Debunking the myths: Is Homosexuality, Bisexuality or Transsexualism Un-African or Unnatural?

Homosexuality has existed from time immemorial, as far back as when same-sex persons ever came in contact. Africa is said to be the cradle of human race, it therefore can be logically inferred that homosexuality started in Africa, before human race started migrating to other places to spread its branches in different colours, shapes and sizes.   

 326924_2116765247425_1494540329_31789398_184925909_oMany African cultures and religions viewed Homosexuals and Transgender persons as gods, they were revered before intolerant religions and cultures started flourishing. It was the advent of colonisation and the import of foreign laws like Sodomy laws that brought Homophobia and intolerance into many African societies. I say “African societies” with a consciousness that AFRICA is not a monolithic society as it consists of many diverse ethnicities and cultures and therefore there is no monolithic, African culture. 

 Many Africans became intolerant of homosexuality and transsexuals only after foreign religions were326692_2116759527282_1494540329_31789393_1245271711_o imposed on them. In many African cultures, homosexuals and transsexuals were revered and worshiped as spirits of the gods. Sango, the Yoruba god of thunder was often described as a beautiful man who dressed like a woman, had his hair braided and accessorized like a woman. Sango priests, all men, still dress in women apparels when performing traditional rituals. Now tell me that is un-African!

 Anthropologists have found evidence that homosexuality was widely tolerated in many parts of pre-colonial Africa. For example, EE Evans-Pritchard reported that until the practice died out in the early 20th century, male Azande warriors in the northern Congo routinely married male youths who functioned as temporary wives.

Also, in Uganda, some members of the Buganda royal family suggest that homosexuality was existent and tolerated before colonial rule. To this day, it is said that many members of the Buganda royal family are gay. 

In Nigeria, Calabar women are not only famed for their sexual prowess, many are also known lesbians and bisexuals, and I say this from personal experience. The fact that matriarchy is a cultural institution in Calabar could be a contributing factor to the sexual freedom of Calabar women. Unfortunately, with the advent of Christianity, the Catholic church has a stronghold in Calabar area. Which might explain why my ex girlfriend could give me mind blowing orgasms just before heading off to Mass but freaks out when called a lesbian. It could be all that repressed sexuality and catholic guilt. 

In fact, Matriarchy was and is still strong in Calabar, Nigeria In the absence of a male child, the eldest daughter in the family is culturally allowed to marry another woman.  She is allowed to choose a man whose sole duty is to impregnate the chosen wife. The eldest daughter is considered as the husband, she gets to keep the child, who also bears her family name. No one can say for certain what goes on behind closed doors once ‘husband’ and wife retires to their bedroom; the possibility of the couple getting cosy is quite high.

Northern parts of Nigeria e.g. Kano and Kaduna, are homes to many gays and effeminate men  (effeminate does not mean gay).  Homosexuality was openly practiced before Sharia Law came with its threats of stoning homosexuals to death! 199435_209011482458250_122256581133741_812221_5704429_n cropped

 I am Proudly African and I am mystified whenever I am accused of “promoting and defending European sexual perversity” (whatever that means). In fact from various historical paintings on Ancient Africans walls, our ancestors enjoyed homo-sex, affection and love and that was one reason Christian missionary colonizers immediately imported their sodomy laws into our constitutions; they imported homophobia because they thought our free loving ancestors were barbarians who indulged in same sex loving! If none was going on, there would have been no need to import that law. Just get over it, our ancestors engaged in same sex banging. 

SDC15091No culture is superior to the other. African, European, Asian, American or Jewish, none is superior to the other. Learning about my history does not mean I should cherry-pick only the part that suits me. I love African hospitality, I love the community spirit, I value the extended family support, I love the African braids and dressing but I do not value genital mutilation, I abhor women not having inheritance rights especially land, I am ashamed of child marriage and the fact that twins were once killed by some groups in my culture.  I cannot shy away from these problems that are part of my inherited culture, which is why as a feminist; I am fighting for equal rights for all. I am a proud African but I recognise that there is no perfect culture.

Alien to Africa?

Many often claim that Homosexuality is Alien to Africa. Can someone please show me the proof? I am an African, I am bisexual, I was bisexual before I ever met any white person or stepped foot on any European shore, so does this mean I am a fake African?

As Africans, we should learn about our history beyond what was fed us in missionary schools. Africa is the cradle of humanity; homosexuality existed since time immemorial, which logically means it started from Africa before some members of the human race migrated to other continents for greener pasture. 

Sodomy law is a foreign import; it is a relic from the colonial era which former British coloDSC_0956nies inherited. The law, like most old colonial British laws, had a very high religious influence, the name of the law itself points to its biblical origin. Britain has since repealed Sodomy laws in its homeland, unfortunately Nigeria and many other African countries still cling to this antiquated law and many now think it is an African homegrown law.

 Unfortunately, colonisation and mental slavery continue in Africa through the heavy influence of evangelical missionaries who, having lost considerable ground in their western countries to Equality Rights Laws, have now invaded African churches and are inciting members against homosexuals. The evangelicals are also sponsoring bills against homosexuals in African countries.  Some of these churches are particularly from the USA.

 The upsurge of homophobic bills springing up all over Africa is actually a calculated sponsored mission of foreign religious fanatics. The religious groups in Nigeria came to the public hearing of the bill with inciting placards and even threatened to beat up the few LGBTI defenders that attended the hearing. Whatever happened to the commandment, “Love Thy Neighbor’?

I sure love this video of sex initiation of young men by older men in Sambia tribe in Papua Guinea.  Also below is a video clip of an Igbo cross dresser who used to play before an accepting Igbo community audience and also performed before royalty. It gives a very warm glow, a reminiscence of how tolerant dear Africa used to be. A cross dresser performing before royalty without being stoned to death?  Wow, now that is my Africa, the one I love. That was how tolerant our people were before homophobia and its religious fundamentalists took hold of our culture! The people were only interested in the talent not how s/he dressed!  As a Nigerian, I know that if it were to be Igbo community of today; this person would likely be beaten up if not stoned to death for daring to dress like a woman

 The acceptance and tolerance shown by the Igbo cross dresser’s audience in the video above was common amongst African communities, but i shudder to  imagine what would happen to a cross dresser in many communities or even town centers in Nigeria today.

NiankhThis picture of two black men kissing – ‘Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum’ were ancient Egyptian royal servants and are believed by some to be the first recorded same-sex couples in history. It is the only tomb in the necropolis where men are displayed embracing and holding hands. In addition, the men chosen names form a linguistic reference to their closeness: Niankhkhnum means “joined to life” and Khnumhotep means “joined to the blessed state of the dead'”, and together the names can be translated as “joined in life and joined in death””


 “Normativity” is a social construct; it is neither biological nor medical. ‘Hetereo-normativity” may be the norm but that does not mean it is the only type of relationship that exists or is natural.

Once upon a time, killing of twins, child marriage and female circumcision were considered normal in some parts of Africa. Also women contesting elections, inheriting lands and properties were once considered abnormal in many parts of Africa.

Humans are continuously evolving socially and politically to create new norms. Most importantly, we must recognise that some rights are inalienable rights, and all human beings are entitled to these rights by virtue of being HUMAN irrespective of gender, birth, race or sexual orientation. 

What is normal today might become abnormal tomorrow but what I am born with e.g. my sexual orientation remains an integral part of me whether the society or even I, accept it or not. Sexual orientation differs but just like skin or eye colour, none is superior to the other.

 What is normal to me might not be normal to you, for example, I am attracted to all gender, that is natural to me, but this might be unnatural to you. Being bisexual to me is as natural as being left-handed is to a left-handed person. I am attracted to a person irrespective of sex or gender identity. Homosexuality or Bisexuality is a natural part of nature that is present in many of the species on planet earth. 

 Many claim that anal sex is unnatural. What consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedrooms is no business of the law or any other individual. Many heterosexuals engage in anal sex, it is not an exclusive copyright of gays. Also, many heterosexual men love oral sex and yes some women do enjoy engaging in oral sex with their lovers. It can also be argued that it is unnatural for the Penis to be inserted in a woman’s mouth, just the same way you can argue that a man’s tongue is not meant to give pleasure to a woman’s’ clitoris or down below. Many perform fellatio on 289874_2116755047170_1494540329_31789385_373721245_otheir partners and don’t find anything wrong in the act. Do we say it is wrong because that is not the original purpose of the mouth or tongue?

Unfortunately, many of our schools still teach the missionary method (Sorry, no pun intended!) Anyway, the missionary schools are not known for teaching the main facts about sex or even acknowledge there is such a thing as Sexual Orientation.   

 Procreation: A gay problem?

 Many still argue that same sex relationship is unnatural because a man cannot get pregnant, but let’s think about this; 

  • “Is marriage or sexual relationship only acceptable for the sole purpose of procreation? 
  • Should an infertile, heterosexual person not be allowed to marry? 
  • Should we stop old people who are in their menopausal age from getting married? 
  • Should we make marriage or sexual relationship illegal for fertile opposite sex partners who out of choice decide not to have children?

Not all relationships or marriages are entered into for the purpose of procreation. With advanced technological development in reproductive health, adoption, surrogacy and IVF are only some of the many options available to same sex couples. 

When same sex couples decide not to add to the dangerously growing 7 billion human population of planet earth, or/and decide to adopt a child instead of biologically making one, they are being thoughtful and should be commended for their Eco-friendly action!

 Uncomfortable and non acceptable? 

Many claim431113_10150724285821873_1364044231_n they are uncomfortable with homosexuality or bisexuality. Actually, I do not ask people to be comfortable with the idea of who I am sleeping with or having a relationship with, I believe this is solely the business of the parties involved and not the business of the state or any other outsider.

I might not be comfortable with polygamy, polyandry or even like the idea of marriage, but I recognised that it is not my business to stop consenting adults from entering into consensual relationship. Adults do not need my approval to love, date or marry, just like I do not need another person’s approval to love date or marry my consensual adult same sex partner.
The people that matter in any relationship, whether same sex or heterosexual, are the people IN the relationship. If they are comfortable in their relationship and cause no one no harm, they are entitled to their rights, dignity, respect of person, right to privacy and the right to found a family if they so wish. It is not about what the norm is in a society; it is about equal rights for ALL.

Homosexuality is not a cultural value of the west, homosexuals in the west fought for the right not to be discriminated against; freedom is not given freely by the oppressors but demanded by the oppressed. 

Anyone truly interested in fighting foreign imports should start by fighting against intolerance and 199435_209011482458250_122256581133741_812221_5704429_n croppedhomophobia, because these are the real crimes of religion. African histories via wall paintings indicate that homosexuality was tolerated in some part of Africa.  I do not know of any ancient African paintings depicting homosexuals being stoned to death, but we have quite a few showing homosexuals in endearing light.  Learn your history, take the positive and move on from the negative, most importantly let us leave a better culture for the next generation because We Are All Creators Of Culture. 

 SDC15088The argument that any sexual act or relationship that deviates from the standard heterosexual norm is against  African culture is using “Culture” to sanction the erasure of dialogue about alternative sexualities and to condone homophobia, therefore constituting a form of cultural violence. A society that stifles sexual and gender identities discourages the recognition of human dignity. LGBTI rights are human rights.

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  1. CaitieCat says

    What an excellent post! I learned a great deal, thank you. I hadn’t thought before (my privilege showing) of the colonialist aspect of sodomy laws in African cultures, so that’s a very important piece to learn today. So glad you’ve joined FTB!

    • Yemisi Ilesanmi says

      Thanks CaitieCat, glad to know you found it useful. Yes, many never really thought about Sodomy law and the fact that it was imported into British colonies. Without the Sodomy law in Nigeria and most African countries, there wouldn’t be any existing law criminalizing LGBTs.The legislators would have to enact the laws, as they are now trying to do to further criminalize LGBTs, but at least we wouldn’t have inherited a law that criminalized us. And we would have fought the new legislation as we are fighting it now, with international solidarity. Unfortunately with colonial Sodomy law, we never stood a chance. To stand a chance of getting it repealed, we have to challenge the sodomy law through tedious and expensive court process. Sad.

  2. says

    Excellent and lovely historical article =)

    I have a bit of a nitpick though, just a bit: crossdressers are not what is known nowadays as TS (Transsexual). They are included in the umbrella category of transgender but they are very much men who never identified as anything other than men, generally, although sometimes there are bi-genders trasngeder people amongst.

    I’m not a TS separatist by any means, but I think this article sums up the differences quite well (ignore the mean sounding parts to get the core of information):

    I for one was coercively assigned male from birth. I transitioned almost two years ago, and I never, since I was born, remember identifying as male. In fact, as a small child, I actually insisted I was a girl several times, and this started a process of my father beating me ruthlessly, systematically, and viciously, every time I said I was a girl, or limped my wrist, or wanted to associate with cisgirls, or cried. It was extremely traumatic stuff. Crossdresser males (unless they are bigender transpeople) typically don’t have these experiences unless they are the straight transsexual woman in denial thinking they are a gay crossdresser male, and there are more than a few of those.

    I just had to nitpick here, because I think people see crossdressing men like Eddie Izard and think “Oh isn’t he a wonderful transsexual woman!” When the reality is Eddie Izard is actually a guy, and is totally ok with people referring to him as he. Transsexual women such as myself however, will actually stop associatin, to various degrees, with people from the main culture, who insist we are just crossdresser males and actively use male pronouns even though we are not male and, in many cases (I know in my own) never even identified as male.

    Just a nitpick, but a great article you wrote there =)

    • Yemisi Ilesanmi says

      Thanks Sleepingwytch. I assure you, I very well understand your point, and the difference between transgender, transsexual and cross dressers. I hesitate to refer to anyone as Transvestite because of the negative clinical/social connotations. The crossdressers refer to in this article were not Transsexuals.

      -Sango, the Yoruba God of Thunder was famed to have married the River goddess, Oya. His gender identity was never that of a woman, nor his sexuality portrayed as homosexual. It is just amazing how his crossdressing never attracted negative attention. Up till today, his worshipers, ALL MALE, still dress in women apparels when performing rituals.

      -The Igbo cross dresser in the video, to the best of my knowledge, never identified as a transgender. I would hesitate to assign a pronoun to a cross dresser who has not indicated that they identify as another gender different from their birth sex. Cross dressing does not automatically translate to gender identity or sexual orientation.

      Your essay raised very important points concerning treatment of Transfolks in the society, we must continue to create awareness to effect attitudinal change.

      • says

        Excellent, I expected this response and you are quite astute. I admire cross dressing men actually, in a lot of ways, because, having been in an elite infantry unit at one point in time, and not actually having identified as a man but being around those kind of men, I can appreciate the courage and conviction that cross dressers in our society would have to have to even put on a dress, let alone in public. They may not face nearly the difficulties we as transsexual women face (or GQ people and trans people in general), but they still face serious problems. It is so refreshing to learn of societies where these types of men can just be themselves in their own dress constantly. I certainly feel like such a society would produce far more interesting and varied men, and I would so love a society where they could do that and the crossdressing women could dress as the men and nobody cared.

        In fact, a society where cismales crossdressed just like I do, or close enough, would be an incredible society, and a society where ciswomen crossdressed like cowboys and sailors, would be pretty incredible. The societies you describe are very incredible and inspiring and I am learning much =)

  3. says

    The acceptance and tolerance shown by the Igbo cross dresser’s audience in the video above was common amongst African communities, but i shudder to imagine what would happen to a cross dresser in many communities or even town centers in Nigeria today.

    Now, I dunno about crossdressing males, although I imagine their fate would be somewhat similar but, as far as transwomen go we generally get stalked, harassed, and then murdered by either the police force or religious militia or packs of organized bigots, in 3rd world and or muslim countries. Generally speaking. I know people like to point to Iran but Iran is a huge exception for transpeople. Also, tbh, if crossdressing men get the label trans, crossdressing women really should too. I think there is a perception in this culture that either transsexual women are either crossdressing gay men in denial or we are crossdressing men who just like to dress differently. The reality is we are merely women and were crossdressers before we transitioned

    Here’s the thing about all of this stalking, harassment, death threats, raping, and murder stuff in Muslim and third world countries: it rarely gets reported there because it’s so banal and commonplace, and the largely transphobic media over here usually doesn’t think to report it, and, when it DOES happen there and get reported, it’s usually like the religious police bragging they found a ‘female impersonator’.

    Now the dirty little secret as that this type of thing actually kind of happens in the 1st world too, all the time in fact. It’s just kept super hush hush by police, and usually the deaths of transwomen become reported in the media, and have traditionally, as merely the death of a crossdresser male of some sort, when it was actually the death of a woman who so happened to be trans. This is a way for the media to play pretend (traditionally) that transphobic murders don’t happen: if we’re all just crossdressing men in denial then there are no transpeople to be murdered. The same dynamic is at play in the Islamic world, and, tbh, I’m really not so sure the reality there is that much different than, I’m just, we’re one of the most marginalized minorities in the world so I’m just really not sure about that, and I don’t think LEO keep enough statistics on trans hate crimes to determine what the patterns are yet. Did you know that 2013 is now the first year that the FBI has ever started recording trans deaths? Most of this society refuses to acknowledge that we even exist.

    And Kuwait is fairly enlightened compared to most Muslim countries…

    Also, sex dysphoria, sex dysphoria aka gender orientation: ever since I can remember (three years old) I know that my outside body did not match the mental map in my head (born in wrong body) and I had a sense of self that I identified strictly with cisgirls.

    Here is how that plays out scientifically:

    Crossdress males (actual males) don’t have that experience, also, if you’ve seen my photos, I don’t “crossdress” precisely because I am a woman, and I dress as I dress all the time, 24/7, and refuse to touch male clothes in fact. If I wore male clothes then yes, I would crossdress. As it is, how I dress now is usually just considered retro I think.

    Many claim431113_10150724285821873_1364044231_n they are uncomfortable with homosexuality or bisexuality. Actually, I do not ask people to be comfortable with the idea of who I am sleeping with or having a relationship with, I believe this is solely the business of the parties involved and not the business of the state or any other outsider

    I am bisexual too, and while I was once Lesbian identified, I ran into this culture (link below) so many times that I no longer say I am Lesbian identified, and probably never will again actually, even if my sexual attraction goes from 90% other women 10% everyone else (men, third gender, gq, etc) to 100% other women, I just can’t see myself ever using the term Lesbian again. I think for me it’s definitely bisexual from here on out. I just encountered way too much of this culture in offline/meatspace, spaces, wherever I would go: (Culture I ran into)

    I learned an awful lot about African culture I never knew, thanks so much again for sharing! =)

    • Yemisi Ilesanmi says

      My heart breaks at the intolerance and cruelty shown towards Transsexuals, transgender and believe me cross dressers too. Why anyone would think it is their business to harass and torment another for their non harmful lifestyle choice or identity is always beyond me. Even if we do not understand something or someone, it is no excuse to cause harm or inflict injury on them.

      Just a few weeks ago, an intersex was almost lynched in a market, in a part of Nigeria. He was stripped naked, beaten and was about to be burnt before the police came and whisked him away. People were busy taking pictures of his naked body and hanging boobs as he sat helpless on the market street, surrounding by angry mob itching to lynch him.Needless to say NO ONE was arrested for that inhuman act, the intersex was the one who was treated like a criminal and had to spend time in detention.

      My heart still breaks when i remember that look of nonchalant defiance on his face. This was a man who had spent the greater part of his life hiding the fact that he has some female features, he had moved from one spiritualist to another seeking help for his condition, he was subject of blackmail from wicked people who capitalized on the ignorance of others. And that “DO your worse” look on his face as he sat naked on the market floor, treated like a freak, more than anything broke my heart.

      Here is a link to the article on his story,

      Beware the picture could trigger emotions. I am hoping to get contact details so he can be linked with an intersex group that has shown interest in his case.

      Just saying, in some countries like Nigeria, cross dressing is enough to earn you the tag GAY, no one wants to hear about gender identity or the difference. To many, cross dressing equals gay and gay is bad, therefore let’s lynch them, if we are lenient, we will put them in jail for 14 years.

      Watching this video of this Igbo crossdresser, I just wonder, how did it all go so wrong so fast? And my first answer would be RELIGION and the role of the evangelicals who preach hate against LGBTs. Such a shame!

      • says

        Ahh yes, I forgot to mention intersexed people. That story you described is far too common in those countries for trans, intersex, GQ, agendered, third gender. Over here we still get murdered, but the cops look the other way or aid the murderers at times even, and sweep it under the rug.

        I think there is an idea that people in the first world in ‘mainstream society’ care about trans and intersex folks, because somehow ‘first world’ so they must. The reality is that is actually largely not the case for transfolk (especially transwomen, most especially) in our society.

        Three transwomen murdered in april alone. Granted they’re not being hung in the public square, but the understanding cops give to SK’s (serial killers) they’ve blackmailed is that they can ‘clean us out’ as long as they’re quiet. How do I know this? I read too much, draw all the right conclusions. Cops let SK’s ‘take out the trash’ in society a LOT, and that most certainly includes us as transwomen. SK’s and religious bigots are actually allowed to freely have their way with us as transwomen as long as they don’t make a huge fuss and provoke media attention.

        As those articles show, those three women were murdered. This society perceives me as a Person of Color, an African-American in fact, when I am not African-American (although very proud of my transisters who are). It’s a very dangerous time in this society to be a transwoman and a person of color, I think you would agree grimly enough.

        Here is the other perspective that often doesn’t get heard and I’m just going to have to say it: the dead don’t suffer. If I had to pick between being thrown in jail willy nilly for having the wrong skin color and then thrown into solitary confinement (which is where 90+% of trans inmates go, for our ‘protection’ they say; I’ll choose getting bagged by an SK or hung from a tree with people mocking me. Why? Because Solitary confinement is actually a form of torture ( ) and ( )…Why would I want to get tortured and raped in Solitary for years? This society is a prison society and a police state, that prolongs the misery of trans peoples’ lives while doing little to help us get our medically necessary surgeries and forcefully mutilating the genitals of intersex people. At least the other society is honest and quicker: not tormenting us longer and stalking us methodically before killing us while the cops look the other way or even participate in the killings themselves (they do that here in the 1st world). In this society transwomen like me are kept alive, taunted and fucked with by roving packs of bigots methodically, online and offline, and then thrown in jail for years in solitary for trivial things invented by cops, raped in SHU’s by prison guards everyday, sometimes multiple times a day, for years on end. Then let out, stalked and murdered by SK’s or cops themselves. What kind of existence is that? Empirically, way more trauma is going on there than being hung on a tree by honest assholes who kill you right away. I don’t suffer if I’m dead.

        It’s controversial for me to say it, but it’s the truth.

  4. says

    Why thank you kind sir =) I think YEMMYnisting is going to be a very invigorating and astute presence here as well as quasi-revolutionary in her educational and awareness efforts. It is a pleasure, surely, for my mind to engage hers, as well it makes me feel happy you are learning from our discourses Comrade :+)

  5. says

    Also, should you desire more statistics, you can find them here:


    and here:

    Those are three 1st tier quality statistical pdf’s, that are quite relevant to the empirical claims and scenarios described in my posts during my discourses with Yemmy earlier.

  6. smrnda says

    This reminds me of an experience I had in college where I was in a class reading ancient Chinese literature. The prof told the class, mostly addressing the Chinese students, that even though claims are made that homosexuality is alien to Chinese culture and existed only as an import from somewhere else, that here, in literature more than 2500 years old, was homosexuality among Chinese men. It was good to be there since it seems like there’s a massive amount of evidence that homosexuality has gone on everywhere.

    • says

      That’s usually the claim made by Evangelicals upholding the WASP puritan ethic that itself was a colonialist import from Great Britain. We know of course because the Evangelicals and all their allies in the military constantly spread homophobia and transphobia through innocent looking ‘NGO’s’ that successfully convince African societies (and other societies) that somehow homosexaulity and transgender, and gender non conforming people, are this Decadent Western Import (TM) when in reality it’s the precise opposite of course; the NGO’s supported by evangelicals ARE the Import of Puritan WASP ethic which itself was a colonist import from Great Britain.

      The deception these evangelicals running these NGO’s operate on starts first and foremost with them convincing themselves of their own lies. They are the very definition of useful idiots for people with capitalist imperialist ambitions who are far smarter than them and use them as mere pawns in their global games of imperialist chess…

  7. says

    Also, on the subject of crossdressing men, for some reason, when I think of crossdressing men in our American culture, I usually associate it with this:

    Having been in an elite infantry unit with Infantry as my MOS (11bravo) in the Active Army (3rd US INF TOG “The Old Guard”) I generally find that the way crossdressing men play out in our society is through extreme hyper masculinity to the point where no one will mess with them, dress or not. Why? Because I knew more than a few when I was in that unit who were definitely the crossdressing types, and they were definitely bad motherfuckers. Granted not transwomen (they were definitely men), and they typically only crossdressed while doing fetish things with their GF, but they were totally crossdresser types. These CD males were my best friends while I was in that unit…I never went through a phase where I considered myself to be a CD male, because my gender identity and sex/body dysphoria issues started from the age of three or so (basically as early as I could remember) but I felt WAY safer around the CD type in our culture. Unlike Transsexual Separatists, I have a good appreciation for Crossdresser men and very much so see them as important allies in the Transgender Cause and fight. In fact, when it was found out in the Military Ward that I was transsexual, after spending 4 months on the mental wards, in severe and extremegender dysphoria, being told I was delusional by the psychiatrists, it was these same crossdresser men that protected me, subtly, when I got back to our Infantry unit…

    I can see that there is a much more elegant crossdressing that occurs in these african societies you have mentioned here Yemmy, it’s quite interesting.

    I reposted this here because I posted this in another area by accident. I am new to this format, it can be so confusing sometimes 😐

  8. bruce says

    Hi Yemisi, thanks for this great post. You and your commenters have brought up a lot of good points.
    I especially want to thank you for bringing up the analogy of being left-handed. I think that’s a great way to start explaining things to people who are new to discussing all of this. We all know now that prejudice against left-handers was bigoted primitive superstition. Even though they might learn to use the right hand, it would never be natural for them, and it makes no sense to care if others are left handed or not. Saying lefties are sinister is just laughable now. In a decade or two, we should expect the same on sexuality or gender issues. It’s just an embarrassment that back in 2013 some people used to worry about others orientation. Who even notices if their friends are left-handed? We still aren’t sure why handedness happens, but we are sure that nobody cares. How is anything else different! Thanks again.

    • Yemisi Ilesanmi says

      Hi Bruce, thanks and you are welcome.

      I remember a not so long time ago when parents would fret about their children being left handed, they’d spend precious time trying to teach their left-handed children to write with the right hand. Mothers and teachers would even beat left handed children in an effort to make them comply with the accepted right handedness! But nowadays, who cares? However I am sure those who suffered such brutality because of the ignorance of others including their loved ones still feel the pain of non acceptance because of something that was not a fault of theirs and which should not even be seen as a fault. Unfortunately, there are still places where left handedness is still seen as demonic or a disability.

      But as much as those kind of places are becoming a thing of the past, so also shall the number of places where something as natural as being gay, bisexual or Trans is seen as demonic or non acceptable would also decrease and hopefully go into extinction.

      We do not have to totally understand why someone is different from us before we totally accept them and embrace our differences. So far we harm no other by being true to ourselves, we deserve total acceptance for who we are.

  9. says

    I think that this is an excellent, well written piece of bullshyt……….

    However it all makes sense concidoring the fact that u pride yourself as an atheist……thats all atheistic view right there…… from south africa, and i hv done my own research on the matter, we never had homosexuals in our culture, from Zulu’s, xhosa’s down to the basotho people

    Maybe in Nigeria or congo or whatever…………

    The african culture values the family structure,

  10. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    AubreyMo What did you use as your research tools, cowries?

    South Africa is not about your Zulu village, and Africa is not just about South Africa. You even contradicted yourself when you acknowledged that Homosexuality was practiced

    Maybe in Nigeria or congo or whatever

    Are these places not parts of Africa? So what makes this a

    well written piece of bullshyt

    Glad you know that

    The african culture values the family structure

    but I doubt if you have the brains to comprehend that ‘FAMILY STRUCTURES differs from one African community to the other. Also, hate is not an African Family value.

    Go back to your research but this time do not use cowries as research tools, at least not if you want to post your research findings on my space. Save such for your beer parlor discussions.

  11. says

    1st of all, i do not seek to speak for Afrika as a whole, coz if i did i would be found lying (like u), i can only speak abt what’s in my own backyard, hence i said IN SOUTH AFRIKA……..

    And what is a “zulu village” again?

    ” What did you use as your research tools, cowries?”

    No stupid, Oral tradition dear, u know about it right??? i did not get it from “missionary schools” or Google or wikipidea or history books written by colonaizers ……

    great kingdoms in the southern hemisphere like Shaka,(zulu kingdom ), Moshoeshoe(sotho kingdom ) etc, long even before colonaizers came into our shores, NEVER entertained such abhorrent behavior, AND THEY WERE NOT CHRISTIANS OR MUSLIMS ? How cool is that!! 🙂

    Its such a shame that primitive Afrikans understood the real reason for marriage and family, and the “modern ” ones dont even have a clue………..”

    U claim to be a proud “african”, however:
    -- u are an athiest
    -- u are a feminist
    -- and worse of all u are a lesbian……….

    All of the above are character traits of Afro-negropeans, (u know mos, brown on the ouside, but white and liberated on the interior ), hence u stay in london, u detached from Afrika maam, u don’t know what does it mean to be Afrikan………

    Let us AFRIKAN brown beautiful children of the soil school you:

    * Afrikans are spiritual people, therefore being an Athiest is out of the question, (the concept of Athiesm came with the same people who support evolution, white supremacy, wars, and racism ,…people u find in your current backyard UK)

    * the afrikan man is the protector of his family, he is the head, he is a father, he leads his family with wisdom and love. He cannot do it alone though, he ofcoz has to have his afrikan queen by his side, guarding him and together they rise their OWN offspring, and they’re part of a beautiful Afrikan community. I refer to the man as a head of the family intentionally because i know that patriarchy drives feminists insane.
    Feminism is unafrikan and it has no place in it. I think u smart enough to understand that the absence of feminism in Afrikan culture does not equal abuse right??. Abusive men are malfunctioning men who do not understand what does it mean to be both a man and a husband.

    *a lesbian is a useless woman who has no value in afrikan view or society, she cannot be a wife or mother (can but won’t ), she cannot be given in marriage by her parents because she will prove useless, she is a woman who swaps a live dick for a lifeless dildo or another cunt like hers……..i can go on……”but lesbians my dear were NEVER part of the afrkan culture, hence there is no primitive name for women like those.
    A woman was valued by her family, particularly her father, becoz once she was of age, and given in marriage, the father was in a position to recieve cattle and therefore grow in wealth.

    So dear u need to be re-educated about who we really are as Afrikans.

    My response is just a paragraph long, i fail to understand how u can read my one paragraph and still come up with:
    “You even contradicted yourself when you acknowledged that Homosexuality was practiced ”

    Are able to differentiate between a “maybe ” and “was”???

    I said maybe it was practiced as u alleged that it was. I don’t know forsure. u cannot single out small groups of people who engaged in strange and unnatural behaviors and then use that in the context of Africa as a whole…………for an example :

    In south africa, we have stupid small-minded groups of people who hate immigrants, they loot their stores and sometimes kill, i therefore cannot say that South Africa is a community of intolerant and murderous people, ofcoz that would potray me narrow-minded and stupid…….

    U don’t came across as narrow and stupid, so don’t act like as such…..

    And on the family structure issue, im convinced that u don’t have an idea no.1 what it means to be Afrikan, no.2 u have no clue what does “family structure ” really mean in Afrikan terms, hence u stay in London, coz london and America celebrates such lifestyles……

    U need to came back to AFRIKA, don’t google or read history books and then write such fallacies, sit with the elders in nigeria, come to south africa, go to cameroon, speak with african chiefs, not just one………

  12. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    @AubreyMo- You comment is a detailed evidence of your ignorance, bigotry, sexism and narrow mindedness. I do not even need to analyze it because the words stand as evidence. You are an ignorant, sexist fool, unfortunately that is not even an insult, it is just a mere statement of fact going by your comment above.

    I only debate my equals, all others I teach, however you are not even fit to be my student because I do not teach elementary classes. Therefore, I won’t waste my breath on you.

    I must tell you that you are a disgrace to AFRICA and a disgrace to humanity in general. I am happy that I do know majority of Africans are not as narrow minded as you are. It sounds like you just crawled out of a cave and didn’t realize this is the 21st century.

    Go back to your cave but don’t drag the rest of us into it with you. If you must use the internet, at least try to speak the 21st century language.

    Seeing that you have violated my Comment Policy with your insistent use of the word “cunt” and misogynist statement, you are hereby banned from leaving further comment on my wall. Be gone, hopefully you will grow an evolved brain and be fit to communicate with the rest of us without appearing like the barbaric prick you portray yourself as.

    Again, you do not represent my Africa or any African value; you are just a sexist pig. Bye.

  13. Khona Dlamini says

    Hi Yemisi,

    I don’t know what AubreyMo is on about. I am Zulu (with a Sotho mother), from Durban in KwaZulu Natal. One of the things that I always bring up to people who are homophobic is why they treat sangomas differently. Sangomas are traditional healers and many of them are openly homosexual. This is accepted because it is believed that their Dlozi (guiding ancestral spirit) is of the opposite sex, which explains why they have sexual relations with people of the same sex.

    The Shembe church, which is one of the largest Christian/ Zulu syncretic churches has many older and younger gay men who are not vilified for their sexual orientation. This goes to prove your theory that homophobia really started with the introduction of Abrahamic religions in Africa. Africans are generally tolerant people.

    Thank you for this. Fortunately things are changing. Slowly but surely. While our (South African) constitution protects people on the basis of sexual orientation, many people are still very hateful. But I am seeing that the younger generations are more tolerant. Once people know LGBT people as individuals and not as “those people” their opinions change because they realise that they are dealing with real people with feelings.

    Big up to you sister and don’t stop!

  14. Steven Ceci says

    Thank you so much for your insight and thorough analysis on the roots of African homosexuality, bisexuality, and transsexuality. It is refreshing to hear everything you said and as someone that is a pansexual it brings me joy to know that diversity in sexuality and gender identity is truly a universal phenomena. I believe that it was the development of class society and patriarchy that created oppression towards women, gays, and gender nonconforming people. You are probably a very busy person but I recommend a book by called Trans Warriors by Leslie Feinburg who is a comrade of mine. Keep up the good fight of enlightening people so that we have the proper tools to fight against racism, sexism, and bigotry towards LGBTQ folks.

    Peace and blessings;

    Steven Ceci

  15. Ella David says

    This is BEAUTIFUL, and detailed. Reading it put so much smiles on my face. Would you mind if I shared it on my facebook wall? This is a must read.

  16. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    @Steven Ceci- Thanks and from one genderless lover (bisexual) to another (pansexual) , I say you are welcome! 🙂

  17. Africafist101 says

    Because the Europeans say’s homosexuality is okay you drink from that fountain of poison and want to share it with Africa. Once again a fine example of an African doing the European dirty work.

    To break it down homosexuality is nothing more than a population control method use by the worlds elites in case you don’t know. Do some heavy research on this topic instead to repeating everything your slave master tells you.

    The world elites want to get the world population down to a healthy size they can control with no problems. To many people bring risk and problems they rather avoid. Death is one way but the upside to that is life. How do you combat life? By not letting the man mate with the women. The minute you put the man against the women birth rates drop and so on.

    Homosexuality has been around for centuries(mainly by European hands) but has only gained traction in the last decade or so. Europeans try to push homosexuality on Africa so hard it’s like sheeese. But I see why. Our population is growing despite all their plans to destroy us. If our population begins to drag it will be ripe for the second taking (provided they go to war with china for the land).

    Europeans only recently started to open up about homosexuality because they wanted to get their population down(and still cutting) especially since euroland is turning into one of the biggest waist lands the world have ever seen.

    I’ve always said one of the problem with Africa is not just Europeans but their foot soldiers. Anybody that disagrees with you, you discredit them because they don’t agree with your master. Because your a certain way don’t try and force it on an entire nation. Instead of pushing homosexuality why don’t you promote an end to corruption (which is the nail in the coffin for Africa) women’s poverty, education, a leap to the future. But look what you push…

    It’s easy to push something from the land of the people that enslaved you. Those rally’s that you go to how many people in the crowd look like you? Are Africans in your area even running it? Or is it Europeans behind it and you jump and the chance to join up with them? No disrespect but only a self hating African(which we have a lot of) will follow you.

    WW2 quote:
    “I’m in the trenches with my squad. The commander is three islands away in the shade. We take order from him but I lead the way. When were under attack, who do you think their going to take orders from?”
    ————-German Solider

  18. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    @Africafist101- Oh shut up, Africafist101! You should remember to leave your mouth in park if your brain is not in gear.

    It’s a pain to read the nonsense you just spew. Henceforth, any comment of yours goes straight into the trash can.

    BTW, you need to take a lesson in Humanism 101, African 101 has obviously failed you or I’d say, you failed African 101 woefully. Just get a science book instead of seething with ignorant anger. You sound like a professional victim with a rage that predates the European slave trade; you probably come from a line of ancestors that were enslaved by their fellow Africans.

    Oh, surely you knew that Africans had been enslaving fellow Africans before the Europeans set foot on Africa and took the indignity of slave trade to another whole new level, of course ably assisted by some greedy Africans? Just try to work through your anger, you can start by getting some simple facts about homosexuality, read a few science books and by goodness, grow a brain, you need it to comment on my wall.

  19. says

    Nice post Yemmy, learning about the pre-colonial history of Africa looks like a good move for freeing the peoples of Africa of the evils of abrahamic religion. Didn’t have a clue about the part trans folk have had in traditional culture there.


    Homosexuality has been around for centuries(mainly by European hands) but has only gained traction in the last decade or so.

    Although true acceptance of people’s sexuality has only started to be accepted in the world in the last few decades, all variations thereof have been around since before humans even existed. The world is a lot better place as a result.

  20. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    @oolon- Glad you enjoyed reading the post . I hope pointing people to evidence of homosexuality and reverence of Trans folks in many parts of pre-colonial Africa would help erase the misconception that Homosexuality is a western import. I do doubts if this would change the minds of those who have already imbibed the teachings of Abrahamic God that their ancient practices especially their African Gods are inferior to Abrahamic God. It would probably serves as another reason for them to want to stone gays to death!

  21. says

    I was a peace corp volunteer in Swaziland Africa. I was aware of the traditional healers who were herbalist and the those who practiced emuti (what european’s might call witchcraft or magic) The healers that I knew were all heterosexual. I was not aware of the emuti practicing homosexuality. I do know that the common people that I lived with did not practice or approve of homosexuality. Those who practice emuti were feared, not respected The purpose of marriage was children. A girl who had proven she was fertile and had children was valued. A woman who could not have children could be returned to her family and the bride price had to be returned This was a great shame to her family. A man was suppose to father children. Wasting the sperm was considered disgraceful.
    My experience in Africa does not support your thesis that heterosexually as the cultural norm was imported from Europe. Homosexuality was not regarded as a option to even be considered.
    Is is possible that your bias and preconceived agenda has colored your observations and conclusions.

  22. Ekuba says

    & so David Drayer, your 1 week or so experience in Swaziland should be considered & the experiences of indigenous Africans like myself & Yemi should be disregarded? Are you serious? If you have read her book, you’d realize that she mentions how current African attitudes on sexuality/ homosexuality have been widely influenced by colonialism & foreign religions. So obviously, the people in Swaziland you visited have been affected just like my people in Ghana. Majority of Ghanaians today are Christian & hold puritanistic views on sex & think homosexuality is evil but that doesnt mean that this was how our ancestors thought. Yemisi’s book is focused on how indigenous Africans used to think about homosexuality prior to colonialism.

    Her writings are buttressed by notable anthropologists, historians & legal jurists such as Murray & Roscoe, Evans Pritchard & Sylvia Tamale. Further, even if the people of Swaziland have never considered ‘homosexuality as an option’, Africa is not monolitic or limited to Swaziland only. Note that African customs vary. In some ethnic groups in Ghana, having twins is a blessing but in some ethnic groups in Nigeria, twins used to be seen as evil (please Yemisi, correct me if I’m evil). So even if homosexuality is not tolerated in Swaziland,who says it’s that way in ALL parts of Africa? Uggh, i find it so frustrating when foreigners like you spend 2 days in some part of Africa & feel that you have ‘experience in Africa’ & can speak for the whole of Africa. Africa is a large continent with diverse cultures not a country with a monolithic culture my friend!

    Further, if homosexuality was imported then how do you explain the fact that I knew I was gay when I was 4 years old although I met a white man for the first time in my life when I was 18? & how do you explain the paintings on rocks by the San people of Zimbabwe depicting homosexuality? Or the paintings by ancient Egyptians depicting homosexuality? Or the fact that Azande warriors took male lovers? Or the fact that the Dagara people consider(ed) gay people as spiritual gatekeepers?

    Seems like you’re the one with a ‘bias & preconceived agenda’ here 🙂 PS: please read ‘Boy Wives, Female Husbands’ for an education on indigenous Africans & homosexuality ok? Bye

  23. Ekuba says

    lol typo alert, i said ‘correct me if i’m evil’ hahahah, this is what happens when you get incensed by the ignorant writings of a foreigner who claims to be ‘experienced in Africa’ after a one day trip to some place on the continent 🙂

  24. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    @David Drayer- Peace corp volunteer, it seems you did not hang around long enough to be educated on the fact that although Swaziland is in Africa, Africa is not Swaziland.

    Also, you did not read the post before rushing to pour out regurgitated shit from your brain. If you had, you would have at least realized that examples of homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexuality and even customary same sex marriages in some part of Africa were cited in the post.

    Obviously, you were too eager to vomit your homophobic, transphobic and sexist shit, so you just went ahead and dived in with your ill-thought out comment. Go get educated and don’t ever forget to leave your mouth in park if your brain is in gear.

    BTW, it is more than possible that your rush to leave a comment without digesting the information in this blogpost was born out of your “bias and preconceived agenda” which “colored your observations and conclusions” 🙂

  25. Yemisi Ilesanmi says

    @George Yong -Thanks for sharing such an informative, beautiful link, the pictures are breathtaking! Kudos to the artist and the beautiful models. I shall be sharing the blog link on my social media. 🙂

  26. Ekuba says

    @ Saka: & yet, despite how ‘not intelligent’ she is, here you are reading her blog, commenting & even giving her ‘blog traffic’! So what does that make you? lol

  27. DP Truth says

    I was looking for information that would shed light on how homosexuality was generally viewed in pre-colonial African societies, so I am happy to have found your blog. I appreciate all your efforts.
    Thank you

  28. Max says

    Thanks for the timely post and thorough prose oh sexual orientation in African societies. The violent ignorance depicted by some fellow Africans can not go unchecked. True, Abrahamic faiths and religions did more harm than good to some of the uBuntu philosophies. Fortunately, not everything was lost. For instance, the communal spirit still persists in most African communities.

    My country Zambia was declared a Christian nation in 1990 [around that time] and since then discourse and debate on sexual orientation was shut down. I am gay and Zambian. I understand some tribes in my country practiced same sex activities till the advent of colonisers.

    I hope to follow your blog in the very near future. Thumbs up for a good analysis of this supposedly thorny issue in present day African countries.


  1. […] the cultural argument is null and void from the very beginning. This was addressed in my blog post Debunking the myths: Is Homosexuality, Bisexuality or Transsexualism Un-African or Unnatural? and also discussed in my book “Freedom to Love For All” Homosexuality is not […]

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