July 28, 2003 – Nassau Guardian, Nassau, N.P. Bahamas,
Gay love: Two Bahamian men talk about their lives
by Shavaughn Moss, Guardian Staff Writer
Unlike other countries, which have liberalised both their law and social practise, in The Bahamas there is still a law on the books against the euphemistically named "unnatural crime," or buggery.
There is also an entrenched religious and social condemnation of homosexuality, even though there’s no evidence to indicate there are any few er same-sex relationships in this country than anywhere else in the world. What is evident, however, is that the homosexual Bahamians feel constrained to hide their sexual preferences and to live much of their lives behind closed doors. It’s because of this that we do not see two men or two women walking down the street being openly affectionate.
After the past few weeks an uproar in the country is forcing Bahamians to recognise homosexuality is here and being thrust into the public eye.
In this series, The Guardian introduces you to two homosexual men, 23-year-old Lavardo, who describes his profession as merchandising, and 28-year-Alex, who is in the service industry, (names have been changed to protect their identities) to get their views on homosexuality, and why they are the way they are. Lavardo and Alex answer questions on whether homosexuality for them is just a sexual experience or more about companionship. They tell how homosexuals identify each other, what some find fascinating about dressing up as a female, and what characteristics they look for in a mate.
In this no-holds barred interview, Lavardo and Alex talk about men and women who indulge their homosexual tendencies for money, clothes and jewelry, but who try to live heterosexual lives.
A burning question Lavardo and Alex will answer is whether they feel they were born with homosexual tendencies, or if it was something they grew into later in life. Gay, sissy, pooftah are terms used in a derogatory fashion to describe people who like the same sex. Lavardo and Alex prefer to be called homosexuals. Asked for their definition of the word "homosexual," Alex said to him it means two persons of the same sex having feelings for each other, whether mental or sexual. Lavardo’s definition is two persons of the same sex attracted to each other in a relationship. The interview began tentatively. Alex and Lavardo, both young, handsome, intelligent men, had to warm up to me and the discussion about their lifestyle which, in the past, they had only discussed in the company of fellow homosexuals.
The friends, referred to me by an acquaintance, and who are not an item, say they agreed to the interview because they felt it was time the homosexual community had its say. They are tired of being lambasted because of feelings they say they can’t help. Lavardo and Alex are not in or out of the closet. According to Alex the answer is not black or white, but has a lot of gray. "I think I’m pretty much in between, because of our community, and how people accept it and deal with it," he said. "You don’t want to seem like you’re pushing or throwing your lifestyle in people’s faces, and you have to protect yourself and your image." He said he was not, but was more or less adapting to what Bahamian society sees as acceptable, to which Lavardo agreed. "I would say I’m in between, too, because I take part in the activities they have here at the local club, but I won’t go anywhere around the island and just say I’m this and that, because you have to respect people. And we live in a country that says what we do is called unnatural sex, and if you throw that in someone’s face, there’s no telling how they’re going to act towards you."
Lavardo cares about his image at home, but said if he lived in the United States, particularly Miami Beach, he wouldn’t care if people knew whether he was gay or not. "Nassau is so small and your name is basically all you have, and we don’t have any rights per se, so people could not afford you opportunities just because they know that," said the well-groomed young man. "We know that people know or assume, and on some level we don’t care," interjected Alex "and by that I mean we’re not going to be living our lives to try and prove them otherwise. I guess we live at a point where if they know, they know, but we don’t have anything to prove to them or to show them." While they accept who they are, neither Alex nor Lavardo has told their families they are gay. Both say their families have heard rumours but neither has sat their family members down and told them they were gay. To live their lifestyle, both had to move out of the family homes and get their own apartments.
Alex said his family found out he was gay through a relative who had a conversation with a mutual acquaintance about him. That relative then told the family what had been told to him. "Never at any point have I admitted it. I’ve never come out and told my parents that I’m a homosexual, but they always remind me that they know," said Alex. Coming out and telling his parents he’s homosexual he finds complicated. "First of all you already know it’s a burden. We grow up in a community where your parents have certain expectations of you. They think that eventually you will marry, have 2.5 kids with a dog and picket fence, and I think that’s pretty much why it’s so complicated to have the conversation."
Alex says his family does not have to accept him, but he thinks they’re dealing with it. He isn’t pushing his sexual preference in their face, and they don’t want to break ties with him. Lavardo said his family had inklings of his sexual leanings early on in his teenage years because they would eavesdrop on his phone conversations and read his letters, but he, too, has never actually told them he is gay. His family questioned him on the issue, but he said he denied it, to protect himself. "They would tell me that they hate this thing so much, yet they still asked me to admit it to them, but I didn’t. In essence they’re asking me the questions, but telling me at the same time that they don’t accept it, so I can’t even see myself admitting it them really and truly," he said.
His response was to move out, get his own apartment to live his own life, free from their questions. Lavardo’s family rarely visits him at his home, but he says he goes by their home once in a while to say hi. He says that people tell them stuff about him. He wonders why his family can’t just accept that they are a regular family with problems, with a black sheep, but they are the kind of family that has to look a certain way so they can look good in the community. Nassau Guardian, August 18, 2003 #4 Carter Street, Oakes Field, P.O.Box N-3011, Nassau, N.P. Bahamas (Fax: 242-328-8943) ( http://www.thenassauguardian.com )
August 18, 2003 – Nassau Guardian, Nassau, N.P. Bahamas,
When is gay, gay? How is it that both Alex and Lavardo know they are homosexuals?
(Names have been changed to protect identities).
by Shavaughan Moss
We asked them whether they had ever engaged in heterosexual intercourse Twenty-eight year old Alex hasn’t gone beyond the teenage kissy, touchy stuff, while Lavardo has engaged in full blown heterosexual intercourse on more than one occasion, but said he didn’t like it. At the time of 28-year-old Alex’s heterosexual interlude, he said the female wasn’t ready, and he felt uncomfortable being with her. "It just confusing other persons, not only confusing them, but taking advantage of situations when you know that’s not what you’re into, so I felt like that was putting someone else’s feelings on the line and crushing their feelings," he said as to why he didn’t go further.
For 23-year-old Lavardo the act was done to prove a point. "It just didn’t feel like what I was supposed to be doing, and really and truly I only did it to prove something to people. It wasn’t something I really wanted to do," he said. Like heterosexuals, physical appearance is big to both Alex and Lavardo. "The flesh is a strong thing, and that’s where it starts from, and then when you’ve gotten over that, then the mental part comes in," said Alex. Alex’s idea of an attractive man is 6’2", between 160 to 180 pounds, and a person who carries himself well, is clean, well cut and groomed. "I don’t like anybody big [overweight]," he said with a shudder of distaste. Lavardo, is the exact opposite. At approximately 5’6", he described himself as small and said he needs someone with mass to feel safe. "I need to feel protected," he said as dreamy expressions came into his eyes as he thought about it. "It’s cold in the winter, someone who’s 150-160 pounds I can lay up underneath them and feel warm. For me I need someone that’s masculine who can protect me and is able to take on a challenge, because believe you me I’m a challenge to my own self, so you need to be very good to deal with me," he said as his fiery nature took over.
They are both honey-toned, have beautiful eyes, in great physical shape, and have the ability to dress to the nines. Because of those qualities alone, without even including personality, some girls would definitely give Alex and Lavardo the time of day and have them father their children, because nice looking children they would definitely make. Alex and Lavardo, both female impersonators, say they won’t rule out ever having a child. Alex would like a son so that his name could be carried on. Lavardo would like to see himself with a daughter someday, who he can teach about being glamourous. "I have thought about having kids before," said a serious Alex, "but by the same token because of the life I’m living and because I know who I am, I don’t want to confuse other people’s lives, so at this point that’s on a standstill." "Too many times I look around and see women … gone are the Dynasty days, when women were into glamour and fixing themselves up nicely and beauty pageants, so I would really like to raise a daughter to one day possibly become a beauty queen or a model," he said. "Just a very well-kept woman that could grow into a stunning young lady." Both say they believe same sex couples can raise children who are not confused and who can lead good, moral lives.
"Most of the Bahamian community has grown up with one parent, and some aren’t even taught good morals. [There are] Even some children that grow up with both parents [who] aren’t taught morality, so yes gay people can offer good advice and have good parental skills," said Alex. He further said he believes homosexuals have more morals than heterosexuals and said compared to homosexuals, heterosexuals are the ones engaging in kinky sex fetishes. "If you find a homosexual male or female, a lot often you find they are seriously into their relationships. When you find heterosexuals, or opportunists or whatever you want to call those persons who hang around gay persons, it’s all about these kinky fetishes, so you find more of the heterosexuals dabbing more into experimental things than homosexuals because they know what they’re into. That’s why our morals stand above and are so much more stronger than heterosexual person’s. Homosexual persons have a lot of standards and morals," he said.
Next week: Figuring out who is a homosexual and how to approach that person if you’re interested. Is being gay a choice or in the genes? Roving reporter Felicia Newchurch hit the streets to find out what Bahamians think: Rita Pratt: It’s a choice. It’s a choice that you make. The Bible does not support gayism and in the garden of eden, there was a man and a woman, Adam and Eve. It wasn’t two men and two women. Walton: It’s a choice. I believe that is a behaviour that is learned, it’s not in your genes. It’s a choice. Brian Burrows: It’s a choice, because we were born in the making of God. And he made Adam and Eve and not Adam and Steve.
March 8, 2004 – Nassau Guardian, Nassau, N.P. Bahamas
Gay lifestyle is top challenge for teens (claims anti-gey cleric)
by Keva Lightbourne, Guardian Staff Reporter
The greatest challenge facing youth pastors in their ministries today is homosexuality among young men and lesbianism among teenage girls, radio listeners to Island FM’s talk show on Sunday heard. One of three guest speakers on ‘Parliament Street’, Senior Pastor of Mount Tabor Full Gospel Bishop Neil Ellis disclosed that he was confronted with this reality while speaking to a group of pastors and youth pastors during a meeting three weeks ago.
"They told me unequivocally, Bishop, if you are not prepared to get your hands dirty and deal with this issue of homosexuality in youth ministries among teenagers, you should resign as youth pastor," Bishop Ellis said. He noted that the issue was both surprising and disturbing because it was coming from men who were dealing with teenagers who attend church and youth meetings. "It may not be totally new to you and may not have caught you totally by surprise, but what surprises me is that they can come together on a consensus with this," Bishop Ellis said.
He stressed that they were only talking about the ones in the church, and not those who do not attend churches and youth meetings. Young men struggling with homosexuality Bishop Ellis said many of the country’s young men are struggling with homosexuality, and noted that it had to have come from older men. He hinted that young boys are being lured into this lifestyle for material things.
" When you have a situation where the family does not have adequate housing or they are in such poverty that the basic necessities of life are not really being met, if the church does not step in and help to meet these basic needs, we will preach and at the same time watch our young people go to hell on a silver platter," Bishop Ellis said. "I cannot as a pastor of about 7,300 people or so, sit back and be totally oblivious to what is going on in the outside world, outside of the church setting. "It is important to me who sits in political offices; it is important to me who are these businessmen persons, these entrepreneurs, what are their intentions, is it just to make investments into our country or do they have other motives. I want to know it is important to me, where these people live, who do they see when they go home. Is it the mother and the uncle, mother and the cousin, or the mother and the daddy or different men every day," he questioned.
Known for his openness and his outspokenness, Bishop Ellis said, "The social issues of our society are varied and many and we have a tremendous challenge in front of us as a church community, and we cannot go quiet." Bishop Ellis invited any well thinking Bahamian to sit where he sits for a week. He said it could be very depressing, and if he was not a vocal person "it would drive me crazy."
He also pointed to problems of teenage pregnancy and the older men who are playing a big role in impregnating young girls, and the lack of and inadequate housing. Bishop Ellis said although it is illegal for older men to impregnate young girls, for the most part they are not being charged. He painted a picture of a mother in search of answers when her 14-year-old daughter has been impregnated by a man in his late 30’s; two divorcees with children ages 16 and 15 who decided to get married again and their children are sexually active; and a situation where a girl is being sexually molested every other week by her father.
Pastor Ivan Johnson
"What I believe we are seeing now in our nation, is we are seeing a people who are reaping the consequences of their choices," Pastor Ivan Johnson said. "In every area of society, I believe we can show today where there are churches all across this nation that our doing things to try to and positively impact our people. As much as we meet with the young ladies and meet with the young men and we try to empower them and try to steer them and invest money in them in these youth programmes to try to keep them going, to keep them active to keep them focus, all of these things, but yet still they make choices, that in a lot of instances, will lead them down a bad path," he said. "We face so many challenges now because of so many things that are being just allowed to haphazardly come in and be apart of our country," Pastor Johnson added said.
July 10, 2004 Nassau Guardian, Nassau, N.P. Bahamas
Anti gay cruise rally set for Sunday
by LaKeisha McSweeney
With the first "family value" gay cruise scheduled to dock in Bahamian waters on July 16, a band of protesters are anticipating to again have numbers that will make politicians realise that citizens value morality over revenue. "We have to determine what it is that we want," said Pastor Mario Moxey, chairman of The Save The Bahamas Campaign, Wednesday during a press conference at The Bahamas Harvest Church, Prince Charles Drive where he announced a massive rally against gay cruises for Sunday in Rawson Square.
"Are we going to go after a morally sound nation or are we going to go after our livestock? he asked. "Are we going to think our pocketbooks or are we going to think moral decency? Pastor Moxey added that the numbers at the upcoming rally, the first of numerous scheduled in the coming weeks, would also force politicians to end their silence on homosexual cruises and same sex marriages. "The government listens again to numbers," said Pastor Moxey.
He said, "When we protested in 1998 it was the numbers that triggered the government to speak out on the issue. The influence comes through the mobilization of people. Government listens to numbers and to them it’s just a number game. They are all politicians seeking to be re-elected."
The mid-July cruise is being heavily promoted by comedienne and former talk show host Rosie O’ Donnell who reportedly announced that she and her life partner, Kelli O’Donnell would bring along their four children. The vessel, a part of the Norweigan Cruise Line, hopes to attract some 2,200 gay and lesbian parents, children and their relatives on the voyage from New York with ports of call to Florida and The Bahamas.
He said the homosexual agenda seeks to redefine family values and cited workshops on the five-day cruise addressing gay adoption, artificial insemination, and surrogacy, as examples of this. He said conditioning takes place when you expose a nation to a particular lifestyle "and this is why we have to make sure that we protect the morality of our nation."
Pastor Moxey said the country is engrossed in a spiritual warfare with the morality of the nation at stake. He said while homosexuality was not a communicable disease "homosexuality carries with it, spirits of immorality." He said child molestation and other acts of immorality were on the rise "and we as a nation of people must be very, very, discerning about these things and take the proper steps to preserve what we consider The Bahamas, a Christian nation."
Further, Pastor Moxey charged that the gay and lesbian community with their exclusive vacations epitomizes discrimination. He said embracing homosexual tourists creates a chasm between the heterosexual families looking for wholesome family destinations.
One example of this, he said was that of Walt Disney which he claimed has become tarnished and has lost its family support with its introduction over the last few years of a "Gay Day". He said campaign organizers have absolutely nothing against homosexual tourists nor are they interested in screening tourists on their sexual preference but "what we’re simply stating is that when a group that represents a moral behaviour that is deviant from the norms of our society, we have to ring the bell, we have to ring the bell, we have to say hold up," he said.
Pastor Vaughn Miller, Vice Chairperson said if the cruise is not opposed it will result in tragedy to the nation "morally, socially and even otherwise."
"The homosexual agenda is inclusive of firstly one of tolerance, secondly acceptance and thirdly participation," he said. He appealed to Bahamians and all residents "who want The Bahamas to remain a decent and morally sound place to be, to come out and support us."
With regard to violence erupting at the protests, Pastor Moxey was adamant that organizers did not promote violence. He said their protests in 1998 were not plagued with violence even when confronted with open displays of affection by homosexual passengers off the Olivia cruise ship "and I don’t foresee violence occurring." Representatives from Rainbow Alliance of The Bahamas, a gay and lesbian advocacy group was also in attendance at the press conference.
July 14, 2004 – Nassau Guardian, Nassau, N.P. Bahamas
Gay cruise visitors to take in local tours–They will participate in same activities as all cruise visitors, says organiser
by Raymond Kongwa,Guardian, Staff Reporter
Some of the estimated 1,600 participants of the "Gay Family Values Cruise," scheduled to call on Nassau Friday aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Dawn, will take part in a number of tours in and around the city, a Guardian investigation has revealed.
One of the popular destinations reportedly scheduled to be toured by the group is Blackbeard’s Cay. According to well-placed sources, the privately run resort island off Cable Beach has been booked for the cruise visitors exclusively for Friday morning. When the Guardian contacted the resort’s operations manager, Moniqua Farqhuason, on Monday and inquired about the details of the tour, she declined comment.
Scuba diving with Divers Haven is also on the group’s itinerary for Friday, The Guardian has learned. However, a representative of that company, when contacted by The Guardian on Tuesday, said she was not authorised to confirm or deny whether the group had in fact booked any such tour. Nassau Cruises, the parent company of Divers Haven, was also contacted, but again a representative of the company declined comment and deferred to Chief Operations Officer Jeffrey Beckles, who was said to be off the island until Friday.
A tourist site in Nassau to be visited by the controversial group is the Pirates of Nassau Museum on George Street, a spokesman for the attraction confirmed to The Guardian on Tuesday. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the representative said it was not the first gay cruise to visit the museum but noted that it was the first to openly promote homosexual values. "This is not the first time we have had a gay cruise visit … we never had a problem before," said the spokesman. "But this the first to openly promote the lifestyle like they’re doing."
Pirates of Nassau is one of the spots frequently visited by Norwegian Cruise Lines, so the "Gay Family Values Cruise" organisers were not directly responsible for selecting the tour, but the cruise line itself. The Pirates of Nassau representative said it had not yet been determined how many passengers would visit the museum.
Greg Kaminski of R Family Vacations, the company that planned the cruise, told The Guardian on Tuesday that the group would be participating in all the tours and activities that regular Norwegian passengers were accustomed to.
The expected visit of the cruise has sparked outrage and fury among many Bahamians. That fury played out Sunday when, during a rally in Rawson Square, the "Save the Bahamas Campaign," a Christian group opposed to such visits, challenged government to change its position and deny the cruise entry into Bahamian ports.
The "Gay Family Values Cruise" is designed exclusively for homosexuals and their families. It will feature seminars on artificial insemination, adoption and a host of other issues facing gays and lesbians. The cruise is reportedly being financially backed by comedienne Rosie O’Donnell. She and her lesbian partner Kelli Carpenter and their family are scheduled to be among the ship’s passengers. The cruise leaves Port Canaveral Wednesday and is set to call at Great Sturrup Cay in the Berry Islands on Thursday before visiting Nassau.
Welcome To The Rainbow Alliance Of The Bahamas. For more information about the Alliance, read the answers to our frequently asked questions below.
1. What is the group all about?
“ The Rainbow Alliance of The Bahamas is a support and advocacy group for persons in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.”
We formed in May of 1999 and presently there are about 150 participatory members including people in our Yahoo group. However, from e-mails and phone calls alone, we know that the number of people who support us silently is in the hundreds.
2. Why did we form?
It was out of a need to stand against discrimination and homophobia. Gays and lesbians are losing their jobs based on their sexuality alone. Some of us have been boldly told that our sexuality was the reason for our termination. Unfortunately, The Employment Bill of 2001, which had a clause barring discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation, was passed with the clause removed, falling short of internationally accepted standards.
And despite homosexual relations between consenting adults being legal here since 1991, unlike many other countries, there is no legislation in The Bahamas that addresses human rights concerns of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender (GLBT) people. In fact, people in the GLBT community are often scorned and discriminated against by heterosexuals. The word “sissy,” taught to children as early as pre-school age, is commonly used here as a weapon against gays. It means “gay” in a condescending way. Homophobia has become intertwined with Bahamian culture and many people turn a blind eye when it comes to discrimination against sexual minorities.
3. How are we structured?
Instead of having a traditional ‘top down’ structure headed by a president, we have an egalitarian system. It is a circle where every person is equally as important as the next, and as responsible to the group as the next. An egalitarian structure requires everyone to be present, powerful, responsible, thoughtful; to have a say. We operate by consensus, which means that everyone present has to come to an agreement that everyone can live with.
We also take turns on who will host or facilitate our meetings. However, the facilitator’s responsibility is merely to “steer” the meeting; her/his ideas are no more or less important than any other person seated in the circle. Everyone in the circle is the center of the circle and everyone is as responsible to the group as the person sitting next to him/her. That is the power of an egalitarian structure.
4. Are we associated with other GLBT groups?
The Rainbow Alliance is actually made up of members of the older groups BGLAD (Bahamian Gays and Lesbians Against Discrimination) and Hope TEA (Hope Through Education and Awareness). Those groups have merged into one and are now known as RAB, (The Rainbow Alliance of The Bahamas). As a result of the merge, and with the addition of dozens of other members over the past several months, The Rainbow Alliance is now the largest support and advocacy group for the GLBT community in the history of The Bahamas. We also have a close link with international GLBT supportive organisations such as IFGE (International Federation for Gender Education) and ILGA (International Lesbian and Gay Association).
5. What is our Mission?
“ The Rainbow Alliance of The Bahamas is committed to affirming the dignity, diversity and human rights of all human beings.” We believe strongly in fairness and justice for all; the right of every human being to dignity, to equal protection under the law, the right to live without discrimination and victimization regardless of political affiliation, religion, nationality, physical disability, age, race, creed, gender and sexual orientation.
6. What is our Objective?
“ The Rainbow Alliance of The Bahamas, through education and advocacy, will create support mechanisms to empower the GLBT community and raise public awareness with a view to ending discrimination in all its dehumanizing forms.”
The Constitution of The Bahamas indicates that all Bahamians are afforded the same rights but unfortunately, when other groups are specifically mentioned in some existing laws, GLBT citizens are not. We are omitted and hence left open to face discrimination. The Bahamas, which is signatory to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, is obligated to ensure that fundamental rights and the protection from discrimination are afforded to all of its citizens. However, because sexual minorities have no legal protection from discrimination here, many of us still live deep in the closet. Even though a life in the closet is one of deception, lies and open to blackmail, many of us feel safer there than to be honest about ourselves and be a target for discrimination, victimization as well as verbal and physical abuse.
Fortunately today, The Rainbow Alliance has come to the forefront, standing against these vices and for the basic civil rights of everyone, which includes gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.
7. How big is The Bahamas gay community?
International callers sometimes ask this question. We know for a fact that there are thousands of homosexuals in The Bahamas; the overwhelming majority of whom are in the closet. We know this because there are at least one thousand gays and lesbians who are into the club scene (the regulars). Another one thousand or so go out far less frequently. The majority of the homosexuals here who call us make up an even larger hidden group. They reach out to us on the phone because it gives them some degree of anonymity. Mainly out of fear, they will not go to public places where gays are known to hang out.
The most closeted homosexuals of them all here are company executives and high-ranking church and government officials who, because of their job title, would be shunned by society if they were to become openly gay. These homosexuals keep an extremely low profile and often enter heterosexual marriages for cover.
From a national perspective, the population of The Bahamas in 2000 was 303,611. If 5 to 10 percent of a country’s population is believed to be homosexual then 15,000 Bahamians (using the more conservative 5% estimate) make up the gay and lesbian community. This number is obviously not scientifically correct but it gives you a general idea.
8. How does one contact or join the Alliance?
For general queries e-mail us at email@example.com. Joining the group is easy – we do not request any special requirements of you. As long as you are a supporter of equal rights for all human beings then you qualify to become a member.
You can also instantly join our Yahoo group for lively discussions or just to keep up to date with our plans.
Lesbian Teen May Sue To Keep Beauty Title
Nassau, Bahamas – Gari McDonald is a pretty teen with a bright smile – it’s no wonder she won the Miss Teen Bahamas pageant. But now McDonald says pageant organizers are trying to strip her of her title because she’s a lesbian. She says that after coming out her prizes were frozen and she was not allowed to participate in the international pageant that was held in July, in Chicago.
At a news conference at the Rainbow Alliance – the Bahamas LGBT rights organization – McDonald said she may file a sexual discrimination lawsuit against the Miss Teen Bahamas Committee. " It has placed my back against the wall and now I am at a point of making a decision," she said.
McDonald said she turned to the Alliance after she was given the option of "either gracefully stepping down as the reigning queen or deal with the embarrassment of being stripped of her crown" because she is gay. The committee denies that that it put an ultimatum to McDonald but has refused to say why she was frozen out of the international contest and denied her prizes.
Evangelical Christians on the island are supporting removing McDonald’s crown. They have been involved in a lengthy war against gays in the Bahamas. Last year, more than 100 members of a conservative Christian group staged a noisy protest when a gay cruise ship tour led by Rosie O’Donnell docked. (story) In 1998 a similar demonstration was held when a gay tour tried to visit the island.
5 April 2007 – The Bahama Journal
Tourism Minister Promises To Address Concerns of Half Moon Cay Workers
by Bianca Symonette
Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe has promised to look into the concerns expressed by some employees on a private cay off South Eleuthera after they threatened to walk off their jobs, claiming the resort on the cay allows nude and homosexual tourists to visit. The minister said whenever Bahamians speak out on any matter pertaining to tourism, which can eventually affect the community morally and otherwise, it is imperative for the government to pay attention to it and respond to it.
Melissa Rolle, a waitress on Half Moon Cay, claimed the employees have reached the point where they can no longer tolerate nude and homosexual tourists. According to Minister Wilchcombe, the government was unaware that the property was attracting nude and homosexual tourists, but he said this is not a new trend in The Bahamas.
"I haven’t seen it, but definitely I will take a look at it. This will be nothing new to The Bahamas because Club Med in Eleuthera back in the day also allowed nudism," Minister Wilchcombe explained. "This trend is also being seen in other Caribbean countries as well as many European countries. They are attracting individuals who wish to commune with nature, but when these things are happening we are not told of these things because no one told us that they would be doing that, but of course all things must be done in the interest of the companies because they are thinking in the circumstances they are doing the right thing for our guests."
After being informed about the concerns expressed by the employees, Minister Wilchcombe said he will have to ensure that the tourists are not going beyond the property or offending other residents with their nudity and homosexual acts. While the property will not be in jeopardy if it’s deemed that the nudity is offensive, Minister Wilchcombe said the government will have to ensure that the property owners are conforming with the laws.
"What you don’t want to do is you don’t want to create a situation that is not easily resolved. We don’t want to create a mountain when it’s not a mountain, so it’s important for us to look at it and see if there is exposure beyond the confines of the property," he said, "[whether it is] to the point where residents are being exposed to it, so a number of things will have to be looked at." He added that if the property owners were interested in establishing a nudist colony, then they would be required to hold a special permit and license to establish that.
"Some parts of that cay are private and we don’t want to infringe upon that because they must be able to provide a level of privacy to their guests, but we will still have to pay close attention to what is going on. And we have to look and see what is the policy of the island," the minister said. Holland America Line, which owns the cay, says in a statement, "Holland America Line welcomes a wide variety of lifestyles and special interests aboard our ships and to Half Moon Cay, the company’s private island in The Bahamas." The statement also indicates that prior to any large group or charter, officers, crew and staff are briefed about any special requirements or needs of a specific group.
"In the case of clothing optional cruises, if staff, including those on Half Moon Cay are uncomfortable working among clothing optional guests, staff are given the option of not working," the statement said.
Half Moon Cay operates the private island port of call for guests of Holland America Line ships. The island offers facilities for cruise guests only and is not open to the public.
19th October 2007 – PinkNews
Bahamas police accused of harassing gay tourists
by Joe Roberts
A gay cruise-ship operator is demanding a public apology from the Royal Bahamas Police after they raided a party for LGBT tourists. DaJuan Xavier, Executive Director of Ebony Pyramid Entertainment, called the incident, which happened on Saturday October 6th at the Hard Rock Café in Nassau, an attempt "to harass, intimidate, and frighten." According to the Nassau Guardian, Mr Xavier reported the incident to the US embassy and is now preparing to make his request to police. He will also seek assurances from the Ministry of Tourism that it will not happen again.
"This could not have been a routine patrol with a few police officers investigating a random situation," said Mr Xavier. "This was a full drawn out ‘raid.’ Someone, along with the local police targeted us. I want some official answers to my questions. I think an apology from the Commissioner of the Police is also in order."
It was the eighth time Ebony Pyramid Entertainment had visited the island and there were 250 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender tourists at the party, as well as around 200 locals. Police and immigration officials say they were called by an employee of Hard Rock who falsely reported naked men being present. They arrived at 1am in riot gear with video cameras and closed the party down. Although organisers presented their licence to hold a private party, police said a female entertainer dancing in a flesh-coloured bikini did not have a necessary work permit.
Organisers claim police failed to identify themselves, intimidated guests by threatening to arrest them, refused to let the female performer put her clothes and called her a "whore" and "prostitute." Mr Xavier added he had visited the port’s Immigration and Customs office an hour before the event to ask about any necessary "Short Term Work Permit" but was told nobody was available to answer his questions. Two other gay venues, Genesis and Casbar club, were also closed down by police at around 2am on the same night. But Mr Xavier insisted that the incident was not reflective of the reception that gay tourist usually got when visiting the Bahamas.
He said: "In my years of visits to The Bahamas, cruising, resorting, and relaxing with friends, I have come to know nothing but pride and love in The Bahamas people, not the hate displayed by this group of misguided policemen."
Tourism Director General Vernice Walkine has written to Mr Xavier about the incident. "At this time, our understanding is that the police were responding to a request from the venue. Our police are obligated to investigate such calls to ensure that public gathering places remain safe and orderly for citizens and visitors. We are awaiting the police force’s official statement on the matter, but do however, wish to assure you that the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation does not condone discrimination in any form. We can say that our goal, for every one of the five million people who visit The Bahamas each year is that their visit with us comfortable enjoyable and safe.
"Please accept our regrets," the letter read, as quoted in the Nassau Guardian.
February 2, 2009 – PinkNews
Nassau man freed after using gay panic defence at murder trial
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
A 25-year-old man in the Bahamas walked free from court last week after claiming a man he murdered made a sexual advance towards him. Frederick Green-Neely told a court in Nassau that he stabbed Dale Williams three times as he tried to flee Mr Williams’ home. The defendant said that Mr Williams, the brother of a prominent local politician, accepted an invitation into the murdered man’s home in February 2004. He claimed Mr Williams revealed he was sexually attracted to Green-Neely and tried to grab him. He was stabbed as Green-Neely fled the scene.
Prosecutors argued that the defendant had used excessive force, but the jury backed Green-Neely. The Nassau Guardian reported that defence lawyer Dorsey McPhee told jurors his client was "defending his manhood." "This man deserves to go home to be with his family. The death, we are saying, was justified. Show the nation you don’t impose yourself on somebody, because one day you just might meet the wrong person."
Green-Neely was acquited of murder last week. The case is an example of the "gay panic defence," which allows a person charged with murder to claim that they were driven into a state of violent temporary insanity by a sexual advance from the victim. Its use often sparks outrage from the gay community around the world because it places the burden of blame on the victim. It has also been used in cases of violent against transgender or transsexual persons.
There is also no equivalent defence relating to heterosexual encounters. The defence is most frequently used in the United States, particularly in areas where homophobia is widespread. In the UK, where it is also referred to as the "Portsmouth defence" or "guardsman’s defence", the Crown Prosecution Service states that: "The fact that the victim made a sexual advance on the defendant does not, of itself automatically provide the defendant with a defence of self-defence for the actions that take place. Often, the sexual advance made by the victim will not involve any physical act of touching, and the reaction of the defendant is borne out of anger rather than any real belief that they were acting to protect themselves from an assault."
The Bahamas is one of fourteen British Overseas Territories which are under the sovereignty of the United Kingdom, but not considered part of the UK itself.
From: S.A.S.H. Bahamas
Society Against STI and HIV in the Bahamas
P.O.BOX N-7700 Nassau, Bahamas
SASH Bahamas 2008 Year End Report
The year 2008 was characterized by significant increase of MSM persons being tested for STIs & HIV/AIDS here in the Bahamas, but we are still having challenges with them coming in for their results, also in 2008, we held three Testing Parties, Participated in the development of the GIPA Tool Kit & advise the ministry of Education as they crated a work policy for deal with person Living with or Infected by HIV/AIDS in the Educational School System, Held Two Capacity Building one day workshops for SB Mpowerment Core Group and also held a one day House Leader Symposium of which Leaders and their assistant were invited and a total 41 persons show up representing 18 houses.
We also recreated 4 cultured sensitive brochures for distributing with in the MSM & LBGT community here in the Bahamas.
Over 5,000 condoms and other preventative items (Flavored condoms / Dental Dams, Lubes, Finger Coutts etc.) were given out as a part of our Social Condom Marketing Program, with the help of our partners: the Bahamas HIV/AIDS Center, PHO, UNAIDS and Society for Family Health PSI.
As a active member of the National HIV/AIDS Resource Committee we were advise to adopt a high school, the school have adopted and have been working through out the year doing HIV 101 presentation to all 12 graders at the school twice a week. The is C.V Bethel in the southern part of Nassau.
Sash Bahamas continues its efforts to educate and inform the MSM community with the help of MSM No Political Agenda, (MSMNPA) out of Trinidad through its Magazine “Free Forum”. Every issue has been a tremendous help and packed with HIV preventative measures on best practice, testimonies, and information for MSM about the MSM community in the Caribbean.
Sash Bahamas embarks on various outreach programs of “each one reach one” young gaymen to other young gay men outreach, through SB Mpowerment Group. In this initiative, we partner with SFH Society for Family Health (PSI). We reach a little over three hundred MSMs, ages 17 to 49 visiting our local bars, clubs and Drag shows and Pageants in which we set up booths and distribute pamphlets on HIV, STIs & ORAL SEX, 50 things you should know about Condoms, for Young Gay men & Young Lesbians. Various Sash members also participated in a train the trainer three workshop on Vibe’s “Let talk about Sex “ a program capacity workshop for working with young people about Sex, STI’S and HIV/AIDS.
Challenges and Lessons Learned:
1.Person is not going in to get the HIV test results
2.There don’t seem to be enough places to go for sensitive peer counseling of persons of after finding out their stratus who is positive.
3.There is no private personal Space for SSA (Same Sex Attracted) young adult or Teen
to really hang and talk likes a drop in center or community center.
4.Funding is Tight and more so, for MSM related Issues on HIV/AIDS
5.To little Capacity Building workshops for this kind of work locally
6. No proper facilities to assist with Care Treatment and Support for person Living with
or affected by HIV/AIDS in the MSM & LBGT community and their families
Some of things planed for 2009:
To have Sash Bahamas become a Legal NGO by June 2009
To upgrade the Sash Bahamas web site add 4 more pages
Confirming of our Board of Directors, and Local and International advisers
Continue to seek funding toward other Initiatives and the Community Drop In center.
Become certified to start using the Rapid testing method
To see that everyone involved, with Sash Bahamas has some form of Capacity Building
Training, in their special area
Hold two know-your-status Testing Party in the year 2009 May27th & November 30th
Hold House leader’s three days Retreat training on Peer Educator and Leadership
Hold an HIV/AIDS Theme Initiative Pargent in the community amongst the talented
May 18, 2010 – PinkNews
Entire congregation quits over appointment of gay Scottish minister
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
A Church of Scotland congregation in the Bahamas has quit the church in protest over the ordination of gay ministers. The 200-year-old parish of St Andrew’s in Nassau, the capital of the islands, decided to follow Reverend John MacLeod when he announced he would resign. Instead, the congregation has applied to join the fundamentalist Evangelical Presbyterian Church of America, which is against homosexuality and the ordination of women. Under the evangelical church, the congregation will form a new Presbyterian Church of the Bahamas.
Another church in the Bahamas, Lucaya Kirk at Freeport, is expected to take the same action. The Kirk said the move had been in planning but a source told the Herald it was triggered by Rev McLeod’s departure. Rev MacLeod told the newspaper he chose to leave over gay ministers but also over how the church dealt with the issue.
He said: "It wasn’t just the Scott Rennie thing, it was the general tenor of the General Assembly that I don’t think is the way a church should do business. I think it is a shame that the Church of Scotland has tried to stifle the debate. I have had misgivings over the Church of Scotland for a number of years. I believe there is a general drift away from Biblical orthodoxy.” He is leaving to join an evangelical church.
Last year, Reverend Scott Rennie was approved as the minister for Queen’s Cross Church in Aberdeen, despite being an out gay man and living with his partner. His appointment almost split the church, which imposed a two-year moratorium on new gay ministers. The Kirk also banned any public discussion of the issue of gay ordinations.
June 25, 2011 – The Nassau Guardian
PLP supports gay rights
by Juan McCartney, NG Senior Reporter
The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) has added its support to a recent United Nations Human Rights Council resolution that affirmed the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to choose their own sexual identity. PLP leader Perry Christie indicated at a press conference this week that the opposition supports such “progressive policies.” “I think from our point of view we understand the sensitivity of this matter,” said Christie, adding that the PLP has “always been committed to progressive policies — policies that emphasize our commitment to human rights.” Christie said the resolution, which calls for an end to discrimination against gays worldwide, is humane and therefore the party is in favor of it.
Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette last week said that The Bahamas also supports the resolution “in principle.” The resolution, which narrowly passed in the council in Geneva, Switzerland, expressed “grave concern” about discrimination against gays throughout the world and affirmed that freedom to choose sexuality is a human right. The Bahamas does not have a seat on the council. The PLP has no difficulty agreeing with the government on the issue, Christie stated. “The (PLP) is always committed to ensuring that our policies and our commitments are consistent with the obligations of international agencies and most certainly respecting the rule of law,” he said.
The resolution passed in the Human Rights Council also asked the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to conduct a study by the end of the year that would point out “discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity in all regions of the world.” Twenty-three countries on the Human Rights Council supported the resolution, 19 voted against it and three countries abstained. The resolution was the first of its kind passed by the council. It was fiercely opposed by Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria, among other countries.
The United States supported the resolution, which also asked that the study be conducted before the end of the year to look at how international laws can “be used to end violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.” The resolution also said that the council will form a panel once the study is completed to discuss “constructive, informed and transparent dialogue on the issue of discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.”
30 Jun, 2011 – MSM Global Forum
Will the Bahamas lead on LGBT rights in English-speaking Caribbean?
By Paul Canning Article Date: 29 Jun, 2011
The oldest political party in the Bahamas has come out in support of LGBT rights. The leader of The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), who are currently in opposition, Perry Christie, said last week that his party supports “progressive policies.” Christie was answering a question about the historic passage June 20 of a LGBT human rights resolution by the United Nations Human Rights Council. Christie said the resolution is humane and therefore the party is in favor of it. “I think from our point of view we understand the sensitivity of this matter,” said Christie, adding that the PLP has “always been committed to progressive policies — policies that emphasize our commitment to human rights.”
The Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette, from the Free National Movement party, which is described as ‘socially liberal and economically conservative’, said last week that The Bahamas supports the UN resolution “in principle.” The support was welcomed by The Rainbow Alliance, the Bahamas’ LGBT group, but they said that the ‘words will only be taken seriously when The Bahamas actually corrects its unjust laws against LGBT people’. The Bahamas does not have a seat on the council. Cuba is the only Caribbean nation on the Council and they voted for the resolution. “The (PLP) is always committed to ensuring that our policies and our commitments are consistent with the obligations of international agencies and most certainly respecting the rule of law,” Christie said.
The resolution was the first of its kind passed by the Council. It was fiercely opposed by Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria, among other countries. The resolution said that the council study discrimination then form a panel to discuss “constructive, informed and transparent dialogue on the issue of discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.” Homosexual sex is not illegal in The Bahamas, it was legalised in 1991, neither are LGBT banned from the armed forces. Recommendations by the Constitutional Reform Commission to include protections against discrimination for LGBT in a new, revised Constitution were blocked by members of a PLP Government in 2006.
In 2007, a pastor who had written many articles against homosexuality in The Nassau Guardian daily newspaper held a “Save the Family Rally” in Freeport. Hundreds of people attended the event including PLP cabinet ministers and signed a petition calling for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages in The Bahamas. Also in 2007 police raided a gay cruise party in downtown Nassau. In 2001, an Employment Bill was proposed which included a ban on discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation, but after much debate it was passed with that clause removed. In 2008 four gay men were reported to have been murdered in suspected hate crimes in Nassau over eight months. Two were prominent Bahamians.
View original article here
November 15, 2011 – The Nassau Guardian
Bishop hits out at homosexuals – Concern over high prevalence of HIV among gays
by Royston Jones Jr, Guardian Staff Reporter
Baptist Bishop Simeon Hall yesterday urged homosexuals to seek help to turn away from their “non-productive and deadly practice”, but a popular member of the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender community in The Bahamas denied his claim that many men are absent from families because of their sexual preferences.
Hall released the statement after a Nassau Guardian article revealed that the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in The Bahamas among men who have sex with men (MSM) is near 14 percent, which is nearly double the eight percent documented in 2008 by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). Director of the National HIV/AIDS Programme Dr. Perry Gomez pointed out recently that that percentage increase is a result of better reporting, data collection methods and better access to the MSM community. However, Hall said yesterday that members of the public should be concerned by the facts revealed by Gomez, which indicate that MSMs may be an increasingly vulnerable group.
He called homosexuality “anti-family”. “This sexual practice cannot produce anything and now we are seeing that, according to these latest statistics, it is deadly,” Hall said. “Homosexuality…is anti-family [and] it goes against what God has ordained. It is deadly.” However, Erin Greene, a human rights activist, said there are many additional factors to consider when drawing conclusions from the HIV/AIDS prevalence percentages, including the fact that not all MSMs identify themselves as homosexual.
“Consider circumstantial bi-sexuality; men in prison who are being raped, for example,” Greene said. “They may not identify as being gay but may continue to engage in homosexual sex for security reasons or for personal psychological reasons. When they leave prison they have no intention as identifying as gay or acknowledging their time in prison having sex with other men.”
Read complete article here