There are no homosexuals in Ethiopia

I count, among my many talents, the ability to make people feel uncomfortable by asking awkward questions, or by telling random stories at inappropriate times.
But in Ethiopia, anyone can do it! All you have to do is bring up the subject of homosexuals. On my last day in Ethiopia, I was hanging out with a young hotel worker. He wanted to make my last day in Ethiopia a pleasant one (because he thought I wasn’t treated right by another employee), so he showed me around Addis Ababa, and I had a beer with his friends.
In the spirit of small talk, I told him how, on one of my layovers flying to Ethiopia, I’d noticed a lot of homosexual males making out with each other. I said, “It’s not unusual to see this sort of thing, but at that particular airport, it was all over the place. I was confused – until I remembered that I was in San Fransisco.”
“Men hold each others’ hands all the time. It’s no big deal,” he replied. Indeed, in Ethiopia (and black Africa in general) it is common for same-sex friends to hold hands or put each others’ arms over each others’ shoulders. It signifies friendship, and no more.
“I’m not talking about just friendship…” I explained.
His eyes widened, and he became animated. “Oh no! We don’t have that sort of thing in Ethiopia. If it does occur, it’s only because that person was raped, or abused, as a child and his mind was messed up.”
And that’s how I learned that there are no homosexuals in Ethiopia. Except that, while staying at a hotel in Jinka, in the south, I happened to notice a printout of the hotel rules in my room:
I found rule #2 amusing but not surprising; Ethiopian law calls for the death penalty for homosexual activity – though I doubt it’s ever actually been carried out. I was told that this rule is common in Ethiopian hotels, though hotels that cater to Americans and Europeans might tone it down.
Even though I followed the rules at that hotel, I still got sick. My room had numerous insects, including mosquitoes, flying around, and this was a malaria zone. So I asked for some bug spray at the reception desk. They had some, and I sprayed it at the bugs as needed. I didn’t use much of it. Unfortunately, the window to my room had no screen, so I kept the window shut and, as I was tired, I laid down. After about half an hour, my throat was scratchy and I knew I was getting sick. The bug spray they use over there is much more powerful than what we have in the U.S. I’d poisoned myself, and I can still feel traces of the effect in my throat. Seasoned travelers to Africa know to bring their own window screens. Too bad I hadn’t thought of that.

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8 Responses to There are no homosexuals in Ethiopia

  1. missattempts says:

    I’m wondering why you didn’t have more children.
    Don’t some orthodox families have 12 or more. Remember the
    “hot plate incident” of a few weeks ago?
    When I had to work off my “public assistance,” I encountered a Jewish
    person there. Many orthodox Jews with large families live in special
    enclaves in upstate N.Y. Many are on assistance. I saw this same man
    parked at a supermarket with a station wagon with numerious howling
    Also, could you explain to me what a “Kurite” is? (I think my spelling is off.)
    They only believe in the first five chapter’s of the written law? As opposed
    to ordinary Jews who believe in the oral AND written law? (Tulmad.)
    Are these Kurites the decendents of the Sadducees, who also only
    believed in the written law?
    If the Torah was written by Moses, how could he have written about his
    own death before hand?

    • jewamongyou says:

      Not all Orthodox Jews have a ton of children. Personal considerations come into play with these people just like everybody else.
      A Karaite is, indeed, as you say. I’ve written about them before. It’s unclear, and improbable, that there are any direct links between them and the ancient Sadducees.
      According to Jewish tradition, the last few verses of the Torah were written by Joshua. Some say Moses wrote them from prophesy and with tears in his eyes.

  2. missattempts says:

    I read in “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not,” that there is a structure in Rome
    called “The Victory Arch.” No Jew can walk under it because once they
    do, they cease to be a Jew. A bunch of Rabbis passed a decree to that affect.
    Can a person really be excommunicated from Judism, the same way
    they can be from another religion?
    I also read the reason that New Years Day is celebrated one week ahead
    of Dec. 25 is because that was when Jesus was circumcised. Is that true?

    • jewamongyou says:

      I walked under the arch, so I guess I’m no longer Jewish! But seriously, I’ve never heard of that decree. Once a Jew, always a Jew. As for New Years Day, I haven’t the vaguest idea.

  3. Robert Marchenoir says:

    Ethiopians might be extra-touchy about it, but homosexuality is not something I would advise using as a subject for small talk with any strangers…

  4. LBD says:

    Orthodox Christians celebrate The Feast of the Circumcision on January1, eight days after the birth of Jesus December 25. That accords with Jewish practice of circumcising boys on the eighth day of life.

  5. Harar Krishna! says:

    Men hold hands and are very affectionate with each throughout South Asia (India, Pakistan, etc) too. And with their mothers – in ways I rarely saw outside South Asia.

  6. Victor says:

    American liberals, the pink, soft leftist kind, are incredibly ignorant and obtuse about the rest of the world.
    (In my experience anyways, American right wingers are much more informed about the rest of the world. Ironically the former love to criticize the latter for how “ignorant” they are…)
    I don’t really think they have any idea, on how prevalent racism and homophobia is in the rest of the world. In fact they’d probably get a stroke if they realized that the U.S. and parts of Western Europe are lonely little islands of “progressive values”. Tiny minorities in a world that’s filled with biggots, racists and homophobia. I suppose this is partly willful ignorance, since it doesn’t square at all with their fantasies about open borders.
    But the attitudes you’re describing here are incredibly common in much of the world. Homosexuality is either something that’s considered a perverse American export or disease, or its not talked about at all: The few homosexuals live either very discretely or live as heterosexuals.
    There was a recent poll in Egypt for example, where among the questions that showed lukewarm support for democracy, one of the questions was whether the death penalty should be applied to homosexuals per. Sharia law. Over 70% agreed with that as a quite reasonable and preferred solution…

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