Homosexuality in Voodoo is religiously acceptable and homosexuals are allowed to participate in all religious activities. However, in countries with large Voodoo populations (such as Benin or Haiti) Christian influence has given homosexuality a social stigma (see homosexuality and Christianity), at least on some levels of society. The Voodoo religion itself has remained open to people of all sexual orientations.
Views of Homosexuality
Voodoo is primarily an ecstatic and not a fertility-based religion (see Fertility rites.) This means that members are not required by any religious law to reproduce, and homosexuals are not pressured to do so. Voodoo views sexual orientation as a part of the way God makes a person; homosexuals are free to pursue members of the same sex just as heterosexuals are free to pursue members of the opposite sex.
Male homosexuals are seen as under the protection of the Erzulie Freda, loa of love and beauty. She is very effeminate, allowing gay men to exhibit stereotypical traits during religious ceremonies. Erzulie Dantor is seen as the patron of lesbians, although she is herself bisexual having alot of children and two husbands simbi makaya and ti jean petro though she is said to perfer the company of women.
During Voodoo ceremonies, the houngans (priests), mambos (priestesses), and hounsis (initiates) dance around a poteau-mitan until one of them becomes possessed by one of the loa. A person can be possessed by any loa, regardless of gender. Many people have observed that gay men are more frequently possessed by female loa, and lesbians are more frequently possessed by male loa. During possession, the possessed dancer will begin to behave like the loa they are possessed by and they are treated with the utmost respect.
Interestingly, when a homosexual is possessed by a heterosexual loa, they begin to behave as heterosexuals.
Countries with large Voodoo populations may not be as open to homosexuality as one would expect. All of these countries have been colonized by European powers, France and Spain especially, who imposed their Roman Catholicism on the people. This had the effect of importing European views on homosexuality to these nations. In Benin, for instance, a former French colony, homosexuality remains a crime.
In Haiti, homosexuality remains taboo, especially in extremely poor areas where many people are forced to live in small spaces. However, homophobia in Haiti is far less prevalent than in neighbouring countries like Jamaica; instead of being seen as a sin, as in predominantly Christian societies, it is seen as more of an unfortunate trick by God on the homosexual person. In recent years as the Catholic Church has lost some political influence in Haiti, Voodoo has become more culturally predominant, and homosexuality has become more acceptable. In some parts of Haiti (especially Port-au-Prince) temples have opened with solely gay or lesbian clergies. Gays and lesbians in Haiti who are seeking spirituality usually turn to Voodoo, because the other two religious presences in the country, Roman Catholicism and Evangelicalism, generally disapprove of homosexuality.