One news item I did not touch on in my weekly news post was the re-emergence of the problem of young, homeless gay men who live and move around in the very area of Kingston where I live. Two front-page articles in the “Gleaner” newspaper have once again sparked a flood of condemnation and anti-gay sentiment.
Just to point out a couple of things:
They are by no means representative of the Jamaican gay community in general, as most Jamaicans should know.
They are loud and harass people, but if they break the law they should be arrested, like any other Jamaican who might be trespassing on private property, etc.
May I introduce one young, openly gay Jamaican whom I admire greatly. His is smart, he is hard-working, he has a great sense of humor. Did I say he was bright? Like many other young Jamaicans, he wants to “make a difference” in his country. He does the normal everyday things that Jamaicans, and young Jamaicans, do.
He IS a Jamaican.
The only unusual thing about Javed is his courage as an openly gay Jamaican. And that is enormous courage.
Dear Editor, Sir:
The Christian Brethren Assemblies Jamaica (CBAJ) recently hosted a press conference at which they discussed their position paper on homosexuality. While reading through the document, I lamented the fervor with which church leaders use homosexuality as a wedge issue to keep themselves relevant in public discourse on morality.
I encourage anyone interested in seeing firsthand the moral bankruptcy that guides The Church’s teachings on homosexuality to read the position paper. Its contents are used as talking points by all major Christian organizations.
Among the most predictable claims outlined, we are told that “homosexual behavior can be changed” because “many individuals who desire to abstain from homosexual acts have been able to do so.” However, sexuality is a well-defined predisposition that exists whether or not someone is sexually active. A celibate gay person, or a gay person who initiates intercourse with someone of the opposite sex for functional purposes, is still a gay person.
The position paper goes on to explain that “some homosexual [sexual] acts are physically harmful because they disregard normal human anatomy and function.” Firstly, gays and lesbians do not have a monopoly on any sexual practice. What the position paper refers to as “homosexual acts” really are just “sexual acts”. Secondly, while the CBAJ believes the gay “lifestyle” is “obsessed with and/or dominated by personal sexual fulfillment,” “homosexual acts” also include deciding between bush tea or coffee, going to work, volunteering at community-based charities and supporting friends and family.
Church leaders persistently employ double-speak in addressing homosexuality and homophobia. On one hand, they claim that “anyone struggling with homosexual temptation should evoke neither scorn nor enmity, but evoke our concern, compassion, help, and understanding.” On the other, “the Christian community must help society understand that homosexuality has grave spiritual, emotional, physical and cultural consequences” and “Christians should oppose legislative attempts to grant special rights based on sexual behavior.”
As self-proclaimed guardians of public morality, their statements sound noble, until one sees the well-oiled propaganda machine that church leaders utilize to demonize, disenfranchise and silence gay and lesbian people.
You cannot actively work to sustain the cultural environment that makes violence against gay people permissible while claiming you support non-violence. That is barefaced hypocrisy. In addition, it is telling that the CBAJ would label as “Special rights” the demands made by social justice advocates to recognize the humanity of gays and lesbians. The rights to privacy, to love, to self-expression and to dignity cannot be “special rights” if these are human rights and if these rights are already held by the majority.
The position paper includes a number of colourful fables about gay people: homosexuals engage in active recruitment, because, obviously, same-sex attraction is induced, never innate; homosexuals are non-monogamous and promiscuous by nature, while heterosexuals, by deduction, are predisposed to monogamy; homosexuality and pedophilia are essentially twin perversions, even though pedophiles are repulsed by adults and often molest children of both sexes, while the majority of child sex offenders who have adult relationships are heterosexual; and homosexual parents raise homosexual children, in the same way, I suppose, that heterosexual parents raise only heterosexual children.
Antiquated and harmful narratives about gay people get entrenched when those of us who know better refuse to challenge the fear-mongering and the ignorance of those we consider arbiters of morality and paragons of virtue.
The Church is dead wrong in its stance on homosexuality and it will pay dearly for its intransigence. As more gay and lesbian people affirm their sexual identities, it will become obvious that most are upstanding citizens who are struggling alongside heterosexuals to make the best of a difficult life in Jamaica. The ranks of the most respected professions are replete with gay people. In fact, many Jamaicans are employed and supervised by gays and lesbians.
As more Jamaican Christians engage with gay couples at home, at school, in communities, and in workplaces, they will reconsider whether God is truly infallible and if his admonition to condemn same-gender loving people is morally absolute. The lies woven into the fabric of public consciousness will begin to unravel and The Church will be held in contempt.
I love and admire Javed. If you met him, I think you would love him, too.
Javed Jaghai – http://youtu.be/BS2P6TvzuFM
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130129/lead/lead1.html “Arrest errant gays”: Human rights advocate says homosexuals who run afoul of the law should face its full brunt: Gleaner
http://www.jflag.org/2013/01/j-flag-supports-police-intervention-in-new-kingston/ J-FLAG supports police intervention in New Kingston: http://www.jflag.org/
Let’s Build Our Country – http://youtu.be/ffys1xXGq3E
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130125/lead/lead1.html Gays wreak havoc: Cops say homosexuals too much to handle in South East St. Andrew: Gleaner
http://anniepaul.net/2013/01/25/the-creation-of-our-collective-homophobia/?replytocom=3277 The creation of our collective homophobia? Annie Paul.net – Jamaican blogger
http://www.og.nr/rbt/11417-gay-man-set-ablaze-in-st-andrew-central-open-lot.html Gay man set ablaze in St. Andrew Central open lot: On The Ground News Reports
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Rowdy-gays-upset-J-FLAG Rowdy gays upset J-FLAG: Sunday Observer
https://petchary.wordpress.com/2013/01/23/jamaican-press-ignores-ground-breaking-gay-rights-video-campaign/ Jamaican press ignores ground-breaking gay rights video campaign
Weekly Brief, Sunday 27/Monday 28 January, 2013: The Dawn of the New Scrap Metal Age (petchary.wordpress.com)
J-FLAG, Jamaica’s gay rights group, launches YouTube video campaign, ‘We Are Jamaicans’ (miamiherald.typepad.com)