Junior Burchall, a friend to the blog, perfectly critiques the asinine notion that homosexuality is un-African. He writes,
”These ‘conscious’ folks sound like European, bible-bashing, rapist-enslavers.
they have absolutely no handle on the history of the Motherland and how same sex sexual intimacy had a Continental presence that went back thousands of years. here are three examples, off the top:
among the Maale of southern Ethiopia, men who took on female roles and had sexual relationships with other men were called ASHTIME. they were not shunned by their community.
the Dagara (of Burkina Faso) viewed ‘homosexuals ‘ as gatekeepers charged with the supreme responsibility of shepherding people between the world of the flesh and the world of the Spirit.
among the Meru (of Kenya), same-sex, sexual relationships were seen as normal. indeed, some Meru who occupied positions of religious leadership (they were known as MUGAWE) often wore women’s clothes and hairstyles. they were also sometimes married to men. [NOTE: the aforementioned predated the arrival of europeans by many, many millennia].
these ‘conscious’ brothers are viewing Afrika through the pale, bleu eyes of the folks who brought them the king james version and made cruel sport of the slaughter of their Ancestors. and they think that – because they’ve read a few chapters of Diop and Dr Ben and have an uber-conscious-sounding online name – somehow, their homophobic bullshit is magically transformed into breakfast chock full of nutrient dense, culturally specific scholarship.
not so, not so…..
but, as with all systems predicated upon the aggressive suspension of reason and the uncritical devotion to the maintenance of oppressive hierarchy, the arguments of these pseudo-conscious, pseudo-afrocentric, Youtube minstrels are remarkably resistant to fact.
i tell ya, the always-busy intersection where various unjustly-acquired privileges converge makes for the strangest of bedfellows. it is there that you’ll find, for e.g., Umar Johnson and Mwalimu Baruti, cuddling up with the right reverend pat robertson and sharing sweet, homophobic nothings with the ever-insightful doyen of late twentieth century, lowbrow yankee bigotry, rush limbaugh)
call it what it is: pure, unadulterated, Eurocentric, patriarchal, anti-Feminine pfuckery.
…and yes, the ‘p’ is silent.”
“I screamed to the heavens….loudly screamed….
Trying to change our nightmares into dreams…” – Maya Angelou
It’s unlikely that Maya Angelou had the struggles of gays and lesbians in mind when she wrote the poem “In & Out of Time,” but I feel the lines quoted above speak to the experiences of many gays and lesbians.
Much has been said about Lisa Lings latest documentary for the Oprah Winfrey Network titled “Pray The Gay Away?” which explored differing perspectives on whether or not one could be gay and Christian. I chose not to watch the documentary, and I probably won’t, because I have lived what it seeks to explore, but I have paid close attention to the conversations taking place because of the documentary.
I have heard people refer to the attempt to “pray the gay away” as sad, pitiful, and stupid. My own thinking tends to agree with those assessments, but I turn my comments towards the society and culture that makes someone feel they need to pray away their sexual orientation. Yes, heterosexism and homophobia are sad, pitiful, stupid, and a lot of other horrible words.
I believe that those who seek to “pray the gay away” are as the quote states, screaming to the heavens, loudly screaming, trying to change their nightmares into dreams. My own attempts to “pray the gay away,” were ultimately attempts to change my nightmare (homosexuality), into my dream (heterosexuality).
It’s important to understand that I, like many people who are told that they are inferior, less than, or abnormal because of who they are, had no choice in whether or not I saw homosexuality as a nightmare. I was raised to believe that being gay was a sin and everywhere I looked in society there were confirmations of this teaching. TV shows, movies, songs, and playground culture all reinforced the gay as nightmare message.
Like others who are told by society they are not “normal,” I searched for a way to be normal. How could I cleanse myself of the stigmas of being gay to become and benefit from the privilege of heterosexuality? As a gay teen I used the tools I had, and that involved turning to the god I had been raised to believe answered all prayers. I wanted to be what the dominant group said I should be, I wanted to be heterosexual like everyone else, and so I prayed, prayed and cried, prayed and cried.
I never became straight but I did learn to love myself unconditionally. It wasn’t an easy journey, but it’s one that I am proud of having walked. I have come to realize that the nightmare is not my sexuality; the nightmare is the homophobic society that I live in, and the rigid religious belief system I had been indoctrinated in. The dream for me, and perhaps for many others, lie in accepting myself, no longer internalizing homophobia, and no longer being a slave to mythical belief systems.
I have the utmost sympathy for the gays and lesbians who are trying to turn their nightmares into dreams. I hope and know that many of them will avoid trying fit snugly into the nightmare. I also know that many won’t, and will continue to miss out on the dream that is self acceptance and self love.
My advice to gays and lesbians, who are praying to become straight or anyone else struggling with self-hatred, is to remember that we have to be taught to hate ourselves. None of us emerge from the womb ashamed of who we are. We must remember that anything that is learned can be unlearned, and self-acceptance starts with unlearning the self-hate that we have been taught.
Active self love, not prayer, will help us change our nightmares into dreams.