A Merry Christmas to you my readers and indeed this is a apt occasion to do this entry as I do not normally post on the holidays but photos and a short video clip of a treat that was put together by an inter-denominational group nearing the Spanish Town area for some young gay and bisexual men for the most part outside of the other treats held was sent to me via email. Unfortunately with strict instructions I cannot share them at this time I hope at least I can bring to the public's attention soon however.
The interfaith group who had expressed some interest earlier this year in assisting three of the young men after a series of incidents involving them and others in several forced evictions similar to those of their Kingston counterparts with the local authorities moving the men from all points they occupy and obstruct. However in St Catherine it was residents who made those decisions with some disastrous consequences such as the reported chase and attempted flogging of a group who illegally occupied an empty house in the Sydenham area and men supposedly ran them out of town and boarded up the structure after the owners residing overseas were informed of the squatting activities by the men.
Other challenges present themselves in the town itself as the men at one point occupied under the bridge upon entering Spanish Town nearing the hospital but were chased away allegedly by thugs from the nearby squatter settlement opposite the river.
Even as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus on this day (actual birth date not known but the Council of Nicea had made this so) and as sections of Christendom locally twist the true message of Christ and pour cold water on the hate that has become so normative in God's name towards homosexuality or their wrongly placed perceptions of it, it is refreshing to see a group throwing away their stereotypical lenses and looking beyond to the human condition, a trait missing it seems from some of these theocrats who prefer to bask in their self preserving salvation, even in the midst of religion there is individualism yet they complain about excess, The homeless overall, the rejected and elderly and destitute are eyesores for some of these religious persons who spew hatred and bigotry in God's name it seems and is more of a "if your are not one of us then we won't share with you or know you" message being sent.
What about the outcast? lest we forget the story of the woman with the alabaster box, Peter et al and not all LGBT people are atheists either as some would like to promote since the stepped up prominence of that section of the community. Some of us do not have a problem or question the existence of God but it's how the word is being twisted via all kinds of self amended theologies to suit the agenda, the very same kind of intellectual dishonesty and gymnastics the gay lobby or some figureheads of it is accused of is the very same strategy that is being used by theologians and so called holders Doctors of Philosophy under a Christian guise.
The interfaith team consisting of pentecostal, Seventh Day Adventists, A church of God leadress and others numbering eight in total had approached the situation as aforementioned by providing short term odd jobs for the three young men they had identified to work with at first when the Syndenham incident occurred they thought the men were just homeless generally not ascertaining that there was more to their situation that the typical displaced youth on the street would have experienced. Then the real conditions became known to the group who were already assisting other dislocated populations as well, the stories however were flying out of the men as two members of the interfaith team took particular interest in the men after listening intently over time according to two of the men who related their encounter.
At first there was some resistance by the church of God representative and the Seventh Day Adventist as well seem a bit reserved and literally kept communication to a bare minimum in some instances and was described as very abrupt in engaging the men, it was after a series of phone calls with another community influential at the local health authority in HIV outreach and my subsequent involvement via a set of gay men's health workshops in the parish that seem to had led to a change of heart leading to this pleasant news coming forth.
The men were treated at a church compound last evening with only themselves and the members of the team along with a pastor who prayed over the proceedings, I subsequently tried to find out if the prayer or any of the actions by the participating persons seemed suspect or reflected a form of reparative therapy message (not those exact words used) the men for the most part said no, the influential was also present and said it was purely a gesture by the group who had received some donations from their various sources and decided to split the items which included shoes, items of clothing, books including Bibles and personal effects/toiletries the men also were allowed a bath and a change of clothes then three hot meals, soup, the main course - a choice of chicken/curried goat or beef and then Christmas cake with sorrel drink.
The gesture though seemingly small is powerful in my estimation as a mixed group given the recent public discourse of religion, marked differences denominations and so on are put aside and an active alliance is alive and well.
The interaction thereafter was said to be very sobering for both the men and the interfaith group and there is another one such tentatively scheduled for New Years Day, the men have also been invited to watch night services. Good to know that this kind of outreach is happening and reflects the more real sides to what the work of the Lord is all about, not just for buffed egos of theologians but on the ground work getting ones hand dirty with real people, service is the rent we pay on this earth not platitudinous garbage with millions of dollars to boot when they are people who need help, people like Wayne West, Shirley Richards, Peter Espeut and Betty Ann Blaine need to take a page out of this group's action.
They intend to work with the men though sadly resources are limited to assist the others who are involved in commercial sex work and so on for gain a living, the ministry of health's regional authority only insofar as HIV prevention do engage the men via their outreach officers but that does not address the pysho-social and fiscal needs of the men who fear off a little better than their Kingston counterparts, they for now can crash as several spaces including the home of another former party promoter and one does pass through my address for the occasional shower and package of rice, beef etc I can get from my sister in law who is an elder of a community church nearby.
Previous Interfaith discussions (and they were just that) from a theological standpoint (LGBT leader led) that involved distinguished Reverends, theologians from United Theological College, Sunshine Cathedral Jamaica Kingston (SCJ) an offshot of the Miami based MCC now defunct and others died in the water just after 2010 which centered primarily on tolerance, acceptance and human sexuality.
It is instructive, the actions of this progressive interfaith group (not LGBT led this time around but focused non the less) pity however it had to be done quietly for now so as to avoid any untoward response from some of the crazies within the church in general, that is a sad observation and commentary of the church to make but it is a reality, we have seen persons literally chased from or read out of congregations by pastors and church brethren.
Tolerance indeed in action this should teach us all.
also see: Homeless impatient with agencies over slow progress of promised shelter (with a podcast included)
Peace and tolerance