We Got It From You, Dad

By now you’ve probably heard about the gay couple in Malawi getting sentenced to 14 years in jail for having a commitment ceremony. If not, there’s the link. Now what with this happening and that scare about the Ugandan anti-gay bill that would give gays the death penalty, and all the wars and starvation, I imagine it’s hard for some not to just say “damn, Africa is all types of fucked up” and go about your day because we hear about Africa’s misfortune in passing all the time. But let’s take a second and think about why Africa is all types of fucked up.

Of course it’s ironic that the Malawi government is enforcing a law that was imposed on them through colonial rule. But think about it — hundreds of years of colonial rule here. Africa kind of has a right to be backwards on this. I mean, black people in America do some stupid shit and we’ve been free longer than Africa has been decolonized. And the colonial powers — in Malawi’s case, Britain — are the ones who taught them that a) being gay is wrong, b) being gay IS VERY WRONG, c) now being gay is ILLEGAL. And if you’ll journey to that link up there about the Ugandan bill, you’ll see that “Christian” representatives from the U.S. are telling them that being gay is a Western problem and gay people from the U.S. are coming to GET THEIR CHILDREN. Believe it or not, African countries don’t like anything that smacks of colonialism. “But Tasha, you just said the anti-gay law in Malawi is colonial” It’s complicated. Being gay is not high on most Africans’ list of things it’s desirable to be. And they definitely don’t want their children “indoctrinated” with that mess. So when U.S. human rights activists come in trying to tell them that being gay is OK, and these right wing Christians warn them that the U.S. “homosexual movement” is trying to infiltrate them, they react in a not-so-positive way because it’s seen as a large Western power trying to influence their country immorally. Regardless of whether or not they got the idea from colonialism in the first place.

It’s kind of like how we financed the mujahideen in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets and now they’re using that training to fight us. You can’t meddle with an entire continent’s consciousness and not expect it to come bite you in the ass when you’ve decided you’re more enlightened than you were when you were doing the first meddling. For whatever reason, in colonial times it was apparently in Britain’s best interest that Africans hate gays. Now they’re just continuing on in that tradition and you’re surprised? They were taught, fully taught to believe that homosexuality was evil. Just like they were taught to despise their dark skin so they are now bleaching it, enforcing the dichotomy you wanted them to. Just like how they were taught their hair was ugly so they are now straightening it, to be what you told them was beautiful.

So before you judge the attitudes and actions of these African people towards gays, think about where they got them. It’s much like the old “Where’d you learn to smoke those cigarettes?” line. We know. At least we should.

[Ed. I was informed by two of my lovely commenters that the "gay couple" in Malawi is actually a straight couple, as Tiwonge Chimbalanga (a member of the couple) is a trans woman. So in addition to homophobia, we've got transphobia! Awesome. This is what happens when you "trust CNN".]

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  • http://genderqueer2genderqueer.wordpress.com genderqueer2genderqu

    Hey, this is a really good article and I think the points still stand, and I am not sure I can add anything to them however, the reporting has mostly ignored that this is fuelled by both homophobia and transphobia as one of the partners is in fact a trans women, and so is only being charged with this homophobic law because her gender isn't accepted by the law.

  • lemur

    I think one of the partners in that case is transsexual, actually, which makes the "gay couple" label somewhat inaccurate. The larger point of conflicting colonial views on sexual orientation still stands, though.

    • http://www.redvinylshoes.com Tasha Fierce

      Oh, true enough. I'll include a link about that.

  • http://www.icedteaandlemoncake.wordpress.com icedteaandlemoncake.

    THIS. I wrote an article on my blog when the Uganda thing was in the news (it's on uganda a rant in my blog). ughhh infuriates me how rick warren backpedaled after the incident, saying that he didn't 'mean' that. there's no taking that shit back. and it's not okay if your words indirectly result in genocide. i don't like it when people look at africa and go 'oh. the useless continent.'

    yes, they have problems. i talk about going there one day and people are always like 'you'll get shot the moment you get off the plane.' like the problems there aren't even worth dealing with. ugh. everyone seems to think that africa is a disposable continent and this american arrogance we have that 'we! come! first!' and we act like we've had nothing to do with the problem. this infuriates me, especially, in the church because white upper-class male evangelists have every single goddamn thing to do with the problem, ruining it for all of us who actually want to work toward something (like building wells in villages.)

    • http://snarkysmachine.org Angelina

      It's not just white upper middle class males. It's also their working class and poor white followers too, who often believe their class status negates their status as white folks. Whenever I hear someone use the phrase "white upper middle class males" to me it erases the very real culpability all white people have in terms of their skin color being privileged over everyone else's and the racist oppression that tends to follow.

  • http://genderqueer2genderqueer.wordpress.com genderqueer2genderqu

    Thank's for the edit, it means a lot.

  • http://www.icedteaandlemoncake.wordpress.com icedteaandlemoncake.

    huh. good pt.

  • http://loveistheslug.wordpress.com/ chriso

    Tasha, your blog is becoming more and more of a reliable news source for me than anything else on the web. I seriously love it and your writing has been blowing me away again and again lately!

    • http://www.redvinylshoes.com Tasha Fierce

      Aww, thank you! I really appreciate it!