Black Skin, ‘cowboy’ Masculinity: A Genealogy of Homophobia in the African Nationalist Movement in Zimbabwe to 1983

Citation:

Epprecht, Marc. 2005. “Black Skin, ‘cowboy’ Masculinity: A Genealogy of Homophobia in the African Nationalist Movement in Zimbabwe to 1983.” Culture, Health & Sexuality 7 (3): 253–66. doi:10.1080/13691050410001730243.

Author: Marc Epprecht

Abstract:

This paper examines the intellectual and social origins of racialist homophobia in contemporary Zimbabwean political discourse, exemplified by President Robert Mugabe’s anti-homosexual speeches since the mid-1990s. It challenges the notions that such homophobia is either essential to African patriarchy or simple political opportunism. Tracing overt expressions of intolerance towards male-male sexuality back to the colonial period, it focuses on ways in which notions of appropriate, respectable, exclusive heterosexuality within the ‘cowboy’ culture of White Southern Rhodesia trickled into, or were interpreted in, the African nationalist movement. It concludes that understanding this history could improve efforts to address concerns around sexual health in Zimbabwe and elsewhere in the region, particularly silences around same-sex sexuality in HIV/AIDS education and prevention.

Keywords: homosexuality, homophobia, masculinity, nationalism, Zimbabwe, Rhodesia

Topics: Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Masculinism, LGBTQ, Sexuality Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Zimbabwe

Year: 2005

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