Caribbean Archbishop Offers Partial Defense of Pride Month as a Social Justice Issue

Archbishop Charles Jason Gordon

The archbishop of a Caribbean nation has called gender ideology “diabolical” because, he says, it goes against the “understanding of the human person.” At the same time, he acknowledged the need to stop discrimination against LGBTQ people, especially in the Caribbean. 

During Pride Month in June, Archbishop Charles Jason Gordon of Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago was asked on an Instagram live chat about Pride and how the church is “creating safe spaces for members of the LGBTQ+ community.”

He answered that Pride comes with two things. The first is social justice. He said:

“No one should be bullied, no one should be discriminated against, no one should be locked out of a job, locked out of their country. There are people in the Caribbean that had to flee the country because they were gay. On the social justice side, we have to 100% work towards an inclusive world where everyone is a child of God and where every child of God has a space, a place, and identity. And is safe and is kept safe.”

Acknowledging that homosexuality is still not well understood by many people, Gordon commented via a transcript on the archdiocesan website:

“We always fear what we do not understand, and homosexuality is poorly understood. The ‘coming out of the closet’ by the gay community evolved into Pride month. It is a statement from that community that they will not tolerate prejudice anymore. This in part, is a social justice cause. We need to uphold the dignity of every person.”

After this expression of solidarity, he continued, “On the other hand, Pride brings with it, what I would call, gender ideology and the multiple gender theory. And that’s a little more complicated.” He quoted Genesis 1:27, which tells of God creating man and woman in God’s image.

In a statement released days after the live chat, Gordon expanded on his criticism of gender ideology. He believes it is a “central theme” of Pride and opposes the “Christian understanding of the human person.” Gordon stated:

“Gender ideology, while describing a person’s sexual desire, engages a fundamental lie about their biology. When we lie about our biology, we create a world where truth has no meaning…Christians should not participate in, promote, or champion a lie.”

The archbishop argued that the problem is from the term ‘gender’ being solely understood as a social construct. He believes the terms should not be separated:

“Up until the 1990s, we spoke about male and female as both gender and sex. The divorce of these two has created an ideology—a system of ideas that is not necessarily rooted in reality. The reality is people have different sexual desires. But the reality is people were created male or female (Mt 19:5).”

After his comment, Gordon acknowledged the reality of intersex persons. The Intersex Society of North America identifies an intersex person as someone “born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.” Being intersex comes with varying “biological sex characteristics” including chromosomes.

Towards the end of Gordon’s statement, he warns of the alleged neocolonial dangers of gender ideology and affirmed Pope Francis’ comment that “gender ideology is diabolical.” He continued:

“Gender theory is now being weaponized against all those who oppose it. In the US, there was the photographer and the cake maker who opposed and were sued. In ‘cancel culture’ anyone who seeks to have a rational conversation or debate about this ideology is targeted and ‘cancelled’. From this perspective, gender theory needs to be seen as a neo-colonial tool being imposed on others who disagree…It threatens to separate desire from truth. It is a new form of neo-colonial imposition, and it opposes free speech and ultimately it will seek to suppress religious freedom. What society did to persons with same sex attractions, the Pride movement is doing to those who see gender differently to them.”

Gordon’s record on LGBTQ issues is mixed, as these comments show. In 2018, he twice voiced his support for decriminalizing homosexuality, but at the same time harshly condemned marriage equality. Later that same year, he again condemned hate speech against LGBTQ people while suggesting certain rights for the community should be resisted as “American values.”

Now, equating the historical violence and harm committed against LGBTQ persons to an ideological debate is quite extreme. The archbishop is not fleeing his country as a result of this statement unlike the LGBTQ persons that he said had to flee the Caribbean. He believes gender ideology threatens truth, but what if we ask how it centers truth for those who identify outside the gender binary? What if we listen to the experiences of how gender theory affirms the dignity and truth of LGBTQ persons? If our identity comes from being a child of God, as Gordon expressed, what if new understandings of gender help individuals become the child God created them to be?

Elise Dubravec, July 24, 2021

1 reply
  1. Stephen
    Stephen says:

    Bishop Gordon, as a religious/person, as well as those in the Church whose positions he refers to and equivocates, expresses and repeats an incorrect assumption about gender and LGBT+ relations, at all levels, from social roles, to family and sexual roles. The assertion that a same sex-sex relationship must, by necessity, involve a confusion of male and female roles, as these are traditionally conceived of by the Church, is a totally wrong assumption, except for the small and diminishing number of LGBT+ individuals who, for a variety of reasons, have bought into this cultural construct, and assume traditional male and female roles in a same-sex relationship. This is the same approach that is used by “Ex-Gay” proponents, and is based upon assumptions that are doomed to fail, and definitely cause real harm. To take advice and pastoral counseling from a celibiate religious whose knowledge of the world is not informed by lived sexual experience, or by honest, personal contact with LGBT+ persons, but instead by theological “reasoning,” is like taking psychotherapy from a Chiropractor.

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