Love, pray (and act) like Kananira Adélard of Gaychristianafrica
An article of NuoveRadici.World by Margherita De Gasperis, translated in English by Adélard.
The young activist born in Burundi, where homosexuality is illegal, founded a site around which to gather the gay community of Christian immigrants( Catholics or not). And, if necessary, pray against the pandemic.
Originally from Burundi, he arrived in Italy thanks to the scholarship of an Italian Catholic university. Adélard Kananira is gay, born on a continent where homosexuality is illegal in 32 Countries. Immigrant in a country that often turns its back on the foreigner, pouring all guilt and frustration on him. Catholic and observant, in a Church that does not accept homosexuality. Yet Adélard Kananira loves and prays.
He believes in dialogue, a slow but pedagogical path towards an evolution of institutions, religious and otherwise, and of society. After all, what we are today is the result of the countless battles of the past, fought by brave young people like Kananira. With the collaboration of Tenda di Gionata, he founded GayChristianAfrica, a site where to welcome the gay, migrant, and Christian community (but not only), so as not to feel isolated.
How did you live the quarantine?
“Some in the course of the pandemic launched themselves against gays, identifying them as the cause of Covid-19, seen as divine punishment. It is completely unfounded, but if it makes them sleep well at night … Instead we wanted to make ourselves useful. Together with the guys from our network in Italy (an idea of Progetto Giovanni Cristiani LGBT), we met every evening to recite Lauds and Compline, a way to feel close and dedicate a thought to those who were personally involved in the virus. On Easter Sunday we participated in international Vespers, an initiative that brought together and united young people from all over the world, especially from Africa “.
Many felt left alone during the pandemic. Feeling part of a community, albeit online, was of enormous comfort.
What does being homosexual and feeling part of the Church mean to you?
«History is made of change and small steps forward. Once blacks were unable to go to school with whites. But in 2008, a country full of contrasts like the United States elected a black president. We must believe in change and commit ourselves to implement it. It is the same approach that I have as a homosexual Catholic: I want to commit myself so that the Church evolves ».
Why did you create GayChristianAfrica?
«Here in Italy I took part in initiatives such as that of the Young LGBT Christians (Progetto Giovanni Cristiani LGBT) and, In Cammino ( an LGBTQ+ Christian group) in Bologna. I felt like I was living a movie: gay couples participating in holly mass, witnessing an open dialogue on the subject. For the first time I prayed knowing that God is there, that I am not a second-class Christian. My plan is to export these initiatives also to Africa, gathering a community of gay immigrants and foreigners in Italy and abroad “.
What does it mean to be a second-class Christian? “
In Burundi, although it is not one of the most closed African countries on the subject, my homosexuality was seen as a transitory phase of which it was better not to speak, a disease from which to recover as soon as possible. At the best of times, I have heard the spiritual leaders say, “You will surely change, the important thing is that you are a Christian”. The Church in Africa is totally unprepared to face this issue “.
What does it mean to be African, gay and Catholic in Italy?
“Following one’s own prejudices, one could say:” And what else? “. Italian society is undoubtedly more open and there are rights. But I suffer both the judgment of a very closed Catholic community, and the distrust of Italians towards immigrants “.
Gay blacks here are often taken for escorts, the instinctive thought is that we are so desperate to want to sell our body. Changing this mentality is part of my plan.
What are GayChristianAfrica’s goals?
“I started with the identification of a subject, but it wants to be an inclusive initiative. Religion, origin, they don’t make a difference. They are the rights of all of us LGBT. It is not enough that rights are guaranteed, it is a priority to create a space in society to live them, then legal protections arrive. My site wants to be a point of reference, to give a face to the testimonies it collects. It is primarily aimed at African gays: they are many and if they joined, they could make their voices heard and their rights recognized, but often they are not accepted either. And then it is also aimed at homosexual immigrants in Italy ».
What are their main difficulties?
Obviously the judgment of others, whether they are Italians or part of the African community in Italy. The fear is to get away from it or the fear of how their families might react. Another problem is that of not being able to feel represented by the model of western homosexuality. For some it is the realization of a dream, for others an excessive exposure of their sexuality.
Is there a substantial number of women in these initiatives?
«Less than men. I think it’s because women in general have less attention and importance in Africa. And somehow homosexuality among women is considered less “disgusting”. “
Very often we hear that homosexuality is used as a ploy to obtain refugee status.
«It is true that many African countries have persecutory policies towards gay people, and it is true that out of desperation everything can be done. But if you let an African say it: there are men who would get killed rather than pretend to be gay. The cultural background weighs a lot more than it may seem to a western gaze »