Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Amandala homophobic?

Following letter sent to Belize Watch and is posted with permission. Letter written on February 13th, 2009.

Last week I wrote a letter to the Amandala newspaper to strongly disagree with the position of one of their editorial writers who believes that the movie Milk is a part of a subversive gay agenda. My critical retort has yet to make it to print, but I thought I would share it with everyone via this medium. I encourage you to read, share, and comment.

You can read the original Amandala article here: http://www.amandala.com.bz/index.php?id=8077

(For my friends outside Belize, the Amandala newspaper is published twice weekly and claims to have the widest circulation in Belize. The paper was born 40 years ago out of a social and political movement for the advancement of black Belizeans and remains a hugely influential media outlet)

My letter to the editor is pasted below:

Dear Editor,

I wish to respond to Colin bh's article of January 29, 2009, titled "From Confused Cowboys, to Milk", in which the writer makes the claim that the academy award nominated film, Milk, is somehow part of a gay agenda by "homosexuals and their sympathizers" to "seduce young people".

In reality, Milk is a film about a gay rights activist and politician who became the first openly gay man ever elected to public office in the USA. Eleven months after his historic election he was murdered by a colleague. Yet despite such a brief career in elected politics, Harvey Milk successfully fought against bigotry and prejudice at a time when some people were actually trying to pass laws to deny gays and lesbians their basic human rights. Mr. Milk struggled against those who tried to enact legislation that would allow people to be fired from their jobs, or evicted from their homes simply for being homosexual.

Milk is yet another story about the continuing fight for the equality of all people, albeit with a tragic ending for the hero of this movie. Suggesting that this film was made to "seduce young people" into becoming gay is about as ridiculous as if I were to claim that Oliver Stone's movie, JFK, was an attempt to “seduce” people into converting to Catholicism.

Mr. bh goes on to suggest that Milk should be rated X simply because it depicts homosexuality. First of all, there is no such thing as an X rating from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) anymore. The most restrictive rating a film can receive is NC-17. But in order to receive an NC-17 rating a film must contain scenes of graphic sexual content, excessive obscene language, or extreme violence. Simply having a gay character in a movie does not warrant an NC-17 rating. Unlike Mr. bh, I have actually seen Milk and there is nothing in this film that would deserve an NC-17 rating. The only nudity in the movie is one brief wide shot of a man swimming where you can see his buttocks. The only “sexual content” is nothing more than a few kisses.

This is not the first article that I have read in the Amandala that I consider to be homophobic, openly hostile towards homosexuals, and warns of some sort of "gay agenda" or "gay mafia" lurking out there attempting to seduce and convert heterosexual men and women. Mr Editor, I ask that your newspaper offer the slightest proof that such a subversive movement actually exists.

Let me state for the record (not that my sexuality, or anybody else's is any of your business) that I am a male who is 100% heterosexual. I only mention this so you will not be quick to dismiss my opinion as that of someone representing this perceived “gay agenda” you so fear. I guess, at worst, you may feel free to consider me one of those "sympathizers" you are so equally afraid of. My network of friends and colleagues include people of all sexual orientations. I have socialized with people who are openly homosexual and have attended events sponsored by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered (GLBT) communities. Yet NEVER, in my entire life, has anyone EVER tried to “seduce” or “convert” me into becoming a homosexual! Nor have I ever felt confused about my own sexuality when in the presence of people whose sexual orientation is different from my own. Mr. bh, If you have any personal experiences that are contrary to mine I encourage you to share them with your readers.

Mr. Editor, the next time your newspaper feels the need to indulge one of your writers with column space to spout hatred towards homosexuals (or any group of people for that matter) please substitute the word "gay" with "black" and the word "lesbian" with "African". Or how about substituting "batty-man" with the N word? Then tell me, would that editorial ever make it to print in your newspaper? Of course not, because it would be hateful, unsubstantiated, and would raise the ire of your readership.

I find it incredulous that an organization such as The Amandala, with its roots so firmly based in the struggle of one group of people would condone such open hostility towards another. In fact it's rather shameful, in my opinion.


Brent Toombs

Belize City


scouser said...

excellent letter. Couldn't agree more, this was just wat i thought, but i neva got my fat ass to write in!

I find that some of Mr bh articles are very good, but others are very extreme and serve no justice to the amandala's readership. I wonder if there is any editorial filter.

There was series of amandala articles by Stephen Okeke in May 2007 which went even further linking homosexuality, pedophilia, and bestiality. This was the most shameful, incorrect and sad piece of writing I have ever read (I refuse to even call it journalism).

However, will attitudes change? Very unlikely given the churches views, and the fact that homosexuality was recriminalised in 2003.

Democrates said...

well said.

RebelThinker said...

Well said, Mr Toombs! It is both disgraceful and morally repugnant for any member of the media to encourage hatred of any particular grouping within society.

The hatred of homosexuals, I find, stems from a willful misunderstanding of GLBT people, and is a sick, dangerous thing to encourage. I have many gay friends, whom I think are excellent, brilliant people and who ought to be identified in ways other than who they sleep with.

But then, Amandala has become legend for its hypocritical approach to every group who doesn't fit in its particular mold. I do not think people understand just how insidious this sort of propaganda is...sort of like one or two occasional anti-semitic remarks leading to the murder of six million Jews...that propaganda was harmless too -until it wasn't.

Good job calling them on it!

shethingsd said...

I absolutely agree with the writer as well and am not surprised that the letter has yet to be published. I had the same happen to me with the Reporter when I wanted to respond to an editorial that blamed victims of domestic violence for their situation. Finally, I had to call the publisher and ask how much it would cost to take out add space to print my letter and it was printed, albeit edited and without documentation of such editing. Also the information about Stephen Okeke is true. And it is also true that Amandala does have others who write editorials that are offensive to some race, gender, orientation, etc. I could list them. I still read the paper and for the most part respect it, but it seems this Caribbean/Latin American society is so violently homophobic. Look at the way the articles have been written concerning the homosexual man who was murdered in Orange Walk Town last week. If that type of reporting was done about any other domestic murder, people would be up in arms. And the community has been reacting equally disgustingly. I work in OWT and many, many people have been talking about how what happened to the murdered man should happen to all homosexuals... It's very disheartening, but as a 6th form teacher, I just try to educate my students and hope that some day, people will change. Thanks for writing and thanks for posting this to the blog!

Unsilent said...

Collin's comments and supposed insight truly are sad. As Mr. T would say, I pity the fool.

Yet, he continues to use his column to magnify the ignorance he seems to blissfully enjoy.

The really messed up part in all this is that, yes, fools abound, ignorance is rampant, but the fact that he has such a stage as the Amandala newspaper is what is truly disturbing. Also, it reflects poorly on us as a community.

Some citizens are brave enough to write to the paper, however the majority of us will still buy the next Amandala and continue to support the trash that passes as journalism in their columns.

Don't get me wrong.. its not to say I don't have the paper, because I do. The old issues left behind by others works wonders when cleaning my windows.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comments that address this ignorance and hatred that affect certain people in Belize. I am proud to have grown up in Belize, however I am sometimes distressed by the lack of vision and hypocrisy some of those who have a public forum such as the Amandala Newspaper...all I can say is that they who are the bigots and haters will be regretful when they are left behind in dark age...the writer of the article about MILK is truly afraid of the "LIGHT" ...anyway man...thank YOU for having a forum where Belizeans of all sizes, colours, sex and beliefs can come together and dialogue or at least comment back.....thanks Kriol Bwai

Anonymous said...

Kudos, Mr. Toombs!!! And thank you Belizean Watch for sharing! just in case Amandala refuses to share an educated opinion.

Yaffa said...

I too read this piece of so call journalism and frankly I'm not surprised.

The hatred of homosexual and Jews are alive and well behind the zinc fence. I only wish that more people would call out these blatant form of hatred.

The Amandala will not print letters from the well informed citizens.


The Voice said...

lol. Free thinkers? Modern people?

At the end of the day, not only is Amandala homophobic, but our country is, our region is, and quite possibly, our world is.

True homosexuality has occured for hundreds of years in the history of man, but, it goes against nature.

I'd be lying to say if I don't find the thought of homosexuality completely digusting, but it's an opinion I keep to myself. I try to let it color my opinion of others who share their sexual orientation with me. I keep the law, " As long as they don't lie in my bed, ih no matter me"

But I still fundamentally think it's wrong. Most people don't bother hiding their dislike. That's just the way it is. It's hard to be a minority group {whatsoever the minority group may be} in a majority's world.

True, Colin bh's comments may be seen as offensive to the young and open minded, but it reflects the thoughts of the majority.


V Gial said...

I'd like to start off by saying that it's not about "gay" rights, or "homosexual" rights - this is an issue about human rights. Equality is a word we like to throw around, but perhaps we should step back and really examine what the word means.

It's strange and repulsive that any individual that is representative of any minority - particularly black people - would be so quick to create second class citizens out of another minority group. Black people all over the world will talk of their strife and the adversity they faced, and in the same breath create adversity and strife for others. It's hypocritical. The old adage goes that Those Who Do Not Learn From History Are Doomed To Repeat It. Perhaps it's time to open some history books, because I see far too much ignorance.

Anonymous said...

To anyone who thinks homosexuality goes against nature -

Homosexuality is prevalent in over 200 species.

Homophobia is prevalent in only 1. The same 1 that possesses greed, pride, and deceit. Perhaps we should start thinking about what is truly unnatural, and not be so quick to judge.

The bible says eating shrimp is an abomination, and does not differentiate between the abomination of eating shrimp and the abomination of man lying with is fellow man.

Now, the question of whether or not the bible should have relevance here is a perhaps for another discussion.