A very eloquent creationist pastor in the United States once indicated, “Modernism is dangerously changing the meanings and applications of our words. Before, the word “gay” commonly meant “happy or lively”; however, it has now changed, and its common meaning is “a man and a man sleeping together as a man and a woman would.”
Although the creationist pastor, as well as many others, has considered “gay” as a man-and-man sexual relation, the term generally refers to homosexuality – whether it is a sexual relation between a man and a man or a woman and a woman. Many reason that because the word “lesbian” is used to refer to a woman-and-woman relation, “gay” must be a word that refers only to man-and-man relationship, which is incorrect. While “gay” may refer to a man-and-man relationship, the term, like homosexuality or same-sex, also has a general meaning. Let it be remembered, also, that “gay” may be used as an adjective or as a noun.
This brings us to the crux of the article, as depicted by the title. Since “gay” means “happy” and “a homosexual person,” we, considering recent development surrounding the gay rights debate, ask: Will gays ever go gay in Liberia?
Since US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s Geneva pronouncement about the United States attaching gay rights issues to foreign aid was reported in Liberia, Liberians of all works of life have continued to debate whether homosexuals – that is, gays – should be allowed to practiced their act openly and legally or not, with some vowing to unleash violence on lawmakers and others who will legalize the practice.
The intensity of the debate has increased since the issue was first reported as a provocative commentary under “Following the Issues,” and since the New Dawn newspaper reported that some gay-oriented groups in the United States were planning to bribe the members of the 53rd National Legislature with US$4 million in order for them to pass a bill legalizing gay relationship.
Since the latter publication, various lawmakers, including Speaker Alex Tyler and Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor, have indicated that no such bill has any chances of passing under their watch, with Speaker Tyler terming the document as a “ridiculous bill”; however, a great deal of Liberians contend that, based on experience, the decisions of the people on Capitol are money-driven. Therefore, their words – that they will not support such a bill – cannot and should not be trusted.
The Sirleaf-led government, too, has added its voice to the debate, saying that gay marriage will not be legalized in Liberia. Speaking through the Ministry of Information, the government said that it will not sign any bill legalizing gay relationship or marriage. However, others have said President Sirleaf is a liberal leader, and that she could sign a bill enabling gays to enjoy full rights, especially considering her desire to please the West, which is supporting her government fully. The argument is that she wouldn’t want to be seen by the West as an anti-gay leader.
But whether they should be trusted or not, the main question, perhaps, is this: Can a gay rights bill be passed in Liberia; in other words, can the gay population of our society ever enjoy full rights and other benefits, or will they continue to be an “underground movement”?
Those Supporting Gay Relationship
From all indications, it is safe to say that homosexuals would like to legalize their practice, just as heterosexuals do theirs; they would like to practice their act freely and openly. For them – or most of them – it is about whom they love and want to be with. It is a matter of choice and preference. It is about the freedom and the rights to be with the one they so choose to. They don’t want the state to be the one to tell them who to love, have a relationship with, or get married to. They want to be the deciders. Will gays ever go gay? Everything is possible, and that possibility is there. It is just a matter of time.
Most of them have been practicing the act for ten, twenty, thirty or more years. There is some internal war going on, a war that may make some of them feel sub-human, considering the fact that they cannot show in public the person they love. Isn’t it dehumanizing? Isn’t it degrading? They feel debased. Why should society force them to hide their feelings? The feeling that they may remain in that underground status until their death is something humiliating and dehumanizing. It is a burden. Will gays every go gay? They may think that are drawing close to that season. They are keeping their fingers crossed.
It is said that, in our society, individuals of nearly all backgrounds and positions practice the act. There are religious people – leaders, in some cases – who are gays. There are public officials who practice homosexuality. The children of opinion leaders and public figures are also involved. Young people are involved. Perhaps the only thing that most of us are happy about is that it an underground operation.
“Yeah! Let it remain underground. Let them hide themselves. It is better like that than for them to show themselves in the public,” remarked a man who is uncompromisingly opposed to the legalization of gay relationship.
But the gays of our land and others may argue that this is what our society is noted for – actively committing sins or practicing unwholesome acts in the dark and behaving like angels in the public. We are very hypocritical. And this hypocrisy stupefies us in many instances. For instance, we know that there are prostitutes all over the place. We know where all the public places or brothels are. We know that prostitutes go in the streets to practice prostitution every night, yet we climb on Mt. Nimba and say that prostitution should not be legalized, that those who are doing it should remain underground. It is what we prefer, which makes us stupid. The same is with marijuana. This soft drug is all over the place, with law enforcement officers themselves smoking it day and night in many places. It is sold in various communities and centers, and those who live in those communities know where it is sold, yet we say it is illegal, spending huge amounts to stop people from smoking it. Although we are aware that a lot of people smoke it, we prefer it to be done underground. We argue that it is better that way. Our hypocrisy stupefies us. We dance in sin and wickedness and other awkward behavior while, at the same time, condemning those very things. No wonder some priests have children outside, while they still support celibacy – the teaching that a priest must not be married.
But, with minority groups fighting for their rights in every nook of the world, could it be that the gays in Liberia are sick and tired of the treatment given them? Could they use their connections, influence, money and other means to put up a ferocious fight for their rights? With moral support coming from the Obama-led government, could Liberian gays demand their rights from the state? Will gays ever be gay, or will they continuously live their lives underground?
Those Opposing Gay Relationship
While gays and gay rights advocates may be challenging the status quo, it seems majority of our people are strongly opposed to the legalization of the practice. Some have openly said that they will kill those who will support it. Many don’t even want to hear that the issue is being debated. For them, it shouldn’t be talked about at all. This group includes young and old folks, religious and non-religious, traditionalists and non-traditionalists. They argue that such a practice should not be allowed to gain ground in our country. God made a man and a woman for them to come together and procreate; he didn’t make two Adams or two Eves. The practice is against nature.
“God didn’t make that place for the penis,” a Christian lady opposed to gay relationship remarked in my car a few days ago. “God made his creation perfect. We should not spoil it or tamper with it.”
Those oppose to gay marriage argue that our nation, though secular now, was created on Christian principles. And Judeo-Christian teachings – as recorded in Leviticus, Romans and other books – dictate that homosexuality is an abominable act in the sight of God. In other words, homosexuality is an immoral act. A nation should seek to make its people walk morally, not immorally. Two great cities, Sodom and Gomorrah, were obliterated – completely destroyed – because of a man and a man having sexual inter-course as though they were a man and a woman. In fact, it is from the city “Sodom” that we have the word “sodomy,” a word associated with male homosexuality. We don’t want God to bring some special punishment on us for this. Will gays ever go gay? Where? In Liberia? Over our dead bodies!
Besides, those opposed argue, if they are given that legal right, friskiness will cause them to demand additional rights. For instance, adopt children, where two innocent kids will see two bearded-mouth men and take them to be two brothers or two papas, when the reality is that one of the men is his mother, while the other is his father. We don’t want to keep confusing our little ones. Because of the underground nature of the current practice, most of our kids grow up without knowing anything about the existence of anything called homosexuality. Under no conditions we will allow gays to have legal rights in this country.
Moreover, the opponents contend that this is a poor country. Many young boys and girls are unemployed and uneducated, waiting for “opportunity” to make fast money. Many of these jobless youth could ignore the wrongness of this practice and jump into it for the sake of money. It is true that some young people are involved at the moment, but the number is negligible. If it is made legal and open, the number will increase.
Furthermore, those not in favor of it say that homosexuality is not part of our culture, our African culture. In short, it is an alien culture that we are not prepared to welcome. Besides it being an alien culture, it is an immoral alien culture. We will reject it vehemently, especially when we hear that the West wants to impose it upon us. Will gays ever go gay? No way. Not in Liberia!
In conclusion, the issue of same-sex relationship has existed with mankind for thousands of years, as there have been gays in nearly every society, whether modern or ancient, rich or poor. And, from all indications, they will continue to be with us until the end of the world. However, considering the Liberian society, it is hard to say whether there is any possibility that gay couples will have the legal right to live freely, or whether they will continue to operate underground. The answer one gets, of course, depends on the person asked and, perhaps, the placed it is asked. Will gays ever go gay in Liberia?
Believe me, my people. We will never stop following the issues.