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Paula-Mae is Head (of State)
NOT TO RUB you the wrong way, Madame President-elect, but I was myself tremendously upset by the Guardian headline over your interview last month, “I’m not a lesbian”, and not because I thought it went too far, but because I didn’t feel it, or you, or we, as a country, went far enough: how I wish, Madame President-elect, you were and remained openly lesbian.
Now I don’t wish to push anything on anyone, least of all a sexual orientation they don’t feel; I can’t think of a more powerful recipe for unhappiness. Sexual identity goes straight to the heart, mind, gonads and zygote. If someone is heterosexual, they should never be prevented from acting upon it, but, if we are to be civilized, instead of merely living in cities, it is more important that, if someone is homosexual, they should also be allowed to be themselves. Alan Turing, who certainly gave the world the computer and arguably won World War II for the Allies, lived in deep personal misery because it was illegal to be gay in England until 1967. Heartthrob Rock Hudson’s greatest acting role was as Hollywood’s leading ladies’ man.
You could, Madame President-elect, apply this line of thinking to almost anything: had the African in the New World been allowed to be what he or she was – simply a person, although a black one – how different would our region’s history, and its present, have been? Had women been allowed the same rights as men anywhere, anytime in history, would we have fought so many catastrophic wars? Would our species not be unimaginably farther along the road to the peaceful coexistence we must reach, if we are not to destroy ourselves? Would we have a jackass in the White House?
So I wouldn’t want you to be a lesbian, Madame President-elect, if you weren’t already one; but, if you were one, it would strike me as firetrucking ridiculous that you couldn’t say so in a daily paper in a country that supposedly respected human rights; and an abdication of the potentially great powers of moral suasion of your office before you even assumed them.
Now, this could be simply my own desire for companionship: I was the first openly lesbian man in Trinidad. The moment I saw my first woman’s prison movie at National Cinema II, on a cricket half-day-off from CIC when I was 15, I just knew I was a lesbian trapped in a man’s body. It reflects our time’s weirdness that, 15 years ago, when I “came out” in Trinidad newspapers, everyone knew it was a joke; today, with the hookup-app Tinder’s 37 gender classifications, it could be real; and I could still happily live with that.
Truly, Madame President-elect, I’d rather be a lesbian man than a homosexual one pretending to be heterosexual, as most gay men must be today, if what they are seeking is to get ahead professionally instead of head, personally.
Anyone who thinks Trinidad has bottomed out when it comes to violence against women, gay or straight, or homosexual men, need only wait. As things worsen, economically, Trinidad will prove, day-by-day, week-by-week, how great our capacity for hate is; and how willing most men are to promote it. We forget, when things are going well, how quickly men turn beast.
And how swiftly and easily we abandon the most vulnerable amongst us, the first step towards using the hatred of them as a unifying force.
Our presidency is almost entirely ceremonial, Madame President-elect. No doubt you, or any president, can really change the country’s present and future, by the appointments you choose that are constitutionally yours to make.
But, if your presidency could have become historical because you were not just female, but lesbian, it would have made a statement that the most brutal of men in the corridors of power would have been forced to respect; and I would have collapsed with laughter, watching everyone scramble to remove you from the office in which they had unanimously installed you.
I am, therefore, Madame President-elect, disappointed that you are not lesbian.
But, of course, as you understand yourself, being the good Christian you are, that is simply not how God made you.
I just wish it were.
For the sake of all the good people who are a little different who will be persecuted in the future.
God alone help them, if and when His followers get going.
BC Pires is not an agnostic on Tinder. Read more of his writing at www.BCPires.com