Last night I read the report on Pastor Leslie Moses condemnation of Carnival. I must admit I become deeply concerned when Protestant churches hold public meetings in an area where such remarks inflame and fuel an already volatile population where it comes to gay rights and the protection of gays. I remember reading a few months back the BBC’s article on violence against gays in Jamaica (BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-29714586)
I dropped off an email to my friend in London - a gay man of Caribbean origin, and found his reply helpful in throwing light on the origins of Carnival, as well as he himself emphasising the life threatening situation faced by gays as a consequence of Protestant ministers joining in (through volatile sermonising) with thugs who are intent on only one thing - bringing violence and sometimes death not only to gay men and sometimes women, but also to the families of people with an alternative sexuality. I question the true intent of Pastor Leslie Moses - his knowing full well the situation in the Caribbean. He must surely know that a percentage of Seventh-day Adventists are also gay in the Caribbean - probably the same percentages as found elsewhere in the world.
Has the Seventh-day Adventist church ever taken a positive stand against the persecution and killing of gays - has any pastor or perhaps leader in the church in the Caribbean ever spoken out strongly - not against gays but against the deprivation of human rights suffered by gays? A very close relative of mine - a son of Seventh-day Adventist parents - is gay.
Here is my friend’s reply to my concerns:
"Pastor Leslie Moses ought to know that Carnival has nothing whatsoever to do with same sex, marriage or homosexual love, instead it is an adaption of the carnival tradition brought to the Caribbean and elsewhere by European Catholics and adapted by the slaves to celebrate a moment of freedom from their white masters. It began as part of the preparation for Lent; carnival is a corruption of carne vale, Latin for ‘Farewell to Meat’, and meat here has two meanings - the other being farewell to flesh, and in Europe the end of winter and the coming of spring, so it is also a joyous letting down of hair before entering the sacrifice of the Lenten season.
As a man of Caribbean descent and a former Catholic, as well as a gay man who is married to another man in a partnership of 42 years standing, I love Carnival in Trinidad. When I’m at home in St Lucia we fly over to Trinidad for Carnival as often as we can, and the whole island, all of its various ethnic and cultural mixes, takes part. So prominent has it become, so well recognised, that the most famous Carnival designer Peter Minshall was chosen to design the opening and closing ceremonies for the Barcelona Olympic Games.
The Caribbean islands have a long history of tolerating homosexuality provided it is kept under wraps, especially in the Catholic islands such as Trinidad and St Lucia. Instead it is in the Protestant islands like Jamaica, (my family homeland), and Barbados, that gay people are routinely harassed, persecuted, and killed. Jamaica is quite possibly the most homophobic society in the Caribbean, the most dangerous place in which to be gay, where pastors and ministers routinely deliver hell fire and damnation sermons that encourage gangs of men and women to seek out gay men on the street, and sometimes gay women too, and beat and stomp them to death. I have lost three friends to this sort of behaviour which the churches’ bigotry encourages and I no longer go back to see my relatives there as it would be far too dangerous for me and them. Ironically, given that we are talking about Christian homophobia, it was the Catholic Jesuit Mission in Kingston that first brought the problem to the world’s attention when no one would listen to what Jamaican gays had to say, so kudos to them.
Sadly Protestant churches fall silent on the rights of LGBT people - they have nothing positive to say about us. They have done enough damage to us since the dawn of the Christian era and we will no longer allow that to continue."