It is a massive cosmic irony that the Christians who condemn and persecute gay people can not see that they are engaged in repeating the story of Christ’s crucifixion. Jesus said the first commandment is to love God and the second to love thy neighbour, something they are totally failing to do. And when persecutors reflect on their actions, may they remember that Jesus said “To the extent that you did it to one of the least of one of these,… you did it unto me.”
The condemnation and punishment of gay people for being attracted to same sex intimacy is no different to the crowds baying for Jesus to be crucified in Jerusalem. Jesus also instructed us to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”. Homophobic Christians certainly make no effort to love gay people, but then we are not actually their enemies. They have made themselves into our enemies however – how do we respond? I rarely hear of gay people getting violent towards homophobes! I hear much more about gay Christians doing exactly what Jesus instructed – praying for their enemies, with sincerity and trust that a new day will dawn.
A frontline of this battle for love and acceptance is in Africa. African Christians condemn homosexuality as an import from western culture, completely missing the irony that it is Christianity and homophobia that are the foreign invaders. Gradually the rich queer history of Africa emerges….
“African history is replete with examples of both erotic and nonerotic same-sex relationships. For example, the ancient cave paintings of the San people near Guruve in Zimbabwe depict two men engaged in some form of ritual sex. During precolonial times, the “mudoko dako,” or effeminate males among the Langi of northern Uganda were treated as women and could marry men. In Buganda, one of the largest traditional kingdoms in Uganda, it was an open secret that Kabaka (king) Mwanga II, who ruled in the latter half of the 19th century, was gay.
“The vocabulary used to describe same-sex relations in traditional languages, predating colonialism, is further proof of the existence of such relations in precolonial Africa. To name but a few, the Shangaan of southern Africa referred to same-sex relations as “inkotshane” (male-wife); Basotho women in present-day Lesotho engage in socially sanctioned erotic relationships called “motsoalle” (special friend) and in the Wolof language, spoken in Senegal, homosexual men are known as “gor-digen” (men-women).” http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/4/homosexuality-africamuseveniugandanigeriaethiopia.html
“The indigenous cultures of South and East Africa have a long history of homosexuality, transgender behavior, and even same-sex marriage between both men and women. In early seventeenth-century Luanda (the capital of Portuguese Angola), Catholic priests Gaspar Azevereduc and Antonius Sequerius documented third-gender natives known as chibados. The chibados dressed like women, spoke effeminately and married other men “to unite in wrongful lust with them.” More shocking to the priests was the fact that such marriages were honored and even prized among the tribesmen. In a similar record, Portuguese Jesuit Joao dos Santos wrote in 1625 that the chibadosmof southwestern Africa were “attyred like women, and behave themselves womanly, ashamed to be called men; are also married to men, and esteeme that unnaturale damnation an honor.” In his writings about seventeenth-century Angola, historian Antonio Cardonega mentioned that sodomy was “rampant among the people of Angola. They pursue their impudent and filthy practices dressed as women.” He also stated that the sodomites often served as powerful shamans, were highly esteemed among most Angolan tribes and commonly called quimbanda.” http://amarawilhelm.wixsite.com/around-the-world/part-8
Dagara: “The gay person is looked at primarily as a “gatekeeper.” The Earth is looked at, from my tribal perspective, as a very, very delicate machine or consciousness, with high vibrational points, which certain people must be guardians of in order for the tribe to keep its continuity with the gods and with the spirits… Any person who is at this link between this world and the other world experiences a state of vibrational consciousness which is far higher, and far different, from the one that a normal person would experience. This is what makes a gay person gay. This kind of function is…one that people are said to decide on prior to being born. You decide that you will be a gatekeeper before you are born…To then limit gay people to simple sexual orientation is really the worst harm that can be done to a person.” Malidoma Some http://www.menweb.org/somegay.htm
Azande: “the Azande tribe in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo in sub-Saharan Africa use their queerness to instill fear and respect in the eyes of their fellow tribespeople. Lesbian Azande women were notorious for being very open and proud of their queerness, wearing it like a badge of honor. This was because, to the Azande, the spiritual potency of women was seen as often more powerful than that of men. Already at a magical disadvantage, Azande men were particularly impotent to the power of queer Azande women. By having sex with each other, lesbians of the tribe were believed to be able to double their spiritual power, making their magical prowess the most powerful in all the tribe. To show off their spiritual might, Azande lesbians sometimes practiced their queer sexuality in public as a way to let everyone know now had 2x the power they once had.” (Tomas Prower https://www.llewellyn.com/journal/article/2696)
“In southeastern Africa, Bori cults—along with their crossdressing shamans and possession rituals—are still quite common among the Zulu. Shamans are known as inkosi ygbatfazi (“chief of the women”) while ordinary transgenders are called skesana and their masculine partners, iqgenge. Zulu warriors traditionally asserted their manhood by substituting boys for women and in the 1890s, Zulu chief Nongoloza Mathebula ordered his bandit-warriors to abstain from women and take on boy-wives instead. After his capture, Nongoloza insisted that the practice had been a longstanding custom among South Africans. Indeed, homosexual marriage was documented among the Zulu, Tsonga and Mpondo migrant workers of South Africa at least since the early nineteenth century. Boy-wives were known by various names such as inkotshane (Zulu),nkhonsthana (Tsonga), tinkonkana (Mpondo)” http://amarawilhelm.wixsite.com/around-the-world/part-8
“Apart from erotic same-sex desire, in precolonial Africa, several other activities were involved in same-sex (or what the colonialists branded “unnatural”) sexuality. For example, the Ndebele and Shona in Zimbabwe, the Azande in Sudan and Congo, the Nupe in Nigeria and the Tutsi in Rwanda and Burundi all engaged in same-sex acts for spiritual rearmament — i.e., as a source of fresh power for their territories. It was also used for ritual purposes.” http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/4/homosexuality-africamuseveniugandanigeriaethiopia.html
“The Meru tribes of Kenya have a religious leadership role known as mugawe, which involves priests wearing female clothing and hairstyles. In 1973, British ethnologist Rodney Needham noted that the mugawe were often homosexual and sometimes married to other men… In 1987, anthropologist Gill Shepherd reported that homosexuality was relatively common in Kenya, even among Muslims (both male and female). Most Kenyans initially discourage transgender behavior among their children but gradually come to accept it as an inherent part of the child’s spirit (roho) or nature (umbo). Shepherd observed third-gender men, known in Swahili as shoga, who served as passive male prostitutes and wore female clothing, makeup, and flowers at social events such as weddings, where they typically mingled with the “other” women. At more serious events such as funerals and prayer meetings, the shoga would stay with the men and wear men’s attire. Other Swahili terms for homosexual men include basha(dominant male), hanithi (young male partner) and mumemke (man-woman). Lesbians are known as msagaji or msago(“grinders”).” http://amarawilhelm.wixsite.com/around-the-world/part-8
“The Konso of southern Ethiopia have no less than four words for effeminate men, one of which is sagoda and refers to men who never marry, are weak, or who wear skirts. In the mid-1960s, Canadian anthropologist Christopher Hallpike observed one Ethiopian Konso that lived by curing skins (a female occupation) and liked to play the passive role in homosexual relations. In 1957, American anthropologist Simon Messing found male transvestites among the Amhara tribes that were known as wandarwarad (male-female). They lived alone and were considered like brothers to the tribeswomen. The husbands of the women were not at all jealous of the close friendship between their wives and the wandarwarad. Messing reported that the wandarwarad were unusually sensitive and intense in their personal likings. He also found “mannish women” among the Amhara known as wandawande.” http://amarawilhelm.wixsite.com/around-the-world/part-8
“In the Sudan, traditional Zande culture is well known for its homosexual marriages, even into the 1970s, as reported by British anthropologist Edward Evans-Pritchard in 1971. Some Zande princes preferred men over women and could purchase a desired boy for the price of one spearhead. They would then become husbands to the young man, provide him with beautiful ornaments and address him as badiare (beloved).” http://amarawilhelm.wixsite.com/around-the-world/part-8
Note the frequently recurring links between same sex love and spiritual power.
SPIRITUALITY IS THE MISSING LINK in the modern story of LGBT+ emergence
Persecution of our kind is rooted in the efforts of patriarchal monotheism over 2000 years to eradicate pagan worship, sex temples, sacred prostitution and magic. Sodomy and sorcery were seen as going hand in hand in ancient Middle East and Europe. Transexuality was considered to bestow spiritual power, and this was common around the world – eg the Two Spirits of the USA, now finding the way to reclaim their power and their role in the wider community, after centuries of being referred to as ‘berdache’ (the word given to them by Europeans, it referred to the passive partner in homosexual sex).
Straight men set out to persecute us because they wanted to wield the spiritual power that was the natural gift of women, gay men and transexuals. There are references to this power in the Bible, eg these comments on eunuchs from Jesus and OT prophet Isaiah…
“For there are eunuchs who were born that way, others were made that way by men, and still others live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.”
“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose what pleases me
and hold fast to my covenant—
5 to them I will give within my temple and its walls
a memorial and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that will endure forever.”
In fact the Bible can as easily be interpreted as a pro-queer document as it is used against us. There are gay love stories in the Old Testament – between David and Jonathon, Ruth and Naomi. Genesis chapter 1 tells us that God made humans male and female ‘in his image’, ie it is totally wrong to simply consider god as father, when he is clearly our mother too. Transgender and queer people have held spiritual power in many cultures because of the powerful combination of male and female soul energies within one body, and Jesus is quoted in the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas as saying that part of the requirement to enter the Kingdom of Heaven is to “make the male and the female into a single one, so that the male is not male and the female not female”. There are gospel references to the ‘Disciple Whom Jesus Loved’ (and it wasn’t a female). His very title, ‘The Anointed One’ was the same as given, centuries earlier, to the male/trans temple servants, the Qedesha.
There are a few mentions in the OT of the Qedesha, the male/trans ‘Anointed’ or ‘Holy Ones’ who served as prostitutes in the ancient Goddess temples, and had done for millennia. When translated into English, Qedesha was at first rendered as ‘sodomites’. More modern bibles put ‘male shrine prostitutes’. But LGBT Christian activists do not mention the Qedesha. They do not understand our connection to the Goddess energies. (They have perhaps been convinced by their Christian religion to believe paganism is devil worship, whereas actually it provides the tools to bring our souls into harmony with the natural rhythms of the planet and cosmos.) The memory of the special relationship between queer people and the spirit world has been pretty much eradicated.
Yet it is a memory that won’t ever really die. For we queer children are born in every race, every religion, every nation, every family – and will continue to be, for we are the ones with the special task from God of seeing through the lies and illusions that grip society, and of restoring the connection of humanity and heaven, without the need for dogmatic, censorious, religions. Witchcraft, Shamanism, Healing are natural practices within us. Modern society doesn’t understand this and would probably rather we didn’t know it.
Kept out of the religious picture for so long in the west, but until so recently still a part of it elsewhere, the time is coming for queer people to reclaim our own spirituality, discovering out roles as conduits of spirit, healing, peace, love and understanding, so urgently needed in a very confused world.