Homosexuality in Haitian Voodoo is religiously acceptable and homosexuals are allowed to participate in all religious activities.( However, in countries with large Voodoo populations (such as Benin, Togo or Haiti), some Christian influence may have given homosexuality a social stigma (see homosexuality and Christianity), at least on some levels of society. The Haitian Voodoo religion itself has remained open to people of all sexual orientations.
Haitian Views of homosexuality
Voodoo is an ancestral religion, and viewed by some western anthropologists as an ecstatic religion. It is not a fertility-based religion. This means that the majority of its members are not required by any religious law to reproduce, and homosexuals are not pressured to do so. Haitian Voodoo views sexual orientation as a part of the way God makes a person; homosexuals are free to pursue members of the same sex just as heterosexuals are free to pursue members of the opposite sex.
In Haitian Voodoo, male homosexuals are seen as under the protection of the Erzulie Freda, loa of love and beauty. She is very effeminate, allowing gay men to exhibit stereotypical traits during religious ceremonies. The documentary "Des hommes et dieux" presents interviews with several men who feel Erzulie made them gay. Erzulie Dantor is seen as the patron of lesbians, although she is herself bisexual having a lot of children and two husbands simbi makaya and ti jean petro though she is said to prefer the company of women.
During Haitian Voodoo ceremonies, the houngans (priests), mambos (priestesses), and hounsis (initiates) dance around a poteau-mitan until one of them becomes possessed by one of the Loa. A person can be possessed by any Loa, regardless of gender. Many people have observed that gay men are more frequently possessed by female loa, and lesbians are more frequently possessed by male Loa. During possession, the possessed dancer will begin to behave like the loa they are possessed by and they are treated with the utmost respect.
Reverend Severina KM Singh, a New Orleans Voodoo priestess explains,
I have gay friends who practice and I can personally attest to the closeness of the Loa to them. I have witnessed wonderful and powerful rituals which they led. The intent in your heart matters more than your sexual orientation. I read for very many gay people and make offerings for them without any qualms at all. Voodooist believe in the transmigration of the soul. That means my soul could have been in a black male body at one time and an oriental female body at another time, not to mention the millions of lives spent in lower life forms..Some of them probably quite asexual or bisexual or transsexual!
However, not all Vodou traditions espouse the belief in soul transmigration. For example, according to Mami Wata Vodoun Chief Hounon-Amengansie priestess, Mama Zogbé, the concept of soul transmigration is foreign in West African-Diaspora Vodoun cosmology. She states that,
In the Vodoun religion, one is born within the same ethnic tribal groups and families. That is how the ancestral Vodou deities are inherited from generation to generation. Their priesthoods and certain tutelary deities of its initiates are bio-spiritually connected with family and ancestral lineages-some dating back hundreds of years.
Countries with large Voodoo populations may not be as open to homosexuality as one would expect. All of these countries have been colonized by European powers, France and Spain especially, who imposed their Roman Catholicism on the people. This had the effect of importing European views on homosexuality to these nations. In Benin, for instance, a former French colony, homosexuality remains a crime.
In recent years as the Catholic Church has lost some political influence in Haiti, Voodoo has become more culturally predominant, and homosexuality has become more acceptable. In some parts of Haiti (especially Port-au-Prince) temples have opened with solely gay or lesbian clergies. Gays and lesbians in Haiti who are seeking spirituality usually turn to Voodoo, because the other two religious presences in the country, Roman Catholicism and Evangelicalism, generally disapprove of homosexuality.
- Homosexuality and Christianity (many Vodouisants practice a hybrid form of Voodoo and Christianity)
- Religion and homosexuality
- Religion and sexuality
- McAlister, Elizabeth A (2002), Rara!: Vodou, Power, and Performance in Haiti and Its Diaspora, University of California Press, pp. 75–77, ISBN 0520228235 .
- Des hommes et dieux at the Internet Movie Database
- Métraux, Alfred & Charteris, Hugo (1972), Voodoo in Haiti, Schocken Books, ISBN 0805208941 .
- Singh, Reverend Severina KM (2002). Some Frequently Asked Questions About Voodoo. New Orleans Voodoo Crossroads. Retrieved on 2007-09-08.
- Zogbé, Mama. Resurrected Slave Vodoun Lineage in America. Retrieved on 2008-01-08.
- AIDS, fear, and Society: Challenging the Dreaded Disease; Kenneth J. Doka; Publisher: Taylor & Francis; 1997.
- Hoodoo Mysteries: Folk Magic, Mysticism & Rituals; Ray Malbrough; Publisher: Llewellyn Publications; 2003.
- Living in the Lap of the Goddess: the Feminist Spirituality Movement in America; Cynthia Eller; Publisher: Boston Beacon Press; 1995.
- Queering Creole Spiritual Traditions: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Participation in African Inspired Traditions in the Americas; Randy P. Conner, David Hatfield Sparks; Publisher: Harrington Park Press; 2004-03.
- The Pagan Man: Priests, Warriors, Hunters and Drummers; Isaac Bonewits; Publisher: Citadel; 2006.
- The Secular and the Sacred Harmonized; Eloise T. Choice; Publisher: AuthorHouse; 2005-09-08.
- St. James Press Gay & Lesbian Almanac; Neil Schlager (Editor); Publisher: Thomson Gale; 1998.