Caught between worlds

Ghanaian youth’s views of hybrid sexuality

Authored by: Angela Anarfi Gyasi-Gyamerah , Mathias Søgaard

Routledge Handbook of Queer African Studies

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  December  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138503472
eBook ISBN: 9781351141963
Adobe ISBN:


 Download Chapter



The philosopher and lecturer at New York University, Professor Kwame Anthony Appiah, explains how when he grew up in Ghana during the 1970s, homosexuality was not part of the local discourse (Appiah 2010). Since then the Ghanaian public discourse has changed significantly. One reason is the impact of the religious community. During the 1990s, Ghana began to embark on multi-partism where a democratization process led to the liberalization of media, and Pentecostal churches seized this openness to attract more followers using movies and booklets. Through these sources, Ghanaian churches began to incorporate homosexuality more actively into the public discourse as abominable. An example of this incorporation could be seen with polemics surrounding “supi,” a term often used to neutrally refer to a relationship between a junior and a senior female student in secondary school (Dankwa 2009). Although these relationships could be casual, an extremely close bond akin to that between two close siblings could also evolve. Students engaged in a supi-relationship could write letters to one another, shower together, share their most intimate secrets, and may even share a bed. Nothing erotic had to occur, and no sexual tension had to be present, but sometimes a relationship could turn sexual. Thus, while the possibility of a sexual partnership was never intended to be the emphasis of the term “supi,” the religious rhetoric of the 1990s associated these homosocial bonds between students with lesbianism (Dankwa 2009). Despite religious criticism, closeness between Ghanaian women continues to be condoned in society.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.