The elaborate nature of this masquerade is truly impressive. But, you should know, this masquerade has become an editorial crisis for us on Partridge Street. This masquerade has exposed the fact that we are unable to tell it truly as it is, because of the Mephistophelian nature of the compromise we made in late 1977. We made a business deal with polite society in late 1977, and the justification for it, in our minds, was that we would begin to create jobs for our roots. In Biblical terms, we thus gained the world and lost our soul.
For the purposes of this essay, we will say, for argument’s sake, that there are two Belizes: one is polite society, and the other is roots, or what we sometimes call the “streets.” Polite society, for us, is comprised of the partnership between the oligarchy and the churches. The direct instruments of polite society are the electoral politicians, who must first satisfy that polite society that they are “safe,” whereupon the politicians are gifted with the control of public funds in order to dispense and distribute same with the approval of polite society.
Below the ruling politicians are various functionaries, apparatchiks, bureaucrats, and cronies who make up the rest of the power structure.
On the bottom of the heap are the masses, the roots, the streets.
At the top of Belize’s polite society/power structure, the gay life features prominently, and it is as if it is legal; it is almost prestigious, and the gays are eminently powerful. But, almost unbeknownst to the roots, a long time ago the sexual activities of the gays were declared criminal and illegal by the very power structure itself, and those gay activities remain criminal and illegal. The streets had always condemned the gay life, as a matter of sexual instinct, but the streets never had the power to make laws: it was polite society which made Belizean laws (such as, no ganja!).
Before we proceed, let us try to agree on one thing: the Europeans are smarter than we are. There is no disputing that they are more powerful than we are, but there may be some Belizeans who will not concede that the Europeans are smarter. We insist that they are smarter, because when a man who rapes and murders your ancestors, then turns around and convinces you to worship his god, then such a man is smarter than you.
With that out of the way, we can go on. It has been, to repeat, as if the gay life is legal in Belize, and Belizean gays were wealthy and powerful in every aspect of life here. There was an international homosexual lobby, however, which demanded that homosexuality be made expressly legal, in fact and not only in practice, and a faction of Belize’s gay society agreed. There was another faction of Belize’s gay society which wanted to leave well enough alone: they were happy with things the way they were, which is to say, to repeat, in Belize the homosexuality is as if it is legal.
Any high court legal fight in Belize is a fight within Belize’s polite society/power structure. This is the masquerade. Those in favor of the status quo have been screaming that if the laws are changed to legalize homosexuality, then the homosexuals will begin to demand all sorts of outrageous things, such as same sex marriage and the like. This Armageddon is projected into the future. After the Chief Justice rules on the matter, whichever side loses will appeal the decision to the Court of Appeal. And whichever side loses there, will take the matter to the highest court – the Caribbean Court of Justice. This will be an extended period of wrangling within Belize’s polite society.
When Belize’s roots decide that they have had enough, then they will take the law into their own hands. We are saying that there is a time limit as to how long this masquerade of polite society will be played before the streets erupt in some form or the other. The issue in the streets is not gay rights: the issue is socio-economics. The Belizean roots are suffering under the rule of polite society. Some of you may argue that, well, this has been so from time immemorial, but in Belize, we remind you, there have also been uprisings from time immemorial. Hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps millions, are being spent on what the streets see as a masquerade. Let us say, for argument’s sake, the anti-UNIBAM side wins a great victory, and homosexuality is confirmed as illegal. Does this change overnight the massive prominence and power of the gays in Belize? Hell no, and the streets know it.
In polite society, no one cares about the roots. In many ways, the roots do not even care about themselves. Still, “when you ain’t got nuttin, you ain’t got nuttin to lose.” Explosion will not be organized; it may not even be contemplated in a procedural way. But, the streets are red hot, and near flash point.
In conclusion, let us consider the following. If you build a gated compound and lock it up securely at night, and within the rooms and apartments inside that gated compound are only members of the same sex, would not a logical person consider such an arrangement to be conducive to same sex affinity? Outside the gated compounds, same sex activity is criminal and illegal, but inside same sex gated compounds, who is really to know what and what?
Buju Banton, a reggay superstar, is spending long years in a Florida penitentiary because he sang something in a song which expressed the feelings of the Jamaican streets. That street feeling was and is hostile to gays. There were very powerful people, in Jamaica and in the European world, who were determined to punish Buju Banton. Remember, Buju’s song was international. And international was the force that came for his head.
In Belize, polite society is playing a masquerade amongst themselves: to legalize or not to legalize. A statement similar to the one in the previous sentence published in this newspaper 43 years ago, landed us in Supreme Court charged with seditious conspiracy. Polite society declared that we were bringing the administration of justice into contempt. Today, we can say that, where the roots of Belize are concerned, polite society is playing a masquerade amongst themselves. They don’t mind our saying what we’re saying: there would only be a problem if we were saying what Buju was saying.
Power to the people.