Aurora Lamar (ca. 1900-1965), La China de Maximiliano, priestess of the orisha Agayú and ”a formidable female entrepreneur,” founded the branch of the Lucumí religion called La Pimienta. According to David H. Brown, “the feisty and shrewd Aurora Lamar owned a brothel and initiated a number of prostitutes. ‘La China de Maximiliano’ (‘Maximiliano’s China’) registers the naming practices of children born with almond eyes, and also apparently refers to social details of her biography; it reflects the tatoo she wore on her leg—a reference to an erstwhile lover or ex-husband, Maximiliano.” Morgan M. Page writes,

Most of my time is spent around queermos, trans folks, lefties, and feminists, people who spend a lot of time talking about oppression and privilege, social justice and anti-capitalism…

But…when I hear queers-lefties-trans folks-feminists bashing “religion” as a whole, what I’m really hearing is a lot of racism and colonialism. When you talk about “religion” in general, but actually mean Judeo-Christian-Islamic religions, you are perpetuating a historical narrative created by colonialism that seeks to de-legitimize the hundreds of other religions in the world and establish the supremacy of the Big Three. Anyone who has spent time reading about the European colonization of most of the world will know that one of the key priorities for colonists was to establish, often by force, their religion as the supreme religion in the conquered areas. They went so far as to create the meaning of religion in English to only include Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. And, so, when you treat all religions as the same, and thus treat them as the same as the Big Three, you are perpetuating a racist colonialism…

And I feel excluded, personally. You see, in addition to being a trans person, a woman, a queer, and a former sex worker, I’m also an initiated priest in a religion called Lukumí, or Santería. So, when people say that “religion as an institution is homophobic/transphobic/anti-woman/racist,” I feel like a big part of my identity and my culture is erased. There’s no room given for me to talk about how my religion was historically used to create safer spaces for queers in colonial Cuba, no room to talk about how most of the strands of the religion were started and perpetuated by powerful women of colour and queer men, no room to talk about how one of the key figures of the religion was the madam of a brothel, no room to talk about how my religion has and continues to be violently persecuted by police in Cuba, the United States, and other countries…