What is pansexuality and will it ever be accepted in Africa?

Janell Monáe...Amazon

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:

Last Edited by:Farida Dawkins Updated: September 15, 2018


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