Showing posts with label homosexuality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label homosexuality. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Defending Gay Rights in Africa

I wrote and article on the same sex marriage debate in Africa published in Daily Times Nigeria. It did not generate the kind of comments that a similar post would have drawn in the west -- largely because Africans are still very uncomfortable talking about homosexuality; the much you may get out of us is a diatribe about the act being against culture, nature, God, and what have you.
Anyway, a facebook friend, who felt an argument he had with me over the debate was the source of the article, felt it right to respond. I liked what he has to say -- No, he wasn't the"friend" in question -- and felt I had to post it here for posterity. Something for the Gay Rights people to be happy about.


Comment from  Akpomuvi Dafi

I found your essay on same-sex marriages an intellectual tonic. You said things that you needed to say without cant. I was also somewhat proud that you wrote the essay, in an influential newspaper like the Daily Times, largely with the conversation we both had in mind. I was struck, however, that you misrepresented some of my arguments in our facebook exchanges.

First, I never said that the gay rights issue is the 'most important' advocacy issue in the world. I only pointed out that it is a fast rising issue that deserves careful, thoughtful and honest consideration. Needless to say, I don't consider the gay rights issue to be more important than any other sensible advocacy matter-like the fight for improving workplace conditions, or the fight against hunger. It is not my job to begin to compare different advocacy issues on the basis of their comparative importance.

You wrote:

 "That friend.....made sure to tell me that, for not joining the vociferous advocates of same sex love and marriage, I would be sidetracked by history."

 I have to say that I never sought to enlist you into some sort of organized gay rights campaign. I have never been a part of one myself. I only opined that given the growing trend of people wanting to fight for the rights to pursue their measure of happiness by loving, and living with who they want, and the desire of many in the world to respect that right, those who still stand in opposition to that basic human desire would be confined to the wrong side of history.

Like I pointed out in our exchanges on your facebook wall, the light of science has been shed on the gay issue. Fearless African intellectuals-like Wole Soyinka and many others earlier in the year signed a statement condemning the unnecessary bashing of gay people. The widely-respected South African arch-bishop, Desmond Tutu in a thought-provoking interview on the BBC reaffirmed his belief that it is unfair to treat homosexuality as a sin or disorder, or a choice that people make. These are 'straight' Africans, aren't they? Does it mean they want to be gays themselves? I wonder why some people think that defending the rights of gay people means being in love with the gay lifestyle.

 One doesn't need to be a gay rights activist. But when he takes it upon himself to pontificate about the rightness or wrongness of sexual acts, while gloating about his heterosexuality and seeking to rein in on others simply on the basis of their difference, and because they are in the minority, there is a part of me that feels he is getting the issue of morality quite wrong.

 And, do you think, Fred that you were being sincere when you said I claim to be an ‘activist of all kinds of rights? I hate to say a friend is lying.

I respect your position on the gay rights debate. Part of me even admires your stoic stance when you said "give us the chance of getting over our inhibitions”, as it shows that, unlike other glib gay bashers, you admit of the possibility of changing your mind over the gay rights matter.

I feel that as human beings, there are definitely things beyond our understanding. I, like you, find it awkward to look at the behaviour of some people. I find it awkward to see two women cuddling each other or having sex. I find it awkward to look at a man that has overt feminine attributes. But I don't feel the need to view them as sinners or 'mad people', like a friend of yours said on facebook,-a statement on which you clicked the 'like' button-,or engage in the playground bullying tactics that has echoes of fundamentalism and ignorant cock sureness .

 I should perhaps be quick to add that being gay could be devoid of stereotypes-like a man with painted lips, or soft feminine voice. There are many gay people you would swear are not if they don't tell you.

You also referred to me as one of those thousands (of friends) that the friendship button on facebook allows you have. As a Linguistics graduate, I can immediately understand the subtext of that sentence. I can only add that my definition of friendship does not include 'one who agrees with me on all issues.'

To paraphrase the philosopher, Cecil O' Poole: I can think of many points of view I am in disagreement with, but that does not mean my neighbour cannot live beside me, nor that we may not exist side by side. Even though he holds beliefs with which I disagree, we can both be a part of society, and we will both contribute to that society by being considerate and tolerant of each other's point of view.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Homophobic their a*se!

I am vexed. But that is just the half of it. The source of my anger is something that is not politically correct, at least from a western point of view.

I am annoyed at being referred to as a ‘f**king homophobe’, whatever that means, by an American 'used-to-be' friend who couldn’t understand my support for the incarceration of a Malawian gay couple. To him, my American ex-friend, I am one of those Africans who are yet to take advantage of their professed education to lift himself above petty things like gay hating.

Well, what can I say... the Yank is not too farfetched in his summation. If my emancipation means leaning over to be poked through a passage meant for something the west considers so dirty, it is social taboo to mention in polite conversation, or allowing people’s wanton desires run amok, then I am altogether happy to remain an educated ‘bushman’.

My ex-friend, like most westerners and, of late, so-called sexually emancipated Africans are so caught up in their misplaced proselytising for free will and free choice that they miss the point totally; that this is not a battle (yes o, it has started) about an individual’s freedom of sexual orientation, but the right for an organized society to exercise the law as their constitution allows. Now, don’t start with that over flogged argument that Malawi and indeed Africa has more pressing problems than sexual rights. That does not cut the cheese either way. The brothers (abi na sisters) broke the law and got punished for it. Yes, public humiliation is a cultural way of punishing law breakers in most part of Africa; I bet my Yankee ex-friend didn’t know that.

There is still that question most Gay rights activists want answered, are Africans Homophobic? I will answer in the typical Nigerian way, why is this so important?
True, we have always had people who tumble in the sheets with like poles, yes ke, but does that excuse it?

Even in our traditional societies and – here I will agree with the gay rights people – it wasn’t introduced by the colonial masters or Arab traders. But the fact still remains that the traditional society abhorred this act enough to impose stringent penalties, which includes death in some cultures, to curtail it. And yes, these characters are not hidden, in Igboland we call them omekanwanyi – he that acts like a woman. But they don’t get to cross-dress or solicit men on the village streets. Even if they get to tumble in the sheets, it is not public knowledge, just like any straight couple’s tumble isn’t. I think this is important, no?)

In Naija we all know about what goes on in same-sex boarding schools. How the school mothers and fathers experiment with their sons and daughters and how sex thrives after lights out within the boarding house, but this was usually seen as a passing phase occasioned by boredom since most of the partakers drop the act after school and go on to have fulfilling relationships with the opposite sex. Though there are still others who fail to outgrow this and continue partaking even in the wider society.

And yes, there are openly homosexual people in many towns in northern Nigeria – the dan dawudus – who are very much integrated into the society. They may not have the kind of freedom most gay rights activists would wish for but they walk freely in the street and even get to cross dress to an extent (girly head ties and all) but who is really free in the world... another days talk, that.

Aside from serious Bible and Quran carriers, I doubt if anyone really bothers about what gays do with one another here, as long as they keep it among themselves and not break the law, don’t provoke the citizenry (sex in public is an offence even in the West, right?) and don’t try to convert children under the age of consent (that will be breaking the law anywhere I bet).

On my part, I don’t care much for homosexuality and think it is all about sex (sorry, I don’t buy that love crap) and believe giving people right to do what they please is tantamount to inviting chaos on the world. Soon people will ask to marry their progenies or even pets all in the name of over some hyped love, shouldn’t the government grant them that boon?

Perhaps I am biased, I have not had the privilege of meeting an openly homosexual man, but I have met a couple of female bisexuals (don’t know if that counts) who became good friends of mine – that’s how homophobic I am.

Arguments aside, I feel Africa should be wary of these gay activists. They are too powerful to be dismissed with a simple wave of the hand; at least they have conquered part of the Christian church, Bible and all. Now, openly homosexual priests preach the way to hell and salvation which I hope lies not through the s**t hole of some man.