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  • Writer's pictureMetta

Why Invent Sexuality?

Updated: Dec 19, 2022

Why invent a framework of sexuality? Why invent a framework of homosexuality?

I'm not referring to those that say that homosexuality, or transgender existence is something new. It is not something new.

Queer people, trans and gender non-conforming people, intersex people, we have always existed.

We are a part of nature.

Colonialism and specific organized religions invented categories, categories that exist outside of the fluidity of nature. They created a rigid gender binary, with rigid constructs and requirements assigned to each gender. They created specific types of relationships, with marriage between two people at the center, with a focus on property and progeny and patriarchy. They created specific types of sexuality and sexual expression. This was another step in building systems to break people of their connection to their own knowing, to each other, connection to the Earth, and in the case of capitalism and empire, further supporting power and domination. With colonization this was also a way to break communities from their own cultures, spiritual practices, belief systems, forcing assimilation.

In the "Queer Liberation Theologies of Latin American, Asian, and African Contexts" taught by Dr. Hugo Cordova Quero at Starr King School for the ministry we delved into queer and trans history of Latin America.

We had comprehensive notes provided on pre-colonization/pre-Columbian Aztec, Mayan, and Incan empires, and what is known/non-known about gender and sexuality. Grounding in what has existed over time before Christianity and Colonized legal systems was important. A wide array of perspectives on gender, sexuality, and relationships have existed across indigenous peoples globally. In the paper by Zeb Tortorici, we covered more information than I knew that existed about post-Columbian records of queer people. From having grown up in a situation where the dominant message to me was that queer and trans people either didn't exist, or were somehow recent, it is always so valuable to me to see our global history, even if the reason the records described by Zeb Tortorici existed was also an example of the harm and policing of people. The policing of bodies in Latin America, from gender to sexual behavior, was introduced by organized religion and and then codified into law via colonialism, and supported through violence. With race, class, and other factors impacting who was more likely to be harmed.

It is so important to remember this. I know that much of white/central-European ancestry scholarship in exploring the history of queerness has been about wanting to prove that "we have always existed" to further queer rights within the Global North. While those in the Global South are often focusing their writing and scholarship on fighting for life and human rights in their countries, often grappling with structures of harm that ultimately were introduced by colonialism and are not inherent to the cultures existing before colonialism of their homelands. But also there is such a filter on history and interpretation of documents/historical record coming from the lens of colonization and Christianity (particularly Catholicism) that I appreciate the work scholars are trying to do to uncover, re-interpret, seek and find, more information on who existed and how and where what was queer and trans.

I know for myself I also have a hunger. I was told that I didn't exist. That I was wrong in my thinking. That even if I existed as a queer and trans person that there was some kind of mistake or accident then, something that needed to be fixed or changed. And I was without any connection to global history of transgender existence and queerness. It was a sense of being alone, and I was feeling conflicted between internal knowing, knowing deep down I wasn't the only one, while at the same time being fed constant external information denying my existence and my wholeness. And when I encounter material that finally tells a story that colonialism tried to remove from the globe, of the existence of trans people and queer people forever and ever, it matters greatly to me. For example, it mattered so much to me when I watched the documentary "A Place in the Middle" with Kumu Hina, an important Hawaiian elder who is “māhū”. Māhū are third gender individuals within Polynesian culture that have traditional spiritual and social roles within their culture. In the course I took with Hugo Cordova Quero, additional important global histories of queer and trans/gender-non-conforming people were shared.

Dominant culture can create many messages of non-belonging, and messages that we don’t each have our own innate “knowing”. These messages take a variety of forms, and can convey a sense of not being natural. But we are natural, we are nature, we are a children of this Earth. We have always existed.

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