An occasional caveat would have been nice to show a clear difference between gay children (as the topic was about) versus transgender during the show so that listeners have no doubt as the minutes went by.
The topic was about “What would you’d do if your child was gay?” but by the time it got to where I tuned in all kinds of suppositions about beastiality being normal were professed by some of the panelists including a reverend gentleman. The other saving grace was the presence of a psychologist from the UK who spoke to Jamaica’s unique unease towards sexual orientation and that in the UK such phobia and abuse especially when it gets physical can be dealt with via laws and court action as opposed to no such coverage here. Co-host Colin Hines (who always whenever chance he gets claims he is not in support of homosexuality) took exception to the Psychologists comments by suggesting she and others were implying normalcy in homosexual expression or existence and words such as abnormal, demons and paedophiles came forth in the short exchange prior to her departure from the show.
Dr Gemma Givan Child Psychologist from the UK said for example in response to a question on the experience in her country “.....we promote everyone being able to have the same rights as everybody else regardless of their sexual orientation is or their gender is; so we've grown up as law; we’re not allowed to discriminate against anyone; we get sent to jail we get fines, so our is more multi-cultural so it based everybody no matter what you believe, what religion, where you are from, what your culture is; everyone is on the same line, whereas in Jamaica the law is attached to the church and because of what people believe in the Bible influences their idea of what should be and what shouldn't.”
Colin Hines asked “So Christianity is a factor?” to which Dr Gemma Givan responded “Right, yea ‘cause there is very little competition with religion here unlike in other countries.”
“God forbid if she comes to me with that ....... I wouldn't want that; Even any parent who are homosexual let’s say same sex union they don’t wanna, most of them you talk to they don’t want their child to have to experience that”
“It’s the demon weh me a tell yug ‘bout” (It’s the demon I am telling you about) another panelist shouted immediately following that comment.
Reverend Downer continued that being a counselor he would not be shocked as he knows there are other factors influencing sexual orientation. Yet it seems the goodly Reverend with all his knowledge and exposure seems locked into the notion of same gender sex and abuse as one as opposed to separating the issues. He says he has counselled 14/5 year olds but he expects her to show “signs” so he can address it. Obviously he was going to the response of reparative therapy but redeemed himself of sorts when he said he would not put out his child. “I don’t condone homosexuality one bit but I love and respect my child anyway” he claims yet he was the one later in the discourse who brought up the futuristic call for beastiality rights and fears by religiosity as being punished for speaking out against the ‘lifestyle.’ Let us remember this man also was introduced as a psychologist/counselor.
One of the parents on the panel when asked by co-host Colin Hines about their sexual orientation being “abnormal or what frightens them?” (While infusing the procreation ambit) to which a gentleman responded that he would be worried about his own reputation and the perception of others looking on to suggest he may have been the one who introduced homosexuality to his child so it somehow rubbed off. This old perception is another one of the challenges that has created a wall of resistance in LGBT advocacy as if to suggest homosexuality is contagious or has ill-intent by those so described as gays. He continued “.....the public shame (egged on by Colin Hines) that ridicule almost like, what if he saw his father doing things? Why him dis, why him dat? (Why is he this or why is he that way?) Reverend Downer concurred that many Jamaican men also think that way. The parent continued that he is looking on his son and seeing how unfortunate the situation is for him because his life is not going to be the same; there is no normalcy again; it’s gonna be a difficult road he does not want him to traverse.
The suggestion of danger and future abuse us hinted there or predatory behaviour by such other individuals being laid at the feet of gay men, “I don’t want my son to go through that,” was his line that made some sense as homo-negativity has had its effects as evidenced in attacks and so on. “I will have to have sessions as to how to be a man, how boys must be in classes ... it seems to me listening how some persons are accepting to it talk, it’s OK man if he wants to let him do it. .... Open the door show them that they can try a guy if they want; if girls don’t work out, try a guy.”
“So not being grandfather worries you?” asked co-host Colin Hines to which the parent answered yes, there suggesting again the procreation imperative often used by those who supposedly oppose homosexuality as fodder for justifying it.
It was at that point that Tiana was brought into the discussion; she handled herself pretty well and made the point that she and her father now have a steady relationship in terms of understanding as her mother had passed away prior to that her and her father did not communicate for several months. She brought the historical context of her childhood and being teased or told to ‘man it up’ While I appreciate her intervention to very timing of it helped in my view to skew the exchange in a totally different direction riding on the subtext that gay men want to be women. Tiana was asked by Colin Hines for example if she had done the ‘transformation’ or re-assignment surgery to which she responded no. She gave her high school experience and the ‘man-up’ demands and her constant questioning of why she was like that? Or cry in private, she also stressed she was not abused or introduced by some abusive trigger.
“...... just to be clear it’s not that you were exposed to homosexuality at a young age, you were molested because people tend to think; that is one of the reason somebody can’t be naturally this way; something must have triggered it; do you think you had a trigger or from you know yourself this has been how you feel? Asked by co-host Krystal Tomlinson who while I understood where she was coming from or trying to accomplish unfortunately conflated homosexual curious with gender identity searching and understanding thus the subtext here again is a dangerous one as it suggest gay men are want-to-be women. Drop that unto the backdrop of the fear of the feminine we can now understand why the loathing and abhorrence of homosexuality is well defined in our culture and psyche. Tiana nicely put the homosexual paedophile intent or the overzealous protection of the young imperative by some (not that it is not needed but in context) to rest though but would it have resonated may yet to be unproven.
“From I knew myself this is how I have always felt; nothing; no molestation; nothing triggered anything.” Tiana responded. When asked about coming into acceptance of herself and how her parents dealt with it she said that society places pressure on persons like her even as parents accept it but scared for her safety prior to departing Jamaica. She clarified the re-assignment surgery conundrum and when asked by Colin Hines about her male genitalia she responded yes she still has same. She went on to relate her relocation and the discrimination that still exists but far less and laws protect or remedy such discrimination when it occurs. Then came another question that had me a bit queasy as posed by co-host Krystal Tomlinson: “Here is the big question now Tiana, would you want your child to be born gay, is it something you want the child to experience?” while I understand the context of the topic was such again the subtext is a female cisgender imperative being implied here. Tiana responded “Um, alright (hesitation I guess realising she is not gay but transgender) I have no control over that but from a realistic standpoint ...... at a tender age I wouldn’t want for my child to even .... um ... I don’t know what to say ..... I don’t think I would want my child to be born gay ‘cause the discrimination that he or she will face is crazy and if that person doesn’t have a strong mindset then that’s why you have most cases of suicide.”
Colin Hines asked her if she had a desire to have kids? Tiana responded she may adopt. Krystal Tomlinson then went on to suggest that hearing Tiana’s voice for many persons was a shock (again the subtext is gay men want to be girls which is worlds apart from transgenderism) while admitting she did not know the technical or appropriate term to describe the situation as Tiana being biologically male sounding female, identifying as female and eventually would like to make a transition. “People find it hard to grasp” claimed Krystal Tomlinson but the original discussion was about “What would you’d do if your child was gay?” not whether someone is gay wants to do re-assignment surgery or is transgender which is where the conflation intended or not delays the understanding process. Tiana went on the however said she is comfortable with herself but we must remember she is not gay but transgender.
One of the panelists asked Tiana at what age did she know she was a girl? Tiana’s answer “Let me say ....... at around eight, four, five;” another question came up “How were you certain you were not just bi-curious or searching?” Tiana answered “No, it wasn’t even any sexual thing or anything I just used to put on my mother’s clothing; her heels and everything and when I looked in the mirror I just always saw this girl; you know you can picture yourself; whenever I picture myself I picture myself as a girl.”
“Why am I to think that you were playing misguided dress up?” (again the subtext is abnormality is implied) asked another panelist and urged on by Reverend Downer “As many boys do,” Tiana responded “Because that outside appearance was, my physical appearance was of a male at first but whenever I thought about myself mentally I saw a girl.” Krystal Tomlinson got the point when she asked “it’s not just about the dress and the shoes it’s how you think of you?’ Tiana replied “It is not about the dressing up, the shoes, the makeup and stuff or anything is it how I think of myself and how I feel.”
Reverend Downer asked if she was attracted to males or females.
Tiana said she is attracted to males. That answer in essence highlights the other problem within transgender identity and such persons being lost or overlooked in the gay or MSM communities as they are often seen as drag queens. Let us also bear in mind Tiana has entered and won several drag show competitions in Miss LGBT World, Dancehall Queen & was seen as a drag queen until she became a public face for transgender advocacy in my days as DJ/promoter on the circuit.
Then came the descent into madness as I see it where a clash ensued for some six minutes plus on or about parents being fine with knowing their children are gay in US as opposed to Jamaica. The fear of the future came in when Reverend Downer parachuted the beastiality bit or normalization of homosexuality in children via mainstream media. Krystal raised a point about abnormality and that it (homosexuality) is becoming normal in the eyes of the viewer because of exposure via social media etc and the supposed story of transgender walking with Jesus in Bethlehem. One thing I have learned in these discussions never ever, ever bring in the Bible or theological references when one cannot justify it or is informed as it would descend into chaos. That was precisely what occurred in the shouting match that followed.
Krystal Tomlinson found herself in a philosophical and theological bind as she tried to differentiate choice, beastiality, consent and paedophilia versus morals with co-host Colin Hines for the most part. She was further incensed as I was when the paedophile construct was parachuted into the mix by one of the panelists (who were hardly named), Krystal made her point “........ don’t use paedophilia ‘cause it takes away the rights of a child ....... use adult examples; use permissible adult examples where one person can consent with another person; don’t deliberately blur the lines; clearly an animal cannot consent to anything with a human being; really a child cannot consent with an adult, so I am talking about two adult choosing to do something because you say they have the right to ....... (Shouting between herself and Colin) it can’t be rape either (came through the high decibels) ...... let’s keep it within consensual bounds people; if you say consenting adults have a right to choose what they do with their body how then can you stand to lambaste them for exercising a choice that doesn't take the right away from any other person?
“ ......A man choosing to do something we’re descending into beastiality; terms like those suggest that somebody exercising a choice has taken them on a wrong road; but if they don’t have the choice .... If what they do ....” Colin interrupted by saying “But nobody is precluded from being judged; nobody is!?”
Krystal answered “No. Judgement and judging are two different things,” which she repeated with resolve. “The judgement and the slippery slope; going down into animals, humans having sex with animals and the world coming to a dark end, people are deliberately blurring the lines ..... That’s judgmental.” Reverend Downer responded “The basis on which I make my point as I said before from earlier on understanding spiritual realities because I cannot speak about it in any other way, Tiana can speak to how she feels and that experience he or she has; I don’t have that, you understand? ....... I know from growing up socializing how I feel as a boy and there are certain things you do as male with the opposite sex and not with my sex...”
Colin interjected “Do we know what is right or wrong anymore?” piggy backing on the religious imperative with the implied sodomatical abhorrence based on a misread of the Leviticus book and those holiness codes designed for a peculiar people at that time. Colin continued to trump the victim card of stifling of freedom of speech of those who oppose homosexuality. Reverend Downer then landed the Sodom & Gomorrah line “That slippery slope is that spiritual slippery slope that cause God fi bun up Sodom & Gomorrah (that caused God to destroy Sodom & Gomorrah) that is the slippery slope that I am talking about.” Here we see the deceptive card of the justification of anti gay views based on the destruction of Sodom for exclusively homosexuality when that was not the reasons in hindsight. The socialization challenges tied in with economic issues including corruption, piracy, slavery and so on. Was the destruction of the city a scientific phenomenon via meteorite showers or actually an extraordinary heavenly event is yet to be properly determined.
Krystal Tomlinson responded that he was being disingenuous and that hysteria and extreme views to justify opposition is dishonest (I am in total agreement there) “Leave them to choose what they want to choose.” She said, she also claimed that she does not support homosexuality but persons must be free to choose. Colin claims that she is telling others how to think.
So here we have another show in earshot of thousands of Jamaicans and others online and the true gist of the topic gets lost in the haze as per usual.
I guess in hashing out the issues we have to endure some of this but as I said in my introduction we are in the information age, all one has to do is research and approach matters from an informed place.
Peace and tolerance