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"The Church was a big Closet"

Very often when I speak about religion it typically surrounds the will of different faith to condemn gay people but occasionally I have had positive conversations about the church, particularly about the haven that the church seems to provide, in an unlikely case, where one is gay.

Recently, I scrolled over an article by Out Magazine; an interview with Marlon James,
a Jamaican novelist who won the top literary prize in 2015 (The Man Booker Prize).

Marlon, currently living in the US – a college teacher in Minnesota – his thoughts from the interview were very intriguing…
he hinted at the cultural tenets that are still being embraced throughout Jamaican society.

For the most part, Marlon’s responses were not surprising, they were enlightening.
His experiences perfectly depict the typical gay Jamaican boy: an embodiment of sacrifice and fear.

Never mind the beard or the locks on his head [a symbol of the Rastafarian religion], Marlon was a devoted Christian living in Jamaica.
Ironically, the church was just about the safest place for a gay man in Jamaica; and that’s a gay man in the closet.
Besides the old black pastor with the Bible in his hand, which he beats down on the podium, the church was a vessel for secrets.

It wasn’t unlikely that if you were gay, you would most likely target the most cherished positions in the church.
I lead Sunday school… I had a strong devotion to my faith but it was also a clever distraction.

Jamaicans saw the church for what it was (or should be); an institution of guiding values and morals.
The barber who couldn’t make it to church on Sunday because he had to cut hair; the man on the street selling ‘weed’; the musicians who compose the most damning and violent lyrics all believe, that they owe the church something (whether its monetary donation or genuine respect).

This small gesture underscores the idea that the church was sacred and is almost always the standard bearer of ‘all good’.
So it’s no surprise that Marlon, who grew up under the principles and credence of the church in Jamaica and as a gay man, would echo the words, “The church was a big Closet.”

Quite frankly, its fair to say that a gay man living in Jamaica, is probably, one, closeted and two, a devoted Christian.

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