THE EDITOR, Sir:
Gordon Robinson's column 'Why gay rights?', published on October 23, 2012, was a most incisive and informative piece that reflects progressive values and attitudes that are relevant not only to Jamaica alone, but the world over. Kudos to him!
The issue of gay rights is a particularly thorny issue in conservative and strongly religious societies like Jamaica and also my own South Africa; to such an extent that even our president, Jacob Zuma, is not too comfortable with it.
Opinions like Mr Robinson's are useful in helping those like President Zuma to accept that people in same-sex relationships are not as different as other people assume them to be, and that they, like everyone else, are multifaceted individuals who are not defined by their sexuality alone.
I commend Mr Robinson on his progressive views and encourage him to speak out louder. Voices like his help change people's views, and that is how we transform societies. Furthermore, let his progressive attitude not end only on social issues, but also go into his legal practice. South Africa's laws have helped transform our society's view on gay rights, and our people have acknowledged that gay rights are also human rights, notwithstanding their religious or cultural views.
Many people in South Africa believed that, if homosexuality were allowed, it would open the floodgates for all kinds of deviant behaviour such as bestiality and incest, or marriage to animals.
Fortunately, we have legalised gay marriage and no one has come forth to claim the right to marry a goat or a sister, so clearly people were just exaggerating issues to support their intolerance.
However, the important point is that the law can help transform society's views on gay rights for the better, inspiring tolerance and the understanding.
As an example today, a gay man is a member of our highest court and many others are proud members of our Parliament, government and other spheres of society.
I hope Jamaica becomes a society of tolerance and freedom for the next 50 years and beyond!
MBEKEZELI M. BENJAMIN
Johannesburg, South Africa
Muscle C, though average in traditional academics, was brilliant. He was extremely creative and an excellent young actor. He became president of the Drama Society. I was vice-president. We adapted an Alfred Hitchcock (no relation) short story into a play in which he played the lead (a professor who’d murdered his wife) and I played a largely inaudible police detective. He was a huge success. I was eminently forgettable. He became editor of the school magazine and produced the bestCampionite to that point, which can still stand against anything currently published. Again, I was his deputy. When he left after fifth form, I succeeded him in both posts.
One Sunday, while in fifth form, he invited me to spend the day at his home. This was standard among school friends. My mother dropped me off that morning. That his parents, successful members of Jamaica’s upper crust, weren’t at home didn’t ring any immediate bells. He was a very dramatic chap who liked to feign sophistication, so when he made strawberry daiquiris as aperitifs, still nary a ding-dong entered my head.
Then he served lunch, including a pte de foie gras appetiser. Still, nothing dropped. Finally, when he invited me into his bedroom to see hisPlayboy collection, bright lights went on. Chuck Berry would have seen them earlier:
My ding-a-ling, my ding-a-ling,
Won’t you play with my ding-a-ling.