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