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”.]