Signs of the Times
The Editor, Sir:
I remember growing up in the early 1990s where conversations and arguments about homosexuality were few or never mentioned. Knowing someone who was gay was something only seen on cable. Then, the church was the social playground for many and the precedent for societal standards was derived from the church pulpit - the genesis of morals and values.
We were classified as the most homophobic country and we wanted nothing to do with differences and 'man to man was unjust'. Any idea of such behaviour suggested 'God' was coming and the world was coming to an end. Some took it upon themselves to kill men who were alleged to be gays and abuse those who were too effeminate. These ideas were pervasive and we wanted nothing to do with gays.
But beyond the 2000s the gay conversations became frequent and stronger. Folks began to talk more and many began to identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT). It became frightening for many. Was it that more people were becoming gay? Or was it that the church no longer had a stronghold or the attention of Jamaicans? Well as far as I am concerned, society was becoming more accepting. Common sense was gradually eating away ignorance and more persons grew more willing to dignify the lives of others despite who they were having consensual sex with. Times were definitely changing and the signs were staring us right in the face.
But can it be said that people are no longer judged or ridiculed for what is done behind closed doors? Are Jamaicans now paying attention to humanity and the rights that should be afforded to all despite who we bring into our bedrooms? Well, the signs show that the LGBT community has become more vocal and is claiming their right to life, one that is free from fear and discrimination. The signs are showing us that open discussions are needed with the Government, civil society, and even religious groups - which, dare I say, have more than their fair share of LGBT congregants. The world has not yet ended and maybe, just maybe God has decided that he won't 'come' until we all get along. It is time to love, it's time to understand differences and it is time to start talking positively.
Jumoke S. Patrick