Merriam-Webster defines pansexuality as 1: Of, relating to, or characterized by sexual desire or attraction that is not limited to people of a particular gender identity or sexual orientation. Pansexual people are attracted to all kinds of people, regardless of their gender, sex or presentation. —Farhana Khan.
Also: not solely homosexual or heterosexual.
Though it’s first use was recorded as having occurred in 1926, the term is relatively unknown as proven by its use in recent days.
Singer, songwriter, model and actress Janell Monáe has also popularized the word by her recent admission of identifying with pansexual persons. She stated, “someone who has been in relationships with both men and women – I consider myself to be a free-ass motherfucker.” She continued, “but then later I read about pansexuality and was like, ‘Oh, these are things that I identify with too.”
It’s imperative to note that being anything outside of heterosexual ideals do not resonate with many African customs and norms.
Patriarchal influence reigns supreme in most African lands and anything outside of that is staunchly frowned upon. Patriarchy calls for men being the forefront of carrying a family’s legacy. If the man is not able or willing to procreate, the bloodline is threatened. Men are expected to fulfil roles that are considered “masculine;” some homosexual men do not fit this criterion.
This does not mean that sexual homosexuality isn’t practised. Deborah P. Amory explores this notion and states, “The fact of the matter is that there is a long history of diverse African peoples engaging in same-sex relations.”
Despite the aforementioned, this is clearly happening as evidenced by formations of organizations geared towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights. The South African constitution explicitly bans discrimination towards homosexual individuals. Zimbabwe has an Association of LGBTI People in Zimbabwe and Association Shams in Tunisia both aim to address the fact that homosexuals exist in parts of Africa and advocate for the rights of those who identify as homosexual.
To the far left of these are statements of disdain against those who practice homosexuality such as those made by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni: “gay relationships were against God’s will.”
Former Gambian president Yahya Jammeh said during a speech delivered on September 27, 2013, to the United Nations, “We will fight these vermins called homosexuals or gays the same way we are fighting malaria-causing mosquitoes, if not more aggressively.”
No matter how the matter is dissected, it is evident that this an issue that some wish to sweep under the rug.
So will or can pansexuality and other sexual groups that don’t fit the conventional expectations of African societies be accepted, or tolerated?
Here are some views on Twitter:
When I have challenged people who are anti-gay, many have said that it is not our culture. However, when you probe further, they argue that homosexuality is not in the Bible. But the Bible is not our historical culture. This shows there is real confusion about Africa’s past.
— Drama Queens (@dramaqueensgh) April 30, 2018
In Boy-Wives and Female Husbands, a book examining homosexuality and feminism in Africa, the researchers found ‘‘explicit” Bushman artwork that depicts men engaging in same-sex sexual activity.
— Drama Queens (@dramaqueensgh) April 30, 2018
— LGTBI AFRICA (@LGTBIAFRICA) April 30, 2018
Craziest thing I’ve heard today “homosexuality doesn’t have an indigenous name so it didn’t exist in Africa” Yes, heterosexuality also didn’t have an indigenous name, I guess that didn’t exist either huh? Think! pic.twitter.com/NMjezAiFz0
— African LGBT History (@kuukielicious) April 29, 2018
And like she said, that book & other accounts on homosexuality on our continent predates the West’s approval of homosexuality.
If in anything, I remember reading a missionary’s account of “trans” people in East Africa as one of the reasons why he needed more missionaries
— M (@westafricanah) April 29, 2018
Are you trying to tell people that homosexuality was normal in Africa before invasion and colonialism? ???
— Mr S.S Mbambo (@SifundoMbambo) April 29, 2018
Homosexuality exists and in Africa we don’t like to talk about it. Homosexuality is a sin.
(Romans 1:26 -27)#Sexplicit
— dcclagos (@dcclagos) April 29, 2018
Historically, several African cultures were ok with homosexuality. The hatred started after Africa was “colonized” by the west, and the spread of “christian ideals” and “morality”. https://t.co/qKZzqiDdeH
— Atheist_in_Africa (@retired_atheist) April 29, 2018
Gentleman, there are books written by AFRICAN anthropologists and scientists who outline evidence of homosexuality in Africa dating back to pre colonial era. And if it is indeed so “absurd”, explain why it’s been observed in over 1,500 animal species? Again, please read.
— Tojo Koneko (@Akua_golda) April 28, 2018
Hypocrisy….Homosexuality is not a thingoe culture In Africa and we aren’t gonna be pushed to accept it.
— NewnessLali (@akeeBIGGG) April 28, 2018
Did you just mention “Colonial heritage homophobia”??
As an African, I believe your words are so ignorant. Africans have NEVER been homophobic because homosexuality has NEVER existed in Africa.
We are now being forced to accept something we NEVER had!
— Vincent Osiemo Keroro (@vinny_wa_) April 27, 2018