Words and Photos by David Ayliffe
A Tongue-In-Cheek Podcast Supporting LGBTQIA Refugees In Africa
No Sex Please – I’m Religious!
Don’t let the title worry you. I ain’t no prude.
I’m delighted to be a new member of Motafrenz but I have a confession to make: I specialize in shame! Specifically, sex shame in a new podcast – “No Sex Please – I’m Religious” (www.nosexplease.com.au), and on my Medium blog https://medium.com/@nosexplease
Now before I enter further into my shame. let me say I’ve always been a nutter for cars but for most of my life, I haven’t had spare cash to invest in my dreams. These days I run a disability holiday business with a 2016 Mercedes Valente. It’s a bus, but it’s a great vehicle even if my German marque was made in sunny Spain. For fun, I absolutely love my sweet blue 2004 C320. Handles beautifully, in my view, has plenty of power, and to be honest, I’d be happier driving it with my clients but it’s hard to fit 8 people into it, even with the roof off!
(No, I didn’t try). Some of them are bigger than me and getting someone bigger than a Hobbit into the back seat is a challenge.
So what about shame? For the past few years with some great friends, including recently the Editor of Motafrenz Magazine, John, I have been working to support queer refugees in East Africa. The journey to understand the pain and suffering these folk have has been a real challenge. What is wrong with our world when people are still hated for who they love?
Mardi Gras is fantastic and seeing the joy on people’s faces (and bodies) in Sydney is so sweet. As a marriage celebrant until recently some of the best weddings I performed were between guys and girls who had waited too long to have their love recognized.
How can we turn our successes into a way to help people in desperate need and fear for their lives in other countries?
So to the podcast. Recognizing that most of the persecution against LGBTIQ people stems in one way or another from misguided religion that preaches hate and not love, the podcast aims to expose the reason why religion and sex are such poor bedfellows. I’m hoping. Desperately hoping, that people will support our work through the podcast so that we can save and sustain the lives of gays, lesbians, trans, and their children too.
In Australia, we also have terrible stories in our past about the abuse from police, churches, and families against people who didn’t measure up to their petty standards. In Africa, it continues today unabated. Uganda recently passed a law that homosexual men would face LIFE IN PRISON if they are caught. Kenya is not far behind. If you are gay or lesbian, or worse trans, police brutality, homophobic gangs, laws, and culture force people to flee their own country for another with a sometimes forlorn hope that it will be safer under the watchful eye of the UNHCR. In 2020 I formed a small charity, Humanity in Need – Rainbow Refugees to advocate and support for LGBTIQ refugees in Africa who simply cannot survive without help.
We can only dream of Mardi Gras celebrations, joyful and free in Africa too but it won’t happen without people caring.
In Kakuma Camp, the largest refugee camp in the world, queer refugees are targeted by other gangs. If that wasn’t enough, the UNHCR has reduced basic food rations meaning that two weeks supply now has to stretch to four. Whilst simple medical care is provided at clinics throughout the camp, queer folk will be jostled out of line or discriminated against by medical staff. If the situation is recognized as too dangerous the UNHCR will advise the person to move to live in Nairobi. There they will be provided with three months’ funds for rent and food, but after that, they are on their own. Most do not have a right to work and if they do, you can be sure they will be abused and targeted by employers who recognize their status.
The persecution they suffer is literally driven by misguided religion.
In the early Christian church, sex phobias developed in the first centuries A.D. when the early “fathers”, followers of Plato and Socrates, discounted the beauty of the human body and sexuality itself for a crazy belief that sex was to be resisted and only sanctioned between a man and a woman to procure children. Augustine even taught that if sex occurred in the garden of Eden it would have been only as ”an act of will” and only to beget children. No fun for him. No pleasure. No joy. You gotta laugh. Or cry.
And so the gift of sex was devalued, decried, and denounced. Originally it wasn’t homophobia that was the bullet in the gun, but women were seen as the temptresses of men. It was an abhorrence of sex and misogyny that gave birth to all kinds of deviant hatreds. (Yep, those who hate difference are the deviants, you can be sure of that.)
In recent centuries, prior to missionaries arriving in India, Africa, and other nations, local cultures were fairly accepting of sexual differences. Like American Indians, for example, who celebrated what is now referred to as “two-spirit” people for those gifted with being gay, lesbian, or trans, many cultures embraced their own different folk. I understand it was the same with Australian aborigines.
We are having fun with the podcast. The website, www.nosexplease.com.au, describes a comedic but serious look at the issues that have caused so much pain to people worldwide. In early episodes, it will feature the great church fathers like Origen and Augustine, who believed their sexual desires were sinful and to be resisted. There was a belief that Origen even had himself castrated to deal with his desires. Whether he did or not, he might have been the Origin of ideas, but certainly not of his species.
A particularly horrible story features the physical and sexual abuse of two young gay men who were residents at a Catholic University College in Sydney. Apparently, some recent Federal political leaders, known to us all for their “Christian” beliefs, were also residents of that college at the time and no doubt were aware of this event. The victims remain anonymous decades later for their own mental state. One ghastly night they were stripped naked, badly beaten, physically and sexually abused, and then left late at night in a ditch up a lonely dirt road in the Royal National Park. When they sought legal redress, the then Archbishop of Sydney closed ranks and the police destroyed the file. Christian? Hardly.
We have so many stories to tell and perhaps you have some you can share too.
I hope to attend Motafrenz events as I can. My disability business, Best People Care, keeps me busy along with work for refugees in Africa. The biggest challenge we have is in raising funds to literally save lives. Please contact me if you’d like to discuss any of this. firstname.lastname@example.org or 0425733361