We can see much of the same narrative playing out in the old world, where for example in French-speaking northern and western Africa, homosexuality is often referred to as la maladie des blancs, the white people’s disease.

In northern Africa, however, we have a great deal of documentation recording prevalent homosexual behavior centuries before European colonization. In fact, a great deal of Arabic language gazelle poetry from the Islamic Abbasid dynasty of the 8th through the 13th centuries glorifies northern-African male/male sexual intimacy. (Evident early-Islamic tolerance of homosexuality is perhaps a different and quite controversial subject.)

In sub-saharan western Africa, we see much the same thing — the assumption that cultural opposition to homosexuality and gender variance is traditional rather than imported. Cardinal Robert Sarah of the Vatican even co-opts the language of the Left in decrying support for LGBTQ rights as “colonialism.”

But just who colonized what?

Scholars are increasingly pointing out that tolerance of gender and and sexual diversity was built in to many indigenous African cultures, and that strong intolerance did not begin to grow until after European cultural dominance took root.

I’m fascinated by your references to indigenous American cultures. Thanks for all the links. I hope to dig around and learn more!

Written by

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot. jamesfinnwrites@gmail.com

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