“THE time is coming” were the words of Pineridge MP and pastor Frederick McAlpine recently on the subject of civil unions for same-sex partners. He might not have shared the memo with some of his fellow pastors.
Perhaps predictably, the Bahamas Christian Council has found something to be outraged about: the proposed gay pride parade due to be held next year. So outraged are they, in fact, that they intend to hold an opposing rally.
Alas, according to Alexus D’Marco, chair of the Bahamas Organisation of LGBTI Affairs, their outrage didn’t extend to actually meeting the organisers of the pride parade as requested to be able to express their concerns.
“We have sent numerous communications,” said Ms D’Marco, “emails in regards to having this dialogue prior to Pride, so when Pride was announced they would have already been sensitised to what Pride was about or what the community faces. Not even about Pride but what our community faces on the whole.”
Without taking up that meeting, the Christian Council has been forthright in their public comments - telling people that after Hurricane Dorian, now is not the time to “play games with our faith” and even going so far as to say the church would be asking Bahamians to choose a side.
What they mean by that is unclear - but it is not the language of understanding.
Ms D’Marco went on to point out that one of the goals of the parade is to highlight injustices affecting the LGBTI community.
In this, the pride parade is a throwback to the very first such parade, in the US in 1970 – and it was a deliberate choice to choose the word pride rather than power.
Activist L Craig Schoonmaker was the one who suggested that, later saying: “There’s very little chance for people in the world to have power. People did not have power then; even now, we only have some. But anyone can have pride in themselves, and that would make them happier as people, and produce the movement likely to provide change.”
It is entirely possible to disagree with some of the goals of members of the pride parade while also wanting to ensure they are not the victims of injustice.
It is entirely possible to hold to one’s personal religious views while co-existing with others who do not share them.
After all, the organisers of Pride have been at pains to co-exist themselves, saying: “At no point in the conversation should the domination of the church or religious groups materialise. We aim to bring religious LGBTI persons and allies together to celebrate their faith.”
We would suggest that the door remains open for the Christian Council to raise their concerns. There is no reason to let divisions remain between now and next year and end up with the possibility of hostility between rival parades. The dialogue can begin now. If the Christian Council has concerns, raise them directly, without threat or the appearance of intimidation.
No matter how much the council wishes, this is a section of our community that will not be going away – and as such they have rights and, yes, responsibilities just as all of us do. Is the council willing to reach out and talk? Or are they turning away from an entire part of the community?
No one person in The Bahamas should be regarded as greater or lesser than another. We are all equal. To that end, no one person should have fewer rights than another. Where there is injustice, we should seek to bring justice. Now that would surely be the Christian thing to do.