The use of Jamaican dialect to further stigmatise homosexuals in the new patois Bible

The use of a patois (Jamaican dialect) to further stigmatise homosexuals

I could only conclude such as I replayed a clip of an interview of a discussion on the major religious station Love101FM on Human Rights Day of all days when the recently launched patois Bible as translated from the King James Version our local dialect as the theologians albeit facing some opposition from Christian and secular quarters alike pat themselves on the back on the feat. A corresponding audio compilation is also out and has been getting some media attention lately. I was opposed to it at first as was some regular readers and those who dropped in on my Gay Jamaica Watch blog where a poll was run for just over a year with over 80% of those who participated said categorically no to such a publication  but my small blog could not stop a bigger plan could it?

The discussion for the most part took light attention to the types of words selected and their possible meanings or interpretations by readers of the publication but when they got to the always controversial text of Romans on homosexuality in Rome and apostle Paul’s theological concerns he expressed in the book to the saints at Corinth as his sojourn to Rome was delayed for several reasons so he prepared the writings and sent them on. The word “reprobate” in the text of chapter one verse twenty eight was the source of some contention as the host Reverend Clinton Chisholm who also contributes his voice in the audio production of the work pondered whether the colloquial word used in the patois Bible really created the desired imagery?

Romans 1:28 (KJV):

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge. God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

The actual text from the New Testament patois Bible said as follows (transcribed from audio) verses 26 and 27 apparently condensed to one

“And cause dem a do dem si’hn deh God lef dem fi bring dung shame pon demself him lef dem fi rek part inna all kind a sexing  and so de oman dem ‘top do wey normal dem ‘top sleep wid man and go start sleep wid oman, a same so de man dem ‘top do wey normal tu, dem ‘top sleep wid oman an go start sleep wid man, man a sleep wid man dat a shame and cause wah dem a do wrong God a go gi dem just wey dem fi get God a go punish dem,”

The comes the damning verse 28, with their interpretation of the problematic reprobate as appearing in the King James Version

“Dem know de truth but dem mek up dem mind seh dem nah believe it so God lef dem fi do all a de si’hn dem wid dem dutty mind tell dem fi do, him lef dem fi do de si’hn dem wey dem nuffi do.”

You may ask why bother to pay this any attention but bearing in the mind several historical contexts that exist in what seems harmless on the surface a matter as patois but the interpretations by readers and the context of Paul’s writing in my view must not be overlooked. Paul in my estimation based on my limited exposure to some bible study and coaching he wrote the book of Romans in lieu of a trip to Rome but was stuck in Corinth as hinted to in the introduction as circumstances prevented him from travelling any further so he explained via the writings that the expected Jesus was the fulfilment of God’s promises and he wanted the saints to have order in their lives of course not necessarily with the holiness codes or remnants of it from Moses via Leviticus or Jewish law but by serving Jesus Christ. Paul may have not expected to have seen the kinds or pederasty, the intimidatory anal rape of conquered armies (a practice probably inherited by earlier powers such as the Persians)  and exploitive relations between men as we could describe as gay for pay these days. He may never have contemplated the more stable monogamous relations lately with gay marriages and security guaranteed by the respective states that offer such legislation. So in his writing he expresses his own thinking on the disdain towards the perceived or misunderstood practices of same sex attracted men.

Possibly the pederasty that was more a Greek societal practice may have shaken him to the core and I dare say the same kind of fear of the unknown seem to exist today from religious groups conjuring fear and speculation wrongly placed at consenting same gender lovers. So the confusion of homosexuality and paedophilia as if the two are synonymous when the experts tell us otherwise and I have no reason to doubt them.

The discussion continued where the guests and host looked at reprobate mind versus dutty mind, one pastor suggested reprobate suggested conditioning rather than dutty mind which suggests a condescending tone with regard to the practice of homosexuality in Jamaica and other social context “dutty mind” is used. Often times than not it is used to put down an opponent in an argument separate and apart from “dutty” by itself meaning a literal soiling of staining of a surface, body or clothing. For the term to be used in a Biblical sense when the faith requires a more open strategy when engaging the non Christian community, if you choose to listen the audio clip inserted here my Jamaican listeners to that podcast will find the emphasis on the tone in which the female delivered the verse as is typical anywhere else, it commands a certain strength to project the disdain intended but did “reprobate” in the King James version do the same or is it that as patois has been relegated to the masses or the sacredness of the Bible versus the alleged vulgarity of the dialect?

Another tool perhaps by the religious intelligentsia to cement anti gay sentiments in a dialect that foreigners may find hard to comprehend if not by pronunciation and context?

Historically we must recall what it took to get patois even to be used on mainstream media as it was scuffed at by the elite and educated class including the powerful religious communities who operated several institutions of learning, I can remember my days growing up and my mother and aunt reprimanding me about speaking patois out of turn and they stressed I speak English. Now we see the dialect being embraced supposedly for it ethnic value but to use secular contexts to promote a religiously bigoted agenda. I would hate to see and subsequently hear the old testament version in patois especially the Leviticus book where the supposedly “cut off” line means for many execution of gay persons as a part of the secular wisdom of the Bible.

Paul’s expression in Romans especially the verses 26 through to 32 confirms that God does not support same sex genital intimacy.

Why would someone choose something that would invite hate and problems? But with having to hide and not live our truths we see the challenges involved, with other exploitive practices creeping in, namely gay for pay that demands a certain kind of covert living in order to get on with their relations. News came via Twitter last evening then a series of phone calls from other community members on the murder and suspected arson of a longstanding community member and Justice of the Peace Becky as he is affectionately known aged 67 was of one of our longest standing personalities in the community with his trademark cold crown decorated smile and silver jewellery and a Justice of The Peace, engaged by gay and heterosexual persons as his personality superseded his perceived sexuality by a few (and there are always those speculators) a fierce advocate in his own right, in fact he was also one of those persons who would assist homeless and displaced persons too, I will nominate the late Steve Harvey who in his earlier years and difficulty was assisted by “Becky” many can attest to that fact and his outreach via his version of crisis interventions are well known here and abroad by older community members.

He was found partially burnt and his throat cut, apparently his house was set on fire after the fact to supposedly destroy evidence and the body. Shock and horror are the natural responses from those who are close to him.

It is not clear the motive for the murder at this time. (THIS POST MAYBE UPDATED OR A NEW ONE CREATED AS IS REQUIRED)

Anti gay Christian groups such as the JCHS continue to push this line of argument to bolster their agenda with persons like the group’s head Dr Wayne West (not a Jamaican) push lines that tolerance is equal to fisting and felching or persons who agitate for tolerance are asking to legalize those activities. He continues to push that the LGBT lobby wants to seize the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to allow depravity and illegal acts. Such practices are not popular here in Jamaica and are more seen in sub-groups in Europe such as the biker, leather or skinhead gay communities, he also went on in a recent radio interview that the philosophical end to the agitation for the repealing of buggery is to make all sexual practice normative whether they be right or not as imposed by aetheists with a worldview where no design is the mantra. Interesting he does not agitate this much in his country of birth Trinidad. Yet we also do not see the groups agitating for the least amongst us, the homeless and children in state care, the work by Jamaicans for Justice to publicise that problem and the steps taken to do so yet these religious groups abstain from those actions which in essence directly impact a healthy society’s development.

He recently equated the thrust for the buggery law repeal as well by saying the following:

“….the argument that you need to remove your buggery law to reduce HIV rates is eminently not true …………… the epidemiological data removing your buggery law is not necessarily nor is it sufficient to decrease HIV, what is important is behaviour.” He believes that the Jamaican people must be made to understand that the gay lobby, us, are intent on making deviant sexual practices normative as if all we are defined as is who and how we have sex and nothing else, so the likes of Mr West do not place any value of our orientation, choices, freedoms alienable or properly created and having a plural society where all persons can co-exist as long as their actions do not impede others. It is consensual sex in a private space is all we are asking for outward displays of affections are not culturally palatable here overall.

He concludes:

“ …..when persons come and say you need to remove the law to decrease HIV what you are actually hearing is you need to remove your law so we can modify the society and integrate all types of sexual orientations as the same and equivalent, that’s what that statement …. every time a Jamaican citizen hears that statement you need to remove your buggery laws to decrease HIV they should be hearing we want you to remove the buggery law so we can integrate all sexual orientations, all sexual behaviours into your activities and into your school curriculums….”

Now he dishonestly equates the recent Home and Family Life Fiasco, HFLE matter to join the chorus that there was motive for the questions posed in the manual as I had agreed it may have been age appropriate but is needed to discuss sex and sexuality. Then it is no wonder why we are having the challenges in our society of homophobia and homo-negativity while LGBT people continue to suffer from these kinds of institutional bigotry from the religious noveau intelligentsia aided and abetted by other religious groups who by the way cannot do this kind of activity in their own jurisdictions so they export their hate with millions of dollars to boot for full paged ads and more.

Priorities please religious friends.

Peace and tolerance


Author: GLBTQ Jamaica Moderator

Activist and concerned gay man in Jamaica with over 19 years experience in advocacy and HIV/AIDS prevention work, LGBT DJ since 1996.

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