Tue | Jun 18, 2019

Jaevion Nelson | Dear pastor, same-sex marriage not your problem

Published:Saturday | April 13, 2019 | 12:10 AM

Too many of our pastors and their congregants spend too much of their time worrying about same-sex marriages and what lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people do in their bedrooms.

It’s rather mind-boggling how pastors in such a deeply Christian country that is bombarded with so many social ills can find so much time to talk about everything but crime and violence, rape, sexual abuse, and corruption, among other things which continue to stymie the growth and development of their congregants and the nation.

Last week, the courts in the Cayman Islands, a British Overseas Territory, ruled that same-sex marriages should be allowed. There was, of course, much jubilation and discussions among those who are so inclined and interested, while our pastors were agonising about it.

According to a news report in this paper, some have vowed that they would choose death rather than officiate a wedding for a same-sex couple, as if anyone is asking or would possibly ask them to preside over such a momentous occasion.

I honestly don’t get why people insist on talking about same-sex marriage all the time in Jamaica when it isn’t a subject here really. On top of that, Jamaicans hardly get married and so many couples continue to pursue divorce or get separated outside the legal remedies available.

What’s the reason for all this misplaced angst among our clergy who should be using that energy to be good fishers of men, as Jesus so instructed, and encouraging their members not to perpetrate harm against LGBT people?

Isn’t it odd that you hardly, if ever, hear LGBT organisations, advocates and activists in Jamaica talk about this topic as much?

To be honest, pastors and the folks at Love March Movement, Lawyers Christian Fellowship, Jamaica CAUSE and Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society talk about same-sex marriages more than the LGBT people I know, including those that have been in long-term relationships.

THRIVE IN PEACE

Dear pastor, don’t be confused, same-sex marriage is not your problem.

What the vast majority of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people want is to exist in peace and thrive without their identities being used to hold them back in life.

LGBT people in Jamaica face varying levels of discrimination, abuse and violence and nuh have no time fi force no pastor fi marry dem when dem a worry about very basic things inna dem life.

LGBT people have to live with the trauma they faced as children for being ‘too girly’ or too much of a ‘tomboy’ or for being kicked out of school and separated from their friends because they were being bullied. They have to contend with the fact that they never got the requisite psychosocial support to deal with these issues even as adults.

LGBT people have to worry about navigating public and other spaces to avoid harassment and harm. They have to contend with people at work proclaiming, in the name of Jesus, how dem nuh like b****man and nah work wid no fish or siddung beside no man royal sadamite. They agonize over the job they didn’t get or the promotion they were denied because they’re LGBT, not who will perform a wedding.

So many LGBT couples can barely keep their relationships together because of all the trauma they’ve faced, which is exacerbated by the fact that they can’t exist like heterosexual couples or get couples’ counselling and unuh think dem gwine force unuh fi married dem? Dem busy a try keep dem man or woman.

I guarantee you that if the Government were to mysteriously allow same-sex marriages in Jamaica tomorrow, you would not see a whole lot of LGBT people getting married because, as a people, we nuh really inna di married thing so much.

Additionally, LGBT people have dignity. Dem nah go force yuh fi married them when you say dat a nuh your ting, just like how dem go find a shop, restaurant or bar that friendlier and dem won’t have to worry about hurtful words being hurled at them.

Wi have most churches per square mile globally, so those who would want to marry would find one to officiate the ceremony.

So dear parson, you nuh haffi worry at all. God wouldn’t give you more than you can bear. Focus pan preaching the gospel in a respectful and polite manner.

Jaevion Nelson is a human rights, social and economic justice advocate. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and jaevion@gmail.com or tweet @jaevionn.