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June 2015

21 varieties of traditional African homosexuality

At least 21 cultural varieties of same-sex relationships have long been part of traditional African life, as demonstrated in a new report that is designed to dispel the confusion and lies surrounding Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
The following discussion and the 21 examples are from that report, “Expanded Criminalisation of Homosexuality in Uganda: A Flawed Narrative / Empirical evidence and strategic alternatives from an African perspective,” which was prepared by Sexual Minorities Uganda:
In their work anthropologists Stephen Murray and Will Roscoe provide wide‐ranging evidence in support of the fact that throughout Africa”s history, homosexuality has been a ‘‘consistent and logical feature of African societies and belief systems.”
Thabo Msibi of the University of Kwazulu‐Natal documents many examples in Africa of same-sex desire being accommodated within pre-colonial rule.”

The work of Stephen O. Murray and Will Roscoe is cited in the new report by Sexual Minotrities Uganda on traditional forms of homosexuality in African cultures.
Deborah P. Amory speaks of ‘‘a long history of diverse African peoples engaging in same-sex relations.”
Drawing on anthropological studies of the pre-colonial and colonial eras, it is possible to document a vast array of same-sex practises and diverse understandings of gender across the entire continent.
Examples include:
One notably ‘‘explicit” Bushmen painting, which depicts African men engaging in same-sex sexual activity.

In the late 1640s, a Dutch military attaché documented Nzinga, a warrior woman in the Ndongo kingdom of the Mbundu, who ruled as ‘‘king” rather than ‘‘queen”, dressed as a man and surrounded herself with a harem of young men who dressed as women and who were her ‘‘wives”.

Eighteenth century anthropologist, Father J-B. Labat, documented the Ganga-Ya-Chibanda, presiding priest of the Giagues, a group within the Congo kingdom, who routinely cross-dressed and was referred to as ‘‘grandmother”.

In traditional, monarchical Zande culture, anthropological records described homosexuality as ‘‘indigenous”. The Azande of the Northern Congo ‘‘routinely married” younger men who functioned as temporary wives – a practise that was institutionalised to such an extent that warriors would pay ‘‘brideprice” to the young man”s parents.

Amongst Bantu-speaking Pouhain farmers (Bene, Bulu, Fang, Jaunde, Mokuk, Mwele, Ntum and Pangwe) in present-day Gabon and Cameroon, homosexual intercourse was known as bian nkû”ma– a medicine for wealth which was transmitted through sexual activity between men.

Similarly in Uganda, amongst the Nilotico Lango, men who assumed ‘‘alternative gender status” were known as mukodo dako. They were treated as women and were permitted to marry other men.
In the former Kingdom of Dahomey, women could be soldiers (above) and older women would sometimes marry younger women, according to anthropologist Melville Herkovits.
Same-sex relationships were reported amongst other groups in Uganda, including the Bahima, …
the Banyoro and …

the Baganda. King Mwanga II, the Baganda monarch, was widely reported to have engaged in sexual relations with his male subjects.

A Jesuit working in Southern Africa in 1606 described finding ‘‘Chibadi, which are Men attired like Women, and behave themselves womanly, ashamed to be called men”.

In the early 17th century in present-day Angola, Portuguese priests Gaspar Azevereduc and Antonius Sequerius encountered men who spoke, sat and dressed like women, and who entered into marriage with men. Such marriages were ‘‘honored and even prized”.

In the Iteso communities, based in northwest Kenya and Uganda, same-sex relations existed amongst men who behaved as and were socially accepted as women.

Same-sex practises were also recorded among the Banyoro and …

the Langi.

In pre-colonial Benin, homosexuality was seen as a phase that boys passed through and grew out of.

There were practises of female-female marriages amongst the Nandi and …

 Kisii of Kenya, as well as …

the Igbo of Nigeria,

the Nuer of Sudan and

the Kuria of Tanzania.

Among Cape Bantu, lesbianism was ascribed to women who were in the process of becoming chief diviners, known as isanuses.
In the 1600s in the Kingdom of Motapa in southern Africa (labeled “Monomotapa” on this map), Christian missionaries encountered cross-dressing men known as chibadi.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Given the overwhelming evidence of pre-colonial same-sex relations which continued into the colonial and post-colonial eras, as well as historical evidence of diverse understandings of gender identity, it is clear that homosexuality is no more ‘‘alien” to Africa than it is to any other part of the world.
As stated by Murray and Roscoe: Numerous reports also indicate that in the highly sex-segregated societies of Africa, homosexual behaviour and relationships were not uncommon among peers, both male and female, especially in the years before heterosexual marriage. These kinds of relations were identified with specific terms and were to varying degrees institutionalized.
What the colonisers imposed on Africa was not homosexuality “but rather intolerance of it — and systems of surveillance and regulation for suppressing it.”
Related articles

‘Homosexuality Is Very African As Much As It Is Nigerian.’ – Bisi Alimi speaks (rainbowethiopia1.net)

What traditional African homosexuality learned from West (76crimes.com)

Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina declares: ‘I am homosexual’ (theguardian.com)

Homosexuality in Prehistoric Africa (an article that has been repeatedly republished, at least since 2004; a recent version appeared March 11, 2015, in Gay Uganda on the Move)

76 CRIMES

King Mwanga II of Buganda, who reportedly had sexual relations with men.  (Photo courtesy of Sebaspace) King Mwanga II of Buganda, the “gay king” who reportedly had sexual relations with men. (Photo courtesy of Sebaspace)

At least 21 cultural varieties of same-sex relationships have long been part of traditional African life, as demonstrated in anew report  that is designed to dispel the confusion and lies surrounding Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

The following discussion and the 21 examples are from that report, “Expanded Criminalisation of Homosexuality in Uganda: A Flawed Narrative / Empirical evidence and strategic alternatives from an African perspective,” which was prepared by Sexual Minorities Uganda:

In their work anthropologists Stephen Murray and Will Roscoe provide wide‐ranging evidence in support of the fact that throughout Africa”s history, homosexuality has been a ‘‘consistent and logical feature of African societies and belief systems.”

Thabo Msibi of the University of Kwazulu‐Natal documents many examples in Africa of same-sex desire being accommodated within pre-colonial rule.”

Boy Wives and Female Husbands cover The work…

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Mighty Real! 

Good day my loves!😘 Kisses on this beautiful Sunday afternoon to you all. Today I want to encourage all of my LGBTQA brothers and sisters to embrace your uniqueness. I want to give a special shout out to my effeminate brothers. That’s right! Love to all my queens whether you be fem, butch, or a perfect blend of both. I implore you all to recognize that you come from a long line of trailblazers! True stars. To all my young queens going through life fighting every sway in your hips, every flick of your wrists, and every snap of your finger please understand that you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. 

In 1978 a legendary queen released the hit record Mighty Real and lit the disco world on fire! The queen’s name was Sylvester. Brought up in church like many of his black male counterparts, Sylvester found a way out of no way. He embraced his style, his sound, and his star power to do the unthinkable. He became a disco star during a much less tolerant period in our history. Imagine the ridicule he faced. Imagine the strength it took to remained poised and classy despite it all. Blaze on brothers and sisters! Tap into your purpose, peel back the layers, let your light shine, and sashay all day! Twirl on with as much self respect as possible. Don’t become a caricature. Be you. Be brave. 

Uprise ! 

Understand People and Respecting Individuality to Sustain Equality.

The Origins

   Where does phobia come from? Environmental, psychological, or spiritual? While the rights of LGBTQA individuals are still being bought, fought for, loss, and won I think it is worth looking at a few sources of phobia that rarely get beyond a few whispers from pundits. Homophobia. Is there such a thing? Do we always take hatred, ignorance, or bigotry and chalk it up to rational homophobia? I think the time has come to finally put that crutch aside. In particular I would like to look at what is arguably the most homophobic group of people in our society. Some may think I’m referencing the Aryan hate filled groups that picket gay weddings but in fact I’m thinking of a larger group of people. African Americans. 

  Any black gay individual with moderate use of their mental faculties can tell you that being gay + black is tough! Yeah it’s easy to blame whites and others but in all honesty most hate comes from within. Am I wrong to suggest that African Americans have based their entire modern day existence on religion? When discussing sources of homophobia in the black community you will undoubtedly hear verses or suras that proclaim the defeat and chastisement of the infidels and the sexually immoral. Many blacks stand by and believe strongly in the Abrahamic texts of our ancestors. Unfortunately many have conceded that life before that was void or chaotic and unruly. That couldn’t be further from the truth. 

   Before the Arabs, before the Spanish, and even before the Europeans descended upon then looted the African continent there was life and a sprawling society. Many spiritual systems that existed then have been transplanted and merged with Abrahamic religions. The slave coasts of West Africa were dominated with a central belief system known as Vodun. As opposed to the religions and traditions of oppressors, the Vodun saw sexuality as complex. Heteros, homos, and even the in between androgynous types weren’t ridiculed and put upon as with Abrahamic religions. God was in everything. From the drags to the fags god lived in everyone, in everything, in every place. Sexuality was just how the gods expressed themselves. Even the famed gods Mawu-Lisa embodied the joining of feminin and masculine properties. But of course all of that was taken. Vodun became Voodoo. A scary eroticized depiction of our ancestor’s beliefs were portrayed on tv as something weird and strange. Better yet, as evil and demonic. 

  What we are left with today are beliefs that continuously serve their initial purpose. No I wasn’t there and I don’t have first hand written secrets from thousands of years ago. Does it take a rocket scientist to figure out how divide and conquer works? I look forward to further engaging everyone with my thoughts and research as I attempt to look at the self-defeating practice of “homophobia” within the black community. This was just a starter.  

Hello world!

Hello everyone! This blog is dedicated to the advancement of the LGBTQA community as we continue our march towards equality. I will focus mainly on the issues facing my ethnic brothers and sisters. I know that we all deserve justice and a voice, but I also believe that change starts at home. This blog isn’t aimed at begrudging homophobes, heteroes, or culturally delayed individuals. This is merely a blog set on not only expanding the dialogue around our issues but inviting everyone to look at issues in a more loving and personal way.

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