For some time now, Ghanaians on Facebook have become involved in a nationwide heated argument on the homosexual question. I've had my share of the argument and intend this writing to be an extension of my personal view on the topic. I do understand why many people feel disgusted at the thought of two muscular men making love. That's to be expected as long as gay sex is connected with our back door, which doesn't always remind us of a pleasant thing. If you also spent some time in Sunday school in your childhood, it is also apprehensible to find the practice of homosexuality strange and unnatural but what right or privilege does anybody have to regulate the sexuality of another or assault and publicly humiliate those perceived to be homosexuals? And as if the intense and irrational fear and hatred of/for lesbians and gay men weren't already irritatingly mischievous, the illogical and faulty information gay-haters present to support their homophobianism is increasingly becoming intellectually disgraceful; i.e if they appreciate unbiased rational discourse in the first place.
A graduate student argued that since Ghanaian society doesn't tolerate robbery and drug abuse, homosexuality shouldn't be tolerated either. He, however, couldn’t identify the correlation between property right and homosexuality when I asked him. Another supposedly educated person advanced that I had totally lost base with the cherished values of a true African. When asked what he meant by cherished values of Africa, he couldn't name one. Another asked if I were gay, admitting he had no understanding of my disapproval of lynching them as means of casting out the evildoers from our midst. I reasoned it was waste of time to educate him that "He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression"(Thomas Paine). Others posit homosexuality is a white man's "disease" foreign to the undiluted African nature; a simple research on the history of homophobianism in the West will set their thinking straight that Westerners didn't wake up overnight to celebrate homosexuality. All they need to do is to follow the American debate and recent happenings in France and elsewhere on the gay question. It was and is still a phenomenon the so called evil Westerners are struggling to come to terms with. And you have, of course, those who preach the traditional and cultural norms of our forefathers but never go a step further to advocate we discard Christianity and Islam in order to reclaim our paganism (Sankɔfa).
But then what can the critical person expect from an education system that burdens its students with "chew and pour" examinations rather than providing them with the tools that promote independent, creative and critical thinking? The unexamined life is indeed not worth living! Collective unexamined lives together have resulted in the uncritical, unjust, dangerous world we are condemned to live in. Only when we strive to diminish the power of our egocentric and sociocentric tendencies through the tool of critical thinking, can we effect a more rational and civilized world where people live rationally, reasonably, empathetically without necessarily embracing and imitating the philosophy and lifestyles of others we abhor ourselves.
Now, when I listen to the destructive propagandizing and senseless politicization of homosexualism in Ghana, I can't help but to wish common sense, open mindedness, constructive critical thinking, tolerance and sympathy were essential elements of the national debate. My heart goes to all those who suffer cruelty and injustice due to the prejudiced, ignorant, self-deceived, and hypocritical thinking that now dominates the gay question Ghana must address.
Once again, I do understand the hostility towards gay people. As children, we were taught that: 1) for every boy there's a girl and for every girl there's a boy; 2) when you meet the right boy or girl, you'll get married and have babies; and 3) all of this is natural, taken-for-granted, and part of God's plan, then it is not surprising that we initially grow to dislike homosexuals. Homosexual persons represent a challenge to our Adam and Eve beliefs; therefore, there must be something wrong with them. They must be unnatural and maybe even anti-God. (The Social Psychology of Homophobia. p. 925). But challenging our childhood indoctrinations and tolerating values unidentifiable with the values we learned at church, school, and home, however uncomfortable, is the essence of education. As Ghana continues to debate the place of gay people (i.e. if there's any for them), my wish is that we do so without insisting on the narrow-minded doctrinal uniformity that has so far dominated the debate. And for those who are generally interested in adopting the attitude of a critical thinker, I share the following guides to critical thinking by Bertrand Russell.
1. Do not feel certain of anything
2. Do not think it worthwhile to produce belief by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
3. Never try to discourage thinking, for you are sure to succeed [i.e. don’t discourage thinking].
4. When met with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavour to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissents than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
9. Be scrupulously truthful, even when truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
Now on the controversial subject of homosexual identity, most opinion leaders in Ghana, it appears, are ignorant about the topic and they should seek to enlarge their brains on the topic. If they are interested in an unbiased education on the subject of Sexual Orientation, below is a list of some essential literature worthy of CRITICAL studies. That's what I do when I am unfit to discuss a subject I know little about. In sum, in discussing the question before us, we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be diverted by what we wish to believe but must look at what are the facts of human sexuality. If we are seriously interested in addressing the sensitive gay question in Ghana, we should take care to assess the complexity of human sexuality from its societal, scientific, biological, sexological, psychological, and historical findings available to us. And to the hardcore homophones out there, what degree of sexual behavior do you believe is "innate" vs. socially constructed? Perversion vs. biological? And how do you intend to redeem homosexuals from their "evil" practice? How do you intend to control the sexuality of homosexuals from the comforts of your homes? Where do you draw the line between between homosexual identity and practice?
*Boswell, John. (1980). Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century.
*Hamer, Dean. (1994).Science of Desire: The Gay Gene and the Biology of Behavior: Search for the Gay Gene and the Biology of Behaviour.
*Marcus, Eric. (1992). Making Gay History: The Struggle for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights.
*Forstein, M. (1988). Homophobia: an Overview.