Early in the dark hours of the morning, I made a post on Maaternal.com that I was thinking of new words and letters. This is because lately, I’ve also been giving some thought to the context of transgression against oppression. Steven and I had some talks about various things many years ago, and he likened some cultural changes to Pandora’s box. Once the box is opened, as much as someone would like, there is no going back. Things have changed, and one has to simply cope with the world as it is with this new reality.
Once the invaders and human traffickers started messing with African sexuality, there was no returning to things as they were. We already had an ongoing struggle against the potential for oppressive patriarchy that was inherent in agricultural life, then urban life. We went from struggling to swamped with colonialism. Now that we’re starting to be in some kind of a recovery, we find ourselves with totally new words and a bit more freedom in some places and spaces, but something was still not quite right.
This thing sat on my soul a bit heavier when I decided to answer the question of how gender and sexual orientation is perceived in African spirituality. After a bit of research and asking actual Africans, I wrote the article. It was accurate, but something was still not quite right.
What wasn’t right, I realized, was the perception of gender as binary or non binary or a spectrum. There is still the problem of ends, one end male and the other end female, and everybody else is somehow in between. What makes a person who has both and maybe other bonding capabilities beyond biological or even extra biological capabilities somehow between?
What wasn’t right was that every place I looked that wasn’t specifically an African story, legend, or African person speaking of their experiences and how they experienced their sexuality or gender, -sexual was about a category of people one is attracted to, and -gender meant a category. All the categories were one end, the other end, or in between. I have never quite found myself in any of these lists.
Fully a woman when being ridden by a certain Orisha, but not so at other times? Nobody but Africans.
Fully a man when performing a function? Nobody but Africans.
African gender and sexuality is unique. It varies as much as African spirituality. It is connected to our spirituality, and sometimes this is for better or for worse. I think this is why homophobia/transphobia in African communities is so obviously harmful, yet seems automatic or inherent in the people who have it. I suspect that if their soul is under the Baalzvuvian thrall, it actually messes with their sexuality.
Admit it, conscious folks, this is how you figure out who’s really with us and who’s not. Oh and y’all exploitative ones who I know are out there reading my stuff hoping I don’t get calm enough to have mainstream appeal, y’all know this is how you pick your suckers. I see you.
now hear me out.
What if the reason some of us are so aggressive in our homophobia is unconscious understanding that
:: drumroll ::
The classifications and categories are oppressive.
What if, combined with things like historical trauma of being bred like cattle, raped all kinds of ways, and twisted up so much that pedophilia and other perversions are so rampant as to become almost normalized in de facto current and former colonies, we see “Gay” like we see “feminist”?
Take a moment.
I understand that I am a feminist, specifically a maternal feminist. I’m way ahead of most of my peers in this who understandably, keep to Africana Womanist, and I don’t judge or blame them. I only accepted the term because I am not living in the U.S. and am surrounded by enough pro sex, egalitarian African, Levantine, and Asian women that I understand it is a functioning, applicable label.
We have a kind of a joke here that there are no Israeli Lesbians between the ages of 25 and 40. It’s like women take a break to have kids although many are keeping their genitosimilar partners through their twenties these days. One of the options that enables them to do this is that there are amab people who are willing to shag the old fashioned way specifically for the purpose of making a baby. Some of these people are classified as Gay men. People do use sperm banks, but more often, folks just take one for the team because it’s less of a headache.
When you listen to non “white” people talk, including those of European ancestry who don’t like the color label cattle brand, there is plenty of discussion of same sex relationships. The reality that we live in defies any of the going narratives. I know dudes who are straight, but met that one guy. Same with women. People seem to get together all kinds of ways.
So where does it become oppressive? When it becomes political. When people can’t just live their reality because of a religion or because of a pseudoscientific mythology of rigidity that consciously everyone knows is wrong, but is maintained as a defensive response to the religious.
Now, I’m just going to be blunt: African gender and sexuality is unique in the way that we had cultures that could contain all the constellations. We had thousands of years of practice within stable agricultural and urban societies, and in our indigenous and derivative spiritualities, maintain that range. Every person on Earth though, has their own thing, and this should be respected. The boxes actually fit very few people. The old boxes and the new boxes are oppressive.
I’m not a man or a woman or something in between, though I do call myself a woman because I am afab and this is a label I am comfortable with when I am not on King duty at the moment. From having experienced hand to hand combat many times, I also understand that I do not fight like a small man. I fight like a warrior woman. So I know exactly when my inner gender sensation shifts.
I am not my gender though. I am a person. I have my own personal blend of classically masculine and classically feminine traits that are fun to speculate on, but do not constitute a box to put me in or limit me with.
I bond sexually. I bond emotionally with even more intensity. My hands, my legs, my face, my heart are all non genital sex organs. I am in what one could term romantic love with a few people, and in love with many people in a way that is not romantic, but very deep. To me. I am me. I am the only one I can truly speak for. No one else can truly speak for me.
We need to take more care with the boxes. I understand that unity and solidarity are important, but when we defend freedom, we need to be defending freedom. We should not be making people have to work hard to figure out what they are aside of human. Representation matters yes, but we are our selves, not our labels. We need to allow people to grow, shift, change, and just be. We need to be okay with people where they are. We need to stop this making people have to justify their existence. Explaining how stuff happened is for the scientists and doctors making sure people aren’t harming themselves. It’s not our business why someone wants a new arrangement of their hormones or bodies, or doesn’t. It’s not our business if someone ways born liking similarly arranged folks or if it was an acquired taste. People just need the freedom to have consensual relations without others getting in their business.
Eyes on the prize.
People are actually struggling with their demisexuality. Of all the things you’d think would be a breeze to discover about one’s self, you’d think that would be the least upsetting. Yet people are having issues with themselves because it is considered abnormal to need to trust someone to want to have sex with them.
Enough of this.
So I’m adopting GRITS as my new term for people who don’t fit the usual western gender and orientation norms. I am not going to impose this on others or try to make it a thing. I’m just putting this out there to show that there are possibilities that exist at least in personal writing style or dialogue. So people know what I mean when I am talking about my “alphabet people”. This is how I see folks. I don’t care why or how when I am facing a human. I just need to know how I can love them and help them, and I need them to tell me and for me not to filter that through someone else’s narrative.
If you have something to say, feel free. I’m curious to see how others see these things.
Blessings and Ashé!