CRISIS OF LEADERSHIP - PORTIALeading up to the December 2011 elections, here in Jamaica, then Opposition Leader and now Prime Minister, Portia Simpson-Miller, participated in a leadership debate, where she emphatically stated, while then Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, danced around the issue, that she will have a cabinet that included members of the LGBTQI community and that she will look at reviewing the buggery laws that are often used to prosecute consenting gay men.When Simpson-Miller made the bold statement, she was lauded for her bravery especially since the statement was made in the context of a homophobic society, where a former prime minister, Bruce Golding, had said the now infamous words, "NOT IN MY CABINET!!!" Even Time Magazine recognised her as one of the world's 100 most influential persons
CRISIS OF LEADERSHIP: THE CHURCHMany look to the church for leadership on morality. I have given up because of the terrible inconsistencies and partiality that the church has demonstrated. So, many waited for days for the church to break its silence on the "UTech" incident. After days of perhaps praying and consulting with God and each other for wisdom, the Jamaica Umbrella Group of Churches(JUGC)broke its silence. On the surface, the response of the group seems reasonable. But there is something in that response that created pause and unease for me and for others.
"Even though I might not agree with their behaviour, I have to respect their choice and not impose my choice on anyone," Reece said.
To that, Clive Forrester, Jamaican lecturer at York University and a Facebook friend, responds, "I wonder what he means here. Who is the "they" he is referring to, and what is the "behaviour" of which he speaks? The details of this incident are so incomplete it's a little surprising the reverend is making assumptions about the other, and the other's behaviour. The only thing which is known as a fact, is what was caught on the video. And, truly, THAT is the only thing that matters."We must understand that once there are allegations of "gayness", the church and her moral vanguards must FIRST distance themselves from the gayness (real, apparent or imagined). This accounts for the "Us" and "They" divide that Clive recognised. Following which, any other business (such as condemning the violence against THOSE sub-humans) will be dealt with. I, for one, much preferred the church's silence than such back-handed condemnation. "Yes the violence is wrong but those gay boys are also wrong for CHOOSING to be gay and exploring that gayness in public." One does not need to suggest that the THEY are moral transgressors before offering a condemnation of VIOLENCE if violence goes against the tenets of one's faith. The church's position, therefore, is just as hypocritical, complicit and pernicious as the silence I hoped they would not have broken.
Another Facebook Friend, Danielle Roper, comments, "To acknowledge the behaviour as just hearsay would force them to face the potentially ugly fact about Jamaica. The mere fact that an accusation of gayness alone is enough to elicit such a response or to even draw the presence of a bloodthirsty mob is what is so egregious. For just the mere suspicion of gayness to cause such violence shows how deeply entrenched our hostility is towards LGBT people in this country.
As much as we wish to deny it there is homophobia (a range of negative attitudes and actions against homosexuality and homosexuals) in Jamaica. And, perhaps homophobia exists because there is a crisis in leadership. Our politicians would much rather secure another term to warm benches, or whatever they sit on, in parliament, while the country is in free-fall, rather than take unpopular decisions that will preserve the rights of all. And, that the church offers such hostility, tacit and sometimes even outright consent is even more egregious. But that is of-course if one places any premium on the integrity of "the church".No-one, for ANY reason should have harm come to his/her person or property. Only the most malevolent will suggest that violence can ever be justified. What this comes down to is citizenship. Are gays and others who are part of the LGBTQI community in Jamaica, actually citizens of Jamaica? Are they deserving of space here or we still "nuh waant dem bout yaa"?
Now that I have broken my silence, I await the usual venom and threats.