(Originally published in Guyana’s Kaieteur News on 25 May 2011)
I am often disappointed, and at times even offended, at the way
homosexuals are viewed. Those who interact with me throughout the day
will customarily refrain from their usual sexist verbiage so as not to
offend my sensitivities on this topic.
However, I am also quite offended by homophobic speech because as a
woman I understand all too well the plight of a group of people that is
besmirched and degraded simply because of how they were born. This is
not an easy life.
For example, imagine that you have decided to have sex with someone.
Whether you are in love with this person or not is not the issue.
Neither is whether you want to pursue a relationship with this person.
The only issue is that you are going to have mutually consenting sex
with a person of your choosing.
In Guyana, this choice could get you arrested if you are a man and the
person with whom you choose to have sex is also a man. The enforcers of
the law would not care if both people involved were mutually consenting
adults. They would not care if the two were Christian, Hindu or Muslim.
Nor would they care about the race of the “offenders.” The only thing
that would matter to those with badges is that both people involved were
This type of despicable incident could take place in Guyana today, since
laws against sodomy are still in the law books. In fact, unless the
standing laws of the country change to be more tolerant of sexual
preference, it seems the logical outcome could one day see paranoid
heterosexuals narking on their homosexual neighbours to “clean up the
The privacy of gay couples could be torn asunder by the scrutinizing
eyes of disapproving moralisers. The civil rights of these homosexual
Guyanese could be at stake because of ignorance and fear. Sometimes when
I think the human race is progressing along at breakneck speed, all I
have to do is think about this kind of backward behaviour to be reminded
of how far we still have to go.
Although I am a white woman, I have never been attracted to white men.
As such, it would infuriate me to have someone deem me “immoral” simply
because I do not find white men attractive. However, our world is such
that there was a time not so long ago when a white woman could have been
killed for having sex with a man who was not her same race.
So what about women who do not find any men attractive or men who do not
find women attractive? In my opinion, they should be allowed to pursue
whomever they do find attractive – even if is their same gender.
Humans can be slow to accept change, even if we claim to be open-minded
and ready to learn the ways of other cultures. This is especially true
when it involves our religious beliefs. However, the question of gay sex
morality is not even the point when it comes to these standing laws.
Rather, this is a question of whether civil rights apply to all Guyanese
or just the ones who comply with traditional, conservative religious
values. Should those who practice one of the mainstream religions be
afforded a higher status as a citizen simply because they choose to
align themselves to traditional values?
What of those in society who choose to reject those traditional values
and seek to be the master of their own values and goals? Typically, as
long as these individuals do not infringe on society’s established
rules, they are given the freedom to pursue their own way of life.
It is when these non-conformists begin stepping on the toes of the
traditionalists that things start to get messy. Homosexuality has been
one of those areas that society as a whole has been far more resistant
in doling out tolerance. However, society should not have the right to
define the parameters of its citizens’ sexual preferences.
What is done in a person’s bedroom should be honoured with privacy,
regardless of sexual orientation. If those rights are subject to
infringement at the whim of a person who frowns on a homosexual
lifestyle, then we should expect the same of other “moral” issues as
Will drinking and dancing be next on the list since there are many
religions that frown on these activities too? Legislation such as the
sodomy laws were passed in ignorance and intolerance, just like laws in
several states in America that banned inter-racial marriage.
However, the fact that such laws remain is an affront to people who want
to step outside of the simple construct of religious morality. It is
high time to step out of the dark ages and recognise that all forms of
diversity make us beautiful – not evil.
When we stop insisting that everyone must look and act like a certain
group, we will finally be able to enjoy the beauty of our diversity,
instead of feeling like we are being forced into a mould made for