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Gay Pride, Christian Shame, Mental Emancipation

YOU COULD spot the two Pentecostal preachers at the Gay Pride celebration in Port of Spain’s Mandela Park on Sunday easily: they were the only unhappy people in the place. Scowling, holding their placards filled with Biblically-justified hatred in front of them like shields, their eyebrows were as knotted as their insides, their stomachs turned sick by what they were seeing… which was the happiest people in Port of Spain.

Rainbow-shrouded men and women (and every permutation and/or combination in-between) jumped up behind the music big truck, played themselves on the street, posed for pictures in front of the two-metre high “GREAT” on St Clair Avenue, implying a Britain made Great by equality, that was specially commissioned by the British High Commission for Pride.

And then gathered in the park to celebrate their freedom to do it openly.

How could these miserable holy firetruckers miss this joy, I wondered. And how could anyone else, looking from the one to the other, choose the believers’ rigid anger and hate over the fluid joy – some of them almost too fluid, like Diamond, who effortlessly lifted his leg up past his ear and then dropped to a full split in the middle of the road, to the delight of everyone but the snarling preachers. How could anyone choose the hate of these certain men of God over the love of the so-called sinners? If you had to choose, wouldn’t you prefer to go to a drag queen show than church, to mas than to Mass? (At least the show changes week-to-week at nightclubs.)

You only had to look away from the lesbian American with what may be the world’s most wickedly-infectious smile, who married a Trini woman and moved here, and who explains that the essential oils on sale in their stall are better than regular ones because they’re made by gay people, to the growling, frothing-at-the-mouth Pentecostals to see where love truly resides. My friend K (not her real initial) pointed with her mouth to the preachers. “They should just cover them in pink glitter,” she said.

What – in the name of God – provokes self-declared holy men to leave their homes on what they mistakenly think is “the Sabbath” and come out in the thundershowers to so miserably rain on the gays’ parade? They really don’t have anything better to do? Read the Bible? Chastise their children? Hector their congregations? Eat some KFC? Wouldn’t they be better off casting pearls before swine than the first stone?

The opposite of love is not hatred, but indifference. Men who rail against homosexuality must have a problem with it that requires some sort of inner struggle to reconcile, or they really wouldn’t care who slept with whom, no matter what the Book of Leviticus says. You never see anyone flinging shrimp off other people’s plates in restaurants and, except in Trump’s America, no one tells a white person she shouldn’t marry a black one, or climbs over a sports ground wall to wag his finger in the face of a cricketer and tell him he really should play football. To care about someone else’s sex life is, well, to care about it; it’s incomprehensible that they can’t leave it alone… unless their own interest has been pricked. As a gay friend says, “Darling, it’s better to be blatant than latent!”

In a week that began with Pride – remember, the word is really Sabbath-day, i.e., Saturday – and ended with Emancipation, it was genuinely difficult to listen to two black men, who would not be at Mandela Park at all, but for African slavery in the New World, as they clung wretchedly to the same Bible that deprived their ancestors of their liberty for 400 years, to attempt to deny the humanity of people just like them! (The most literal interpretation – which the Pentecostals favour – of the commandment Jesus Christ supposedly himself declared to be above all others, “love they neighbour as thyself”, would seem to be an argument in favour of, not against, same-gender love.)

It’s hard, every agnostic knows, not to be sympathetic to believers, especially believers who have endured great suffering. When you fall from faith (and rise above Catholic guilt, Judaic shame, Muslim self-abnegation), you’re left with the bleakest of blank slates: life has no meaning whatever, except the one you can create; anyone who understands that must empathise with those who prefer to hold on to a grand illusion or delusion.

But every agnostic also knows that the only one who can save you is yourself.

What stops black men, in Emancipation week, from seeing other human beings who are free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, free at last?

By definition, believers live in a fantasy world; and one of the most enduring Christian fantasies I’ve heard fall from the lips of the devout is, how lucky they would have been to have lived at the time that Jesus walked the Earth. I’ve heard several people – including my first girlfriend’s parents – declare how fervently they would have worshipped him, if only they’d been there!

But the believers of today would not have welcomed, back then, something new, like, “Love thy neighbour” or “Gay Pride”; they would have been with the religion of the day, the Pharisees.

They would not have loved Jesus.

They would have crucified him.

With God-fearing Pride.

BC Pires is a try sexual. You can email him the first stone at bc@BCPires.com

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