Proved: Lesbians, gays, straights can be friends in Cameroon

Rassemblement autour de la banderole de promotion des événements du 14 novembre 2015.
Supporters gather around a banner advertising the events of Nov. 14, 2015.

A homophobic neighborhood in Yaoundé, Cameroon was the site of a shock action on Nov. 14 that demonstrated the resilience of the LGBTI community and the ease with which gay and straight Cameroonians can interact peacefully.

The event, called “Homosexual Visibility in Homophobic Neighborhoods,” was organized by a lesbian support group to celebrate the successes of its first year in existence.

Members of the organization had long planned this day to mobilize people specifically against lesbophobia. The event was made possible by financial support from the XminY association, a partner based in the Netherlands.

On Nov. 14, the organization hosted about 40 heterosexual Cameroonians, more than 100 lesbians and 15 gay men for three activities:

  • L’équipe de football des lesbiennes
    The lesbian football (soccer) team.

    A football (soccer) match between a team consisting of 15 local lesbians and the men’s team from the Nkomo Club;

  • A screening of the film “Jenny’s Wedding” about female homosexuality;
  • A fashion show and the selection of Miss and Mister 2015.

The organization announced in a press release:

Mister et Miss 2015.
Mister et Miss 2015.

“We wanted through this day to promote the image of lesbians and to restore their confidence in themselves and in their future. They have real control over their lives. …

“The project allowed the meeting between the lesbian, gay and straight, to get together and share a day of sports, recreational and festive activity without judgment and in solidarity but also to raise awareness of gender stereotypes.”

At the same time that the organization thanked XminY for its support, it encouraged English-speaking donors to pay greater attention to the French-speaking lesbian community.

Sandrine Ateh, executive director of the organization, expressed her thanks to participating organizations for their material and organizational support: Affirmative Action, Humanity First Cameroon, Camfaids, Horizons Femme (Women’s Horizons), CAMNAFAW, CELHUSUS, Trésors Progrès and Children of Africa.

Sandrine Ateh
Sandrine Ateh

Ateh said, “We remain confident that, by the daily commitment of all, homophobia in Cameroon as we know it and suffer from it, will become a distant memory so that future generations, no matter their sexual orientation, will be able to live in freedom, responsibility and confidence.”

 

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at info@76crimes.com.

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