An Open Letter to Valery re “Homosexuality is a choice”

I was bbm’ing with one of my friends earlier this evening and after our usual random conversation on everything under the sun the conversation changed:

Speaking of which

Eh he
Go on…

I was reading the papers today
And there was a letter from some girl titled: ‘lesbianism is a choice’

A pro lezzie letter in a GH paper?

Now under normal circumstances I hardly read the papers ( a very bad habit for someone who works in Communications!) but when I got home I asked my Mum if she had today’s Daily Graphic

“Yes, I didn’t see anything interesting in it though. Is there something interesting in it” she asked. “Oh, no” I responded.

But there is something interesting in the Daily Graphic of 18th August 2010. Here’s an extract:

“I have been involved in lesbianism for the past five years and have no regrets whatsoever. Who says it’s not good? I urge that person to try it. It is better to be with a lady than a man. All that I will need from a man, I have in my lady partner. Is it money, care, love, affection or attention? All that are at my disposal.”

Wow! I thought. This is the first pro lesbian story I have seen in a Ghanaian paper. This is huge. The most tolerant piece on homosexuality I have read was from a woman who was asserting that homosexuals should not be judged and that we should rather pray for them to realise the errors of their ways. I paraphrase but that was her central thesis, and that was also carried in the Daily Graphic.

So I went back to bbm’ing my friend:

Goddamit!!!And she included her name and email address in the Graphic. I wonder if some pastors will write to her 🙂

Hell yeah…She’s gangsta

Charle!!!Too gangsta. I’m going to blog about her and send her an email

I really think you should

So I did! And got this response:

“Google tried to deliver your message, but it was rejected by the recipient domain. We recommend contacting the other email provider for further information about the cause of this error. The error that the other server returned was: 554 554 delivery error: dd This user doesn’t have a account”

Yeah I’m disappointed she used a fake email address. This was the letter I was sending to her:

Dear Valery,

A friend drew my attention to your letter in today’s Graphic. I think it was very brave of you to write the letter AND include your contact details. Its a shame that more people in Ghana are unable to be open about their sexuality. I write a blog on African women and sexuality at . Do visit the site when you get the chance and let me know if you’re interested in writing a guest contribution.

Warm Regards,
Nana Darkoa

11 comments On An Open Letter to Valery re “Homosexuality is a choice”

  • Valery! Where art thou?? Lolololol.
    To be honest, when i read the title – Homosexuality is a choice, my thought was, someone is saying people who are homosexuals have a choice not to be.
    I’m not sure homosexuality is a choice is the right title for Valery’s article. Its not that definitive. For some, its a choice, for others, its ingrained in their very DNA. They can’t be straight even if they wanted to be.
    Anyways, moving on from the title, I don’t judge, ever. I think no matter your beliefs it should not be expressed with any hostility or animosity. Its the hate and disgust part of how we discuss the topic that gets to me. Let people do and be who they want to be.
    So kudos to Valery. Its a pity she used a fake name though.

  • a few problems with this one…

    1. The quote you sited and its claims are unverified, and could therefore be easily dismissed as fabricated- especially when one is trying to pursue an underlying premise about human sexual (which is false, but I’ll get to that in a second).
    2. The belief that each person should have the freedom to explore their sexuality, and the sharing of that viewpoint in a newspaper would have been a singular aspect of sexuality the individual could have broached, and that would have been perfectly fine. But to conflate the belief that one has the choice to explore his/her sexuality with the fact that homosexuality isn’t a choice is in my view detrimental to real gays and lesbians who are struggling with the social stigma attached to same-sex relationships, especially in Ghanaian society.
    3. If anything, that presupposition only serves to reinforce an already entrenched idea that being gay is a choice- a scornful and immoral one- of which those who have “chosen” this practice should try to abstain from and more importantly, revert back to being heterosexuals. I don’t think my gay and lesbian friends, some of whom struggle with how negatively society views them, choose to stay that way.

    I could be a tad bit cynical here and even suggest this was probably a complete fabrication by the paper to further feed the perception that homosexuality is a choice (as suggested by a “reader”), and would I be wrong in that?

  • There is a new Ghana emerging! I have been astonished by some morning chat shows which cover the issue without any malice. Some of the new local movies are covering the issue in a less judgmental way.

    I actually liked your title. I knew many women in the UK who chose to have lesbian relationships because of their ideological beliefs. An interesting question is are they now lesbians? What do you have to do/be to become one?

    To respond to some of Mike’s points.

    I think the issue of human sexuality is very complex. Look at ‘situational homosexuality’! We are told that the Greek elite had both boys and women – does that mean bisexuality was genetic to Greeks?

    It seems that some are trying to prove that one is born a homosexual in the hope that this would lessen prejudice. I believe a study of cultures, history and how an individual’s sexuality can change, shows things are more complex. I’m also not convinced ‘being born that way’ would create a positive moral value for those that already hate it.

    The 60s project of revolution has finished. Now everyone wants to conform’. A behaviour has become an identity.

    Perhaps, it’s too exautsing to keep struggling? Homosexuals, instead of the 60s project of transforming society, now want society to accommodate them, to let them get married, go shopping together, raise kids and to be just as ‘normal’ as everyone else.

    So perhaps the most radical and dangerous step is not to contain homosexuality with the bodies of homosexuals. But to shout out, like Valarie, you can choose it and that’s OK!

  • @Boakyewaa – The second half of the title of this post was the title the Graphic gave to Valery’s letter “Homosexuality is a choice”. I agree that not everyone believes they choose to be lesbian, gay, queer…and many people believe they were born lesbian, gay, queer,…the list could go on and on. I have to say though the idea of fluid sexuality and choosing your sexuality is one that appeals to the social constructivist in me

    @Mike – I seriously doubt the letter was fabricated. It was only a brief letter and rang true (at least to me). It appears that the woman in question may have cited a false email address which makes sense within our context of intolerance and homophobia. I don’t think that people choosing to be ‘gay’, ‘lesbian’, etc should automatically set gay rights back. I can understand the desire to be able to say ‘I was born this way so there is nothing I can do about it’ but I feel people should be able to also say ‘I have made a conscious choice to be gay’. Also how about people who make ‘political’ choices to describe themselves as ‘lesbians’ , ‘sex workers’ etc in support of a lesbian rights or sex worker rights

    @Graham – I couldn’t agree more with you. I would also add the example of heterosexual men who engage in homosexual relations in prisons. Or how about the thousands (if not millions) of Ghanaians who engage in homosexual relations in single sex boarding schools, and outside schools live as heterosexuals. Oh and just checked out your blog. I like!

  • Graham, Nana-
    I’ll concede not living in Ghana, I may not know much about how further along views and discussions about same-sex relations have evolved, and maybe should’ve reserved judgement on the letter’s validity. Personally, I’ve always believed nature has been purposefully sloppy when it comes to sex- be it with gender assignment or sexual proclivity (oddly, we seem to be perfectly functionally engineered everywhere else) for survival, but that’s a different topic on its own for somewhere else. So, my views aren’t so divergent from yours.
    However, I took the above quote and viewed it from the prism of several articles I’d read on Ghanaian news sites and especially from the vitriol that emanated from a lot of narrow-minded comments, and how they all carried the same theme of choice, and how I wasn’t sure if a letter espousing ‘choice’ added to, or helped dissuade pervasive attitudes about homosexuality. Frankly, yours have been the only progressive viewpoints I’ve seen from Ghana in the past year (maybe I’ve been looking in all the wrong places).

    So as much as the idealist in me appreciates that shared experiences foster social epistem- in this case the freedom to choose, I also can’t help but be reminded that these are the only 3 open-minded views about choice i’ve seen contrasted with hundreds which hone in on that word to make their point. Again, I’ll submit I have loads to learn, and allow that maybe there are more open-minded Ghanaians and more evidence of acceptance of same-sex relations than I imagine.

  • @Nana – Hey, I also have social constructivist leanings too! Thanks for checking my blog!

    @Mike – I think from reading Ghanaian news sites you would be correct in thinking that Ghanaians are really intolerant. Unfortunately, many of these sites seem to attract the worst people!

    There have been a few good news items recently.
    This is a fantastic article that puts the discussion in the context of what is happening generally in Ghanaian society:

    Don’t bother reading the comments unless you want to be depressed!

    This was another provocative article by a law lecturer arguing that Ghana’s laws do not prohibit homosexuality:

  • Interesting article. I’m really not so convinced that Ghana is progressing when it comes to the gay issue. I’m just waiting for the resounding condemnations that are about to follow the publication of article. Religious and political leaders will come out and express their shock, horror and disgust at the moral decadence that is slowly creeping in Ghanaian society. Others will point out that blind adoption of Western lifestyles and fashions are having a detrimental effect on our youth.

    In a polarized political landscape such as good ‘ol Ghana, it is interesting how condemnation of (the) gays is one issue that unites all across the political divide. I would not be surprised to find that the letter is indeed contrived and only serves to distract from an increasingly explosive political atmosphere.

    I’m with Mike, I feel the letter is possibly a fabrication but for entirely different reasons.

  • Title would have been ok with me if it’d said, “Lesbianism (Homosexuality) COULD Be a choice… and, why the fuck not!”

  • @Abena – I did scan the Graphic the day after her letter was published and did not see the resounding condemnations…I haven’t checked today though. If anyone picks up anything can you please let me know? So why do you think the letter could be a fabrication. Maybe I should scan the letter and post it? If someone was trying to fabricate it they could have really worked much harder. It just came across (at least to me) as a very brief and passionate response from someone who is tired of the persistent homophobia in Ghana

    @Kofi – True, that would be a better title…

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  • Hi Dee, please don’t stay silent 🙂 I love to get comments on the blog..I checked out about 75% of the song (after pausing it for ages so it could upload), and I thought the sentiments behind the song is really sweet. Thanks for sharing

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