Escaping Heteronormativity and the Masculinity Trap: Thoughts of a Malawian “Male”

Gule Wamkulu or Nyau: In this photo, Males are inhabited by and manifesting Female Ancestral Spirits attesting to a Gender Fluidity which remains unacknowledged in African cultures. It is important to note that Nyau is a Male “society” among the Chewa people. Source and credits: The Zambia Observer
In this photo: two Males, one in their non-spirit form and other in spirit form enact seduction, desire and flirtatious behavior. In terms of sex binaries, these two people are male, but in spirit form, the sexuality of the one on the right manifests the inhabiting female ancestral spirit. This is an instance of sexual and gender fluidity. Source and credits: World Folklore Photographers Association
In this photo, Nyau manifests in dance an Ancestral Spirit who could be, or may have had interaction with, an European woman. The dress code conforms to Chitenje-dress which is common among women in Malawi, Zambia and other countries as far as Ghana — but the hair and face mask reveals gender, sexual and even racial fluidity. Source and credits: News Day Zimbabwe

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