Organizers of the island’s first ever ‘Pride March’ have dubbed the event a resounding success.
The march, which started from Rihanna Drive, just outside The City, proceeded through Bridgetown and ended at Bay Street Esplanade.
It attracted a diverse group, which included members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, allies of the community, tourists and at least one member of the local clergy who came out strongly in support of the LGBT movement.
“There is no stopping it. Impure minds won’t stop it, fake arguments wouldn’t stop it, legions and fallacies won’t stop it, the roaring lion won’t stop it and some silly words written in books thousands of years ago won’t stop it,” said Anglican Priest Clifford Hall to loud applause from members of the procession.
He also encouraged members of the gay community not to let naysayers get them down.
“Don’t let anyone bully you, or torment you or terrorize you. They have had their day, yours is now and tomorrow and forever . . . . So, speaking as a priest, I say, ‘welcome to the flock of Christ,’” he added.
Hall’s position was in stark contrast to that of a group of religious leaders who came out in strong condemnation of the LGBT agenda during a press conference last Thursday at the New Testament Church.
Leading the charge was Apostle Eliseus Joseph, the senior pastor of Apostolic Teaching Centre, who went as far as to accuse members of the gay community of engaging in bullying and to warn that their agenda ran counter to God’s supreme plan.
“We want to make it clear that homosexual behaviour and preference is a learnt behaviour. God did not create anybody gay. It is not an organic behaviour. There is no homo gene; that is a myth. We oppose any attempt to deconstruct marriage and reconstruct it to legitimize homosexuality [and] same-sex partnership, as opposed to the biblical narrative of Adam and Eve,” Joseph insisted.
However, Hall told Barbados TODAY that members of the LGBT community were assured of the support of at least some members of his denomination.
“There are those in the Anglican church who support them, the former Bishop of Barbados, Dr [John] Holder, just retired, has spoken out against those biblical texts which are standardly used against them,” Hall pointed out, while rubbishing the suggestion made by Joseph last week that the Church was “condemning the behaviour, not the person”.
Draped in flags and bearing placards some of which read, “Sexual Orientation is not a choice”, “Reclaiming My Humanity” and “Love Is Love”, the marchers openly expressed themselves as they danced their way through the streets of The City during yesterday’s march which was also addressed by Dr Tanya Haynes of the University of the West Indies Institute of Gender and Development Studies.
She later told Barbados TODAY: “We have a special responsibility to ensure that we create spaces where there is freedom and equality, equity and justice for all.
“We have come from a history of rebellion and that radical demand for freedom. We came from a history of burning canes to burn on homophobia, transphobia and lesbophobia.”
Even though the controversial event was met with resistance from some church leaders, Director of the Barbados – Gays, Lesbians and All-sexuals against Discrimination Donnya Piggott said the event surpassed her expectations.
“It was incident free. There were tonnes of people. The energy was good and the vibe was good. There were no dissenters,” Piggott said, while admitting that “people had their fears”.
“This perhaps the biggest parade that we have ever had. It was fun and we did exactly what we wanted to do and I couldn’t have asked for a better event,” she added.
Event organizer and LGBT activist Ro-Ann Mohammad welcomed Hall’s presence as a “good step forward”.
She responded to the criticisms of the church saying, “anytime we do anything with LGBT we expect certain members of the church to come out against it, but I think it is important to note that the members of the church who speak out aren’t always representative of the general membership”.
Pleased with the general response to the event, Mohammad also told Barbados TODAY that members of her community would continue to press for change.
“We hope from now on that people would realize that there is such a diverse cross-section of people who support the community and are supportive of human rights. It’s not all negative and this would help to derail that narrative because it obviously not true,” she added.