Time for LGBT activists to address the AIDS/HIV crisis among Bahamian homosexuals

Dear Editor,

The LGBT community in The Bahamas is active and robust. Its leading spokesperson, activist Erin Greene, recently took Senator Ranard Henfield to task for allegedly uttering a homophobic slur while on Facebook recently. To his credit, Henfield has publicly apologized.

Greene seems to want more from the former We March organizer. With her typical persecution complex, Greene has called for MPs and senators to launch an anti-hate speech campaign, as if the LGBT community is being systematically harassed by the heterosexual population. I’m certain there have been LGBT members who have uttered heterophobic slurs in the past. However, Bahamian heterosexuals never seek to make a mountain out of a molehill by demanding government intervention when they are insulted by gay people. Why is it that Greene and co. always feel as if they are entitled to preferential treatment?

Since his appointment to the Upper Chamber, Henfield has rarely been front page material, as was the case during the final year of the Christie administration. This is a point which has been raised by his detractors. Moreover, his detractors have also raised the point that the Free National Movement (FNM) appointed him to the Senate in order to neutralize him as an outspoken critic, as he was toward the Christie administration. For what it’s worth, it was a shrewd political move by the FNM to keep its friends close and its enemies closer. I noticed that the story of Henfield being at the scene of a melee outside Lil Caesar’s didn’t even make the front page of The Nassau Guardian, despite him alleging that his life was at risk.

Even in the Senate, Henfield has failed to stand out. Whatever stock he had while leading thousands of Bahamian protestors in his We March demonstrations, it has nosedived. Having said all that, Henfield’s apology is sufficient. There is no need for penance. I believe that Greene is overreacting. I don’t believe Henfield hates gay people; he simply lost his composure.

Bahamians on the whole don’t hate gays. They are just of the view that homosexuality is a practice which is condemned in the Bible as an abomination. No amount of eisegetical maneuvering will get LGBT Bible theologians such as Metropolitan Community Church Pastor Troy Perry around this established biblical proposition. Bahamians, by and large, are conservative in their worldview. What Greene and other LGBT activists should be all up in arms about is the high rate of AIDS and HIV within their community.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 67 percent of people diagnosed with HIV in 2015 were gay and bisexual men in the United States. The CDC further stated that African-American men are the ethnic/racial group most affected by HIV. I believe there is a correlation between these U.S. figures and Bahamian figures within the LGBT community. In The Bahamas, there were 151 people diagnosed with HIV in 2017. Seventy percent of these newly infected individuals are Bahamians. I sincerely believe that a significant percentage of HIV victims are young gay Bahamian men.

I have noticed throughout the years that the overwhelming majority of young male AIDS victims who had succumbed to their ailment were gays. This is one of the more under-reported developments in The Bahamas. I guess it is politically incorrect to openly address the HIV epidemic within the LGBT community for fear of being labelled homophobic. I am not attempting to scapegoat the LGBT community for the AIDS/HIV epidemic in The Bahamas. My assumption is not based on any scientific data given by the Ministry of Health. I am not certain if health officials are even aware of the full extent of the AIDS crisis among gays.

My assumption is based on the well-known fact that gay and bisexual men are ferociously promiscuous. Monogamy is hardly practiced by this demographic. Recently at Galleria Cinema at the Mall of Marathon the biopic movie Bohemian Rhapsody was played. The film is based on the life of the late Freddie Mercury, who was the lead vocalist for the rock group Queen. Mercury, who succumbed to complications from AIDS in November of 1991, was openly gay. Mercury was diagnosed with the disease in the 1980s, but kept mum about his condition until the eve of his death. His popular song We Are the Champions was written as an anthem for the LGBT community. For all intents and purposes, Mercury has become the symbol of the AIDS crisis within the LGBT community in Great Britain and to a lesser extent the United States.

Ironically, the 41st president of the United States, George H.W. Bush, recently passed away. He served as vice president to President Ronald Reagan during the 1980s, when Queen attempted to spread its gay message to America. With the AIDS crisis making significant inroads in that country and throughout the world, Queen and Mercury were utterly rejected, especially by the conservative evangelical community. The United States of the 1980s was radically different from the United States of the 2010s. Reagan, along with the late Surgeon General Dr C. Everett Koop, fought feverishly to address the AIDS epidemic among Americans. They both viewed Queen’s pro-gay message as counterproductive to their agenda in addressing AIDS, especially since it was so prevalent among gay men.

I mentioned Mercury because his attitude towards his sexual orientation and illness was eerily similar to many gay Bahamian men today. Due to the fear of homophobia, many gay Bahamians are afraid to get tested. And this is the reason the disease continues to wreak havoc within that demographic. I can act like a secular humanist by calling on LGBT members to practice safe sex and to get regular check-ups. But as an evangelical Christian, like the venerable German reformer Martin Luther, my conscience is held captive to the word of God. I am diametrically opposed to homosexuality. I love gays. I just don’t agree with their position, based on what the Bible says. Practicing safe sex is simply not enough. Their lifestyle must be outright abandoned. So rather than getting so bent out of shape over an inconsequential spat on Facebook, Greene should use her influence to encourage gay men to change their moral course.

– Kevin Evans

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