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6889: Gays, Vodou, and Stigma (fwd)

From: Shirley Jean <shirle_jean@hotmail.com>

Dear Corbetters,

I find that with this discussion and many other discussions on the list the 
debate is often led by non-Haitians (which is fine, but to be frank 
introduces an incompleteness in the discussion). As a result, people 
compartmentalize and categories different parts of Haitian identity and 
culture almost as an academic exercise. I think this is nature given no 
matter what you are always looking in and not ever one with (I don't mean 
this is a bad way)....

My experience has been that there are no set boundaries as with many things 
in life when it comes to Voodoo for majority of Haitians. It is fluid with 
people going in and out from practicing Voodoo and  Protestantism and 
Catholicism. For example, in times of need and illness, people go from one 
to another as needed and as their needs are met. But at the same time there 
are people in all faiths who are devoted followers of their faith without 
wavering, but this in my opinion is the minority.

As a result of this fluidity coupled with the general disfavoring of 
homosexuality in Haitian society, I would not say that homophobia is rampant 
but it is disfavored on a whole. People with their own agendas can try and 
rationalize this basic fact of Haitian culture and try and take parts of the 
culture out of context (Voodoo) and set it as a model of tolerance. Let us 
be real and ask ourselves how it is that outside the religious setting of  
the perisil these same people who make up the population are not as 

>From day 1 in a Haitian household (I do recognize I am talking in 
generalities), you are taught that masisi and madivineze is a bad things 
FROM people who are atheist (rare), from people who are Christian and from 
those who practice voodoo. Even in families, people make fun of and call gay 
members of their family weirdos and ask why God has given the family such a 
burden even as they contiue to love their relative. Fluidity and duality 
again, but not acceptance and true unconditional acceptance... In my 
opinion, this is the most prevalent experience. I write this because I would 
not want someone to get the wrong idea from the postings, which I believe 
are exceptions, and get hurt from the rejection they will face by most 
people by having unrealistic expectations.