Hey, don’t jump all over over me. I didn’t say it. Well, OK. I did say it yesterday, in a roundabout sort of way. It’s nice to hear it said by a Nobel laureate. Namely, Bishop Desmond Tutu speaking out against the mistreatment of gay and lesbian Africans, and the “hysterical obsession with gay sex” exemplified in places like Nigeria.
Tutu addressed a taboo that has so far proved socially divisive.
“To penalize someone because of their sexual orientation is like what used to happen to us; to be penalized for something which we could do nothing (about) — our ethnicity, our race,” said Tutu. “I would find it quite unacceptable to condemn, persecute a minority that has already been persecuted.” [emphasis added]
Tutu was joined by Rev. Samuel Njoroge of Kenya in calling for greater tolerance. No doubt their voices will be drowned out or ignored, but it’s encouraging to hear coming from them. And, I might as well say it, as a black gay man its encouraging to hear this coming from other black men. Especially since it’s not the first time.
In a speech given before students and members of the University community yesterday evening, History Prof. and NAACP Chairman Julian Bond urged members of the community to vote “no” on the Marshall-Newman marriage amendment appearing on Virginia’s ballot next week.
“I’d always thought Virginia was for lovers, not against them,” Bond said. “We believe it is always wrong to use a constitution to single out one group for discrimination.”
“We have been inundated in the faith community with bedroom sexual morality issues and not dealing with the broader moral issues of poverty, of injustice and of health care,” Sharpton said at a news conference amid a two-day meeting of talks and revivals.
“We can no longer be misused by some in the Christian right that will not deal with the broader issue of injustice and fairness and inequity in our society,” the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate said.
But Leonard Pitts column about why defense of gays matters probably comes closest to expressing the same sentiment as Tutu.
They know enough of what I know that I can’t ignore it. See, I have yet to learn how to segregate my moral concerns. It seems to me if I abhor intolerance, discrimination and hatred when they affect people who look like me, I must also abhor them when they affect people who do not. For that matter, I must abhor them even when they benefit me. Otherwise, what I claim as moral authority is really just self-interest in disguise.
… I believe in moral coherence. And Rule No. 1 is, you cannot assert your own humanity, then turn right around and deny someone else’s. [emphasis added]
Of course, as I pointed out earlier, the “hysterical obsession with gay sex” is perhaps just more of detritus colonialism that Africans inherited from Christian Europe, since same-sex activity has always been a reality in Africa (and everywhere else) as shown by pre-historick rock paintings left behind by the San people southern Africa, some of which clearly portray sexual activity between men. In fact, many African cultures — and most other indigenous cultures, prior to contact (conquest?) by Western Christendom — at least tolerated same-sex activity, but some also accepted it, and even created “cultural niches” for those individuals who seemed to be oriented towards their own gender.
Who knows? Maybe they will again, with leaders like Tutu around. That is, if anyone listens to him.