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Burning homosexuals is not the answer

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Editor: This is a response to a letter written by “Unisex” in the News Newspaper of April 30, 2004, concerning a remark made by Selmon Walters (it makes me cringe to type the word “honourable” in connection with this man). This remark, of course, deals with Walters’ intent to burn all homosexuals given the opportunity.{{more}}
I do not generally keep up with what’s in the news – this is a failing of mine – but if Walters did indeed say this, then I feel obliged to respond. I feel obliged to respond because I am a gay man who makes a daily contribution to the well-being of this country. How am I supposed to feel, after all the sacrifices I have made for St. Vincent, when the very government I serve holds me in contempt?
If Walters wants to burn gays, then perhaps he should also burn adulterers; let’s see how many people are left in St. Vincent after that!
All of this goes even further than the bigoted, narrow-minded comments of one man, however.
There is a serious culture of intolerance in St. Vincent. There is intolerance and prejudice in terms of grace, gender, sexuality – anyone in this country who does not conform to the narrow, patriarchal views of what human beings are supposed to be is reviled. Why is this? When did we become a country of enforced “normality” and prejudgment?
I love St. Vincent. My navel string is buried under a breadfruit tree in my parents’ back garden. So why do I feel so uncomfortable here? I fully support the right of every person to his or her own opinion. However, along with this comes the right of everyone to live their own lives without fear and without ridicule. I no longer participate in carnival because of the proliferation of homophobic, heterosexist calypso and soca songs. I suppose that this is what people like Mr. Walters ultimately want. They want gays to be reclusive and antisocial.
So what about the gay doctors, gay teachers, gay nurses, gay social and gay government officials?
If we all retreated from society what would happen? Trust me, St. Vincent would come to almost a screeching halt if this were to happen. We never get thanks, we only get revulsion.
Ask anyone who has a gay friend or family member – our sexuality does not define our lives, it is only one aspect of such. People should look beyond their preconceptions and see the person, not the sexuality. Is this such a difficult thing to do?
N. Nigel Thomas, a gay Vincentian living abroad, wrote in his novel Spirit In The Dark that:
“They called you ‘buller’ because they could not get away with pushing a knife or pumping bullets into you, and they hoped that the way they said it would drive you to push the knife or pump the bullet into yourself.”
This seems, to me, to be the kind of thing Walters wants – a mass suicide of ten per cent of the population of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Just remember, the people who are most homophobic are those who are insecure and unsure in their own sexuality. Perhaps Walters needs to examine himself before unwittingly burning himself up.

Joe

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