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Is current theorising on same-sex sexuality relevant to the African context?

Whereas much of the work in the West has assisted African same-sex sexualities in providing visibility to same-sex desire, the theorising has not sufficiently provided for a contextual understanding of phenomenon – that of unpacking deeply entrenched ideas of fundamentalist conceptions of religion and patriarchy, and of untangling a psychological colonization resultant from a colonial past.

This paper argues that sociological theory relating to issues of same-sex sexuality, in taking its location in the West for granted, fails by being insufficiently inclusive. Specifically, it fails to take the contextual realities, history and conditions of Africa into account, and to explore how Africans have understood same-sex desire. The African context is one in which political leadership campaigns against same-sex desire have found centre-stage and where virulent media campaigns against same-sex desire are normalised. It is contended that this results from psychological colonisation. The argument is that Western theories on same-sex desire are inadequate in addressing the concerns of those marginalised in African contexts. The paper moves on to call for greater voices from Africa in theorising sexuality – a terrain long ignored in African scholarship.

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