This post is inspired by Pose season 3. This show is excellent, it tells the stories of the LGBTQIA+ community so well. There are struggles I already knew existed for the community but watching the show opened my eyes to the amount of privilege I live in. Simple things like if I were to decide to get married today, I would not have to be afraid to go out and apply for a license. For those who are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community in many African countries, this is impossible, their lives aren’t as simple. Watching the show gave me insight into how often they fight for the right to be counted as human beings.
You may be wondering why season 3 pushed me to write this article. Whilst every season was packed with high and low emotion, in season 3 we get to see Pray Tell’s story. He finds out that he has 6 months left to live, a nightmare we all wish to never live through. In that moment he makes a conscious decision to visit his hometown and right his wrongs. You could almost feel the anxiety he had on this journey. He set foot in his hometown and the first face he sets out to see is his mother’s face, the joy in her eyes upon seeing him is indescribable. Later, his aunts show up and this is when he shares the news from his doctor with them. And like clockwork one of his aunts puts on a saviour’s show and starts talking about salvation.
‘God made you, everything else is a choice.’ When she said this I got triggered into a state of guilt because once upon a time I too shared this gospel with people. It was indoctrinated in us that queerness was a choice and that those who chose this path were headed to eternal hell. They said that God loved them but hated their actions. And so out of the goodness of my heart, I was going to help them see the way, the light and the truth. Surely, there is nothing that a little prayer won’t change.
Years later I have unlearned these ideologies that tell the world of how broken queer people are. Unfortunately, the words of hatred come from the place that many go to in search of love. The good news gospel refuses to learn or to listen. It refuses to love and chooses which sin is greater than the other. It discriminates and stigmatises, furthering the narrative of how unnatural being queer is. A sad sight and reality for the LGBTQIA+ community. But the damage done is beyond the Christian community.
In Africa, governments have set out laws that criminalise queerness. The ex-Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, stood in front of millions of his citizens and openly shamed queer individuals. In 1995, he was quoted in a Mail & Guardian article saying, ‘An association of perverts and sodomists.’ According to Nehanda Radio, he was also quoted saying, “If you see people parading themselves as lesbians and gays, arrest them and hand them over to the police.” Robert Mugabe is no more, but his sentiments live in many Zimbabweans and over the years we have watched young people emigrate for their safety.
Ghana’s anti-gay bill made waves on the internet and shook many of us to the core. They called this bill, “The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill.” The use of the word ‘proper,’ seemed intentional and targeted at defining queerness as improper sexual rights. This bill states that anyone who identifies as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community is committing a crime that is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
I remember the sense of Joy that was in the air on Dec 18 2023 when Pope Francis announced that the Roman Catholic Church priests were allowed to bless same-sex marriages. Granted there are still barriers in place, but it sounds like a step in the right direction. Some day soon, they may consider same-sex marriage an actual marriage, fingers crossed!
The LGBTQIA+ community is not in search of a pot of gold, they are just asking for the freedom to be. In the 3 seasons of Pose, we watched every individual fight for their life, dreams and sense of belonging in a world that served them nothing but challenges. It wasn’t a story told just for your entertainment, it is someone’s lived experience today. I am reminded of the song by Emeli Sande titled Human where she sings,
“See no matter what color of your skin
It feels just the same when the knife goes in
And no matter who gonna win or lose
We all gonna bleed the same shade of rouge
We’d feel much better if we told the truth
We’re so good together, but we mad confused
Whilst activists are out there fighting for the human rights of this community, may we remind one another that hate is meaningless? We should just live our lives, enjoy them and create memories regardless of the next person’s sexuality.
Updated on Jan 22 2024