You just can’t please some people. Once upon a time the Catholic faithful could hide behind the cassocks of the clergy when it came to the issue of homosexuality, dumb in denial, swept under the pews, protected by the disapproving dogmas of the church and fuelled by anti-gay holy men.
I won’t even go into the levels of obscene hypocrisy and sheer calculated evil among the closed ranks of said cassock-wearers. At the very same time they were preaching homilies against the temptations of the flesh, many were sexually abusing and raping children in their care – boys and girls whose parents would never have believed if they had known, and often refused to believe when they were told.
If caught, these pedophile priests were moved onward to the next unsuspecting school or community where they continued to prey as they prayed for years with impunity, sheltered by the gold-lined cloak of the Catholic church. Who knows the full story? Perhaps the new pope will come clean to the world and finally give closure to one of the most heinous crimes against humanity in the history of organised religion. After all, Francis has made an immediate global impact as the most humble, real and truly Christ-like pontiff the church has seen for generations. And he has stood up for the gay community, so you would think that might be inspiration enough for the flock to lay down their verbal gavels and at least stop judging homosexuals as unloved by their God.
But a priest in Trinidad speaks up for the LGBTI community and the subsequent online outpouring of naked hatred, religious fanaticism, voyeuristic obsession with anal sex and the gross misinterpretation of anything to do with homosexuality as somehow being connected with bestiality and pedophilia is a testament to the hostility of the Caribbean ‘faithful’ to the increasingly inclusive, softer-spoken, kinder-hearted message of Pope Francis. Of all the ignorant, insulting and downright asinine accusations to be hurled at this marginalised community, I take particular umbrage on their behalf at the “gays are pedophiles” epithet, knowing what I do about this region’s culture of incest, child sex abuse and statutory rape–that’s heterosexual intercourse with a child aged 16 years or under–particularly in our Saint Lucian communities where anecdotal numbers are painfully worrisome and historical.
Fr Stephen Geofroy spoke in support of the gay community during a consultation on the draft Constitution at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, saying their rights, including the right to love whomever they want, should be included in the Trinidad Constitution. Geofroy said the matter should not be debated further and instead government should be embracing all people.
“We’ve come over a long history of slavery and indentureship and now it is time to break the many things that denigrate the person,” said Geofroy. “We do not belong to a theocracy, neither are we in a religious oligarchy where people impose their beliefs on others.”
And talking of oligarchies, among the highest profile gay bashing this year has come from Vladimir Putin’s continuing oppression of LGBTI rights in Russia while simultaneously enticing the world and his ice-dancing partner into the mountains of Sochi, apparently with some type of intoxicating sno-cone that has ordinarily outraged Canadian athletes swooning at his manly feet and popping selfies on instagram. Talk about who is more schizophrenic?
On the run up to the Winter Games, media coverage of the potential for a defining LGBTI Olympic moment was widespread and poetic, but it seems on the ground the big gesture might realistically be more reckless than symbolic, as an Italian gay rights advocate found when she was arrested with her rainbow flag, and jailed punk band Pussy Riot members who were hauled off for “stealing” when they arrived in Sochi on Monday. So did we really expect Russia’s homophobia to melt at the western liberal media’s tokenist campaigning for some brave soul to fly the gay flag in Putin’s face?
In Uganda, Kenya and dozens of countries around the world, LGBTI campaigners are bringing the struggle of gay citizens to the forefront of the global psyche.
But I am sure the active advocates at Saint Lucia’s United and Strong would agree that nobody said it would be an easy battle. As college footballer and NFL prospect Michael Sam is no doubt about to find out as the first openly gay player to hit the draft.