OÙ SONT LES VOIX LESBIENNES AFRICAINS ?

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Binyavanga Wainaina est brave homme pour sortir à un moment où il est en hausse homophobie et l’introduction de lois homophobes sur le continent . Et il a choisi de sortir du mieux qu’il sait – par son écrit, dans une lettre à sa mère . Certes, Binyavanga n’est pas une personne au Kenya ou en Afrique , et son coming out attention attiré en raison de son statut littéraire de renom. On se demande si son coming-out a donné un autre genre et la sexualité diversifiée courage des gens de revendiquer leur sexualité, publiquement ou en privé , mais c’est encore à voir , ou déclaré . Il est , cependant, un pas dans la bonne direction pour le mouvement des droits sexuels et de genre en Afrique , parce que le plus de nous, ils voient , plus ils se rendent compte que nous ne sommes pas une minorité sexuelle aussi souvent censé être . Mais est Binyavanga coming out représentant de toutes les minorités dites sexuelles en Afrique ?

Binyavanga coming out peut se poser la question , où sont les voix de lesbiennes en Afrique ? Peut Lesbiennes publiquement et arborent fièrement leurs voix sans crainte de représailles de conservateurs , les systèmes patriarcaux de silence et d’oppression ? Et si nous pouvons – nous alors pourquoi pas ? Quels sont les systèmes d’oppression nous gardons toujours sourd et calme ? Lorsque l’homosexualité est parlé dans l’Afrique , la voix , la rhétorique et l’accent sur ​​l’ensemble soit affirmer ou de contester les droits des personnes non – hétéro est le plus souvent la voix des hommes gais . Binyavanga est un homme gai et il a «sortir » et dit publiquement si . Mais qu’est-ce que cela signifie pour les femmes bisexuelles , trans et lesbiennes ? Est-ce Binyavanga coming out nous donnent aussi une voix et un espace pour revendiquer nos droits à exister dans des espaces qui sont hostiles à notre altérité ? Une femme lesbienne en Afrique peut copier -coller et modifier sa lettre comme un récit de sa propre histoire ? At-il , en substance , parlé pour nous tous ? La sexualité des femmes dans son ensemble est une partie complètement côté bordée et non reconnue de la féminité , où les sociétés, les cultures , traditions et religions refusent de reconnaître les droits sexuels des femmes et de l’autonomie corporelle . Dans cette optique , les femmes lesbiennes luttent pour la légitimité dans un monde phallocrate , où l’absence de pénis signifie l’absence de sexe et de sexualité . Il peut même faire valoir que les lois coloniales n’ont jamais eu des relations lesbiennes pour tenir compte parce que la pensée même que deux femmes , ou des femmes seules , pourraient avoir des relations sexuelles gratifiantes a été considérée comme ridicule , et donc pas affecté par tout type de lois . Sexualité , malheureusement , est toujours considéré comme la domination des hommes , à la fois hétérosexuels et homosexuels .

Il ya une hypothèse que la voix du mouvement gay et lesbien est un et que ce n’est pas grave si c’est un homme gay ou une lesbienne qui « sort » et affirme leur sexualité et de la préférence de genre publiquement . Mais ce qui importe . Nous pouvons affirmer que l’auto- sortie de Binyavanga a été facilitée parce qu’il est un homme , et un homme non – efféminé à cela. Masculinité , dans ses diverses manifestations dans les deux contextes hétérosexuels et homosexuels , continue de dominer les espaces et les voix , et la masculinité de Binyavanga , dans un monde patriarcal , en quelque sorte, le protège. Serait écrit sincère de Binyavanga être reçu le même s’il était un trans – femme ? Ou si Binyavanga était une femme – quel soutien serait lesbienne (s ) il a attiré ?

Une recherche rapide sur Google pour éminents lesbiennes noires africaines a donné une foule d’ étrange afro-américain et des icônes lesbiennes et bien sûr , Brenda Fassie . Un autre blog avait une liste d’éminents lesbiennes en Afrique du Sud musiciens – qui tous sauf un sont blancs , et dont certains vivent en dehors de l’Afrique . Brenda Fassie a fait cette liste , bien sûr , dont on ne peut s’empêcher de penser , est Brenda Fassie le seul premier plan , femme lesbienne noire africaine connue ? Certes, le contenu de l’Internet ne peuvent pas être prises pour être exhaustive, mais l’absence même de femmes lesbiennes d’Afrique noire parle en ligne volumes . Des recherches Google pour les femmes lesbiennes noires africaines se tournent souvent vers le haut non résolus histoires de meurtres de personnes lesbiennes , bisexuels et transgenres . L’histoire n’est pas différent pour les recherches Goole des hommes – africains , mais gai grâce à Binyavanga , la voix d’un homme gay africain se fait entendre , et il réclame sa place sur le continent et dans son pays . Mais les femmes lesbiennes ont besoin pour élever leurs propres voix et faire valoir leurs propres espaces .

Binyavanga a contribué à pousser une conversation déjà le cas dans un espace hétérosexuelle public. Le autour de l’énergie sans vergogne et honnêtement indiquant notre sexualité ne devrait pas s’essouffler . Et la voix qu’il utilise dans la plantation, fermement , son identité homosexuelle , est admirable . Il ne fait aucune excuse , et propose pas d’explications . Et nous ne devrions . Nous avons besoin de voix lesbiennes plus , et les voix des femmes de genre non conforme , nous affirmer et de posséder notre place sur le continent . Il n’a pas à être une histoire qui sort , et vous n’avez pas besoin d’être un géant de la littérature . Il doit juste être votre vérité en tant que lesbienne , bisexuelle ou transsexuelle , mais il doit être parlé à haute voix , parce que, comme Audre Lorde dit – votre silence ne vous sauvera pas .

WHERE ARE THE VOICES OF AFRICAN LESBIANS?

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Binyavanga Wainaina is brave man for coming out at a time where there is rising homophobia and the introduction of homophobic laws on the continent. And he chose to come out the best way he knows how-through his writing, in a letter to his mother. Granted, Binyavanga is not a nobody in Kenya or in Africa, and his coming out garnered attention because of his renowned literary status. One wonders whether his coming out has given other gender and sexuality diverse people courage to claim their sexuality, publicly or privately-but that’s yet to be seen, or declared. It is, however, a step in the right direction for the sexual and gender rights movement in Africa, because the more of us they see, the more they realize that we are not a sexual minority as often purported to be. But is Binyavanga’s coming out representative of all so called sexual minorities in Africa?

Binyavanga’s coming out begs the question-where are the lesbian voices in Africa? Can lesbian women publicly and proudly raise their voices without fear of reprisals from conservative, patriarchal systems of silencing and oppression? And if we can- then why aren’t we? What systems of oppression still keep us muffled and quiet?  When homosexuality is spoken about in Africa, the voice, rhetoric and overall emphasis on either affirming or disputing the rights of non-heteronormative people is more often than not the voice of gay men. Binyavanga is a gay man and he has ‘come out’ and publicly said so. But what does this mean for bisexual, trans and lesbian women? Does Binyavanga’s coming out also give us a voice and a space to claim our rights to exist in spaces that are hostile to our otherness? Can a lesbian woman in Africa copy-paste and edit his letter as a telling of her own story? Has he, in essence, spoken for us all? Women’s sexuality as a whole is a completely side-lined and unacknowledged part of womanhood, where societies, cultures, traditions and religions refuse to recognize women’s sexual rights and bodily autonomy. In this light, lesbian women struggle for legitimacy in a phallocentric world, where the absence of the penis means the absence of sex and sexuality. It can even be argued that colonial laws never took lesbian relationships to account because the very thought that two women, or women alone, could have sexually gratifying relationships was seen as ludicrous, and therefore unaffected by any kind of laws. Sexuality, sadly, is still seen as the dominion of men, both heterosexual and homosexual.

 There is an assumption that the voice of the gay and lesbian movement is one-and that it does not matter whether it’s a gay man or a lesbian woman that ‘comes out’ and asserts their sexuality and gender preference publicly. But it does matter. We can argue that Binyavanga’s self-outing was made easier because he is a man, and a non-effeminate man at that. Masculinity, in its various manifestations in both heterosexual and homosexual contexts, continues to dominate spaces and voices, and Binyavanga’s masculinity, in a patriarchal world, in a way, protects him. Would Binyavanga’s heartfelt writing be received the same if he were a trans-woman? Or what if Binyavanga was a lesbian woman-how much support would (s)he have attracted?

A quick Google search for prominent black African lesbians yielded a host of African American queer and lesbian icons and of course, Brenda Fassie. Another blog had a list of prominent South African lesbian musicians-all of which but one are white, and some of which live outside Africa. Brenda Fassie made this list of course, which one cannot help but think, is Brenda Fassie the only prominent, black African lesbian woman known? Granted, the internet’s contents cannot be taken to be exhaustive, but the very absence of black African lesbian women online speaks volumes. Google searches for black African lesbian women often turn up unsolved murder stories of lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. The story isn’t any different for Google searches of gay African men-but thanks to Binyavanga, an African gay man’s voice is being heard, and he is claiming his space on the continent and in his country. But lesbian women need to raise their own voices-and claim their own spaces.

Binyavanga has helped push an already happening conversation into a public, heterosexual space. The energy around unapologetically and honestly stating our sexuality should not lose momentum. And the voice he uses in planting, firmly, his homosexual identity, is admirable. He makes no apologies, and offers no explanations. And neither should we. We need more lesbian voices, and the voices of gender non-conforming women, asserting ourselves and owning our place on the continent. It doesn’t have to be a coming out story, and you don’t have to be a literary giant. It just has to be your truth as a lesbian, bisexual or transgendered woman, but it has to be spoken out loud, because like Audre Lorde said-your silence will not save you.

               

Homosexuality, Africa and the Closet

Binyavanga Wainaina’s recent coming out in an open letter has created an interesting chain of reactions on the continent. Some of these reactions we see, many we don’t. We found this interesting piece of writing by Sisonke Msimang that challenges Africa(ns) on the seemingly unending conversation about what it is that makes us ‘authentically’ African and where our gender diverse and non-heteronormative sexual identities fit in. We loved this article-enjoy!

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Outing the liars: How to come out of an African closet

 By Sisonke Msimang

A few days ago, Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainana became one of the most prominent Africans to declare his homosexuality. The words in his open letter are important to all Africans because they represent a growing refusal, across the continent, to go along with lies that people tell about what it means to be an African. Wainana is Kenyan, but he speaks to a more continental reality. In South Africa, in Ghana, in Nigeria, in Cameroon, in South Sudan and the CAR, we are lied to a lot. And so there is something that resonates when someone cuts through the ‘blah, blah’ and tells their truth.

 

“You write in order to change the world … if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change it.”

James Baldwin

A new homophobic law has passed. A gay man has been killed because he texted ‘I love U’ to someone he was hoping would return the sentiment. Another lesbian has been murdered on her way home from work because she looked too butch. Another president has declared that gay people are lower than pigs and dogs, that they are the product of “random breeding”.

The BBC is full of us. The narrative does not change. The African leaders we see with scrunched up hateful faces are backward. They oppress their people. They moan that the Western powers continue to colonise them. They look ridiculous when they do this, even though what they say is true. The West still rules us. We roll our eyes at their crocodile tears. David Cameron, whose conservatism is notorious, whose heart is not large, offers rational and calm advice to them: Mr. President, suspend the egregious law and release the activists who have been arrested. When he is the spokesperson of reason, you know you are in trouble.

And into this vortex of sound and fury, signifying nothing, floats the heartsong of Binyavanga Wainana. Wainana’s searingly gorgeous letter to his dead mother cuts through the blah blah drone to which we have become accustomed. ‘Homosexuality is un-African, No it’s not, Yes it is, No it’s not. Yes it is.’

No, it is not.

Binyavanga Wainana is not yet a household name. But he will be. In 2008, he wrote a hilarious and important essay called, “How to write about Africa.” The piece satirised the white gaze, and opened up a set of conversations that Africans had been having with one another for decades over roast meat and nsima and spaghetti and whatever it is that we have been eating since the end of colonialism. In a pithy faux style guide, Wainana articulated the arch intellectual irreverence of a new generation of Africans.

My favourite line in that early essay is contained in this instruction, “African characters should be colourful, exotic, larger than life—but empty inside, with no dialogue, no conflicts or resolutions in their stories, no depth or quirks to confuse the cause.”

Everything about Wainana’s coming out letter defies this false edict.

After reading his memoir in 2011, I spoke with a friend. We speculated about why he had decided not to talk about his sexuality in the book and then concluded that we understood. The heartache and drama of being out and gay everywhere in the world has not disappeared simply because gay marriage is legal in a few places.

So, when I saw that Wainana had decided to ‘come out’, I thought I knew what he would have to say. I thought it might be a political message addressing the state of affairs on the continent. It was, of course, this, but also so much more.

Binyavanga has managed to write a coming out letter that every African man should read – regardless of his sexuality. He has written a letter than anyone who loves African men should read, regardless of their sexuality. He has written a letter that anyone gay and anyone who loves anyone gay should read. He has written a letter that all homophobes and conservatives must read.

He has offered us a delicately spun clarion call. It is a whisper rather than bugle. It speaks richly to the complexity of being an African man.

Binyvanga’s words remind us that African people are not what the world tells us we are, that African men are not defined by the stereotypes they are fed. He reminds me of my brother-in-law, comfortably cradling my infant niece, changing her nappy, holding her close. He reminds me of lovers and brothers and friends – each as articulate and as feeling as Binyavanga – who folded me into themselves and unstuck me each time I found myself in a place that was sticky. He reminds me that it is easy to allow pathologised black masculinities to become the truth, even for those of us who know better.

When he was interviewed shortly after the letter was published four days ago, he said that he decided to write the letter because “people who live in societies where you are being lied to a lot, value truth.”

He is right. Wainana is Kenyan, but he speaks to a more continental reality. In South Africa, in Ghana, in Nigeria, in Cameroon, in the UK and in the US, we are lied to a lot. And so there is something that resonates when someone cuts through the ‘blah, blah’ and tells their truth.

In telling the whole truth, in refusing to do so in a simplistic manner, in addressing frontally the terrifying line between love and acceptance that so few of us ever dare to cross, in navigating the idiosyncrasies of his own unique persona, Wainana had shamed the liars who whip up hatred and write horrible laws, those who steal money and then deflect their crimes by mongering hate.

In so doing, he has reminded us that the truth shall set us free.

This article first appeared on the Daily Maverick:  http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2014-01-23-outing-the-liars-how-to-come-out-of-an-african-closet/#.UuIvULSxXIX