Sexuality

All Glebo adults are assumed to be sexually active and celibacy for any extended period is believed to cause illness and "dryness" for both men and women. There is recognition that unrestrained sexuality can lead to conflicts and even violence or witchcraft; "woman palaver" refers to the competition between two men over the same woman. A 2-year postpartum taboo on sexual intercourse was common in former times; the milk of a nursing mother could be "spoiled" by the heat and exertion of sex and also by exposure to semen, endangering the child. Glebo men cited this belief as a justification for polygyny to disapproving missionaries in the 19th century.

Male-to-female transvestism is an element of masquerade, although I have never observed the reverse (i.e., women dressed as men). The men's funeral dance, or war dance, always includes some aspects of cross-dressing by one or two younger men, who add a bra or negligee to the warrior costume of raffia skirts and shredded animal skins. This warrior transvestism was common among rebels during the Liberian civil war of 1989-96 and was commented on at length by foreign reporters (Moran, 1996). Men also impersonate women in full costume at liminal moments like New Year's Day, or in the funeral dance performed for a young adult women. There is widespread denial that homosexuality exists at all, although public affection between people of the same sex is considered normal and natural.

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