January 29, 2007

Working On A Really Big Post

Thanks for all the encouragement guys! Thank you for your comments as well, I appreciate them all (not the spam).
Working on something religious and philosophical for the first post in February. You know I do those from time to time.

January 26, 2007

Sherwayne Winchester's Leviticus Belief Is Laughable!

Sherwayne Winchester’s ‘Woman By My Side” seems to have stirred up some comments on his use of Leviticus in his lyrics about men lying with men being an abomination. He has stated that he stands by his lyrics and believes the bible wholly. It seems some gay people and straight-but-not-narrow-minded people are offended and see his stance as homophobic. I just wanted to put my own amusing observations on the matter.

I may personally disagree with religious views that express condemnation of gay people just as I disagree with religious views that express condemnation of people of other faiths or cultures. I personally believe God is not as preoccupied about what two consenting adults in love, do with their genitalia as some humans throughout history seem to be, including the humans who wrote the bible. However, in a democratic society, we all have free speech, including Mr. Winchester and I respect that, just as long as people are treated with respect and tolerance. Remember “tolerance” is one of our nation’s watchwords. Disagreeing with a gay person being what they are and/or if you are gay, punishing yourself or forcing yourself, your dependent children or religious congregation to go against an innate orientation because your religion or holy book says so, is your own business and your right. It may be hurtful and traumatic for the gay persion but it is not a hate-crime or human rights violation as long as you do not impose ill treatment upon others via verbal and physical abuse, harassment and discrimination.

Second, as hard as I try, I find it hard to be offended by this song. It makes me laugh just for the simple fact that it speaks to a kind of ridiculous religious hypocrisy endemic to our society, especially when it comes to gay people. Only gay people seem to bring out this pathetic attempt at biblical references by people who do not follow the scripture in every sense in their own lives. It never ceases to amaze me how people pick and choose from the bible what to condemn according to their own personal prejudices. Does Sherwayne or even the majority of us for that matter, actually follow the entire book of Leviticus or even apply everything in the bible seriously? No of course not! We busy eating our roast pork, curry shrimp, tattooing and piercing our bodies, shaving our beards, wearing fabric comprised of two types of material and we certainly not quarantining ourselves when we have our periods or experience a nocturnal emission. All of these are abominations according to Leviticus and as such we all should be stoned. Shurwayne says he embraces the whole bible, does this mean that on Carnival Saturday, he will be observing the Sabbath? Does he know Leviticus stipulates that if anyone does not observe the Sabbath they are to be put to death? Has he even read the entire bible?

My advice to my dear gay and lesbian Trinis and their friends and family who feel offended by this song is, just laugh this off. You cannot take Mr. Winchester or the average Trini seriously when they suddenly “find biblical religious piety” just because suddenly the topic is homosexuality and it is personally offensive to them. So love who you were born to be and if you enjoy your Carnival, sing along, loud and proud to those Leviticus lyrics while enjoying the sweet irony of the fact that you are chipping along the road with hypocritical homophobes who are drinking alcohol like crazy (drunkenness is a sin in the bible); reveling on the road (revelry is also a sin in the bible); grinding down the place in public (debauchery is a sin in the bible); having sex with prostitutes, (fornication is a sin in the bible) or with a “deputy” (adultery is a sin in the bible) lying about horning or being sick on Ash Wednesday (lying is a sin in the bible) and last but not least maco-ing and gossiping about the bacchanal (also a sin in the bible). Even if they call you sinful, at least your orientation is innate, not an anti-social disorder and does not threaten anyone else, you cannot say the same about the majority of them. I guess this is why Jesus said, ‘He who is without sin cast the first stone”.

Edited version published in the Thursday 25th Newsday Newspaper

January 24, 2007

How Safe Is Elton John In Our Country?

The brutal attack of Dutch national and male model Michael Brantjes during a photo shoot in Blanchisseuse, reported in the Thursday 4th January issue of the Guardian raises a lot of pertinent issues that need some deeper examination. According to the report, I quote, “The beating, he (Michael Brantjes) said, might have stemmed from “how people might view a male model.” In addition the report went stated, “Cosmetologist Kirk Thomas, who was also with Brantjes when the attack occurred, described the incident as unfortunate. Describing what happened as a “hate crime,” Thomas said: “I definitely know that it was that, a hate crime because in Trinidad male models are stereotyped in a particular way. People need to change their attitude.” cosmotologist at the photo shoot added,”.

I will loudly declare, what some are afraid to say, it was a homophobic attack by a group of ignorant ruff necks who saw a ‘pretty’ foreigner and his artsy entourage and fell into a fit of dance-hall fueled, ‘chi-chi man’ fury. The visitors were doing nothing to them, just going about their business and these insecure, young men, who have issues with their own sexuality somehow felt their “maleness” and “blackness” threatened and made the first move in dishing out the usual ‘Fire bun! Kill all bullerman!” rant. The foreigners, who are accustomed to being treated with respect and tolerance in their own developed countries, did not cower and stood up for themselves, which of course means the attack will escalate from verbal to physical violence. This kind of hateful attack has happened to me and to friends of mine who are either gay or mistaken to be gay and it will continue to happen. It was embarrassing and heartbreaking to read of the attack and see how it totally ruined the opinion of our country in the eyes of those visitors, who will be spreading the news of Trinidad’s homophobia to everyone they meet back home.

I wonder if the promoters of the Tobago Jazz festival have fully informed open and outspoken gay, prospective performer Elton John and his entourage exactly what kind of hateful, intolerant place this can be. If a male model is being bashed for exhibiting male beauty because it is perceived as gay, what would these ignorant homophobes make of someone as flamboyant as Elton? If he accompanied by his partner, will they be treated with respect by our people? This remains to be seen. My friends and I all want to go to see the concert. I grew up on my dad’s old Elton records before he tossed them out when he got all super religious and intolerable. It would be highly embarrassing if during this visit from one of music’s most eclectic and electrifying talents that we allow people who cannot see past what other people do with their own genitalia within the rightful freedom of their own adult relationship with another consenting adult, to ruin it for the true fans, gay and straight. The press swept the attack of the Dutch model under the carpet but I guarantee that if ANYTHING homophobic is directed at Elton, it will not be buried so easily.

January 22, 2007

Eau de Banana Republic

When I think of Vision 20/20, I see Trinbago as force ripe thirteen-year old girl trying hard to get into an adult night-club where the popular rich adults of the G8 nations party. In order to “pass” the bouncers, she resorts to dishonest and self-harming practices. She ignores the cries of her loving family to value herself by first concentrating on her education, spirituality, health and personal hygiene. They tell her that becoming a successful, desirable young woman takes time and dedication, not money. Development is not something you can buy, it must come from within and only when put your priorities in order. For some reason, impatient little, Trinbago believes they are talking nonsense! Couldn’t they understand her hurry to appear to be just like her G8 idols? Why suffer through the long arduous process of implementing social development, efficient social services and a sustainable environmentally friendly economy from the ground up, when she can simply buy and import what she wants to make herself “appear” mature now?

Thinking that everything foreign must be better, she colours her hair blonde even though the colour does not complement her complexion and the chemicals burn holes in her scalp. Whatever wealth she has, she hoards for herself and a few sycophant friends, letting her brothers and sisters go hungry and homeless. She even steals money from her own family to be able to flaunt South Beach Miami luxury and throw lavish parties. She pushes away the nutritious meals grown in her own garden and gorges herself on expensive imported junk food until her arteries become clogged. She buys expensive trinket after tricket until she is so weighed down with metal, she can hardly move. She stops educating herself and chooses instead to seduce every sugar daddy who will give her a foreign dollar and of course allows them to use her body anyway they like, without any protection. She still makes an occasional appearance at a church, temple or mosque, but it’s just for show and everyone knows it. Anyone who stands in her way, she bullies mercilessly by sullying their reputation with malicious gossip or using her thug friends to shut them up. Those still brave enough, plead with her, “This is not you Trinbago! You used to be so beautiful once and now you spoiling yourself! True beauty comes from valuing yourself and your own talents and creativity Trinbago! You need to work in harmony with your people and environment! You are becoming congested, polluted, selfish, corrupt and dangerous. Please listen to your family and friends, we love you!” but Trinbago does not listen. She is so caught up with putting on just the outward trappings of adulthood and success she forgets to take basic care of herself. Instead of cleansing her face, she pastes it with make-up. Instead of bathing she sprays on perfume to cover the smell. And what a smell, it stinks to high heaven! Infestations of lice and scabies begin to develop on top of the STDs she contracts from whoring out her natural resources to the highest bidder.

There was a time when Trinbago was actually kind of sweet, even though she was not at the peak of her development. Certainly, there were many puberty trials ahead. She still had to blossom from colonialism to democracy, plantation style mono-crop agriculture to diversified intensive farming, Victorian law to secular law, upward mobility based on merit not skin colour and industrial growth led by her own human resources not expat human resources. She still had to learn how to love equally, all the racial, religious and cultural sides of her personality. But even though she was less than perfect years ago, at least she was not the obese, indolent, drugged up, diseased teenaged prostitute with a crooked, violent nature she is today. Worse yet, in her present force ripe state of degradation she still has all those unresolved puberty issues to handle on top of the further damage she has inflicted on herself.

My vision concludes like this: One day, Trinbago finally reaches her vain 20/20 goal and convinces the bouncer to let her into the G8 nightclub. She saunters up to the VIP section. The countries there are toasting with expensive champagne because they took centuries to fight for their democracy and they have deep patriotic self-esteem. They really know the cost of sacrifice for a higher ideal, paid in human lives, and so they zealously nurture their traditions, architecture, arts and culture. They are all mature, accomplished, beautiful women in the prime of their life. They have strived to listen to their people who have stood up for empowerment, education and equal rights. Although they have come by their wealth through ill-begotten means like slavery and unfair trade, they are now in a position to repair the damage they have done and give back to the countries they have abused. They have many battle scars and many more to come but are beginning to take better care of their environment and are serious about providing basic social systems for the health and safety of their people. It is from this foundation, they flaunt the outward trappings of their success: the skyscrapers, technological innovations, luxury real estate and the ability to host large international events seamlessly and safely.

Suddenly, they catch the smell of something putrid wafting into their exclusive area. It’s the rotten smell of third-world underdevelopment and pestilential corruption masked by expensive perfume. They know that smell very well, it’s called eau de Banana Republic. Collectively they spin around and take one look at Miss Force Ripe Trinidad & Tobago and burst out laughing. They are not fooled. She will never be part of their clique, but since she looks so desperate for attention, they will make her their little lackey.

Edited version published in the Sunday 21st Trinidad Guardian

January 18, 2007

Where did the Alien go?

Well I have been taking some time off for myself and in the process opening up to some extremely wonderful life experiences and some not so wonderful ones as well.

From St. Lucia to London to Brighton back to Tobago and then Trinidad, the last seven months can only be described as exhausting, disturbing, inspirational and soul-altering. My partner and I have been victims and victors. We were assaulted constantly in true Caribbean hate-crime fashion in St. Lucia. We were embraced by the gay community in the UK. We made and lost friends and re-made friends. From professional highs and tearful farewells in St. Lucia to performing in front of thousands at Gay Pride 2006, in Brighton to frolicking buck nekked on a nudist beach to temporary homelessness at Gatwick and living with a bunch of flight attendant queens, what a year!

Now I am back, trying to do the responsible 9-5 thing and fired up to speak my mind about so many things, spiritual, political and personal. So, that’s it. It’s good to be back