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6866: Gays, Vodou, and Stigma (fwd)

From: Racine125@aol.com

Gays, Vodou, and Stigma

Moibibi@aol.com wrote:

>In a message dated 1/24/2001 5:08:35 AM Eastern Standard Time, Racine writes:
>> In fact, in Vodou we have a statistically higher percentage of gay members 
>> than there are gay people in the general population, specifically because 
>> Vodou does not in any way reject or stigmatize gay people.
>Who speaks statistics, speaks numbers, percentage. I would most appreciate 
>hearing about them. Thanks beforehand.

 Bebe, it is obvious to anyone who spends a significant amount of time in
 peristyles, in Vodou pilgrimages, and other Vodou-related functions that
 gay men (and gay women) find freedom of religious and creative expression
 in Vodou in much greater numbers than in any other commonly practiced
 religion in Haiti.  I myself have initiated gay people in my society, and
 no one thought it unusual, to the contrary the attitude seemed to be,
 "Well, of course!"

 A gay man who wanted to be a part of a Protestant congregation would have
 to hide his sexual orientation, and a Roman Catholic gay man would be
 unlikely to take any major role in his congregation.  But Vodou allows
 gay men to participate and even to become Houngans.  When was the last
 time you met an openly gay Haitian Protestant pastor?

 Now, regarding this so-called "stigma attached to Vodou", I would like to
note that there is a very
 important difference between the statement, "Members of minority
 religious groups such as Protestantism stigmatize Vodou in Haiti" and
"Vodou is stigmatized".  Vodou is NOT stigmatized among the majority of Haitians, it is respected, supported, and encouraged!  Families who have members who are kanzo, for instance, consider themselves very fortunate.

Vodou is the religion of the majority of Haitians, not the minority!  If others outside the religion imagine
a stigma, that is their problem, the "stigma" belongs to them and not to the Vodou religion.

I'd like to thank Nina Schnall for her thoughtful post, and especially for her observations on the lives of
gay Vodouisants.  It is true that the emphasis on fertility in Vodou encourages homosexual men and
women to have children (there is a section on The VODOU Page on Sex in Vodou and another on Homosexuality in Vodou).

It is also true that homosexuality is sometimes "blamed" on a lwa, especially Erzulie Freda for men, Erzulie Dantor for women, and sometimes Dambala.  On the other hand, there are lwa who are by
nature homosexual, for example Ogoun Deux Manieres.  "Deux manieres" is also a polite term for
homosexual, much nicer than "masisi".  And as Nina points out, even when a lwa is supposedly the
cause of homosexuality, I have never heard of a "cure"! :-)

Peace and love,

Bon Mambo Racine Sans Bout Sa Te La Daginen

"Se bon ki ra", 
Good is rare - Haitian Proverb

The VODOU Page - http://members.aol.com/racine125/index.html

(Posting from Jacmel, Haiti)