In 2013, CADRES conducted a poll on behalf the HIV/AIDS commission of Barbados, revealing 39% of the Barbadian public to be ‘Tolerant’ of homosexuals.
This, coupled with the 28% who described themselves as being ‘Accepting’ of homosexuals, suggested that collectively 67% – two thirds – of Barbadians were at least Tolerant of LGBT people (and their issues).
At the time, the numbers were celebrated as a ‘win’ by some socially conscious folk – but what exactly does “at least Tolerant” mean ?
That is the question – who exactly is Tolerance serving if, the majority of the time and for a majority of (heterosexual) Barbadians, ‘at least Tolerant’ towards LGBT people seems merely to mean that
I acknowledge you exist, and agree not to kill you¹
¹Or “I acknowledge you exist, but don’t care if someone else kills you”. Or how about “I acknowledge you exist, but wouldn’t care if the sea came ashore and swallowed you and all LGBT people everywhere”. Social graces (and a justice system) may prevent average people from killing other people and, accordingly, many Tolerant folk may never have actively thought about killing an LGBT person; but the fact remains that these folk tolerate the presence of LGBT people because they feel they have to, not because they want to.
The moment LGBT people do anything other than exist – namely celebrate themselves, or lobby for a better life – many of those same Tolerant Barbadians want to know
What’s up with the gay agenda ?
Why do gays feel they can force their lifestyle on us ?
Or (most popular)
I’m not interested in conversations about gay rights
In other words “Didn’t I acknowledge you exist and agree not to kill you ? What more could you possibly want ?”
In reality, Barbadian ‘Tolerance’ would be better called
Since you have folks who feel they’re benefiting gay people simply by not persecuting them, those folks only rouse themselves to speak out on gay issues when it benefits them to do so – that is when they feel they’re being victimised, as LGBT people lobby for rights that should be theirs simply by virtue of being members of society.
I’m not in a position to say whether Apathetic Disinterest is worse than outright homophobia, but it seems a slow burn counterpart to other parts of the world where some people simply seek to “out” others’ fire.
Consider Exhibits A, B, C – a dispassionate look at apathetic disinterest in LGBT people & their issues, in Barbados.
APATHETIC DISINTEREST, EXHIBIT A –
Christians Can’t Tolerate an LGBT Pride Parade in Barbados
–The LGBT community (non-privileged group) announce last Sunday’s pride parade, to celebrate THEMSELVES & their diversity as self-defining human beings
–Church leaders (privileged group) call a press conference to say “Didn’t we allow you to exist ?? What more could you possibly want ??” and paint themselves as victims, in being ‘forced’ or ‘bullied’ to accept something (values) foreign to them (which, by the way, LGBT people & other non Christian groups are forced to do daily)
-Church leaders go after the lowest hanging fruit – those society tries to keep in a box, to treat as less than human – to ironically attempt to reestablish its sense of moral authority in society, by fighting human rights. They use the same stubborn insistence on the ‘Wrongness’ of homosexuality that roots hate crimes & discrimination towards LGBT people
-List of issues Church leaders feel a sense of urgency to speak out on/call press conferences for/deliver 12 point plans to challenge:
Child abuse Sexual assault of women
Up jumps The Church last week to remind Barbadian society that they intend to have the last say about gay issues in Barbados. Accordingly, the Church sees HUMAN RIGHTS as theirs to withhold from any people or person they choose in society, as the social grouping that should (in theory) be the most tolerant/inclusive (un)duly postures itself as being the least.
The sudden and sporadic interest in affairs that don’t directly concern the Church is nothing new. This is only another All Lives Matter, or the same way men’s groups try to play women’s groups when the women’s speak out on issues that affect them. For years the Men’s Educational Support Association (MESA Barbados) loudly claimed – mostly via the media – that men being abused by women was a larger and more pressing local issue than women being abused by men. CADRES once invited these men being abused to present themselves, via MESA, to have their stories contribute to a national study of domestic violence, and yet – while male survivors of domestic violence naturally do exist – MESA was unable to produce a single one from its ranks when asked.
I suspect the Church would be similarly challenged to produce tangible evidence of how their interests are being infringed upon by people celebrating themselves or lobbying for human rights. But, as an analyst I understand that a society needs to maintain a sense of having an underclass which it ‘tolerates’, but which it also uses to maintain its sense of morality, to cast its scorn and aspersions, and to make the butt of its jokes. It is ironic that Christians fight against “the devil’s work” but nevertheless need the devil to give their Christian lives context – after all, what would the fight for “good” be without evil ?
Christians can’t live without “sin”,
but when people attempt to suppress their darkness, they ultimately end up projecting their ugliness onto other people.
Church leaders have to decide.
For now they continue to play what amounts to a game with people’s rights, but this pro-doctrine, anti-human position will become more and more indefensible in the post-Trump world and ultimately serve to turn young and future generations away, as those generations easily identify the anti-human position & obvious contradiction in Christian messaging.
APATHETIC DISINTEREST, EXHIBIT B –
“HE DIDN’T KILL YOU – WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT ??” WOMAN THOUGHT TO BE TRANSGENDER GETS SLAPPED AROUND ON BOAT CRUISE
Last year in March, a woman visiting Barbados got slapped around while attending a boat cruise party event.
Because a strange man she’d been dancing with a few minutes prior became convinced the woman was – in reality – a man, and not a woman.
The idea of a man assaulting a woman for something that offends his masculinity is despicable but, again, unfortunately not new in Barbados.
What was more striking in this instance was the lack of assistance the assaulted woman claimed to have received from (take your pick):
-Other cruise passengers,
-Management/ownership of the cruise boat
In other words, lack of assistance from pretty much anyone involved, whom she appealed to in this very public, very visible incident.
-None of the 61% – near two thirds of Barbadians -who think women should receive special protection happened to be on THIS particular cruise;
-(More likely) some of the near two thirds happened to be on the boat, but all were waiting individually for someone else to do the protecting of women.
-The people on the boat, the police and the boat’s owners happened to be some of our 39%
Tolerant Apathetic Disinterested Barbadians who looked on at the scenario and thought “He didn’t kill you – what more you want ???”
Either which way, the basic argument is – if Barbadians are prepared to stand and watch a woman “get she a** burss”, what type of reaction can we logically expect if the woman getting she a** burss appears to be transgender ?
(You already know the answer, it’s just not a good look or pleasant to think about).
APATHETIC DISINTEREST, EXHIBIT C –
BARBADIANS OPEN TO HAVING GAY FRIENDS, BUT NOT DOING MUCH ELSE WITH THEM
How many times have you heard a person say “My friend X is gay, but I’m the first person to tell him it’s wrong and I don’t agree with it”
My first question to you is “Are you really friends with X if you don’t accept a fundamental part of who he is ?”
Second question: “Are you really friends with X if deep down you think he should be just like you (straight) ?”
Third, fourth, fifth, sixth: “Who tf asked you for your opinion of what’s right and what’s wrong ? Who exactly is your opinion serving, but you ? Why should everything in life be about what you think is right ? And who’s telling you what’s wrong about your life, sinner ?”
Just under half of Barbadians polled (44%) admitted to having at least 1 gay friend, yet Barbadians’ idea of having gay friends seems to not to go much beyond the “having”. Most of us are noticeably absent when it comes to any LGBT awareness issues; if we compare appearances of the gay rights fight in Barbados vs percentages, the impression given is that many of the 44% either merely Tolerate (but never fully Accept) friends in spite of their gayness.
Or, Accept their gay friends but aren’t prepared to join the fight to help their friends to secure a better life in Barbados (What More Do You Want ??).
My mind is on the heterosexual folks who readily acknowledge the benefits of the bold diversity that their gay friends bring to their lives, but remain silent on gay rights issues. After all, gay rights isn’t only a fight for gay people; think of the numbers & impact that could be achieved if large swathes of Barbadians who don’t have a vested interest in opposing LGBT issues:
-Didn’t allow themselves to be controlled by their personal preferences (what they’re comfortable with);
-Decided to actually learn about LGBT people instead of stubbornly digging in their heels whenever conversation shifts to something (gay issues) or someone (gay people) they have pre-decided doesn’t interest them (otherwise known as ‘straight privilege’)
-Didn’t insist on limiting their engagement on LGBT issues to conversations with people whose opinions match, complement & validate their own.
Let me leave you with these last charts to let you know where the Bajan psyche is really at, as relates to ‘Things Gay’:
Privilege is a helluva drug. It can convince you your way of life is so “right” by default of being the majority way, that any people who are different who ask to be recognised – LGBT people, black people, or even women – aren’t simply asking for rights, but are in fact seeking to replace dominant values with their values. Nothing could be further from the truth since, in these cases, we’re speaking about people who often have some distance to travel just to have themselves recognised as human in the societies they live in.
Some people are gay. Get over it. And get over your Apathetic Disinterest in LGBT issues. We don’t have to have an exam, call press conferences or have national consultations debating the rightness or wrongness of homosexuality. All that is, is applied under-classism; seeking to keep one social grouping in a place of discrimination so society can give itself a pep talk about morality. All of this misses the point that the issues – LGBT issues – aren’t going anywhere because LGBT people continue to exist and, as long as they do, deserve access to the same rights we do because we’re all members of the same societies.