Homophobia – the hate and fear of homosexuals
Such a simple definition for a spreading phenomenon that is polarizing some societies all over the world.
With each new anti-gay legislation passed – with each new incident of violence against members of the gay community – with yet another story of a ‘corrective rape’ – with news of another gay individual found dead – it has become glaringly evident that some societies are slowly descending into a deepening abyss of hate, ignorance and intolerance – so much so that it boggles the mind.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (KJV)?
9) Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind; 10) Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
Do the above Scriptures ever cross the minds of those that say “God hates gays” in morning and then, declares that “God loves ALL His children” on their knees at night?
Are they confused?
While some Africans readily acknowledge their commonalities with other human beings, in the area of the Creative Arts, agree they suffer from the same ills like Hypertension, Diabetes, Birth Defects and Heart Disease, admit they share a belief in some form of Higher Power, they vehemently deny they share the same variations of sexual orientation, as other human beings.
Aren’t Africans human too?
A person’s sexuality is only one facet of their identity. What of the other qualities that make up a human being? Why is what homosexuals do with their private parts relevant to any aspect of a heterosexual’s life?
Homosexuals face the same challenges, disappointments, relationship problems and triumphs that heterosexuals do. They experience unemployment, overdue bills, death, domestic abuse, homelessness, illness, rent/mortgage payments, substance abuse, and have to pay taxes – same as heterosexuals.
Some people express disgust at the sexual practices of homosexuals yet indulge in the very same sexual practices. Throughout the Bible Belt, here in the U.S, young Christians have been taught and are still being taught, in some Fundamentalist and Evangelical churches that sexual intercourse is for procreative purposes only – not pleasure. Any other type of sexual activity is seen as abnormal, bestial, lustful, unnatural and wicked, hence the passing of sodomy laws, which are still on the books in a few areas but rarely enforced. Some of these ‘hell and damnation’ churches find cunnilingus and fellatio so repulsive that spouses are free to divorce, if either side dares to introduce such practices into the marriage bed – thereby defiling it.
As for homosexuality being un-African, some Africans seem to be unaware that homosexuality existed in pre-colonial Africa and was not introduced by European colonialists, Islamic slave traders or any other foreign presence – past or current. Homosexuality exists and has been practiced in nearly every culture, at all times in history, whether tolerated or not. The only difference is the degree of openness with which it is practiced.
In a 2010 article, in The Guardian entitled “African Myths About Homosexuality”, Blessing-Miles Tendi denounced the notion that homosexuality was an European construct introduced by Europeans.
“The standard explanation offered by Africans opposed to gay rights is that homosexuality is alien to their culture and was introduced to Africa by European colonialists. A good deal of African-American homophobia relies on the same justification. But late 19th-century records on Africa and African oral history show that homosexual practices existed in pre-colonial Africa. One case in point are the Azande people in the north-east of modern-day Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where it was acceptable for kings, princes and soldiers to take young male lovers. Further evidence for the existence of homosexuality is that pre-colonial African ethnic groups ascribed tribal classifications to gay people. While some of these categorisations had negative associations, many had neutral connotations. Certain tribes in pre-colonial Burkina Faso and South Africa regarded lesbians as astrologers and traditional healers. A number of tribal groups in Cameroon and Gabon believed homosexuality had a medicinal effect. In pre-colonial Benin, homosexuality was viewed as a boyhood phase that males passed through and eventually grew out of.”
He goes on to state:
“Indeed, European contact altered some pre-colonial African attitudes towards homosexuality considerably.
For instance, early colonial Portuguese penal codes criminalised homosexuality in Angola. Prior to Portuguese control, homosexual men called ‘chibados’ had been free to exercise their sexuality. Portuguese colonial laws either gave rise to or intensified homophobia in Africa. Homophobia is more colonial than the practice of homosexuality in Africa. The contradiction could not be starker.”
And ends with…
Moreover, it is wrong to claim that nowadays the west campaigns for gay rights in Africa. In fact, the American evangelical right invests as much financial and advocacy effort in influencing religious Africans to shun gay rights as do pro-gay rights western non-governmental organisations working in Africa.
Along with the moralisms of Traditional African religions, Christianity and Islam – which were brought to Africa by European missionaries and Arab traders respectively – facilitated homophobia because they regard homosexuality as sin. Today religion shapes many African and African-American social and political designs. Churches in Africa are major players in the production of homophobia. In black America, churches are the most dominant homophobic institutions. Not all African and African-American churches, however, are intolerant to homosexuals.
The response of many Africans and African-Americans to European colonialism, racism and slavery was the construction of a black masculinity pitted against white supremacy. The enduring legacy of this is that black Africans and African-Americans often interpret homosexuals and white males alike as synonymous with femininity and vulnerability.
>From my experience as a black boy growing up in a white Zimbabwean neighbourhood and during my higher education in the west, I am all too conscious of how my masculinity is partly formed by continuing racial stereotypes of black men as sexually rapacious solely towards women. There is no scope for black male homosexuality in this pigeonhole. Little surprise sex between black men is ridiculed and criminalised more than sex between black women in African and African-American communities.
Black Africans and African-Americans must address constructions of their masculinity, the myth that pre-colonial Africa was exclusively heterosexual and anti-homosexual attitudes emanating from religion if they are to rise above homophobia.”
Homophobia is nothing more than ignorance and fear. What you don’t know – you fear. It stands hand-hand with racism and prejudice and is just as damaging, demeaning and sometimes deadly. Homosexuality can’t be ‘introduced’ or spread like a contagion throughout any society. It’s not a evil spirit that can be exorcised. Sexual orientation is inborn into every single human being. One can’t be ‘turned gay’. One can’t be ‘cured’ of homosexuality, because homosexuality is not a disease. It is what it is – an integral part of who you are as a human being. Homosexuals can no more change their sexual orientation than heterosexuals. Besides, what individual, in their right mind, would choose to be something that is so reviled in many societies?
When Africans spout that homosexuality is a practice introduced by the white man, they don’t realize that what they are really saying is Africans were so gullible, i
gnorant, weak-minded, malleable and ripe for the picking, they allowed the white man to ‘turn them gay’.
Throughout the African continent, the issue of homosexuality has become an extremely hot button issue. And, although decades behind, the continent is experiencing almost the same type of social upheaval the U.S experienced, in the last few decades, but on a larger scale. Unlike the U.S. though, Africa’s rising tide of homophobia is not largely fueled by the HIV pandemic that swept the U.S., killing off young and old alike – homosexual and heterosexual.
In Africa, much of the homophobia is being fueled by large infusions of money from anti-homosexuality groups in the U.S., funneled to religious leaders who they trust to spread their campaign of hate which is contrary to the message that “all are children of God and should be treated thusly”.
Also, unlike the U.S., laws protecting the gay community from harassment, assault and probable death are generally non-existent in Africa.
However, U.S. laws are not perfect. Enforcing those laws and effectively prosecuting homophobic vigilantes who feel that it is their ‘Christian duty’ to reject, assault and even kill gay people can prove difficult, even if the victimizers are caught. Why? Because the ‘Christian right’ is on the vigilantes’ side and sitting front and center in the juror box.
To anti-gay proponents, homosexuality is a spreading, destructive rot that must be swiftly and decisively eradicated from society – for the good of society.
In some parts of Africa, to be openly gay is to risk being severely beaten and/or killed, with little or no punishment for the perpetrators and little or no justice for the victims.
In other countries like Uganda, Zimbabwe, Jamaica, El Salvador and Latin America, gay individuals are being beaten and killed in the streets, sending shock waves throughout the LGBT community, forcing them underground or out of their countries.
Heavily Islamic countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Mauritania, Sudan, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and the northern provinces of Nigeria consider homosexuality an abomination, punishable by death.
In response to the increasing violence against homosexuals, some countries like Canada, U.S, The Netherlands, Belgium and Sweden offer asylum to homosexuals who have been persecuted or fear persecution.
However, there have been cases where immigration authorities have rejected asylum applications on the basis that gay individuals can hide their sexual orientation and thereby avoid persecution.
Ignorance breeds hate and fear but education leads to an understanding of the truth and that truth itself leads to freedom. Societies can’t boast of being modern and progressive, if they regress back into destructive patterns of barbarity, ignorance or intolerance.
On the same note, the LGBT community should be more considerate of the feelings of heterosexuals who find it difficult to accept and/or understand homosexuality.
Just as non-Christians detest Christians who try and push their Christians beliefs down their throats, heterosexuals resent the same tactics coming from the LGBT community.
The tender-hearted may ask: “Why can’t people just leave homosexuals in peace?”
I leave you with a the following parable which may explain the dual nature of man.
“Two Wolves – A Cherokee Parable”
An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life…
“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.
“One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego.
“The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.
“This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather,
“Which wolf will win?”
The old chief simply replied,
“The one you feed.”
Which wolf will you feed?