the part that suits me. I love African hospitality, I love the community spirit, I value the extended family support, I love the African braids, dressing etc but I do not value genital mutilation, I detest polygamy, I abhor women not having inheritance rights especially land, I am ashamed of child marriage and the fact that twins were once killed by some groups in my culture.  I cannot shy away from these problems that are part of my inherited culture, which is why as a feminist; I am fighting for equal rights for all. I am a proud African but I recognise that there is no perfect culture.

Alien to Africa?
Many often claim that Homosexuality is Alien to Africa. Can someone please show me the proof? I am an African, I am bisexual, I was bisexual before I ever met any white person or stepped foot on any European shore, so does that mean I am a fake African?

As Africans, we should learn about our history beyond what was fed us in missionary schools. Africa is the cradle of humanity; homosexuality existed since time immemorial, which logically means it started from Africa before some members of the human race migrated to other continents for greener pasture. 

Sodomy law is a foreign import; it is a relic from the colonial era which all former British colonies inherited. The law, like most old colonial British laws, had a very high religious influence, the name of the law itself points to its biblical origin. Britain has since repealed Sodomy laws in its homeland, unfortunately Nigeria and many other African countries still cling to this antiquated law and many now think it is an ORIGINAL AFRICAN HOME MADE LAW.

 Unfortunately, colonisation and mental slavery continue in Africa through the heavy influence of evangelical missionaries who, having lost ground in their western countries to EQUALITY RIGHTS LAWS, have now invaded African churches and are inciting members against homosexuals. The evangelicals are also sponsoring bills against homosexuals in African countries.  Some of these churches are particularly from the USA and many US citizens have come out to condemn the actions of these evangelicals, who preach and spread hate.
The upsurge of homophobic bills springing up all over Africa is actually a calculated sponsored mission of foreign religious fanatics. The religious groups in Nigeria came to the public hearing with inciting placards and even threatened to beat up the few LGBTI defenders that attended the hearing. Whatever happened to Love Thy Neigbour?

I sure love this video of sex initiation of young men by older men in Sambia tribe in Papua Guinea. 

This is another video clip of an Igbo transvestite or cross dresser, who used to play before an accepting igbo community audience and also performed before royalty gives a very warm glow, a reminiscence of how tolerant dear Africa used to be. A cross dresser performing before royalty without being stoned to death?  Wow, now that is my Africa, the one I love. That was how tolerant our people were before homophobia and its religious fundamentalists took hold of our culture! The people were only interested in his talents not how he dressed!  As a Nigerian, I know that if it were to be Igbo community of today; this man would likely be stoned and beaten up for daring to dress as a woman.
The Yoruba God of Thunder, Sango was always referred to as a “BEAUTIFUL MAN”, with plaited hair and fond of feminine accessories. Sango priests still wear women's apparels when performing rituals. Just like the Igbo cross dresser in the video above, many African society were tolerant. Imagine what would happen to a cross dresser in many communities or even town centers in Nigeria today? 

Some do argue that Sango was famed to have been married to the Yoruba goddess, Oya. The reference to Sango in this post is to focus on his GENDER IDENTITY not Sexual Orientation. Gender identity differs from Sexual orientation, a Trans or cross dresser is not necessarily a lesbian or gay. 

 This picture of two black men kissing - 'Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum' were ancient Egyptian royal servants and are believed by some to be the first recorded same-sex couples in history. It is the only tomb in the necropolis where men are displayed embracing and holding hands. In addition, the men chosen names form a linguistic reference to their closeness: Niankhkhnum means "joined to life" and Khnumhotep means "joined to the blessed state of the dead'", and together the names can be translated as "joined in life and joined in death""

 "Normativity" is a social construct; it is neither biological nor medical. 'Hetereo-normativity" may be the norm but that does not mean it is the ONLY type of relationship that exists or is natural. 

Once upon a time, killing of twins, child marriage and female circumcision were considered normal in some parts of Africa. Also women contesting elections, inheriting lands and properties were once considered abnormal in many parts of Africa. 

Humans are continuously evolving socially and politically to create new norms. Most importantly, we must recognise that some rights are inalienable rights, and all human beings are entitled to these rights by virtue of being HUMAN irrespective of gender, birth, race or sexual orientation. 

What is normal today might become abnormal tomorrow but what I am born with e.g my sexual orientation remains an integral part of me whether the society or even I, accept it or not. We are all born with our sexual orientation. Sexual orientation does differ but  just like skin or eye colour, none is superior to the other.

 What is normal to me might not be normal to you, for example, I am attracted to all gender, that is natural to me, but this might be unnatural to you. Being bisexual to me is as natural as being left-handed is to a left-handed person. I am attracted to a person irrespective of sex or gender identity. Homosexuality or Bisexuality is a natural part of nature that is present in many of the species on planet earth. 

Many claim that anal sex is unnatural. What consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedrooms is no business of the law or any other individual. Many heterosexuals engage in anal sex, it is not an exclusive copyright of gays. Also, many heterosexual men love oral sex and yes some women do enjoy engaging in oral sex with their lovers. It can also be argued that it is unnatural for the Penis to be inserted in a woman's mouth, just the same way you can argue that a man's tongue is not meant to give pleasure to a woman’s' clitoris or down below. Many perform fellatio on their partners and don’t find anything wrong in the act. Do we say it is wrong because that is not the original purpose of the mouth or tongue? 

Unfortunately, many of our schools still teach the missionary method (Sorry, no pun intended!) Anyway, the missionary schools are not known for teaching the main facts about sex or even acknowledge there is such a thing as SEXUAL ORIENTATION.   

Procreation: A gay problem?
 Many still argue that same sex relationship is unnatural because a man cannot get pregnant, but let's think about this; 
  • “Is marriage or sexual relationship only acceptable for the sole purpose of procreation? 
  • Should an infertile, heterosexual person not be allowed to marry? 
  • Should we stop old people who are in their menopausal age from getting married? 
  • Should we make marriage or sexual relationship illegal for fertile opposite sex partners who out of choice decide not to have children?
Not all relationships or marriages are entered into for the purpose of procreation. With advanced technological development in reproductive health, adoption, surrogacy and IVF are only some of MANY options available to same sex couples. 

When same sex couples decide not to add to the dangerously growing 7 billion human population of planet earth, or/and decide to adopt a child instead of biologically making one,  they are being thoughtful and should be commended  for their Eco-friendly action!

 For a research on sexual orientation and what scientists, doctors and psychologists have to say on the subject, this link and many links cited in it are a good starting points.

Uncomfortable and non acceptable? 
Many claim they are uncomfortable with homosexuality or bisexuality. Actually, I do not ask people to be comfortable with the idea of who I am sleeping with or having a relationship with, I believe this is solely the business of the parties involved and not the business of the state or any other outsider. 

I might not be comfortable with polygamy, polyandry or even like the idea of marriage, but I recognised that it is not my business to stop consenting adults from entering into consensual relationship.
Adults do not need my approval to love, date or marry, just like I do not need another person's approval to love date or marry my consensual adult same sex partner.

 The people that matter in any relationship, whether same sex or heterosexual, are the people IN the relationship. If they are comfortable in their relationship and cause no one no harm, they are entitled to their rights, dignity, respect of person, right to privacy and the right to found a family if they so wish. It is not about what the norm is in a society; it is about equal rights for ALL.

Homosexuality is not a cultural value of the west, homosexuals in the west fought for the rights not to be discriminated against; freedom is not given freely by the oppressors but demanded by the oppressed. 

Anyone truly interested in fighting foreign imports should start by fighting against intolerance and homophobia, because these are the real crimes of religion. African history via wall paintings indicate that ever before white men stepped foot on the Africa continent, homosexuals were not discriminated against. Learn your history, take the positive and move on from the negative, most importantly let us leave a better culture for the next generation because WE ARE ALL CREATORS OF CULTURE. 
The argument that any sexual act or relationship that deviates from the standard heterosexual norm is against  African culture is using “Culture” to sanction the erasure of dialogue about alternative sexualities and to condone homophobia, therefore constituting a form of cultural violence. A society that stifles sexual and gender identities discourages the recognition of human dignity. LGBTI rights are human rights.

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  1. Hi Yemmi! Mad Maddie Mendelsson here, also known as Annie Jane Nutt. (All I do for a living is write, so I have a few pseudonyms.) This is my first time reading your blog, and I feel both informed and educated by it. You are right on many points. My husband was raised by the foster system of Macon, Georgia, USA; he would have preferred being adopted. As long as they were good people who knew how to care for children, he couldn't care less about their sexual orientation. We have gay family members, and we love them just as much as our straight family members. With the argument about children needing parents, my husband actually changed a few nay-sayers minds on the issue. (It's really hard to do that; people are attached to their opinions.) Although we are technically heterosexual (not that it matters in the grand scheme of things), we are intelligent enough to know that homosexual parents are way better than no parents. Anyway, thank you for fighting for human rights. I am glad that people are not arrested for dating their own gender where I live (don't get me wrong, my country still has its problems) and hope that this will become true around the world. People should be allowed to be free and happy. I am a Christian, and, despite the words of Leviticus (who probably thought that homosexuality was an abomination because he lived in the desert and the dryness of the terrain surely couldn't have helped matters), I believe that God would agree with me rather than Leviticus. (As a Christian with liberal ideas, I also believe that Atheists go to Heaven and are very pleasantly surprised by everything in the Afterlife. God [according to lore] invented us in His image, and if I can't get offended by someone not believing that I exist [this actually happened once], then it stands to reason that God wouldn't be offended, either.) Anyway, have a great weekend! Also, the issue of gay marriage? I love being married to my husband and hope that my friends of the gay and lesbian variety can one day experience the joy of being married to their true loves, who are pretty sure to be the same gender as they are.

  2. Thanks Maddie/Anne Jane. LOVE will always be better than Hate. Every child and every Adult stands a chance to blossom in an atmosphere of love, whereas Hate will stifle anyone. As it is LOVE knows no skin colour, gender or sexual orienation, it is simply LOVE. Let us continue to give it, receive it and spread it. We all stand to benefit from LOVE.

  3. Well I am not fanatics but I believe God exist, but with your interview and this blog, to me personally bisexual is wrong, it doesnt work at all in all aspect of life.As a scientist right from my teenager I have known that it is always combination of positive and negative that do give product( enjoyment, result etc.). Some bisexual may have extra chromosome that make them to feel it which is hard to be eliminate. But no way cant it be like have sexual relationship with opposite sex. you are a mother you will understand what I mean. I can only kiss young children of the same sex but not adult, for what!

    1. Well, Ayomide, the BLOG is about me, not you. Bisexuality might not work for you, possibly because you are 100% straight on the Kinsey scale, but it does work for others including ME. Not everything is about you or how you feel, the fact that you do not like kissing same sex does not mean it is wrong for others to like kissing consenting adults of same sex.

      Did you say you are a scientist and you actually wrote this "Some bisexual may have extra chromosome that make them to feel it which is hard to be eliminate."? I would advise you return to the classroom. Bisexuality is not about "extra chromosomes" just like skin colour is not about "extra chromosomes"!

      BTW, do not go kissing young children of the same sex or even of opposite sex the same way you would kiss an adult, to even compare the two its bordering on pedophilia thoughts!

  4. I'm beging to learn more... This artice is truely an eye opener. We must learn to respect and tolorate peoples sexual orientation.