A local Philadelphia collector of Black LGBT history shared a copy of an article in SBC Magazine on the Bawabu. The Bawabu was first displayed June 28, 1998 at a community debate of homosexuality in the Black community in Los Angeles, CA.
Olu Kwasi Osei created the symbol to reflect the “self-identification of Afrika-centered Black conscious homosexuals.”
The article reports that there were brochures at the event that described the symbol and its purpose. I would love to get a copy of one of those brochures!
The brochure described that “the word Bawabu is taken from the Kiswahili language and means “gatekeeper”, and that it pays “homage to our same-gender-loving ancestry”.
Same Gender Loving “ancestors were honored or recognized by their societies as being the ‘gatekeepers’ to the ethereal world. It was believed that this spiritual world could be entered through a series of doors or ‘gates.’ The unique ability to grant entrance into the spiritual world was derived in part, from the ‘gatekeepers’ sexual orientation.”
The article notes that Olu, the creator, “forbids” any organization using lesbian and gay in its name from using the symbol, “or the reference to they symbol as the ‘Black gay and lesbian symbol.’
Still, this is an important part of “our” history and worthy of sharing.