The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) traditional healers have stepped out of the shadows into the public domain.
Supported by non-governmental organisations, the group met in Khayelitsha on Saturday August 13 to raise questions and concerns on issues that affect them.
Often dubbed as “UnAfrican”, the Ubomi’bam Luvuyo LGBTI Healers Forum held a community dialogue under the theme “My sexuality does not define my spiritual gift”.
The event mostly served as a platform to highlight issues affecting the gay and lesbian traditional healers and the public’s views on them and their calling.
The dialogue attracted a couple of people. The crowd on the stand at Isivivane Youth auditorium sang and clapped hands during the discussion in support of the traditional healers.
The event ended in an amicable spirit with everyone in good understanding.
Organiser Pharie Sefali said the event was held as a means of increasing the visibility of gay and lesbian traditional healers in the community, with the hope of acceptance.
Ms Sefali said she is happy with the direction the debate took. “People shared their views and felt such platforms were needed. It was also a good thing for us because we have been neglected. People have been saying we are a disgrace to our ancestors and what we’re doing was unAfrican. But people showed maturity when they engaged with the issue of our sexuality,” she said.
“They raised Qamata and Xhosa culture and their interpretation of the Bible.
“The dialogue, I believe, covered most issues.” She said it was about time that people started educating themselves about sexuality.
According to the founding figure of the forum, Funeka Soladaat, they are not just campaigning for the right to be allowed to be part of the mainstream healers, they are also doing it for up and coming LGBTI healers to practise their calling with pride.
She said for years, LGBTI healers have struggle to practise freely and without fear.
She said it was disturbing to always hear people describing homosexuals as unAfrcan.
Ms Soldaat said they decided to form the forum that would speak out and engage other groupings on healers who werehomosexuals.
She called on other religious bodies to stop attempts to impose a form of sexuality and sexual expression that derives from narrow interpretations of religious scripture and understand where gays and lesbians come from.
“We need to ask questions like where do they get their spirituality, who are their ancestors, are these ancestors gays and lesbians.
“But the real answer is, no, those ancestors are not gays and lesbians. Even people that bore these people are what many call ‘straight’ people. How come then they became gays and lesbians,” she asked.
Ms Soldaat said the dialogue, had attracted people from as far as Delft, Nyanga and Gugulethu, and she hoped such dialogues would go a long way towards stamping out the scourge of gender and sexual violence at even traditional institutions like the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa.
She said culture and customs should not be used to the advantage of some and at the expense of others.
“We need to engage such institutions on traditional affairs. They need to clarify where lesbians and gays fit in.
“They also crush anything and everything about homosexuality. We hope we go as far as talking to them,” she said.
Reverend Emma Kejoe encouraged the forum not to be disturbed by others in their endeavours to heal people.
She said people should know that everyone was created by God.
“When God created man, He knew what he was doing.
“He is the creator not any other person on earth. People should not be discouraged by those who are bad-mouthing gays and lesbians,” she said.
Vuyani Mabandla encouraged people to trust gay and lesbian healers.
And the forum pledged to continue with dialogues around the issue of sexuality and spirituality.