Gay News Flash: Fiji’s Attorney General calls for acceptance of LGBTIs and other minorities

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    Dec 10, 2014 2:32 AM GMT
    Fiji’s Attorney General calls for acceptance of LGBTIs and other minorities
  • bro4bro

    Posts: 987

    Dec 10, 2014 8:10 PM GMT
    This is a big deal. Polynesia is extremely homophobic.

    My best buddy, who is str8, went to Fiji on his honeymoon and ended up scolding the manager of his hotel because he harassed a local gay guy just for walking on the same side of the street.
  • FRE0

    Posts: 4830

    Dec 11, 2014 1:08 AM GMT
    When I lived in Fiji (1994 - 2004) I personally didn't experience homophobia, but situations induced me to become a gay activist again.

    I became the volunteer parish secretary of one of the Anglican parishes. In a sermon, the priest referred to the "problems" the Episcopal Church in the U.S. was having with gay priests. I could not let that go. So, the next time I was at the vicarage, I told Fr. S. that such comments could drive gay people in the congregation to suicide whereupon he asserted that there were no gay persons in the congregation. I pointed out that from the statistical standpoint alone there were almost certain to be gay members but because he was not the kind of person that people would be likely to confide in, it was understandable that he would be unaware of it. Then, I went on to tell him about my founding Integrity Twin Cities when I lived in Minneapolis and that it was the organization for gay men and women in the Episcopal Church. Probably he was shocked, but like many people, he was able to avoid showing it. Probably I also shattered his ideas of what gay men are like because in Fiji, they generally dress oddly and project a feminine image which I certainly did not do. In fact, he had seen me running for exercise early in the morning. A few years later I transferred to a different Anglican parish because I became tired of his high-handed and dictatorial approach; that had nothing to do with my being gay.

    At the Anglican parish to which I transferred, the priest urged me to become a lay minister, which is the equivalent of a lay reader in the Episcopal Church, even though he and the bishop knew that I was gay. I was duly licensed by His Grace. How many people in the congregation knew I was gay or suspected so I don't know, but I do know that at least a few suspected since a friend of mine told me that people had asked him; he just told them that they'd have to ask me. However, in spite of widespread homophobia in Fiji, I experienced no problems, probably because I was far removed from the stereotype.

    An indigenous psychologist, who had got her PhD in Berkeley, sponsored a newspaper column on suicide. When I was in Suva (the capital) as a delegate to the annual convention of the Anglican Diocese of Polynesia, I arranged to have lunch with her. I suggested that she write a column on gay suicide and why gay men and women are much more likely to commit suicide than non-gay people. She suggested that I write the column, so I did. The Fiji Times published it as a half-page article. It included my photo (which they had on file from an earlier article), a photo of two men exchanging vows, and a photo of two women exchanging vows. Although nothing in the article indicated that I was gay, it was obvious that many readers would correctly assume that I was. Some readers responded with letters to the editor, one of which referred to me as Fiji's first gay activist although I actually was not the first.

    Following that, I was concerned about possible repercussions, but there were none. I used to take Bowser for a walk late every afternoon, and I'm sure many people recognized me from my picture in the article, but nothing happened. Probably I shattered many of the ideas people had about gay persons.

    It seems strange that although gay men in Fiji project a rather bizarre and feminine image, I found that gay men in the Oxford Street area of Sydney tend to project a hyper-masculine image. Probably that is a result of different ideas on how they think gay men should act. Gay men in Fiji are harassed, and obviously they should not be harassed, but it is because of their bizarre appearance that they are easily identified as being gay. I'm sure that there are some who are not identifiable as gay, but because I never had much contact with gay people in Fiji, I have no idea how many are not identifiable.