Reflections on the implications of Religious Faith for African Gays and Lesbians (Part 2)

We have for decades denied the existence of homosexuality in the African community. It has been shrouded with secrecy and linked with occultism. It was considered an abomination beyond redemption, a taboo incomprehensive and a disability by the nature of God, therefore God’s answer and punishment is venereal diseases.

The expectation of African parents for all children is the same – an investment in their future to produce offspring, improve their economic and societal status. A male child is expected to lead, uphold the family name and bear the future generation. Females are properties to be sold for a dowry price. I must say that things are changing, but so far for LGBTI children, they expect us to settle into a heterosexual relationship, or at least be silent on the issues of sexual orientation and gender identity

Exorcism and religious homophobia was the answer to the curing of homosexuality. In March 2009, EXODUS International USA made a trip to Uganda in collaboration with Family Life Network and offered the cure. I believe that these destructive patterns will leave LGBTI people, our friends, allies and relatives more confused and damaged by these atrocious claims and deliberate attempt to dehumanise us. More

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Reflections on the implications of Religious Faith for African Gays and Lesbians (Part 1)

The journey to reconcile sexuality and spirituality has never been an easy voyage, nor will the world around us facilitate such an easy path. The construct of understanding sexuality is mired with the audacity and ferocity of the dominance of religion; this often makes it less easy for those who already struggle with their sexual orientation – and in many cases sampled with my own experiences, the challenges of finding the right balance or footing.

As a person of faith who is gay, the acknowledgement of my Christian faith and the fight to remain within this community continues to be a challenge. I have to accept many times the crown of being a pioneer and leading people to an inclusive and loving God has not come easily, but at a terrible price that often not only questions my faith as a Christian, but those who claim to be Christians too.

Many people like myself often give up, and there is no doubt that statistics around the globe show a high rise in mental cases and illnesses of those who are unable to find a resting place on the issues that dogged and ache. The terrible ways in which many gay people have been treated by Christians, question the teaching of Jesus, that says “love thy neighbour as thy self”, unless of course if the neighbour is a homosexual, then it would be justifiable to hate and or kill them. More

Wrestling with Shadows, whilst Searching for God (Part 1)

2002 was such a significant year for me. An intimate relationship had come to an end and I found myself confronted with old wounds from the past. I was in the process of  letting-go of a series of close, yet unsatisfying, friendships. I had also had a fall whilst on holiday that Spring, which had led to major surgery on my left eye. As part of my inquiry into the physical and emotional wounds I was bearing, I found myself visiting Nigeria after an absence of almost 14 years. At the time, I felt that in order to move forward, I needed to retrace my steps. Prior to the visit, I had reached the conclusion that something was still broken in my life; despite trying to cover ‘it’ up in so many different ways – via career, relationships, friends, travel and ‘stuff’. In my inquiry, I decided that there was one place that had not yet been fully searched – the Spiritual Path. Therefore, on my return from Nigeria in Autumn 2002, I joined the Interfaith Seminary and a new chapter of my life began.

One of the exercises I had to do as part of the entry into the Seminary was to write a ‘Reflections on my personal religious experience, my spiritual journey and what led me to join the Interfaith Seminary’. I have not looked at the reflections I wrote, since 2002. Reading it the other day, brought to mind the shadows I have wrestled (and in some cases, continue to wrestle), whilst longing and searching for the Divine. I share with you here, the unedited reflections. I have resisted the temptation to edit the piece, with a view to gloss over some aspects of my journey. For I am gradually learning that there is something so powerful and transformational in simply telling it, as it was then. And that its okay to feel whatever emotions come up – the highs, the lows and everything in between; those emotions are simply shadows and when I shine the light on them – by sharing my story consciously and authentically – those shadows simply disappear in the light.

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The Paradox of Religion & Faith

Religion has in the past played an integral part of my life and has significantly impacted on how my sexuality and sexual orientation has evolved. Religion (Christianity and Islam) has impacted on who I am and how I continue to live my life to a certain degree; and the choices that I have made, and continue to make.

In my opinion, the West African culture, (Nigerian culture to be specific to me) intertwines religion, faith and spirituality (be it Christianity or Islam or other traditional worshipping) with being ethical and moral. Hence, due to my religious upbringing (my dad is a Christian and my mum is a Muslim), I would suggest that this made me get married to a female and have a family; and initially suppress and fight against who I truly am. More

Emerging from our Family and the Release of our Authentic Self

I was sharing stories with a close friend a few weeks ago. We were both talking about our life journey and the events that have led us to be the people we are today. We shared stories about our families and the paradox of our love for them, combined with our strong desire to walk away from their embrace, when we came to the realisation (and acceptance) that their embrace came with many conditions attached. One condition being that they accepted us only when we played along with their desired perception of ourselves.

They had accepted our false self, during that time in our life when we had denied our true self, by refusing to step forward and stand openly with pride, as same gender loving men. In our conversation, we talked about the various masks we had worn over the years; yearning to be accepted & belong, and at the same time, longing to release our authentic self and live our own life.

As we shared stories, I recollected a verse from the bible in Luke 14:26  where Jesus says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple”. Whilst I do not, at this point in my life, subscribe to an organised religion, I do recognise the wisdom that is contained in the many traditions and world faiths. That was one of the things that drew me to becoming an Interfaith Minister – anyway, I digress and that’s all another story. Back to the verse….. More

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