Dear God, If I Told You I was a Lesbian, would You still Love Me?
If there is a slight chance this post will offend you, I strongly suggest that you stop reading right about now. The cautionary note is because I know, however much one tries in life not to offend, someone will find something offensive. While I have now reached the point in my adult life, where I am no longer afraid to offend because I understand that offence/s will happen, it is always a goal of mine not to be the source of anyone’s pain.
Having said that…let’s proceed if you want to stay the course.
This is most likely one of the hardest blog I may ever write or will write this year until another hot issue comes along? I have been writing this for a few months, stopped every now and again because it is a complicated and complex subject with so much ground to cover. Hard, because I am aware of the controversies that surround the issue of homosexuality. Hard because I may get emails offering counselling or the reverse, hate emails. Nevertheless, it is a subject on my heart and I want to write about it. And as stated in the opening, while I am not afraid to offend…for I have written blogs where nothing was offensive yet, someone took offense. I never want to be the source of anyone’s pain or distress. Still, I realise there are uncomfortable and touchy issues in our society/world that we have turned into point scoring debates, a case of we are right and you are wrong and vice versa. When you have a subject as controversial as homosexuality, with two opposing sides, equally adamant that they are right, it can be a mine field of words which could easily be termed, ‘weapons of mass destruction.’ Chemical and biological weapons are not the only weapons for killing people, words have the same effect…remember sticks and stones…but that is not my subject today, just a little reference…
The issue of same sex relationships/marriage has dominated our television screens and newspapers this year, from New York to Accra to Lagos and Abuja, Nigeria, where lawmakers recently passed a bill that prohibits same sex union in Nigeria. Based on the current discourse about the issue of same sex relationships taking place in Nigeria, I believe this is the right time to write about it. I will be honest and say the Arab Spring has been my escape route from reading all the vitriol that follows each news story. I remember when the comedian, Tracy Morgan made those controversial comments earlier this year? What an episode that was. By all means, we should not advocate violence towards anyone and I think Morgan, looking back realises why what he said was received the way it was.
At the same time, it also got me thinking about our right as individuals to express ourselves, however controversial it may be without being vilified because anyone or group of people feel it violates or denigrates them one way or another? Truth be told, words hurt, words start wars and words end wars…as such we should be practical or at least aim to be practical in our speech and be mindful of the hurt it may cause. But one should not be scared of what will happen if he or she expresses what they believe or their view on an issue to the point where they end up lying. If there is one thing life has taught me, be true to yourself and those around you. I think people respect you more when they know where you stand and will not just give up what you think or believe to be liked or accepted. You are not being true to them or yourself if you are so easily swayed. They may not agree, at least, they know your position. If what you believe or how you view a matter can be changed due to fear, then you never really held it so dear. You were simply in love with the notion of having the belief. Now how do you navigate this tricky road? I will leave you to ponder on that and if you ever find an answer let me know.
Without deviating from the subject at hand, can we please get real? Homosexuality is not a contagious disease that you catch neither is it a 21st century discovery? It has been in existence before any of us got here and will be here years after you and I, are long dead and gone! I’m fully aware that it has always been an issue of contention on different fronts; cultural, traditional and the label we love to blame and hate the most for the world’s woes, religion. For the purpose of this post, I’m not a fan of the word ‘religion’ because it has been bastardised, brutalised and blamed for all the ills in the world. We as individuals and on corporate level don’t like to take responsibility for our actions. It is always easier to blame religion or fault an ideology. Again, I will leave you to think about that. Hence, I will refer to what people believe in as their FAITH! If that worries you, there is not much I can do about that. And I’m certainly not sorry to say that.
Let’s get this straight, any individual who identifies as gay or lesbian is first a human being with blood running through their veins. They feel the pain and hurt, heterosexual people do. It is also fair to imagine they too have questions about the state of things because in my right mind, why would anyone wake up one day and decide to become the source of ridicule and mockery or to be ostracised and estranged because of their sexuality? Why would anyone want to be called names like ‘sissy’ or ‘faggot?’ Words that cause such controversies, some comedians are taking it out of their routines. Let’s bring it home, it’s like being called a cunt. Personally, I don’t think folks like being called names. I’m no psychologist or an expert on matters of this nature but I wonder if one’s sexuality can be subjective…the argument that we are born gay is one I don’t have an answer for. And I certainly don’t have an answer for the argument that people decide to become gay. What I do know is that we need to respect each other regardless of sexual orientation, beliefs or stance on the matter. If for no reason, then for the simple fact that we are each allowed to believe and hold on to what we want and in equal measure, be who we want to be and love who we want to love.
Politically and socially, we each have the right to be who we are. Having said that, I also understand why a Muslim or a Christian or someone who believes in any other faith will disagree with homosexuality because of their faith. It is well known that this is a topic frowned upon in the bible and Quran. Again, I’m no theology expert or Islamic scholar but I must point out that people, gay or not also have spiritual lives as defined by them. We all can’t be Christians or Muslims or be members of any of the other faiths we know. And people are entitled to their right to chose what they believe. So I asked a few folks based on their faith for their views on the subject of same sex relationships. Below is what they had to say.
For this blog, I will refer to them as M and V as I don’t want a mob going after them…M said: “Homosexuality is definitely unaccepted in Islam. It is abnormal because males and females were created for each other to procreate at the start of humanity. It was Adam and eve, not Adam and another male or Eve and another female and the only reference on it in the Quran is the story of prophet lut (lot). From that story we know that for sure in Islam, it’s unacceptable. A lot of Muslims believe that homosexuals should be punished, I’m not sure if there are any hadiths on that but the bottom line is that there is no mention of punishments in the Quran, only God’s condemnation. There’s no way the Quran can ever be modified to suit people because they’re God’s direct words. But one of its miracles is that things are left quite open and vague to some extent to suit different people in different times since its revelation, if that makes sense. As for me personally, I’m against same sex relationships and I think that society is handling it the wrong way. For those who think the same I think tolerance and respect are very important because criticising and alienating do not help. Judging a person is also unacceptable and not our job. If people really think it’s a problem, then there should be more effort put into fixing it. Religion-wise, I think all religions, specifically God’s holy books, were brought to humans to guide them, and they are all merciful and preach compassion and tolerance. So I’m against extremists who believe that homosexuals should be punished because we are in no position to do so. If we can’t give any constructive input to the issue, I think the only right thing to do is to keep our opinions to ourselves and show basic respect.”
V on the other hand said: “This topic is too complicated for a simplistic approach because it involves human beings like us. But we have options: We either learn to respect others in spite of our differing opinions or we keep fighting.” V is someone I consider to be open minded on a number of issues, one of the reasons I asked her. Not one to mince her words, she tells the truth from her point of view, fully aware that it may not and does not have to be yours or mine. The issue of same sex relationships is one we have talked about on a few occasions. Sometimes, we agreed to disagree and at other times, came to some form of understanding that there was need for respect and understanding. When I told her I was going to blog about it and one of the reasons I was asking for her opinion, she wished me a lot of luck. I guess girlfriend was afraid for me. Like M, V’s response is from the point of view of her faith.
“I recognise we are different and view things differently. It is a shame that the subject of same sex relationships has dogged the church in the UK in recent years. The church needs to wake up and take its rightful place. It cannot be seen to give into the demands of the world. Maybe it will actually get some respect for sticking to its guns. Jesus loved the world but he didn’t conform to it. He loved all men equally and did not think one better than the other through his message. But that did not stop him from speaking the truth when he needed to. People need to understand that going about bashing folks with the bible pushes them away. You can only take so much of that. We need to find a balance. I’m not suggesting that Christendom become dormant or silent. I think there is a way you can say where you stand on this matter without being hurtful or hateful about it. People should be free to give their opinion without fear of how it will be interpreted. We cannot all agree on this and I don’t envision that we will anytime soon. I also think there are some folks and numerous articles out there, adjusting the bible to suit them on this matter. I can only suggest people read the book for themselves and make up their mind. If we are going to move forward, we can at least start with the truth and respect for each other and Christians need to realise that the world has changed a lot and we have to deal with that without sacrificing the truth of God’s word.” While they are both entitled to their views, I would say they are both fully aware one’s sexuality is no excuse or grounds for hatred or violence. I get to I play devil’s advocate and say if the shoe was the other way around, I would most likely tell both parties they are entitled to their opinions but it does not diminish who I’m.
This is where recent developments in Nigeria, come into focus. One thing I cannot get my head around is the fact that lawmakers found the time to make a quick decision on the issue of same sex marriage. This is in spite of the fact that for years, Nigerians have lived with no lights, good roads, a functioning health service, an education system or running water. The nation’s infrastructure is in decay. Yet, they have not tabled measures to rectify the malaise that plagues the country. Talk about upside down priorities and we wonder why we are not making the kind of developmental progress that will move the nation out of dire straits.
Let me at this point state that it is overtly disrespectful of the western nations, US and UK, who have threatened the withdrawal of Aid to African nations, which in recent times have taken a decision similar to Nigeria or are in the process. Don’t get it twisted, I do think it is excessive the sentences being imposed and uncalled for. You cannot police who people sleep with in the privacy of their bedrooms. As Africans, we have to acknowledge the fact there are people in Africa, who are indeed gay and lesbian. But it is also hypocritical of the west to make such threats when not all of them practice what they preach. The recognition of same sex civil partnerships/unions is only a few years old in the UK. It only came into effect in 2004 and to get there was a journey. The recognition of same sex right goes back to the 60s, 1967, I believe and to get there was also a journey. The UK’s path to acknowledging same sex unions was equally opposed. We still hear news reports of a gay person being attacked for no reason other his sexuality. So give me a break and get off your liberal high horse. Every country’s path is different. David Cameron needs to wake up to the FACT that these are SOVEREIGN nations NOT COLONIES. They have their way of doing things and must not be forced to do it the way that works for your country or in Europe. Enough with the neo-colonisation through threats and forced impositions. These nations must find and define the path to confronting matters of this nature. That the UK is more accepting of same sex relationships is by no means the carrot stick with which you measure you are more civilised than the African nations you are threatening. Mr Cameron, you forget Africa is a land of diverse cultures and traditions and people take their faith seriously not the empty cathedrals you find in the UK these days…wake up Batman!
Yesterday, it was reported by the UK Guardian, that “President Barack Obama has told US officials to consider how countries treat its gay and lesbian populations when making decisions about allocating foreign aid.” This is the same country where just over 7 states out of 50 legally recognise civil partnerships. The right of gay and lesbian people is still a heavily contested issue and this joker has the nerve to talk about American values? I’m a fan of Barack Obama but please take care of your home before you tell me how to run mine. While the approach is disrespectful and reminds me of candy being withdrawn from a child for misbehaving, I also welcome it for the simple fact that it is time African nations take the begging bowl back and turn the energy for begging into being productive. After 50 years of independence, we owe ourselves that much. There will be other times when we need to make sovereign decisions as independent nations but for fear of losing Aid money, we cave in. How pathetic is that? The US or UK will not pull this same stunt with Saudi Arabia or China but they do with African nations because that is how well they respect us. How I wish our impotent leaders will wake up…
I cannot write this post without saying there is a problem when anyone thinks CORRECTIVE RAPE which has featured heavily in South Africa is the way to stop a woman from being a lesbian. So is the use of violence against anyone as we have witnessed in some other African countries is the way forward. There is nothing corrective about rape. It is a crime and gross violation of the woman. We only give the news media more ammunition to present us as barbaric and that needs to stop and it is up to us as Africans to get our heads out of the sand and step up. If homosexuality is UN-African like we popularly say, then there are a whole lot of things we do that are equally un-African and we must stop doing them. I mean the Nigerian music industry is like a cloned imported copy of American hip-hop. We have to find the African way of doing that too…
The truth of the matter is, we need to face the reality before us. This issue is not going away. As such we better find a way to create a platform for dialogue. I believe in freedom of speech and people should be free to voice their views but that is no ground to incite hatred or violence towards anyone. We need to have a matured discourse that seeks to understand, educate and enlighten without circumventing or subverting other people’s right to speak their minds or make anyone feel he or she is wrong and the other is right. The dialogue we have should not be about scoring points either because when we do that, we lose sight of what is important. A BBC news story was posted on Facebook and the comments it generated, I had to stop reading…they were disturbing on some level and before you knew it, racism found its way into the picture…there goes the barbarism I was talking about…one commentator went as far as saying HIV/AIDS originated in Africa just to make her point about African as the dark…remember the words of The Economist??
If we don’t find a way the hate is going to get worse. We have to give ourselves the chance to create a society, where we respect each other regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, race or belief even though we don’t agree. Compassion comes from love and is at the heart of humanity. In my opinion, respect also comes from a place of love. I’m not talking about Eros love, I mean kieros love, the one you have for everyone. There is a need to respect others and be respected however much we may disagree…no one likes to be disrespected. Bottom line, we are not a homogeneous world and we won’t all have the same truths or faith or ideologies but we can learn to and must respect each other. Aren’t we tired of our babies committing suicide because they are afraid they will become the butt of cruel jokes due to their sexuality? We each have a heart, mind, soul and spirit. We feel pain…the thought of our similarities which proves we experience the same emotions should be enough to deter us from inflicting pain on anyone. I’m no apologist for same sex relationships. I think the gay community will be the first to tell you they don’t need anyone apologising for them and no human being should ever have to apologise for who they are or their right to be themselves. I don’t and neither should you.
I’m not asking anyone to give up what they believe or their stance on the issue of same sex relationships. That is not something I have a right to do. I’m simply saying that we search ourselves and find a common ground to agree to disagree without the vitriol, name calling, blame game and the hate that only breeds more hate. It does not help, just adds fuel to a fire started by kerosene. Right now, all sides are speaking over each other. I don’t think any is listening to what the other has to say and that is a problem all be itself. There is a strong need for a voice of reason and our various governments across the board need to realise you can legislate laws into action and try to put fear in people. One thing you cannot do, is legislate hearts. Dialogue is the only way to reach a heart and that heart must be willing to hear all viewpoints and ask, what if it were me? Chew on that…