Collector Shares SBC Article on Bawabu, SGL Symbol

3 09 2010

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.”

Article by Leland Gale for SBC Magazine, Dec. 1999

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.


Bawabu: Symbol of the Same Gender Loving Movement

22 08 2010

The mid-1990s marked the height of the Same Gender Loving Movement, a time when men and women of African decent adopted this identifier as an alternative to “gay.” The movement is attributed to the work of Cleo Manago, an advocate for self-identification, HIV prevention and health promotion, and community building. SBC (a black gay publication by noted author Stanley Bennett Clay, currently out of print), shared a photograph of the Bawabu, the “official” symbol of the Same Gender Loving movement.

If I recall, there was a contest for entries. The article showcased the designer, as well as information about the symbol. [I would love to get a copy of the original magazine, or the entire collection. I lost the original nearly 12 years ago while a student at the University of Michigan. Fortunately, I scanned the image to hang on my dorm room wall, and had it ever since.]

Please add any missing details to this important history.