Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender individuals in Vodou
Often, I am asked about how homosexuals are viewed and treated within the Vodou tradition. Unlike other Afro-Caribbean traditions, Vodou does not discriminate against homosexuals. Homosexuals are not treated any different during Vodou ceremonies, and are not excluded from becoming Houngans and Mambos Asogwe. All ranks are open to homosexuals and all ceremonies are open to homosexuals, as long as one has the rank.
There are all gay and lesbian peristyles in Haiti, where being homosexual is a must to become a member. There are also cross dressers that participate in Vodou ceremonies. I met some in Port-Au-Prince while attending a dance, and they were dressed in full female regalia. Long denim dresses, earrings, kerchief, makeup, and sandals.
Homosexual men are said to be under the distinct patronage of the lwa of femininity, Metres Ezili Freda Daome. Lesbian women most often serve Ezili Danto, who stands for independent hardworking women. I have also often heard – from Houngans and Mambos – that homosexual Vodouisants become easily possessed. I’ve gone to ceremonies where, indeed, homosexual men and women became possessed a very large number of times. The Lwa do not discriminate against homosexual men and women either. Ogoun will possess a homosexual man or woman just as much as he would a heterosexual man or woman. In fact, one Ogou, Ogou De Manye, is said to be both heterosexual and homosexual at the same time, while also being extremely magickal.
While in Haitian culture it is different, it is not so in Vodou. Homosexual men often have a female partner. Why? This is because even homosexuals are expected to have children. Having children is very important because it is your children who will “gather one up” in old age. Lesbian women also have male partners to have children.
Ginen is big, it is open to everyone!