Sodom + Gomorrah

A Reasonable Debate on Jamaica’s Queerphobia Starts With the Bible

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The Jamaican newspaper Jamaica Gleaner is normally home to rants about those jerkoffs in the United States who have a problem with the island nation’s celebrated culture of homophobia, and defenses from locals about Jamaica’s right to Christian-inspired gay hate. But herewith, an about-face from the rag!

Any conversation about homophobia and Jamaica must include a footnote about where it comes from: the faithful. Most anti-gay sentiment begins with the church. Which makes Gleaner contributor’s Keith Noel argument for tolerance all the more wondrous, since it leads off with some scripture.

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The theoretical basis for our homophobia lies in our Old Testament attitudes. We believe that the Bible has made it quite clear that any and all forms of homosexual relationships are sinful and its perpetrators should either be expelled from our churches or should be counselled and prayed for.

The logic is that this behaviour, being terribly sinful, is ‘of the devil’ – the creator and instigator of all that is sinful. So in the churches that are more demanding of their members there are cries for the expulsion of persons who are found guilty of this behaviour. In churches where the tone is less stringent and more nurturing, the consensus would be for the priest (and whoever else in the church is qualified to do so) to counsel the guilty persons and for the church to pray for them, exhorting God Almighty to drive this demon of unnatural lust from their souls.

This, from a man who “long believed that all forms of homosexual behaviour was unnatural. It was ‘easy’ for me to think thus because I have always been repulsed by the idea of homosexual lovemaking. However, I considered myself quite liberal as I was one of those who advocated treating homosexuality like all other sins (including gambling, lust, lying and fornication) and so accepted gays simply as fellow sinners and prayed for them.”

So what’s changed for Noel? Well, Caster Semenya, who for all intents and purposes is intersex. And, apparently, she’s a good enough reason to find new conclusions about queers.

So the recent flurry of comments about Caster Semenya, the South African athlete, has interesting reverberations for us. We hear in the news that the IAAF will not penalise her because she did not cheat. She had lived her life as a woman and believed herself to be one. She had taken no hormones, no operations, nothing to give her masculine characteristics. Yet the reports are that she is not entirely female. These scientific studies are forcing many to realise that there is a masculine-feminine continuum and that some persons fall closer to the centre in this continuum.

[…] These persons, according to all the scientific evidence, are not sinful, corrupt ‘weirdos’, but persons who, at birth, (like Ms Semanya) had only some of the organs of the gender to which they belonged and, internally, had some of the organs of the other.

All of this seems to challenge an aspect of our Adam/Eve theory. If physically, persons are not placed so firmly and definitely in one gender by the Maker, what about psychologically? Does it not follow that some persons could, quite naturally (i.e. because of how they were born) find themselves attracted to persons who belong to the same gender? Or is it heresy to consider this?

Who would have thought it would take a South African track star and international athletics scandal to ignite a conversation in Jamaica that maybe, possibly, there’s a remote chance they’ve been wrong all along to target LGBTs?

(Caster, meanwhile, was just handed £1,600 from strip club Teazers for that awful billboard ad they created, and then defended.)