Wed | Apr 1, 2020

Jaristotle's Jottings | He + He = Shhhh!

Published:Thursday | February 27, 2020 | 12:10 AM

The world order today is vastly different from that which prevailed 50 years ago. Attitudes have shifted significantly on issues which were taboo back then, the least of which is sexual orientation. Today, homosexuality, having broken down the closet door, is an accepted and legally protected way of life for millions, notwithstanding that homophobia and prohibitions still exist in many countries and among many ethnic and religious groups worldwide. Suffice to say, the general attitude here in Jamaica as regards this issue is still somewhat open to debate.

There are many of us who, while not embracing homosexuality, are not adversarial towards members of that community. We see them as ordinary people. In fact, I know quite a few who are gifted artists, actors, musicians, and captains of industry.

Dangerous rhetoric

On the other hand, there are Jamaicans who are opposed to such lifestyles, and tend to treat members of the community with disdain. Regrettably, there have been instances wherein our politicians have sought to play on this ignorance to gain mileage for themselves and their fellow party members. Such practices are reflective of low-class, desperate thinking and could prove downright dangerous for those who are ‘implicated’ by the disparaging outbursts.

Ironically, the same politicians who resort to such underhandedness will be quick to discard their ‘phobias’ and ‘prejudices’, as and when it suits them so to do. For instance, should Pete Buttigieg, the United States’ first openly gay presidential candidate, become the next president of the US, they would all be tripping over each other in a brown-nosing frenzy to pay homage.

A matter of choice

What individuals choose to do behind closed doors should be their business: if they choose to come out of the closet, to be open in their sexuality, then that is their choice. At the same time, however, they should respect the choices of those of us who embrace heterosexuality.

In most instances, members of the homosexual community, at least those I know, are respectful individuals who prefer to keep a low profile. There are, however, occasions when one encounters some louts who flaunt their proclaimed homosexuality, behave in an outlandish manner, and tend to be aggressive towards those of us who may find their behaviour repulsive. Their ‘I will scratch out your eyes, bitch’ attitude does not augur well for the remainder of the community and often ignites unnecessary confrontations.

Attitudes

It is interesting to note that a significant number of Jamaicans who, whilst in Jamaica, embrace indiscipline, despise accountability and abhor homosexuals, undergo a severe change of attitude when they leave the Rock for other shores. Outside of Jamaica, they are obliged to comply with the laws, work ethos and way of life in their host countries, especially since the local authorities will not hesitate to deport their bigoted and undisciplined backsides back to Jamaica.

Until we can find an appropriate domestic strategy to promote tolerance and open-mindedness to issues of lifestyle choices, and conflict avoidance in particular, we will invariably remain behind the eight-ball, so to speak.

Concurrent with the promotion of tolerance should be an attitude of zero tolerance towards reckless rhetoric and endangerment. Given the continued adversarial attitude in some quarters towards homosexuals, every instance of disparaging, homophobic rhetoric espoused in the public domain by our politicians, or anyone for that matter, should be treated akin to taking out a ‘hit’ on those affected and attract sanctions, perhaps even lawsuits. Every life matters, and those who choose to embrace a particular lifestyle should not be endangered for self-serving political or other purposes.

Respect and tolerance work both ways. People are entitled to their privacy, and where he chooses to be with he, the attitude should be shh!

Send feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.