Sharda Patasar writes a weekly column for the Newsday.
The murder of Keon Alister Patterson last week, sent off, perhaps much to the murderers’ dismay, a wave of anger and grief among the LGBTQ community. The more enlightened members of the society–those who do not walk around with religious texts in hand to spout verses about sodomy and sin–actually had the foresight to count this murder as another addition to the mounting murder rate, with the awareness that no one was safe in TT.
I’ve always been perplexed by the convenient spouting of religious teachings when it comes to sexual orientation, and by the general ignorance that surrounds the issue. Nobody really goes about spewing biblical quotes on matters of infidelity or tax evasion. Few look at the sexual harassment cases erupting out of the US and say, “So sad that he didn’t know Jesus.” When we speak of these wrongdoings, we often quote law not religion. But this is not the issue with sexual orientation. If I may draw on the metaphor of the house, before people enter the LGBTQ living room, they enter these lives through the bedroom. The image projected onto the body of the LGBTQ person is that of a giant sexual organ, rather than man or woman – naturally dehumanising.
After Jamille Broome’s column last week, there is not much to add to this argument. But, it would be remiss of me to let this pass, particularly since local and international events merge. The murder of Patterson aka Sasha Fierce comes on the heels of actor Kevin Spacey’s manipulative “coming out” event that reiterated to those who equate sexual orientation with paedophilia, that they were right about “those gay people”.
As expected, gay activists and LGBTQ personalities of Hollywood came out in strong opposition to what they saw as Spacey’s attempt to deflect attention from the sexual harassment charges brought against him. As the story goes, actor Anthony Rapp alleged that Kevin Spacey had made unwanted sexual advances toward him in 1986, when Rapp was 14 and Spacey was 26. Spacey posted an apology on Twitter, claiming that he didn’t remember the event but that perhaps it was done in a state of inebriation. In the same apology, Spacey said Rapp’s accusation “has encouraged me to address other things in my life. I have loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, and I now choose to live life as a gay man. I want to deal with this honestly and openly...and that starts with me examining my own behaviour.”
Spacey’s statement opens a very large can of worms, not least of which is the tired perception that homosexuality equals sexual molestation and that it also means paedophilia and so people keep their children away from homosexuals. Ironically, when we read of sexual abuse cases in the newspaper, they usually involve fathers, uncles, mothers, aunts, boyfriends etc most of whom we are given to understand are heterosexual. Yet, these very same people who keep their children away from the homosexuals will expose their children to heterosexual men and women because there is less chance of sexual abuse happening? There appears a flaw in the logic but perhaps I’m standing on uneven ground. Who knows?
The way in which people discriminate is always fascinating. A favourite one (when I was growing up) was when someone who had a particularly unlikeable personality got cancer or died suddenly, some people would say “is dey bad mind kill them” or “God doh sleep eh”. If these very righteous people however contracted some form of illness, it would be justified by ‘“It’s God’s test of my faith” or “somebody bad eye take me” because their illness evidently represented God’s presence in their lives while for others it was the Devil’s. Yet, every day, among the citizens murdered, are seemingly “quiet people who never do nobody nutten”. But it’s okay to pass judgment on Fierce’s murder because she did not fit some people’s bill of “normal”.
We will all agree that criminals have become increasingly barbaric in their acts of violence but to some members of the public it seems, murdering someone of a different sexual orientation is justified. I can only say that perhaps the courts agree with you. And so do our governments, past and present, because, like many dysfunctional families, for whom there never is an opportune time to have the difficult conversations, important issues will continue to be swept under the carpet with the hope that they will resolve themselves. Until such time that the conversations begin to happen and there is some movement towards inclusion, the LGBTQ community continues to count itself as a body of non-citizens in TT.