Africa Hates Gays / Gays Hate Africa

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    Jun 02, 2010 8:23 AM GMT
    'Hate' seems to be the primary 'thing' that the gay rights movement is fighting against: fighting against hate and for rights. However, one thing I notice in both the forums and in 'real' life, is how hate is used to counter hate, where ignorance breeds more ignorance.

    Specifically, I am referring to news coming out of Uganda, and people's reaction to it. Forums are full of commentary saying how Africans are "undeveloped", "backwards", and many embrace the colonial ideas of "Orientalism", viewing Africans and other people - such as Muslims - as 'barbaric' and 'primitive'. The notion of this 'barbarian' or 'primitive man', particularly in Africa, was a key facet of the colonial project in Africa, as it served as justification for a "civilizing mission" in Africa.

    What is lost on those commenting on Africans 'today', often seems to be that perhaps they don't know any, or know anything about Africa and its history.

    People often seem to make statements claiming that African 'culture' is deeply hateful towards homosexuality. This is not true. Before the Europeans colonized Africa, there were many instances of homosexuality in indigenous African cultures in regions across the continent. Our little knowledge of this is due to the fact that most 'documented' histories of Africa were written by anthropologists, who were an integral part of the 'colonial project', and often simply discounted African homosexuality, either leaving it out of their reports or commenting disingenuously on it's role.

    It was when the Europeans arrived, first through the missionaries, taking the role of the "civilizing mission", that homosexuality was made taboo and seen as 'wrong'.

    "For instance, early colonial Portuguese penal codes criminalised homosexuality in Angola. Prior to Portuguese control, homosexual men called chibados had been free to exercise their sexuality. Portuguese colonial laws either gave rise to or intensified homophobia in Africa. Homophobia is more colonial than the practice of homosexuality in Africa. The contradiction could not be starker."
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/mar/23/homophobia-africa-gay-rights

    Africa, since the Atlantic Slave Trade, has not been free of the heavy chains of colonialism and imperialism. Empire simply changes its form and structures, but the functions and purposes remain engrained. Africans struggled for independence in the 1960s and 70s, but only gained formal political independence, the Europeans maintained economic control. Africans attempting to take back their lands and resources for Africans were subjected to assassinations, coups or war instigated by Europe or America. Through institutions like the World Bank and IMF, western countries, banks and corporations retook control of Africa and its resources, and supported despotic governments, which dismantled civil society. When there was a clear threat of rising people's movements in Africa, the emergence of NGOs (non governmental organizations) primarily western, spread rapidly in the 1990s. Today, western NGOs fill the role in the modern imperial project in Africa that the missionaries filled in the old colonial project: they are the band-aid on the amputated arm of African civil society, moving in to replace the services African governments should be providing themselves (health care, education, etc), but sectors which these nations were forced to dismantle under World Bank and IMF "aid". However, they also have the subtle role of passifying resistance to power structures and is done by many who act out of benevolent desire, thinking they are doing good, but often causing more harm than good.

    These western NGOs in Africa often support "gay rights" in Africa, and for this reason, gay rights, as we know them, are viewed as another western-imposed idea upon Africa. Indeed, our idea of homosexuality is very western-oriented, and we seem closed-minded to the idea that we may have much to learn from other cultures and peoples. All western ideas pushed on Africa have had deleterious consequences, we have plagued and pillaged and plundered... why should Africans accept another western 'idea'? At the same time, the hatred that arises against gays within Africa is most heavily pushed by religious organizations of western origins, and with western connections. For example, the hate legislation in Uganda was heavily backed by an American evangelical organization. So Africans are left with a battle between two western-imposed 'ideas'; either they accept western religious institutionalized hatred of gays, or they accept western 'liberal' ideas of homosexuality. For the observing African with a historical memory, both western 'religious' and 'liberal' ideas being pushed onto Africans have had disastrous consequences.
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    Jun 02, 2010 8:23 AM GMT

    African history, that is, before colonialism, is full of different views, perspectives, treatment and roles of homosexuality in their various cultures. There is no 'one' Africa, there are many. Discrimination was a creation of colonialism. The colonial project created the idea of 'race'.

    Race was created as a concept during the slave trade, not before it. It was created through legal decisions, in which in the American colonies, white, native and black African labourers and slaves were rising up against colonial forces, but they were working together and rising together and this was becoming a great threat to the colonization of the Americas. So through legal decisions, the colonists differentiated between whites and blacks, and delivering and removing rights to one group and from the other. Thus, white supremacy was born and race became an extreme factor of discrimination. It is through the same colonial project that homophobia was instilled in both the colonized and the colonial culture.

    Even in most native American and Canadian First Nations tribes there are tales of "two-spirits", people of both a male or female sex who embodied both masculine and feminine qualities, and were often considered gifted individuals, becoming healers, teachers or artisans. It was when the Europeans arrived that they told the indigenous groups that it was 'wrong' and against God.


    The legacies of these colonial decisions hundreds of years ago remain in these cultures today. The African diaspora in America, heavily influenced by Christianity, often see homosexuality in a negative light. The same is true for many indigenous native American tribes today, where 'two-spirits' are no longer revered and respected, and rarely even acknowledged.

    How can we fight homophobia in Africa if we fight it using the same tools of discrimination that are used against us? We can not fight homophobia with ideas of race and racism. We must combat discrimination at its origins, and deconstruct the foundations upon which ALL discrimination against ALL people is built. To fight homosexuality, we must fight racism, too. We must empower not only ourselves, western homosexuals, but all people everywhere. The best way to fight homophobia in Africa is to let Africans take back Africa for themselves. To fight homophobia in Africa, we have to fight western imperialism in Africa.

    The struggle for freedom is the struggle of freedom for all. It must be freedom for all or freedom for none. The divisive nature of 'civil movements' in terms of 'women's rights', 'gay rights', environmentalism, etc etc, is that often we fight against other people as opposed to power structures. If we pass hate legislation that bans certain types of speech, we take freedom from someone else. Someone's right to say something hateful to me is the same as me having the right to tell them they are wrong. If we take their ability to speak freely, we take away our ability to do so. We cannot gain rights by dismantling rights. Then the gay rights movement can be seen as a problem by many who see their speech as being infringed. We will not win over people to supporting our rights and freedoms if we take theirs. They will then act back against us, seeking to put people in power who take away our rights, and it continues in a never-ending cycle of discrimination and a continual assault against rights and freedoms for all people.
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    Jun 02, 2010 8:23 AM GMT

    If we continue down this path, we will be left with nothing. Our struggle has to be the struggle for freedom for all people everywhere. Our autonomy as individuals, our sexual identity, must be fought for with the struggle for autonomy for individuals and peoples everywhere, and for people to discover and decipher their own identities.

    What better way to make people join the cause of gay rights and freedoms if we are fighting for the rights and freedoms of all peoples all over the world. And working WITH them, not simply speaking FOR them. We have as much to learn, if not more so, than we have to teach.

    The ideas of 'democracy' emerged from ancient African societies, and the Greeks went to Africa to study these ideas, out of which Greek civilization, and subsequently 'western' civilization emerged and grew. All human civilization came from Africa and spread around the globe. All I ask is that there be a little more respect and understanding.

    I understand that collectivist ideas and identity is very easy and appealing, as in, I am gay so I view the world simply through the lens of homosexuality, and my politics are thus defined by my sexuality. But there is simply more to consider than 'group' identity. There is a world of different people, cultures, religions, sexualities, 'race', gender, etc, and empowering the people anywhere is a victory for people everywhere. Things are not so black and white.

    We cannot fight hatred with hatred. We must fight it with love. Do not demonize Africans or frame Africans as "backwards" or "barbaric". Look at the causes of discrimination towards homosexuals in Africa, and realize that they are the same causes of discrimination against black people everywhere, against all 'races', genders, identities. Thus, to truly fight discrimination against 'us', we must fight discrimination against all. We are not simply 'gay', we are, all of us, human. That is our shared connection with every person on this planet. So we should focus on the fight for freedom and rights for every person on this planet, not simply gay people. And like I said, this isn't simply a problem for 'gay rights', but most collective-identity movements.

    Martin Luther King is most remembered for his struggle for civil rights for African Americans. To do this, he challenged the major power structures in America at that time. The power structures tolerated King and the movement, incrementally, at first oppressing and eventually granting African Americans specific rights in the US. But in the last year of King's life, he began to speak out primarily against war, empire and poverty. When he spoke of poverty, he acknowledged that there are racial lines, but that there were more poor whites than blacks in America, thus, poverty is a human issue, not simply defined by colour (even if exacerbated by it), but that it would need to be addressed by ALL people. He was planning on leading a million man march against poverty on Washington D.C., and was speaking out against the American empire and war in Vietnam. From then on, King became intolerable to the power structures, and was killed by a conspiracy involving American military intelligence circles, which was the conclusion of a jury verdict in the late 1990s, in which the King family proved in court that MLK was killed in a government conspiracy. A trial that should have gotten the attention of trial of the century, but which was overshadowed by the media frenzy over OJ Simpson, an issue irrelevant to most people.

    But King was killed when he saw the need to fight for all people, because that is the true way forward, the true way to real 'change'. To gain and preserve freedom and rights, to fight hate and discrimination, we must dismantle the system that created these types of discrimination and hate, whether racism or homophobia, and any other method is likely to lead no where. We cannot spread gay rights if we are perceived as being a part of a modern colonial 'civilizing' project. We CAN spread gay rights if we fight for all people's rights and freedom.

    Anyway, those are just my thoughts on the matter.

    Here are some links to information on homosexuality in pre-colonial Africa:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/mar/23/homophobia-africa-gay-rights
    http://allafrica.com/stories/200912100685.html
    [url]http://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=ZjbESL6YWU0C&oi=fnd&pg=PR11&dq=homosexuality+and+African+indigenous+tradition&ots=WdnQOaNEyo&sig=BSc6_puMZmy0QZm-2BaUML4nmPc#v=onepage&q=homosexuality%20and%20African%20indigenous%20tradition&f=false[/url]
    http://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=rR84DKdC4pEC&oi=fnd&pg=PP11&dq=homosexuality+and+African+indigenous+tradition&ots=7srwYAPXm6&sig=KIRqqKjIp8BUchGOyiHOOF4JUdY#v=onepage&q&f=false
    http://www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/africa_pre.html

    Sorry for the LONG rant.
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    Jun 02, 2010 8:34 AM GMT
    I've no real intelectualised thought to add, I just wanted to say.. It was interesting to read icon_smile.gif
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    Jun 02, 2010 9:28 AM GMT
    An article about Ugandan Human Rights groups protesting the anti-gay law.

    The Civil Society Coalition says in its statement that the bill, “while claiming to protect the African traditional family… fails to recognise the rich diversity of those family structures in our multiple traditions. By mounting an attack on the most fundamental principle of the human rights framework… it is also mounting an attack on some of the most cherished dimensions of African culture.”

    http://allafrica.com/stories/200912100685.html

    Statements framing Africans as "backwards" or "barbaric" ignores the important contributions of Africans, themselves. Why do these African human rights organizations not get a voice in our media? Why are our perceptions so closed towards Africa and Africans? We are given a single vision of a people or place, mired in 'barbarity' and 'hate' and 'fear', and when our governments, economies, institutions and ideas push onto Africa and Africans, we see this as somehow justified by our perception of Africa[ns]. The same goes for Muslims and the Middle East.

    We do not hear the voices of the people of that part of the world. In Uganda, local human rights groups fight against the anti-gay legislation, what else are they fighting for? What do they have to say about other issues and ideas? If they are taking up our fight for our ideas, should we not take up theirs? Should we not at least 'listen'?

    It's not a one-way road, freedom. Our cause must be their cause if their cause is to be ours. How can we ask Africans to fight for gay rights in their societies if we do not fight for them to have the basic human rights we take for granted? How can we ask them to mobilize for our ideas if they do not have clean water to drink?

    If we have a voice being heard in Africa, why do Africans not have a voice being heard here?

    The western gay rights movement spoke out against a potential gay 'holocaust' in Uganda, but where are these voices (which are heard heavily in our media), when it comes to speaking out against the ACTUAL holocaust going on in the Congo, which has been enthralled in war since 1996, with the active participation and support of the Pentagon, American intelligence, and many western nations, from Canada to Belgium, whose corporations plundered the Congo and raped its resources. We armed, trained, and funded the war lords and civil war itself.

    Over 6 million people have been killed in the Congo, making it the deadliest war since World War II. It has involved all of Central Africa, with the two most aggressive nations being Uganda and Rwanda. Rwanda is a tyrant government, run by a general who was trained by US special forces at Fort Bragg, NC, and who ran the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a militant army run out of Uganda, funded and trained and armed by Uganda and the US (which was funding, arming and training the Ugandan military itself). The west armed and trained and funded the RPF from before it started the Rwandan civil war in 1990, and throughout the whole war, and the genocide in 1994, which was sparked by the assassination of the Rwandan and Burundian presidents on a plane, which was shot down by the RPF and Kagame, who is now president of Rwanda. The assassination launched the genocide by radical elements in the Rwandan Hutu military who started massacring Tutsis, as they saw them as the RPF's base in Rwanda, as the RPF was Tutsi. The RPF then raced for Kigali, the capitol, from Uganda, and massacred upwards of 50,000 Hutus on their way to seizing power, while the Interhamwe (radical Hutu military) massacred hundreds of thousands of Tutsis and Hutus.

    Kagame, himself guilty of genocide, was instantly hailed, along with Museveni in Uganda (who is still president) by Madeleine Albright, the US secretary of state, hailed them as the "new leaders" of Africa. Heavily backed, trained, armed and funded by American and other western nations and corporations, Kagame and Museveni launched the invasions of the Congo, and our corporations, many of which are Canadian mining companies, followed closely behind.

    This conflict continues today.

    Where are African voices on these issues? Why are these issues not in our media? Where are our voices on these issues?

    Our cause is their cause. To fight homophobia, we must fight imperialism. Freedom for all or freedom for none.
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    Jun 02, 2010 9:51 AM GMT
    Freedom for all or freedom for none!
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    Jun 02, 2010 10:22 AM GMT
    MuchMoreThanMuscle said
    It angers me that a Canadian white male knows more about African history than an actual African native. This is a perfect example of why education is so important for African people. I'm glad there are people contributing to make this happen for them.


    But I don't know more than an actual African native. Than MANY African natives, for that matter. When I went to Uganda, I had the chance to meet some of the most intelligent and incredible people I have ever met in my life. I had so much and still have so much more to learn from them.

    There is much that the west and the world can learn from Africa and Africans. There is an education crisis there, but there is an education crisis here. Universities indoctrinate almost more than they educate. We have to re-examine our own education and understandings.

    You state, "This is a perfect example of why education is so important for African people. I'm glad there are people contributing to make this happen for them."

    But who will be deciding their education? Us? Why not let Africans choose what Africans learn? Why should we decide for them? Our societies have already stolen their history, we cannot nor should we be trusted to show them the way to the future. We have to allow them to control their own lives and societies, and regain control of ours.
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    Jun 02, 2010 2:37 PM GMT
    People often seem to make statements claiming that African 'culture' is deeply hateful towards homosexuality.

    If you watch some of the videos of the Ugandan preacher, I think you will see HIM making the statement that African culture is against Homosexuals, not people from the outside.

    Also, from what I have read, yes, most primitive cultures (that is untouched by outside forces) are not so uptight about sexuality. Usually I think it becomes that way once it is contaminated by external culture destroying religions or ideologies.

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    Jun 02, 2010 3:17 PM GMT
    Excellent work MeOhMy.

    You touched on points I had questions about concerning the cultural origins of homophobia in Africa.

    Thanks.
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    Jun 02, 2010 3:25 PM GMT
    Honestly, I don't think it's that complicated:

    As usual, the F'ing christians managed to "impose" (in a way) intolerance on a whole set of cultures.

    Also, what's the problem with using words like "barbaric" or "backwards"? That's exactly what they are. Saying that is cultural chauvinism is a little too simple, cause *any* cultural viewpoint has a baseline which usually is your own culture.

    It needs to be noted though that western culture IS fundamentally different from most other cultures: western culture is a set of values (especially in N. America) rather than something based on religion/location/ethnicity. Does that make western culture superior to other cultures? It most certainly does.
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    Jun 02, 2010 3:28 PM GMT
    Oh, and wasn't the very first thing the European missionaries in Africa did, was to tell the woman to "cover their breasts"?

    I guess christians just can't deal with sex because their savior was born out of immaculate conception, and the father and the son is the same person. Yea, that might explain why they're a little at odds over sex.

    The christian rule always seems to be "if it's good, it's not allowed". Be miserable! And if you're not we're gonna do our very best to make you so.
  • ja89

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    Jun 02, 2010 3:39 PM GMT
    Tazo995 saidHonestly, I don't think it's that complicated:

    As usual, the F'ing christians managed to "impose" (in a way) intolerance on a whole set of cultures.

    Also, what's the problem with using words like "barbaric" or "backwards"? That's exactly what they are. Saying that is cultural chauvinism is a little too simple, cause *any* cultural viewpoint has a baseline which usually is your own culture.

    It needs to be noted though that western culture IS fundamentally different from most other cultures: western culture is a set of values (especially in N. America) rather than something based on religion/location/ethnicity. Does that make western culture superior to other cultures? It most certainly does.


    im gonna give this response a smooth HELL NO...i will explain later but i have to run to class right now and dont have time to further state why im saying this. but let that marinate with you a bit. and really think about what the hell you just said.
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    Jun 02, 2010 3:41 PM GMT
    Tazo995 saidIt needs to be noted though that western culture IS fundamentally different from most other cultures: western culture is a set of values (especially in N. America) rather than something based on religion/location/ethnicity.


    WHAT? Wait... are you saying that western cultures (including the USA) have a set of values NOT based on religion?

    If you are, I guess you haven't been to the United States. *Don't you know... America's founding fathers were deep believers in Christianity! And Jesus told them what to write in our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and our Declaration of Independence!*

    I agree with you... but the Republicans here will never accept your view--'America got its values from the Bible'....

    And if you want to die young, go to a Waffle House in rural Kentucky and state your views openly.
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    Jun 02, 2010 3:53 PM GMT
    ja89 said
    Tazo995 saidHonestly, I don't think it's that complicated:

    As usual, the F'ing christians managed to "impose" (in a way) intolerance on a whole set of cultures.

    Also, what's the problem with using words like "barbaric" or "backwards"? That's exactly what they are. Saying that is cultural chauvinism is a little too simple, cause *any* cultural viewpoint has a baseline which usually is your own culture.

    It needs to be noted though that western culture IS fundamentally different from most other cultures: western culture is a set of values (especially in N. America) rather than something based on religion/location/ethnicity. Does that make western culture superior to other cultures? It most certainly does.


    im gonna give this response a smooth HELL NO...i will explain later but i have to run to class right now and dont have time to further state why im saying this. but let that marinate with you a bit. and really think about what the hell you just said.


    I'll spell it out for you while you chew on your reply:

    I'm saying that the philosophy, or the idea, or the value, or whatever you wanna call it, that:

    the individual is the revolving point of the value system, and personal freedom and the freedom to go after your own happiness in whatever form is of the highest value. We only have one life so we should aim at making it meaningful, worthwhile and a little pleasant if we can. Not a single individuals happiness is worth being subdued in favor of religious ideas, national interests of other non-tangible things like "our country's culture" or whatever

    is superior to

    value systems revolving around adhering to religious rules, written or otherwise, the interests of states, ruling elites, or collectives based on any of the preceding, value systems that justify making people miserable over any of those "values"

    in my viewpoint.

    THAT is what I'm saying. I'm NOT making the statement "America is the best and fuck all the rest.
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    Jun 02, 2010 3:58 PM GMT
    conscienti1984 said
    Tazo995 saidIt needs to be noted though that western culture IS fundamentally different from most other cultures: western culture is a set of values (especially in N. America) rather than something based on religion/location/ethnicity.


    WHAT? Wait... are you saying that western cultures (including the USA) have a set of values NOT based on religion?

    If you are, I guess you haven't been to the United States. *Don't you know... America's founding fathers were deep believers in Christianity! And Jesus told them what to write in our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and our Declaration of Independence!*

    I agree with you... but the Republicans here will never accept your view--'America got its values from the Bible'....

    And if you want to die young, go to a Waffle House in rural Kentucky and state your views openly.


    Of course I know that. But I don't give a shit about christian values. I'm talking about the liberal non-religious values coming out of the enlightenment. That the US never got out of the dark ages isn't my problem.

    And yes, I've been to the US plenty of times - just never to your Kentucky waffle house. Not planning on going either.
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    Jun 02, 2010 4:16 PM GMT
    Well, I know what you are saying, but Africa is a continent, not a country.

    South Africa has gay marriage countrywide. Does the U.S.?
    South Africa outlaws discrimination against gays in the constitution. Does the U.S.?

    A lot of the latest hate-mongering against gays in Africa originated in the U.S.
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    Jun 02, 2010 4:28 PM GMT
    I'm gay, and I don't hate Africa.

    Oops.
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    Jun 02, 2010 4:30 PM GMT
    viveutvivas saidWell, I know what you are saying, but Africa is a continent, not a country.

    South Africa has gay marriage countrywide. Does the U.S.?
    South Africa outlaws discrimination against gays in the constitution. Does the U.S.?

    A lot of the latest hate-mongering against gays in Africa originated in the U.S.


    Yep. It comes from conservative evangelicals. no less.
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    Jun 02, 2010 7:12 PM GMT
    Awesome post!

    One thing though, 'they' or 'it' gave us legal marriage rights here in South Africa.

    On a sadder note, lesbians get raped repeatedly in the townships by males in the community to 'cure' them of their habits.... With very traumatic consequences....

    More quality education is definitely in order here, but the thing is that the black people are thoroughly rooted in their respective cultures (we have 11 in SA lone), sometimes blinding them to what the truth of their ancient cultures really dictates. They rather opt to believe in popular opinion, and don't give a hoot about anything else...

    But, I suppose SA is much further advanced/westernised than any other African country, and by observing the many gay blacks at clubs etc., I believe significant strides are made in the fight to normalise gay issues.

    Oh yes, and our prez even spoke out against/publicly condemned the 14 year sentencing of the gay couple recently...

    Now who is coming for the World Cup?
    ;-)
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    Jun 02, 2010 7:21 PM GMT
    MuchMoreThanMuscle saidThanks for the informative post, MeOhMy. I have read lightly on the topic too about rituals that African tribes partook in that would be deemed homosexual and in our culture pedophiliac.

    It angers me that a Canadian white male knows more about African history than an actual African native. This is a perfect example of why education is so important for African people. I'm glad there are people contributing to make this happen for them.


    Don't be angry.

    If you knew more, you'd know that a Canadian white male probably knows less about African history than many actual African natives. icon_wink.gif
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    Jun 02, 2010 8:23 PM GMT
    Gays hate other Gays too; where is the love?
  • jrs1

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    Jun 02, 2010 8:34 PM GMT
    thank you so much, MeOhMy. : o )
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    Jun 02, 2010 9:37 PM GMT
    A very informative read, thank you for taking the time to post me me!
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    Jun 02, 2010 9:49 PM GMT
    Yup, great post.
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    Jun 02, 2010 9:51 PM GMT
    i still don't like africa. except egypt. egypt is pretty cool. the rest is just dusty and poor and violent- doesn't matter to me how it got that way, it still sucks ass.