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Attitudes of heteronormative traditional male circumcision stakeholders towards the emergence of same-sex sexuality in ulwaluko: A case of Mdantsane and New Brighton, Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Although the South African government has drafted policy documents to protect gays, they, year-in-year-out face abhorrence. Notably and shockingly, misunderstanding of the sexual orientation of gays in initiation schools has brought about conflict. It is of great significance for ulwaluko tradition to renegotiate its terms of being a tradition tolerating those with different sexualities within their adored culture. Therefore, this study sought to assess the attitudes of heteronormative traditional male circumcision stakeholders towards an emergence of same-sex sexuality in ulwaluko in Mdantsane and New Brighton, Eastern Cape. The study endeavoured to achieve the following objectives: (i) to establish the policy insights on same-sex sexuality in South Africa and elsewhere; (ii) to assess the prevalence of homosexuality in South Africa and other contexts; (iii) to establish an account of gay men’s intimate behaviour at the initiation schools; (iv) to examine perceptions and attitudes of selected communities on Xhosa gay men undergoing the rite of traditional male circumcision; (v) to establish attitudes and perceptions of selected communities on the conflict between homosexual practices and traditional male circumcision (TMC) and (vi) to assess perceptions of Xhosa gay men on the use of TMC as an instrument to “convert” them to heterosexuality. The study was informed by Four (4) theoretical lenses: sociocultural theory, anomie theory, queer theory, and intersectionality theory. Methodologically, the objectives were investigated through a qualitative research method and data was collected accordingly. The study adopted a case study as its design. Data was collected through in-depth one-on-one interviews, focus group discussions, and key informants’ interviews. The study purposively selected eighty-two (82) participants and revealed the following findings: different lenses on Southe African constitution and homosexuality; different attitudinal facets of the development of same-sex sexuality in South Africa, opposed lenses on homosexuality being a natural phenomenon; intimate partner relationships among the gays in the initiation schools; behavioural the difference between gays and heterosexuals in the initiation school; establishing the nature of homosexuals’ dress code; gays downplaying TMC teachings in initiation schools; Intimate partner relationships among gays in the initiation school; homosexuality associated with modernization; effectiveness of TMC as a tool to achieve gays’ heteronormativity; and lastly, gays achieving heteronormativity through rape. This study concluded that TMC needs to renegotiate its terms of being a tradition of the contemporary epoch. Perhaps this may assist in breaking the tension between ulwaluko and same-sex sexuality in society.

Full Name
Dr Zolani Sonjani