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


marc.narine said...

you write really well.. i thoroughly enjoy reading your posts.

Gio said...

Laugh it off? Laugh it off when it promotes and endorses the "chi chi man fury" in Caribbean cultures? You're not serious about this laugh it off? Laughing it off just says that violence against gay and lesbians is "funny".

Jessica said...

I understand your rage gio. I believe I clearly said that violence whether verbal abuse or physical abuse or discrimination is not acceptable. Never did I indicate that it was "funny', so I do not know how you read that into my blog post.

However, we do have free speech. Someone expressing their religious sentiments against gays and lesbians is not a crime. I may not appreciate such sentiments being a gay woman but I cannot take up action against it, nor does it impinge on my human rights.

My article was basically trying to encourage my fellow gays and lesbians to pick and choose which battles to fight. If you want to be militant about defending your right and fighting against chi chi man fury, then you need to focus on the roots of the problem mainly, ignorance, lack of gay visibility and influence in our culture and lack of protective legislation. Going after every single religious nut, especially the hyporcites, who bad mouth us, is a waste of time. I recommend that you read my post on Claiming the power of your self-truth. When you are CONFIDENT of your RIGHT to exist freely, these things do not enrage you, they make you feel pity for those who are ignorant and hypocritical.

Learn to lighten up, love yourself and you will be better able to cope with ridiculous people and their homophobia. It's bad for your mental and physical health to get riled up too easily. There is a long battle ahead on the road to equal rights, you do not want to burn out with unfocused overzlealousness.

The most powerful thing gay people can do is be visible and sing along to this song in full mockery of it's silly premise. It takes away any power this song has. On Carnival Monday and Tuesday, my partner of 10 years and I will be chipping down de road, arm in arm, proud and unafraid.

Gio said...

There is no such thing as an absolute freedom. Freedom of speech is limited by the laws of slander and defamation in the British West Indies, and by other regulations such as hate crime legislation or laws preventing holocausts denial.
I agree with you that at the current state of affair in the Caribbean chasing every one who make homophobic comments would be pointless. But that does not mean it should be laughed off, and I am not sure with the amount of internalized homophobia present in many gay men in the Caribbean that singing along to these lyric would do them or society any good.

Jessica said...

I never said anything about absolute freedom and there is no way you can build a case of slander against someone using Leviticus in a song. The use of biblical quotes to express anti-gay sentiments is not a hate crime, as hurtful as it may be. You also seem to equate my 'laugh it off" as me saying the issue of prejudice or violence against gay people is funny or not important. I assure you, I do not find it funny in the least. But what is funny are ignorant people and their ridiculous homophobic hypocrisy and rather than let it disempower me and make me feel angry and victimised, I choose to show that I am above it and them. Perhaps your approach is different and that is fine.

I see you are very passionate about this topic. I look back at myself in 1997 when I was a young gay activist and VERY militant. Not one single expression that could be deemd anti-gay would escape my zealous rebuttal. As I got older and more experienced in the world I realised there is even greater power in living with a quiet confidence that you are RIGHT and acting so!

At a certain point, gay people have to start acting less like wronged children and more like dignified adults who KNOW better than the homophobes and their nonsense. Think of Ghandi or Martin Luther King as far as approach goes. Like the parent who laughs at their child's ridiculous temper tantrum instead of getting upset and hurt. Because gio, it is not the ignorant masses who will suddenly change and be tolerant but the educated, professional, religious/philosphical community who have the power to change things we need changed like laws and social policy. It is the people we meet on a daily basis who will look at us for examples of how gay people are and we can change their opinion simply by being honest, ethical and good people.

People do NOT identify with us when we are militant and angry! They respond better to our humanity, creativity and ability to rise above pettiness and speak TRUTH or rather COMMON SENSE.

I have also found that not "embracing the victim" role, and placing yourself ABOVE the ridicule, gets more respect and more open an audience among that heterosexual majority. So forgive me if I can shake my head and laugh at others' homophobic hypocrisy. After the kind of personal injustice, violence and fight I have experienced with an abusive UBER evangelical father, family and wider society, I have more than earned the right to a little comic relief at the irony of other people's ignorance and so do a lot of gay people. Let me tell you, laughing at it can be a VERY empowering thing. It even protected me and my partner once.

We were walking back from seeing a movie at Globe cinema and suddenly this man started verbally abusing us, "Fucking zamies! Fire bun! Fire bun!" etc. My partner looked at me and I looked at her and it suddenly hit both of us to burst out laughing and we did. Loud belly shaking. raucous laughter. The man was so stunned he shut up immediately and fled.

trinisunshine said...

Yes laugh it off! Funny how your community contributes to the increase in AIDS in our beautiful island and you laugh it off. From Mc Farlene to Tribe you were out in your numbers the real carnival comes on December 1st when you gather at the hole and "mourn" those who have passed. Ah yes funny indeed.

Jessica said...

trinisunshine you are seriously misguided. Do your research child, according to the World Health Organisation, HIV/AIDS is predominantly heterosexually spread.

So really, it is the straight women and men who need to be far more vigilent.

You should also know that lesbians have the least number of people with HIV/AIDS and contribute the least to its spread.

So perhaps you should pick something else to validate your hatred.

douxdoux said...

Very well written. The negative comments I've seen in response to this, just concretes my belief in the ignorance of so many Trinidadians.