THE AGAINST NATURE JOURNAL

published by Council

 

 

 

THE AGAINST NATURE JOURNAL is a biannual arts and human rights magazine exploring “crime against nature” laws and their legacies, in print, in person, and online. Authors and readers from law, activism, social sciences, and the arts are brought together to foster dialogue on sexual and reproductive rights and rethink nature anew.

 

@theagainstnaturejournal

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Pride in Jesus Church Service: Bridging the Divide in Barbados and the Caribbean

by Donnya Piggott

 

It is no secret that religion largely fuels the rampant homophobia that exists in the world. More specifically, it fuels the homophobia that exists in the Caribbean where I live and where I tirelessly pursue with others a path toward equality and justice for all people. It then raises the question as to why Barbados–Gays, Lesbians and All-Sexualities against Discrimination (B-GLAD), the organization which I’ve led for seven years, would host a Pride in Jesus church service during Pride Month in 2019.

 

Much like other LGBTQ organizations across the Caribbean region, our main adversary has always been the Christian church. They argue that homosexuality equates to a demonic spirit, as preached at rallies across the island, or is against the natural order of man, or further that it is “the erosion of the fabric of society.” Despite some pushback from within the church itself, the resistance to such beliefs in the local LGBTQ community has created much discussion. The church is still a source of trauma for LGBTQ people—many of whom left the church quite some years ago. Feelings of rejection, self-hate, and inadequacy stem from our early experiences with religion. So, the question remains: Why would we host such an event?

 

A church service with song, prayer, and worship allows believers in the Christian faith to have important conversations about equality. Barbados is touted as a Christian nation. Yet, over the years the church has only demonstrated fear, spread misinformation, and blocked the progress of the LGBTQ community. Our church service was an effort to heal and overcome that divide. This is where real progress is made, by building bridges. Christians who believe in equality, fairness, justice, and love exist, of course: they are often the ones who send us encouraging notes to our in-boxes or quietly stop us in the street. They recognize that the LGBTQ community needs to be protected and not denounced. There are also Christian–LGBTQ people, who in exist- ing within this intersection more often hide their own sexualities but support us from the shadows. We accept them for living their truths, too. It’s important that they are not forgotten.

 

As expected, the event caused quite a stir. Leading antigay religious leaders attended, quietly listened, and discussed among them- selves, sometimes disagreeing with the need and relevance of such an event and interrupting with opinions. However, the service allowed all religious leaders, falling either side of the LGBTQ inclusion argument, to hear each other out and share in common scripture, differing experiences, and various perspectives.

 

If we are going to embrace and celebrate diversity, we must be inclusive. As a non-Christian member of the LGBTQ community, I may not know the direct outcome of the dialogue for Christian people. But I do believe that it was a step in the right direction because real change starts with just that—dialogue.

 

Donnya Piggott has been an LGBTQ advocate for almost ten years, a columnist, an award-winning social entrepreneur, and the founder of Pink Coconuts, a tech platform for LGBTQ people across the Caribbean.

Map

The greyscale color grade shows the spectrum from Protection (against discrimination based on sexual orientation) to Criminalisation (of consensual same-sex sexual acts between adults). The darkest areas represent where there is Constitutional Protection and the lightest, where Death Penalty still exists.

 

The data presented in this map is based on “State-Sponsored Homophobia”, an International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) report by Lucas Ramón Mendos, December 2019. Courtesy of ILGA World. Map drawn by Stepan Lipatov.