Commentary: Domestic Violence and Homophobia: A call for more purple over the blue Caribbean shores:

By R. D. Miller

This month saw many races and runs against domestic violence. In my community, members of the public safety services, treatment providers, and advocates came out in purple for a 5k annual run.

This warm beautiful day navigating a busy trail, a gay couple holding hands smiled and nodded in encouragement to finish. Their plight, struggles, and those who have been lost to crime from decades of irrational hatred and fear from heterosexual groups or HIV/AIDS have come a long way as society has evolved.

As this winter approaches, fewer footprints tread the trails, the changing leaves will disappear as hibernation sets in until the next 70-degree weather arrives and the purple re-emerges.

Despite huge strides for equality, more needs to be done, especially in places where it is difficult to wear an extra layer of heavy clothing – even to disguise one’s identity or the scars from abuse – places where 70 degrees can be scorned as a cold day.

Along the beautiful shores of the Caribbean, more purple races and trail walks are needed to help victims escape their trapped abusive relationships, spread awareness, and generate more resources to support change in the ongoing waves of domestic violence and entrenched history of homophobia.

Addressing domestic violence and homophobia as a single category is not a farfetched idea. It is a strategy that recognizes a correlated connective feeling, similar attitudes, and struggles. First, it is a mechanism to inform and focus. Second, a way to carry out more intervention to cut both domestic and family violence. Third, it encourages respect for differences.

Wherever you have sexual assault, exploitation, child trafficking, and targeting of people for who they are, these are in a category with domestic violence, and all at times can lead to death. Violence creates a pattern of psychological and economic impact, especially when children are involved. Such traumatic experiences have long-term critical consequences.

These luscious greenery, breathtaking sunsets, and blue water symbolize a liberated vacation for many visitors, but outside their villas and hotel rooms, victims are routinely teased, bullied, and even killed thanks to ignorance – even by ‘straight’ perpetrators who may have their struggles with homosexual tendencies, as studies have shown.

Structural and mental deficiencies continue to create a roadblock. This not only limits overall economic growth and opportunities to further highlight these colors without fear, but it also causes discrimination in employment and encourages polarization.

“All people deserve to live with dignity and respect, free from fear and violence regardless of their gender and sexual orientation” – an excerpt from a proclamation by President Obama on May 29, 2015, at an LGBT pride event.

Domestic violence can take place in heterosexual or same-sex relationships anywhere. The victims are abused and yet forced to stay silent in this epidemic. The economic, social, and moral consequences still linger.

There are plenty of definitions of domestic violence and homophobia; I will not force you to read yet another. We are discussing any situation where masculinity and femininity are narrowly defined in a way that discourages objectivity and the rule of law, removes basic rights, and renders individuals powerless.

If it feels wrong, it is wrong!

These frightening and terrorizing attitudes are not simply confined to the external scars. According to leading scholars, even when disputes are being mediated, families are still at high risk. With limited resources in rural areas, victims remain unprotected even after court decisions, and sometimes death still occurs. Harassment through the court system in these male-dominant systems allows coercing and can lead to lower penalties for offenders.

When society begins to discuss making strong statements and supporting groups that help victims reclaim their dignity, encourage legal reform to reduce crime, and educate others in understanding the motivation, then purple will find its true place and the vulnerable will not be lost.

This is not simple morality and life expectancy. A xenophobia pattern still exists in purple (victims). Socio-economic status, race, and cultural identifiers of violence continue to plague poor communities. Victims are intimidated against coming forward and the only confirms the victim’s taboo of the moral consequences.

A poor gay person abused in Africa, or an individual who lives under a bridge in Jamaica, are each as important as Rihanna’s publishing scars from the abuse she received during her domestic troubles. Violence hurts everyone, anywhere.

No one is immune from violence.

Repeated victimization can force a victim to rationalize between love and violence, blaming themselves and thinking he or she can change the other’s violence. Those uninvited visits, being tracked by GPS, is not love, it is simple stalking.

The dark side:

Some blame slavery’s dark period and the dehumanization of black women as a factor in how some women are treated today. Despite their accomplishments, a few still believe the place for women is in the kitchen, where they should be pregnant, while homosexuality is a sin and morally wrong.

However, abusing one’s partner over a disagreement, and treating a person as property while preaching that God is love from the pulpit while dictating who should be loved and how is not much different from 16-century colonial laws enabling exclusion and imperialism.

Assessment:

The cycle of power and control is seldom talked about, yet many scholars have argued that when a woman’s only meal depends on whether the man comes home that evening, this creates a strong incentive to stay in an abusive situation.

The authorities are key to the survival of these victims: Not acting due to the lack of physical scars is common but problematic. The role of emergency services should continue after the call ends and the first responders leave.

The lack of intervention only creates more victims. Aunt Suzie up the road can provide a temporary shelter, but she too hates gays and lesbians because of her parents’ views. She now lives in an abusive relationship and never discusses it because of fear, shame, and more abuse, and how it looks on the family.

Insufficient data: A leading international journal noted that domestic violence accounted for about 19 percent of the total burden of healthcare for women aged 15-44. They use the health care system more than others do, and for several years after, even when the violence has stopped.

Men are victims of nearly three million physical assaults each year in the U.S. according to experts

One in four women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime.

More than three million children witness domestic violence in their homes every year.

Children who live in homes where there is domestic violence also suffer abuse or neglect at a higher rate.

The World Bank, about 20 years ago, highlighted that in Barbados, about 30 percent of women aged 20 to 45 reported having been battered. In the British Virgin Islands, 29 percent of 330 women surveyed by the Chief Minister’s Office reported physical abuse by partners. In Jamaica, police-reported 39 percent of murders committed in 1998 involved domestic disputes.

In Trinidad and Tobago, incest reports increased by more than 200 percent in 1998, according to a local coalition on domestic violence.

Today, sexual abuse, domestic violence, and requests for restraining orders are much higher, in the thousands. Domestic violence costs people, the state, and businesses about $23 billion based on several advocate studies that quantified pain and suffering costs as well as the costs of services used by victims and the reduction in economic output.

Inside the LGBT community, there are several reports of an increase in murders since 2010. Youth and young adults between the ages of 18 and 30 years old were 2.41 times as likely to experience physical violence.

The new monument designed by Anthony Goicolea will honor the LGBT community and victims of the Orlando massacre. (Courtesy of the artist and the office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

looking in:

When media sources politicize domestic violence and homophobia, including conferences on violence open to a selected few, what people hear often confuses loud, mindless, opinions for leadership. These issues cannot be used for political gain when several reports have shown that the region still lacks policies to protect victims in general.

Anti-Homophobia day celebration at the Fondation Serovie in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Photo by Katie Orlinsky

Today’s violence along the shores is not simply due to poverty alone, but decades of unresolved social issues, where even the offender has been a victim and there are scarce resources for treatment and accountability. Reporting crime should not put victims at higher risk.

See you at the next walk or run, or even standing under a banner for safety for those still only searching for survival, and the soul of their community.

The rabbi is gay, what’s next on your shores?

BY R.D.MILLER

The Location

Gay: Recently, GilSteinlauf, a senior rabbi of Adas Israel in Washington, DC, one of the largest conservative movement-affiliated synagogues came out as gay.

Soon after Apple, CEO, Tim Cook, announced he was gay. One blogger wrote, “You don’t just leave your wife to go be gay any more than you would resign her to go be straight.” Another wrote, “Apple has lost its pioneering skills and sought more businesses.”

Fortunately, Rabbi Gil Steinlauf and Tim Cook both have financial anchors, bridges, a solid foundation, and retractable vessels that can weather the storms and bypass rough tides, and maybe unlike Michael Sam, an openly gay player who was cut by two National Football League (NFL) teams for being gay, but some will argue with others differently.

Does one need a prerequisite to come out as gay? I asked. The gay community stories are bigger than these two men, despite the media attention. Fortunately, for many wealthy and prominent people, publicly announcing their sexuality often increases wealth and power. However, this story is not about the rabbi or Tim Cook.

The other seldom- told stories:

Many less fortunate gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender; do not have speedboats to escape tides or community captains and pirates ready to throw them over the board.

Today, many are trapped by their location under an ancient colonial doctrine, an ongoing fight for acceptance seeking an anchor or shield from a rough tide. These are beautiful places many visit for a vacation break or check in with family members and reconnect with one’s heritage.

These luscious greenery, breathtaking sunsets, and blue water symbolize a liberated vacation for many visitors, but outside their villas and hotel rooms, victims are routinely teased, bullied, and even killed from ignorance – even by ‘straight’ perpetrators who may have their struggles with homosexual tendencies, as studies have shown.

Photo by Fabian Wiktor

Despite the beauty and the warmth of the local people where the sunshine as if it never sets, it remains a delicate dance for inclusion. For some, homophobia roars like the ocean, damaging any objects in its path without an anchor. These unchecked anti-waves have eroded several impoverished and developing regions.

Inside the LGBT community, there are several reports of an increase in murders since 2010. Youth and young adults between the ages of 18 and 30 years old were 2.41 times as likely to experience physical violence.

Many parents also experience discrimination for giving birth to gay children and are more worried today about social stigma and hostility than their future. The hostility has created safety concerns, a sense of feeling guilty and hopeless, and often result in abuse, homelessness and death. The lack of resources, and access to medical care, support also has forced expulsion from their community.

Gay 16, teenager was dead -Dwayne Jones beaten, stabbed, shot and ran over  (AP Photo/Jay, J-FLAG)
human_rights_watch: Photo

The only visual representation of a voice mail or iTunes may be the sound from the broken sewer pipes dripping and hovering over their heads from living under decayed bridges. Being gay is not a sin or learned behavior, but bigotry, intolerance, and atrocities against them are.

“All people deserve to live with dignity and respect, free from fear and violence regardless of their gender and sexual orientation” – an excerpt from a proclamation by President Obama on May 29, 2015, at an LGBT pride event.

Anti-Homophobia day celebration at the Fondation Serovie in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Photo by Katie Orlinsky

The Human Rights Watch has noted an increase in violence simply for being perceived as a gay person and if these communities have little support, and some are unable to provide resources to live a normal life; including the ongoing fights by some local groups to get legislation to protect this group.

Additionally, many who are HIV positive, or have access to HIV testing that is an essential gateway to HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support services still have hurdles.

(One) — Rupert. Shortly after he had come out, his church memberships and choir receded. He seldom goes to the beach anymore. Few friends lives were cut short as a barbaric treatment against them appeared now acceptable. Repeatedly denied entry to community activities, employment, and forced to move for their safety. Few burned alive, stoned, and scorned.

(Two) — Sonia dressed like a man, with brittle hair, cargo pants, and boots, although she has found comfort in maintaining the small town floral garden. While some visitors marveled at her floral garden designs, others abused her appearance and hurled rocks at her. Being gay did not limit her imagination.

I wonder if a few had taken the time to know her, perhaps one would learn that friends of own dad repeatedly raped her as a child at a local bar from men he trusted. With nowhere to turn for support, her trust in men eroded, and she became isolated. Even in her death, after she had lost her battle with breast cancer, they treated her remains as if her gayness had Ebola disease. Her ashes now resting in the garden she designed.

(Three) —Burma, exquisite, and has an excellent job. She blends in well with her peers, lives in a pleasant home, and is well educated. However, she is also terrified of coming out. Despite rumors, after they identified her holding hands with her partner on the other side of town, she constantly shrugged off the argument of why she does not have a child her age.

An umbrella still looking for the right shades:

Despite US Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement: “I am pleased to announce the federal government will recognize same-sex marriages”, combined with new laws passed in over 20 states, polarization, intolerance, and political ideology threatens this fundamental change.

Though the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community ships and planes have ultimately reached many shores, others are still searching for that elusive lighthouse for guidance off these shores. Today’s violence along the shores is not simply because of poverty alone, but decades of unresolved social issues, where even if some offender has been a victim, they are scarce resources for treatment and accountability. Reporting crime should not put victims at more significant risk.

A blinded history

According to a study conducted by Trevor Bernard, based on data are taken from St Andrews Jamaica, marriage patterns between 1666 and 1750 taken from the parish register were analyzed.

The results showed that the average length of marriage was extremely limited and declined. It resulted in a reduction of children produced by marriage and did not sustain slavery and population growth. During that period, influxes of women slaves from and Africa arrived in the region.

It seems valid if people stayed married four centuries ago, and produced more children; it would have supported the demands for labor. Centuries later, independence has caused more social and economic struggles, as residual footprints in customs, laws, beliefs until now encounter the ghosts of the past.

Recently, the Jamaica Gleaner reported on an anti-gay march in St Thomas in response to a proposed bill that would recognize marriage as an official union between two people and not the traditional man and woman.

Some 150 years later, several Jamaicans opposed amending, the Buggery Act that was created during colonial rule around 1861.

Today, many leaders in the region remain silent on amendments or new human rights laws. The anti-gay protesters believe that homosexuals and their agenda are bad for strong and healthy families, righteousness, and justice.

What if those colonial rulers saw homosexuality as a threat to their business model and created those laws?

The economics

The gay, lesbian, and transgender community spend an estimated over 550 billion dollars according to Curve Magazine each year. Given its influence, especially along blue water and white sand, promoting more education, and other grassroots support is vital.

Some of these exclusive vacation spots globally cannot afford to avoid potential revenue, despite their position in the gay community.

The Advocate also noted that ‘with over 1.4 million LGBT business owners (and growing) the LGBT community earn its place at the table of economic opportunity with an input to the economy over $1.7 trillion, and an estimated 33,000 jobs.

Today, many people could have lived to their full potential thereby becoming famous stars, teachers, and police officers, but they were not welcome for being gay. Many left their communities to find comfort elsewhere living in the shadow.

The community strategically should not have to plan gay vacation routes based only on gay-friendly destinations in the Caribbean, Africa, or any other regions as if it is an election strategy targeting only your registered voters.

An elusive tide for change as the fight continues:

History also has shown the quest for equality does not sit comfortably with few on ideological grounds.

This I believe represents a culture of homophobia woven in decades of social-political and stigma to vanish sexuality and gender inequality.

An intolerance mentality that passed down from several decades is hard to change course instantly. Subconsciously, the Anglicization of families under British colonial rule centuries ago stays active today.

A recent report on YouTube by an Arizona pastor claiming that “we can have an AIDS-free world by Christmas if gays were executed. If the god they all worship is love for all, who determines he does not love which one?

Though some islands have taken steps, like Bermuda, Jamaica; and a few other islands and some other African nations despite it un-anchored vessel to date getting ongoing collaboration have introduced measures for more tolerance, but advocate needs to keep the pressure on and hold elected leaders accountable beyond political promises.

In 2010, the Cayman Islands rejected an Atlantis gay cruise. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar says the “decriminalization of homosexuality” in Trinidad, and Tobago is not something her administration will seek to do because “it would not be prudent for the government to go ahead in that direction”, according to the Trinidad Express.

Collaboration regardless of location, race culture, and economic status.

Despite the statistical signs for more tolerance, this issue continues to be a monumental task and these regions and cannot achieve acceptance of this alone. 

Only when societies become more educated and tolerant, then we can dance together and reverse a monster that was created. Pushing the legalization of marijuana, despite its potential long-term addictive effect, gay rights should take on the same effort.

Like fighting other racial and inequality issues, the gay community has to continue to fight for equality because while they dance to fun rhythms on the beach in these regions, many lyrics are strategically placed to demonize the community, like racial epithets, and codes used to polarize, create intolerance and hate.

The next time you power up your iPhone to spread hate, just recognize the new design you waited 24 hours in 10-degree weather to purchase. A gay man approved the designs.

And no! I am not gay, but should that matter to support their cause?

Changes take time and are often resisted. Those communities must choose candidates who share their values

Rest in Peace • Leslie Feinberg- for fighting for equality for all.