Skip

Gays: Vibrating Gatekeepers to Another World
February 10, 2009 11:21 AM   Subscribe

"You take the gatekeeper and you confuse his mind. You threaten him and you throw him in the middle of nowhere. Then nobody knows where the gate is. As soon as you lose the whereabouts of the gate, then you have a culture going downhill. What keeps a village together is a handful of "gays and lesbians," as they call them in the modern world. In my village, lesbians are called witches, and gay men are known as the gatekeepers." The Dagara people of Burkina Faso.

"Christianity has separated spirit from body and spirit from Earth. And earlier you talked to us about Christianity suppressing your culture. So there’s a suggestion here that suppression of homosexuality would be the way for the Christians to shut down the gateways, shut down the spirit, and shut down our connection with the Earth."

Unsurprisingly, the Dagara are popular with Christian missionaries.

As well as NGOs.

The Dagara Cosmology.

Shamanism in the gay community.
posted by pinothefrog (49 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
The modern world was built by Christianity. They have taken the gods out of the earth sent them to heaven, wherever that is.

I wouldn't just blame Christianity but the whole taking gods out of earth and sending them to heaven strikes a chord me.

An interesting read, thanks!
posted by twistedonion at 11:28 AM on February 10, 2009


Fascinating.
posted by AdamCSnider at 11:35 AM on February 10, 2009


I think that interview just broke my brain. Pretty dense stuff, but fascinating.
posted by lunasol at 11:49 AM on February 10, 2009


Amazing. *still reading*
posted by Drexen at 11:53 AM on February 10, 2009


I wouldn't just blame Christianity but the whole taking gods out of earth and sending them to heaven strikes a chord me.

It sounds like the plot to a JRPG.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:02 PM on February 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Top notch, and a great recognition of indigeonous homosexuality. Well done.
posted by moonbird at 12:23 PM on February 10, 2009


Of Water and the Spirit is a fascinating book about the author's spiritual re-awakening after he was taken from him family as a child and indoctrinated at a French Jesuit School where he was abused.
posted by sswiller at 12:28 PM on February 10, 2009


First link is to a 1993 article that has "somegay.html" as its filename, second link is to a sparse wikipedia page, I wouldn't have even gone to the third link if the comments so far weren't positive.

But so far underwhelmed.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:30 PM on February 10, 2009


I have this foggy memory about learning the role of gay men in Pacific NW native culture. Maybe it was the Nootka, or some other tribe, but I think they had something called a "bardash" in the tribe.

I won't say more because I don't want to talk out of my ass. Does anyone else know something about this?
posted by Meatbomb at 12:30 PM on February 10, 2009


Somegay is the author's last name 'Some' and the word 'Gay'
posted by sswiller at 12:32 PM on February 10, 2009


It's also what I wrote over the gay in the barn to keep him from getting killed and eaten at Christmas.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:39 PM on February 10, 2009 [20 favorites]


OK, nthing "fascinating" comments.

Here's what I find really interesting:

- that he describes a situation where anatomy and feeling exist separately AND can differ from each other in ways that don't create existential contradictions.
- an expansive notion of sexuality that is about more than who you stick 'n' lick
- the idea that these folks are given the duty (and right) to secure permission for the community to live another year. That makes sexuality about a lot more than just sexual pleasure (duh, but worth pointing out).
posted by LMGM at 12:41 PM on February 10, 2009


I'm of two minds about this.

On the one hand, it's tempting to adopt the idea that being gay doesn't just give me an inclination towards sex with men, it gives me a cosmic purpose. One that involves saving the world, nonetheless. I'm thinking that a years-long quest to find the gate with my correct vibrational frequency and then doing whatever arcane rituals will reopen it, helping to pave the way for global revitalization, sounds like a blast.

On the other hand, it seems to me that this is just another prejudice; a positive one, which is certainly different than the ones in use in the USA, but a prejudice anyway. While some gay people might, indeed, be the vibrating portals to the Otherworld (and yeah, I've met some like that) others of us are emphatically not. Positive generalizations about groups of people get in the way of knowing the actual individuals involved, almost as much as negative generalizations do.

By identifying as gay I'm not limiting myself to simple sexual orientation as the interview says; I'm simply acknowledging the only characteristic that I have in common with all gay people. Because aside from that, each and every one of us is different, and any other generalizations about us will keep you from getting to know who we actually are.
posted by MrVisible at 12:42 PM on February 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


what happens is that something can happen to one of the doors and it closes up. When all the doors are closed, this earth runs out of its own orbit and the solar system collapses into itself.

Vibrational consciousness. Gatekeepers. Heh. Seems like we'll grasp at any old straw to justify our indulgences.
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 12:53 PM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Meatbomb, the word you want is "berdache", or more politely "Two-Spirit".
posted by mkb at 12:55 PM on February 10, 2009


What do you mean, Hovercraft Eel?
posted by rtha at 12:58 PM on February 10, 2009


I find stuff like this fascinating.

What is important, to me, is while there may be generalized postive roles, they acknowledge the existence of such people as needed, essential, really to the cultural identity.

In short, they are stating that there is more than just a binary system of sex and gender.

The religious right, the Pro Prop 8 group, etc. are all pretty much saying "if you aren't straight, you are unnatural, non essential, and in short, not worth caring about." Or "we don't have a category for you, so we have no idea what to do with you, so please go away."

Now some people could take issue with the positive generalizations, but the Dagara have gotten to the understanding that there is more than just Straight Man and Straight Woman. Something that people still can't seem to grasp in our supposedly modern and civilized US.
posted by mrzarquon at 1:05 PM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


This might just be my cynical asshole breaking through, but this seems like a load of shit. True, any load of shit that brings into question the evangelical position that homosexuality is an unnatural evil does make me feel all warm and nice inside; that alone doesn't alleviate its sorry state as a load of shit. It is interesting to see that their views on gender relations, even though they're based on the aforementioned load of shit, are STILL more accepting than the average western views on homosexuality, which are based on our load of shit, which is much less appetizing.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 1:07 PM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


What do you mean, Hovercraft Eel?

He's just saying that gays will say anything to excuse their "indulgences" (nice trivializing there, along with clearly implying choice of orientation). Hovercraft Eel's whole comment history is trollish.

As for me, I agree with MrVisible.
posted by Gnatcho at 1:10 PM on February 10, 2009


Are you the Keymaster?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:11 PM on February 10, 2009 [13 favorites]


Vibrational consciousness. Gatekeepers. Heh. Seems like we'll grasp at any old straw to justify our indulgences.

Is that an anti-Catholic comment?
posted by mr_roboto at 1:16 PM on February 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


The notion that gay people are gatekeepers to the spirit world is no more or less ridiculous than the notion that gay people have been sent to this world by Satan to corrupt society and lure us all into sin.

Gay people are just like anyone else, except that they have different criteria for sexual attraction. Oh, and they have the ability to breathe fire, and they hide pots of gold at the end of rainbows.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 1:18 PM on February 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


Or another way to put it:

The Dagara people (and similar cultural groups) have challenged the notion that there is a universal standard for heterosexuality, and that homosexuality is an aberration created by our modern liberal ideals.

However, the same people who believe that homosexuality is an aberration may qualify that the Dagara people are being led by Satan, so obviously they would accept homosexuals.

The concept that cultural groups who don't have access to hollywood, the queering liberal agenda, and the mauve hand, all still have homosexuals in their midst, and they are accepted as part of an essential part of their community, means to me that this is a basic human occurrence.
posted by mrzarquon at 2:06 PM on February 10, 2009


The Whelk's profile


Location: NYC, NY
Gender: Round Peg Vibrating Gatekeeper To The Otherworld.

posted by The Whelk at 2:07 PM on February 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


Is this about "Goa'uld" and Richard Dean Anderson?
posted by orthogonality at 2:27 PM on February 10, 2009


By identifying as gay I'm not limiting myself to simple sexual orientation as the interview says; I'm simply acknowledging the only characteristic that I have in common with all gay people.

I've been theorizing that while the increasing closeness of sexual orientation and social identity has probably been productive for a while in expanding personal and social freedoms, it has the potential to be counterproductive as well, and this might well be one of the better expressions of a philosophy I think could counter that.
posted by namespan at 2:54 PM on February 10, 2009


These gays: they vibrate?
posted by newmoistness at 3:01 PM on February 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


It's an interesting article, and I don't take it as some horseshit which makes me feel "all warm and nice inside". It's more proof of the first law of anthropology, which is that pretty much every aspect of culture is far more contingent than most imagine.

Still, it's pretty funny that the aim is "to begin working at healing ourselves and our society from the bottom up".
posted by imperium at 3:23 PM on February 10, 2009


also, Meatbomb, it's Nuu-chah-nulth, now.
posted by klanawa at 3:29 PM on February 10, 2009


This is fascinating. Thanks.
posted by homunculus at 3:31 PM on February 10, 2009


"They have taken the gods out of the earth sent them to heaven(.)" submits very well to Marxists theories of alienation (read The Holy Family, The German Ideology etc.). I tell ya, Marx is gonna make a comeback!
posted by fingerbang at 3:31 PM on February 10, 2009


wow. i tried to read the major essay components of this post and i could not make it through them. [i'm at work so i won't even attempt the video, apologies...]

there's this thing that happens to alienated people. it seems to be noted around the globe and throughout history. whenever a group of people get placed outside the norm they gain certain insights to the culture/society that the hapless mob of norms misses out on.

that's why the stereotypes of geeks look so outside the standard to lots of people. that's why shamans are depicted as grotesquely overweight (willandorf). that's why james baldwin could talk more eloquently about america than norman mailer given that he was both black, queer and grew up poor.

it's not about some super power that makes people gay so they can be these shepherds for humanity; it's simply existing outside the fold that allows for a different and sometimes desired perspective. it doesn't happen to everyone who's an outsider, either. but i've had drag queens give me more insight into why i should put down the gun than my enochian speaking pals.

no insult to these gents; we need certain mythologies to get through the wretchedness that is life on this mudball at the end of history. they need a deity who bestows a Purpose on them. I need sexy people, booze and art. and i'm black, queer and grew up poor from psuedo-african stock, too. go figure.
posted by artof.mulata at 3:51 PM on February 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


The Tralfamadorians tried to give Billy clues that would help him imagine sex in the invisible dimension. They told him that there could be no Earthling babies without male homosexuals. There could be babies without female homosexuals. There couldn't be babies without women over sixty-five years old. There could be babies without men over sixty-five. There couldn't be babies without other babies who had lived an hour or less after birth. And so on. It was gibberish to Billy.

--Kurt Vonnegut, "Slaughterhouse-Five"
posted by darksasami at 4:14 PM on February 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


In my village, lesbians are called witches
I sort of wish there'd been more clarification about this. It seem to be all about gay men being not just accepted but almost placed on a pedestal, but one wonders if the term "witch" in this case is a pejorative one.
posted by fish tick at 4:15 PM on February 10, 2009


Straight guys vibrate like this. Gay guys vibrate like that.

I think that this is a really interesting way of conceiving the world, even though I feel like I'm being patronizingly indulgent of magical thinking from another culture because it's exotic and not cruel.
posted by klangklangston at 4:40 PM on February 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


all your gateway are belong to me, especially if you don't sleep on your back
posted by troybob at 5:55 PM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


This book has more information on African sexualities and gender identities, including some references to Somé's accounts of the Dagara.
posted by col_pogo at 8:05 PM on February 10, 2009


See Edward Carpenter (a front page post last month, I think)--his idea in Intermediate Types Among Primitive Folk is that gays (Urnings or homogenic lovers or intermediates to Carpenter) were destined for a spiritual role.

A very interesting option for sexual identity before it settled down into the modern options and ranges of meaning.
posted by LucretiusJones at 9:26 PM on February 10, 2009


Am I the only one who thinks this sounds exactly like what you would expect to hear on Maui or in Marin County or Sedona or at any other "vortex?" I feel like I could have written this; it feels as Western as any other European-based philosophy. The one thing I've learned about indigenous belief systems is that they really do feel foreign. This reads like another guy tapping into the New Age Spiritual Circuit.

(I'm all for stopping the missionaries, mind you ... I despise the damage they do to indigenous cultures).
posted by kanewai at 11:09 PM on February 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Certainly an interesting post. Thanks, pinothefrog!
posted by Harald74 at 12:22 AM on February 11, 2009


The one thing I've learned about indigenous belief systems is that they really do feel foreign.

You can't have learned much, then; most traditional Polynesian myths predate Western contact and sound pretty unexceptional to Western ears.
posted by rodgerd at 12:28 AM on February 11, 2009


Gatekeepers? Do they let you in the back door?
posted by MuffinMan at 12:34 AM on February 11, 2009


rodgerd, It was Polynesian and Micronesian belief systems specifically that I was thinking of.

Goddesses that transform themselves into flying vaginas to escape the pig god, trickster gods that bury themselves in the sand with only their cock showing so that women can secretly "ride" them while appearing to take a piss, sorceresses that slaughter islands where no young men can satisfy them, mothers who massage their daughter's clitorises and let red ants bite them to make them swell so they'll be more attractive, women who squirt breast milk into your coffee to freak out the young western visitor, men who keep their girlfriends secret because they will have to share if their buddies find out (and she'll have to agree or leave him if he asks her to share), women who burn cigarettes onto their thighs to mark every lover they've had ...

This is pretty "unexceptional" to your ears?

This is stuff I've seen or witnessed first hand in the more remote Pacific islands. Next time be careful before you tell another poster "you can't have learned much."
posted by kanewai at 9:43 AM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hope they keep their gatekeepers vibrating happily, and the witches are content. Piss those folks off, hell breaks loose, literally.
posted by Goofyy at 9:56 AM on February 11, 2009


I type too fast, so make that "heard or witnessed." Obviously, I never say any pig gods or flying vaginas.
posted by kanewai at 10:04 AM on February 11, 2009


kanewai, you may well be right about the Pacific Islands--I certainly wouldn't claim to be any expert in either Polynesian or West African "indigenous" belief systems--but there is the small matter that Polynesian beliefs may "feel" different from African beliefs. So I'm not sure your personal experiences give you any privileged insight here.
posted by col_pogo at 11:50 AM on February 11, 2009


kanewai! i want to go to your polynesia! it sounds like the fun one... mmmm, breast milk coffee...
posted by artof.mulata at 2:51 PM on February 11, 2009


My point, though, was that this essay feels Western to me. Not mainstream, for sure; but it seems that alternative Western thought all too often gets passed off as "traditional indigenous." This strikes me as standard New Age fare.
posted by kanewai at 10:27 PM on February 11, 2009


i could not agree more, kanewai...
posted by artof.mulata at 5:28 PM on February 12, 2009


« Older Tragedy of the anti-commons   |   At A Deadly pace Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post