Homosexuality and Voodoo

Homosexuality in Haitian Voodoo is religiously acceptable and homosexuals are allowed to participate in all religious activities. Fact|date=February 2008( However, in countries with large Voodoo populations (such as Benin, Togo or Haiti), some Christian influence may have given homosexuality a social stigma (see homosexuality and Christianity), at least on some levels of society. Fact|date=February 2008 The Haitian Voodoo religion itself has remained open to people of all sexual orientationsFact|date=February 2008.

Haitian Views of homosexuality

Voodoo is an ancestral religion, and viewed by some western anthropologists as an ecstatic religion. It is not a fertility-based religion Fact|date=February 2008(see "Fertility rites".) This means that the majority of its members are not required by any religious law to reproduce, and homosexuals are not pressured to do so.Fact|date=February 2008 Haitian Voodoo views sexual orientation as a part of the way God makes a person; homosexuals are free to pursue members of the same sex just as heterosexuals are free to pursue members of the opposite sex.citation |title=Rara!: Vodou, Power, and Performance in Haiti and Its Diaspora |first=Elizabeth A |last=McAlister |year=2002 |publisher=University of California Press |isbn=0520228235 |pages=75-77.]

In Haitian Voodoo, male homosexuals are seen as under the protection of the Erzulie Freda, loa of love and beautyFact|date=February 2008. She is very effeminate, allowing gay men to exhibit stereotypical traits during religious ceremonies. The documentary "Des hommes et dieux" presents interviews with several men who feel Erzulie made them gay.imdb title |title=Des hommes et dieux |id=0391059] Erzulie Dantor is seen as the patron of lesbians,Fact|date=September 2007 although she is herself bisexualFact|date=February 2008 having a lot of children and two husbands simbi makaya and ti jean petro though she is said to prefer the company of women.

Religious experience

During Haitian Voodoo ceremonies, the houngans (priests), mambos (priestesses), and hounsis (initiates) dance around a poteau-mitan until one of them becomes possessed by one of the Loa. A person can be possessed by any Loa, regardless of gender.citation |title=Voodoo in Haiti |first=Alfred |last=Métraux |first2=Hugo |last2=Charteris |year=1972 |publisher=Schocken Books |isbn=0805208941.] Many people have observed that gay men are more frequently possessed by female loa, and lesbians are more frequently possessed by male Loa.Fact|date=September 2007 During possession, the possessed dancer will begin to behave like the loa they are possessed by and they are treated with the utmost respect.

Reverend Severina KM Singh, a New Orleans Voodoo priestessFact|date=February 2008explains,

I have gay friends who practice and I can personally attest to the closeness of the Loa to them. I have witnessed wonderful and powerful rituals which they led. The intent in your heart matters more than your sexual orientation. I read for very many gay people and make offerings for them without any qualms at all. Voodooist believe in the transmigration of the soul. That means my soul could have been in a black male body at one time and an oriental female body at another time, not to mention the millions of lives spent in lower life forms..Some of them probably quite asexual or bisexual or transsexual!cite web
last=Singh
first=Reverend Severina KM
title=Some Frequently Asked Questions About Voodoo
publisher=New Orleans Voodoo Crossroads
date=2002
url =http://www.neworleansvoodoocrossroads.com/voodoofaq.html
accessdate=2007-09-08
]

However, not all Vodou traditions espouse the belief in soul transmigration. For example, according to Mami Wata Vodoun Chief Hounon-Amengansie priestess, Mama Zogbé, the concept of soul transmigration is foreign in West African-Diaspora Vodoun cosmology. She states that,

In the Vodoun religion, one is born within the same ethnic tribal groups and families. That is how the ancestral Vodou deities are inherited from generation to generation. Their priesthoods and certain tutelary deities of its initiates are bio-spiritually connected with family and ancestral lineages-some dating back hundreds of years.cite web
last=Zogbé
first=Mama
title=Resurrected Slave Vodoun Lineage in America
url =http://www.mamiwata.com/lineage1.html
accessdate=2008-01-08
]

Social attitudes

Countries with large Voodoo populations may not be as open to homosexuality as one would expectFact|date=February 2008. All of these countries have been colonized by European powers, France and Spain especially, who imposed their Roman Catholicism on the people. Fact|date=February 2008 This had the effect of importing European views on homosexuality to these nations. Fact|date=February 2008 In Benin, for instance, a former French colony, homosexuality remains a crimeFact|date=February 2008.

In recent years as the Catholic Church has lost some political influence in Haiti, Voodoo has become more culturally predominant, and homosexuality has become more acceptable.Fact|date=February 2008 In some parts of Haiti (especially Port-au-Prince) temples have opened with solely gay or lesbian clergiesFact|date=February 2008. Gays and lesbians in Haiti who are seeking spirituality usually turn to Voodoo, because the other two religious presences in the country, Roman Catholicism and Evangelicalism, generally disapprove of homosexualityFact|date=February 2008.

See also

* Bomoh
* Core Shamanism
* Homosexuality and Christianity (many Vodouisants practise a hybrid form of Voodoo and Christianity)
* Hoodoo
* Kumina
* Louisiana Voodoo
* Mana
* Obeah
* Quimbanda
* Religion and homosexuality
* Religion and sexuality
* Sangoma
* Santería
* Shaman
* Umbanda
* vodou

References

*http://www.gede.org/essays/glbt.html

Further reading

* AIDS, fear, and Society: Challenging the Dreaded Disease; Kenneth J. Doka; Publisher: Taylor & Francis; 1997.
* Hoodoo Mysteries: Folk Magic, Mysticism & Rituals; Ray Malbrough; Publisher: Llewellyn Publications; 2003.
* Living in the Lap of the Goddess: the Feminist Spirituality Movement in America; Cynthia Eller; Publisher: Boston Beacon Press; 1995.
* Queering Creole Spiritual Traditions: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Participation in African Inspired Traditions in the Americas; Randy P. Conner, David Hatfield Sparks; Publisher: Harrington Park Press; 2004-03.
* The Pagan Man: Priests, Warriors, Hunters and Drummers; Isaac Bonewits; Publisher: Citadel; 2006.
* The Secular and the Sacred Harmonized; Eloise T. Choice; Publisher: AuthorHouse; 2005-09-08.
* St. James Press Gay & Lesbian Almanac; Neil Schlager (Editor); Publisher: Thomson Gale; 1998.

External links

* [http://members.aol.com/roots125/gayclergy.html Homosexuality in Vodou]


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