JONQUEL Jones in action in the WNBA. (AP)
By LYNAIRE MUNNINGS
THE president and director of local LGBTQIA+ group The DeMarco Foundation voiced support for Jonquel Jones after the WNBA star said her sexuality hindered her marketability.
Alexis DeMarco said there are no policies to protect members of the LGBTQIA+ community in The Bahamas.
“The work that we do is, we try to advocate for the human rights of LGBTQIA+ Bahamians to be able to be included in every aspect of life. That’s access to justice, access to healthcare, access to education, access to employment,” she said.
In a feature with ESPN’s Katie Barnes, reigning WNBA MVP and Connecticut Sun forward Jones said she believed her relationship with The Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) ended due to her openly identifying as a lesbian and her “non-traditionally feminine” style of dress.
“Jones believes her decision to embrace her identity as a lesbian and dress more authentically came with material consequences,” Barnes wrote. “The Bahamas Telecommunications Co., she says, opted not to renew her contract even though her basketball performance in the United States and overseas had improved.”
DeMarco said the opportunity allowed Jones to use her platform to bring awareness to her struggle as an individual.
She believes Jones' situation is a good opportunity for the country to acknowledge some communities they have left behind.
“In her situation, I feel she used the opportunity not so much about BTC, it was more talking about her struggle within herself as it relates to being a person,” DeMarco said. “She had a personal journey and she struggled with that personal journey.”
Following the publication of the ESPN article, BTC issued a statement refuting those claims.
“BTC has a strong culture supporting equality, diversity, and inclusion. As a company, we do not discriminate against the LGBTQIA+ community in any form or manner,” the statement said.
“BTC currently has an endorsement contract with Olympian Steven Gardiner. All endorsement contracts are executed for a specific period of time.”
DeMarco encouraged Jones to continue to share her story through her platform, while standing up for herself.
“I will say continue being yourself, continue standing up for your human rights, continue standing up for you and only you can share your story and only you can own your story,” DeMarco said.
She hopes Bahamians begin to acknowledge the LGBTQIA+ community, as its members deserve the same rights as anyone else.
“LGBTQIA+ Bahamians do exist – we have a vast amount of people leaving this country every day for various reasons, for their pursuit of happiness, for what makes them happy,” she said. “My advice to Bahamians is let’s live and let live.”