Heterosexism & Homosexuality: The Performance of Privilege & Secrecy in Bahamian Society

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Global Issue 2019

Written by: Natino Thompson, University of the Bahamas

All over this archipelago, Bahamians have mastered the art of managing the simultaneously open and secret structure under which homosexuality exists. This simple fact is critical to understanding the psychological burden heterosexism[1] places on LGBTQ+ people. The imposition of a life of secrecy is conferred upon LGBTQ+ individuals because of a heterosexist society, which unapologetically continues to deny the existence of the LGBTQ+ community, even when tangible evidence is presented. When it comes to secrecy surrounding homosexuality in The Bahamas, there are a plethora of mechanisms individuals use to hide their socially abhorred sexual disposition. These mechanisms substantiate the claims of psychological trauma experienced by LGBTQ+ individuals living in The Bahamas. They also further highlight the complexities, nuances and intersectionality of homosexuality which subverts the dominant culture of society, making the act of same sex coitus—or even the very presence of a presumed or confirmed homosexual—a threat to the established order which perceives itself in opposition.  The established order that exists in the Bahamas is none other than a neo-imperialist, colonial, ontologically white, capitalist, patriarchy. As an antagonistic, abstract force, patriarchal thinking and processes create internal conflicts within the minds of LGTBQ+ persons attempting to manage or navigate their sexuality through the terrain of Bahamian society. Simultaneously, these processes subject LGTBQ+ people to an inordinate amount of mental anguish. While it is understood that blatant discrimination against a group of people results in a negative social impact upon the group, it is apparent that Bahamian society is unable to acknowledge that such a discriminatory structure exists as a subculture within institutions such as the church, the law, and the workplace. 

As a society, this failure to acknowledge the open-secret structure of homosexuality and heterosexism in The Bahamas hinges on the fact that to do so would undermine the neo imperialist, colonial, ontologically white, capitalist patriarchal structure. In relation to homosexuality, as with many other national issues, Bahamian society exhibits an extreme case of cognitive dissonance. Bahamians are incapable of resolving this dissonance because of the low position of this issue on the list of priorities of a “developing” nation. To acknowledge this homophobic societal structure would call for the erasure of delusions held as tacit beliefs, upon which every sector of this society has been formed.  Delusions about marriage, as encased in law, ideas of conception and the binary framing of sexual acts are all pillars of Bahamian society, and an integral part of the societal system. This system is based on capitalism and patriarchy whose ultimate goal is control, rooted in the indoctrination of values that maintain the status quo amongst the population. Consequently, as illogical as these beliefs often are, they are subsequently venerated and perpetuated rather than examined and challenged,especially when unequal benefits can be derived from traditional practices held in high regard by the dominant society, such as the institution of heterosexual marriage.

In an attempt to fill the void of research on the subject of homosexuality, this paper contends that certain privileges are extended to Bahamian heterosexuals which excludes, marginalizes, and discriminates against Bahamian LGBTQ+ people. As a result of this privilege, homosexuality in Bahamas continues to be seen from a heterosexist vantage point, reinforcing the psychological anguish experienced by LGBTQ+ persons all over the archipelago. The crux of the paper is to examine the secrecy surrounding homosexuality in Bahamian society, particularly within the church, the law, and the workplace.

Bahamian society tends to use marginalized groups like LGBTQ+ individuals as scapegoats for societal issues. This projection grants the perceived “dominant majority” the ability to abscond from responsibility and address perceived “ills” by blaming groups on the fringes of society. Subsequently, by means of projection and scapegoating, Bahamian society conjures up the idea of a “monster” which must be held responsible for societal issues. Through the use of bellicose and prejudicial language, these marginalized individuals are then perceived to be the “monsters” which the culture must fight against. Cohen (1996), declares “the monster is difference made flesh come to dwell among us”[2] and that this,

…monstrous difference tends to be cultural, political, racial, economic and sexual. The exaggeration of cultural differences into a monstrous aberration is familiar enough. The most famous distortion occurs in the Bible, where the aboriginal inhabitants of Canaan are envisioned as menacing giants to justify the Hebrew colonization of the promised Land (Numbers 13). Representing an anterior culture as monstrous justifies its displacement or extermination by rendering the act heroic.[3]

The heroic act in this instance is the promulgation of the ideals of the dominant society through the compelled conformity of LGBTQ+ individuals, as a means of warding off these “monsters.” It is through this conformity that the individual is then rewarded for being in “harmony” with the Bahamian society and not opposed to it. In his book, The Scapegoat, Rene Girard further explains how the system, in this case Bahamian society, does not appreciate difference.This gives credence to heterosexism and its privileges for those who conform to its “standards,” while leaving those marginalized, minority groups: whether they be racial, economic, religious, political or sexual—to be excluded from receiving these benefits. Girard (1989) declares, 

The potential for the system to differ from its own difference, in other words not to be different at all, [means that it ceases] …to exist as system…Difference that exists outside the system is terrifying because it reveals the truth of the system, its relativity, its fragility, and its mortality…despite what is said around us persecutors are never obsessed with difference but rather by its unutterable contrary, the lack of difference.[4]

Enslaved Africans, potential rebellion against British imperialism, the color of one’s skin, the Haitian immigration “problem,”, and the “homosexual agenda” are all part of Bahamian history and at one point or another have all been labelled as “monsters.” British colonial powers labelled the first two of these “monsters,” whereas the latter groups were designated scapegoats by the “independent” Bahamian nation. 

The mystique surrounding these “monsters” only serves to entrench the members of the dominant society within rigid constructs that are in actuality a mere façade perceived as homogeneity or unity. However, at the microsystem level of the Bahamian society, no homogenous thought exists in the group which claims to be the “majority.” Nevertheless, the thought of an idealized homogeneity in Bahamian society persists amongst those who claim the existence of a “monster” and regard it as being “…transgressive, too sexual, perversely erotic, a lawbreaker…[and that]…the monster and all that it embodies must be exiled or destroyed.”[5] Nevertheless, when it becomes apparent that the “monster” never dies and is always a recurring fixture—the contradiction emerges. Then, and only then, it becomes explicit that the role of the “monster” is to compel members of society to pick a side. Those who stand in agreement with the label, “monster,” continue to actively avoid interrogating or solving issues perceived as “social ills.” 

These monsters ask us how we perceive the world, and how we have misrepresented what we have attempted to place. They ask us to reevaluate our cultural assumptions about race, gender, sexuality, our perception of difference, our tolerance towards it expression. They ask us why we have created them.[6]

Along with the “monsters” invading Bahamian society and needing “eradication,” the Bahamian male finds himself entrenched in a unique and paradoxical patriarchical cognitive framework which spawns an internal conflict and aresulting psychological burden of secrecy. In his book, “Neuroses in the Sun,” psychiatrist Timothy McCartney discusses the Bahamian male and his “repudiated masculinity”[7] for which he is continually seeking validation and overcompensating through …a series of conquests [or] incessant talk about actual [but more frequently] fantasied sexual achievements..”[8] According to McCartney (1971), the Bahamian male and his series of sexual conquests “…represents a continual confirmation of his manhood, i.e. his dominance [perceived as masculinity].”[9] The pride of the Bahamian male lies in “…his ability to procreate…”[10] One of the most important points made by McCartney is that the Bahamian male is emotionally satisfied not by these conquests but rather through “…his all male company and in all-male relationships…[of]…his male cronies…[11] who joyously affirm the masculine image that he projects of himself.  When this image is taken away from him, the Bahamian male is a “…deeply insecure individual.”[12] McCartney argues that this makes the Bahamian male susceptible to homosexuality. While, it is extremely difficult to find supporting evidence for McCartney’s conclusion about susceptibility to homosexuality, it can be said that McCartney’s description is a rather accurate and well-articulated representation of the societal backdrop in which the Bahamian male finds himself. 

Hence, this backdrop serves also to frame the “closet” of the Bahamian homosexual male, and indeed of LGBTQ+ individuals on the whole. The framing starts with the closet being used as a mechanism that underscores heterosexual privilege. Firstly, the closet is used as a mechanism to force individuals to deny the corporeality of their experience, which informs their identity, in order to receive the benefits offered to the “majority.” Therefore, the closet becomes the place where fear and secrecy combine to foster a psychological burden of shame, silence and secrecy.

At the epicenter of the debate concerning homosexuality in The Bahamas is the Christian church. No other institution in the nation has the peculiar ideological hold on all social sectors. In 1998, Alan R. Lee, Pastor of Calvary Bible Church, stated on the church’s television series, “Open Word,” that “in the Bahamas… for the most part, the adherents of this lifestyle [that is homosexuality] are still ‘in the closet’…[13] He also declared, “if we were to take much of our local ‘sip-sip’ seriously, we would have to believe that there is a somewhat large, flourishing and quite active gay community in our country.”[14] The connection between the fact that a large portion of LGBTQ+ individuals indeed remain “in the closet” and the Church’s involvement in the crystallization of that same closet is an idea that most members of the Christian church seem unable or unwilling to grasp. Herein lies one of the many contradictions present within this homophobic and heterosexist system. The inability to grasp this incongruent concept only further enthrallsLGBTQ+ individuals “in the closet” because: 

coming out is a matter of crystallizing intuitions or convictions that had been in the air for a while already and had already established their own power-circuits of silent contempt, silent blackmail, silent glamorization, silent complicity. After all, the position of those who think they know something about one that one may not know oneself is an excited and empowered one—whether what they think one doesn’t know is that one somehow is homosexual, or merely that one’s supposed secret is known to them. The glass closet can license insult…[15]

It should be noted that Pastor Lee, like many other religious “fanatics,” as Voltaire hailed them, acknowledges that “the closet” does exist. In doing so, Pastor Lee admits not only that the closet is real for many LGBTQ+ individuals but also that “…the closet is the defining structure for gay oppression…[16] whether consciously or otherwise. It is the mechanism used by proponents of heterosexual privilege to identify, name and separate individuals that practice homosexual or “deviant” behavior. In fact, this position of power derived from heterosexual privilege and Christian ideology incites extremely prejudicial, discriminatory and inflammatory rhetoric from “believers” directed towards LGBTQ+ people. From the external perspective of non-believers, the use of this rhetoric within Bahamian society unfortunately often undermines the premise upon which the Christian faith is established, creating a dichotomy of epic proportions in the minds of non-churchgoers. The dichotomy is simple; the Church is an organization and environment where a moral doctrine is preached, however its own members bear witness to the inability to put that doctrine into practice both individually and collectively. Consequently, this contradiction that many witness occurring is an institutionalized moral hypocrisy amongst church leadership and lay membership.

Furthermore, while some sermons preached within churches may not be outright hateful, the very undertones of these dispatches verbalize that homosexual acts and people are “abnormal” and “unnatural.” Even if not intended to be hateful or discriminatory, these messages often embolden self-identified Christians in their use of inflammatory rhetoric against LGBTQ+ people, because they view themselves as defenders of the faith. This very speech-act fosters a self-hatred within queer individuals attempting to find their social footing within the world or assimilate within the culture of the church.  As a result of “the closet” and its attached power structures, LGBTQ+ persons experience an internal conflict known as internalized homophobia. According to Meyer (1995):

Internalized homophobia refers to the direction of societal negative attitudes toward the self. Long before they begin to realize their own homosexuality, homosexually-oriented people internalize societal anti-homosexual attitudes. When as adolescents or young adults they recognize same-sex attraction, they begin to question their presumed heterosexuality and apply the label “homosexual” or “gay” to themselves. Such self-labeling occurs before any public disclosure of their homosexuality. But as self- labeling begins, individuals also begin to apply negative attitudes to themselves, and the psychologically-injurious effects of societal homophobia take effect.[17]

Part of the human experience is to look for information that corroborates our beliefs as opposed to information that contradicts them. This confirmation bias is seen in the way that the Church ignores the fact that within the very scriptures used to preach heterosexism and patriarchy are stories of “closet-like” experiences. For example, the story of Esther is a tale of a unique experience in a “closet.” Esther’s experience of the closet occurs from a cultural vantage point, but this does not lessen the effects of the stigma, prejudice and discrimination incurred. In the story, Esther, who is often heralded for saving her people from genocide, marries King Ahasuerus and conceals the fact that she is a Jew. This identity prompts Esther to enter a kind of closet or secrecy, which she chooses not to reveal because of the perceptions held and declarations made by her prejudiced husband: that Jews should be regarded as unclean people, or, in terminology familiar to LGBTQ+ individuals—as an “abomination against nature.” King Ahasuerus’ trusted advisor, Haman, is intent on the extermination of the Jewish people because of his biases and prejudices, leading up to a climactic moment when Esther is urged by her cousin Mordecai to save her people by revealing her identity as a Jew. The time of her revelation, the fear and suspense surrounding that one moment by Esther “…would be recognizable to any gay person who has inched towards coming out to homophobic parents… [or friends].”[18] This further solidifies the point that the closet is juxtaposed to the power structure and its attempt to regulate those who are not benefactors of the privilege. Eve Sedgwick (1990) asserts: 

When gay people in a homophobic society come out…especially to parents or spouses, it is with the consciousness of a potential for serious injury that is likely to go in both directions. The pathogenic secret itself, even, can circulate contagiously as a secret: a mother says that her adult child’s coming out of the closet with her has plunged her, in turn, into the closet in her conservative community. In fantasy, though not in fantasy only, against the fear of being killed or wished dead by (say) one’s parents in such a revelation there is apt to recoil the often more intensely imagined possibility of its killing them. There is no guarantee that being under threat from a double-edged weapon is a more powerful position than getting the ordinary axe, but it is certain to be more destabilizing.[19]

Since the law contains no explicit decrees protecting homosexual individuals or members of the LGTBQ community in The Bahamas, gay people are… legally discriminated against in housing, employment, entitlement and basic civil rights.”[20] Additionally, the constitution’s lack of protection of LGTBQ+ indivduals, as well as the constant fear and suspense surrounding coming out of the closet, leads many to “pass” as heterosexual. What this means is that the closet becomes the place not only to hide but also to actively avoid events of prejudice, discrimination and violence, all of which the law enables by failing to present supportive anti-discriminatory legislation. According to Raymond M. Berger(1990): 

Passing is the social process whereby the homosexual presents himself or herself to the world as heterosexual. Although this may seem a straight-forward process, in practice, passing embodies a complex set attitudes and behaviors that varies with personal and situational factors. Virtually every gay man or lesbian passes at some point and most gay men and lesbians, by virtue of the nonapparent nature of sexual orientation, pass with some people at least some of the time.[21]

Adept “passers” frequently deal with internalized homophobia, internalized heterosexism, fear of rejection, victimization, constant fear of stigmatization and labelling, all of which contribute to the psychological burden of secrecy. Individuals who “pass” on a continuous basis acquire their position of power within a heterosexist society by actively and carefully minimizing and avoiding experiencing acts of disrepect by simply upholding the systems upon which  heterosexual privilege is derived. Passing individuals do so even if this means further disenfranchising LGBTQ+ individuals by enacting unjust laws for benefits and privileges of those that adhereto heteronormative standards . LGBTQ+ individuals unable to pass, find themselves labeled as “…discredited; that is the stigma is known beforehand or immediately apparent when the stigmatized person interacts with another person (as in the case of someone with a visible physical handicap). The essential social task for the discredited person is the management of the tension generated during social contacts.”[22] In this way, this management of the tension experienced in social interactions becomes another facet of the closet for both passing and non-passing LGBTQ+ individuals.  

Berger (1990), continues

Gay men and lesbians are familiar with the tension that exists when others are aware of their homosexuality, but the predominant situation for most gay men and lesbians is one in which they pass;, that is, their homosexuality is not known to others…Where the person is discreditable; that is the stigma is not immediately apparent[,] the management of personal information is the essential social task of the discreditable person, and it has been described as a universal task in the identity formation process for gay men and lesbians. The person must decide ‘to display or not to display; to tell or not to tell; to let on or not to let on… and in each case, to whom, how, when and where.[23]

The labels, “discredited,” or “discreditable,” speaks to the power given to those tacit assumptions that are the foundation for psychological pressures experienced by LGBTQ+ individuals through social contact. It should be noted that social contact does not always involve social interaction/exchange. However, social exchanges always involve social contact. In one scenario, a “discredited” individual enters a room where an extremely prejudicial and discriminatory heterosexual or “passing” male exists. This social contact, even when no words are exchanged, can elicit an episode of prejudice, discrimination or violence, where the discredited individual could possibly be subjected to either a life-threatening act, a verbal assault or complete avoidance. Any one of these acts of aggression are based on the belief that the discredited individual is not “normal” somehow rendering them in one way or another as being unworthy of the respect or honor afforded to heterosexuals or “passing” LGBTQ+ individuals.

In an effort to minimize discrimination, prejudice and violence, “passers” develop an acute sense of awareness, known as “vigilance.”[24] This hyper-sensitivity to others is often accompanied with anxiety about every social interaction. Why this acute sense of awareness or vigilence? The answer, according to Meyer (1995), is that: 

The fear that others can disrespect [or discredit] a [LGBTQ+] person because of something he shows means that he is always insecure in his contact with other people; and this insecurity arises…from something which he knows he cannot fix. Such an individual ‘may percieve, usually quite correctly, that whatever others profess, they do not really ‘accept’ him and are not ready to make contact with him on ‘equal grounds.’…‘Learning to hide’… [within the closet is the]…most common coping strategy of gay and lesbian adolescents.…‘individuals in such a position must constantly monitor their behavior in all circumstances: how one dresses, speaks, walks and talks become constant sources of possible discovery. The stress experienced by the vigilant person leads to a general experience of fear and mistrust in interactions with the dominant culture, and a sense of disharmony and alienation with general society.[25]

Since no law exists to protect LGBTQ+ individuals, it allows for such homophobic and heterosexist acts, which are often perpetrated without any ramifications.  In The Bahamas, there have been several murders of LGBTQ+ individuals in recent years. These cases have often ended with the assailant being given a reduced sentence or acquitted of the crime altogether. In cases where the assailant was not captured, there is little, if any, serious attempt at investigation and these never receive sufficient attention to be solved. This certainly speaks to the systematic dysfunctionality of the legal process as well as highlights how attitudes and apathetic responses toward homosexuality saturate national institutions that should offer assistance and in this case justice for its citizens. 

As an example, the murders of world renown handbag designer, Harl Taylor and former lecturer at the then College of The Bahamas, Dr. Thaddeus McDonald in 2007 still remain unsolved to this day, although these murders occurred within inches of the heavily surveilled U.S. Embassy.  Latherio Jones was sentenced to three years of probation for the 2004 murder of Trevor Wilson who made a sexual advance towards Jones. The prosecution appealed the case because it was felt that the judge had put forth an extremely lenient sentence considering the evidence available. A Bahamas Local article reported that Justice Dame Joan Sawyer upheld the sentence because Jones had already spent approximately five years in prison awaiting trial and he had been “provoked” by Mr. Wilson. Dame Sawyer continued,“one is entitled to use whatever force is necessary to prevent one’s self [from] being the victim of a homosexual act.”[26]She further added that the Court of Appeal “…agreed with the trial judge’s findings that ‘a further three years of supervision by the authorities would be of benefit to (Jones)’ as opposed to a more severe sentence.”[27] The leniency of this sentence is oddly reminiscent of the 2005 stabbing death of Dale Williams by Frederick Green-Neely. Mr. Williams was gay and HIV positive, allegedly. This, coupled with the fact that Dale Williams allegedly “grabbed Mr. Green-Neely’s genitals’ and told him he had a crush on him” resulted in the death of Mr. Williams. [28]  Even more recently, in June 2019, the deaths of Bahamian Diplomat, Alrae Ramsey and psychology PhD student, Blair John in the Po River, Italy serve as evidence of the secrecy and silence surrounding perceived  LGBTQ+ individuals and their murders. Even now that the bodies have been returned to The Bahamas and have been buried, there has been no comprehensive investigation into the matter. While this is certainly disturbing, this apathy is consistent with the reaction of the authorities, the court system, and general Bahamian public regarding the murders of perceived or confirmed LGBTQ+ individuals. 

Likewise, workspaces across The Bahamas are rife with heterosexist institutional policies that further sponsor secrecy surrounding one’s sexuality. For that reason, the inescapable “closet” tied to the LGBTQ+ experience becomes a permanent fixture in their work lives and workplaces. Depending on their place within a society, corporations and institutions can have a substantial amount of social influence, which may be further detrimental to those perceived as “deviant” individuals. One such institution is the educational system. The educational system is unique in that both teachers and students who are LGBTQ+ are punished in some measure for this “deviant” behavior. The systematic denial of pertinent truths for LGBTQ+ persons is an organized form of discrimination against a group of people whose behavior, deemed unacceptable by society, receives systematic punishment. 

According to James R. King (2004), the discourse surrounding gay teachers is about “…a group that does not have a consistent identity.[29] To have an effective dialogue about LGBTQ+ teachers, King (2004) continues, “the talk itself must shift from homosexuals and teachers to discourse practices that construct ‘the homosexual’ as different from a ‘straight man.’ It is in the discursive contexts that homosexuality is produced and then used as extortion.”[30] LGBTQ+ teachers are extorted for their silence, their secrecy, and compliance to the system. The secrecy and silence that the system engenders strips LGBTQ+ teachers of the freedom to disclose their sexual orientation or to mention details about their “private” life around students or colleagues, who are often obtrusive and pushy in the attempt to acquire such information. Additionally, the force of the system can be seen when LGBTQ+ teachers are “…fired, routinely, for so much as intimating the right to existence of queer people, desires, activities, [and] children.”[31]

This systematic extortion has significant implications for LGBTQ+ teachers, and their performance within the educational system.  Firstly, Kissen (1996) in her book The Last Closet: The Real Lives of Lesbian and Gay Teachersdeclares: 

Lesbians and gays [teachers & students] remain invisible even as schools acknowledge racism and sexism…Gay culture is still missing from ‘new’ multicultural curricula and that many administrators who have established policies against racist name-calling still tolerate homophobic slurs.[32]

Kissen simultaneously highlights the privilege given to heterosexual teachers and acknowledges the obstacles LGTBQ+ teachers must overcome in order to be viewed as competent and survive within a heterosexist educational system. On the other hand, for many LGBTQ+ teachers this can have a crippling effect. King (2004) articulates eloquently:

As a closeted gay primary teacher, I constantly monitored my behavior around children. I was anxious about how other teachers, parents, and principals would interpret my interactions and relationships with my students. The paradox that my self-monitoring engendered is complex. As a strong child advocate, I valued the concern that I and other adults have for children. Therefore, like others around me, I was and am careful about the influences that prevail upon the children I teach. Yet how can I, by virtue of my sexual orientation, be unhealthy for kids?[33]

It is the malignant nature of heterosexual “…privilege in the workplace [which] maintains systems of discrimination and ensures the replication of LGBTQ+ people’s subordination.”[34] The holder of privilege can choose freely whether or not they wish to ignore differences in someone’s sexual orientation, a power not afforded to LGBTQ+ individuals. Whether heterosexuals will admit it or not, there is a clear divide that occurs the moment a teacher is found to be “different.” It is that difference which divides and separates teachers; both, from their colleagues and pupils. 

It is also this “…systematic separation of children from queer adults; their sequestration from the truth about the lives, culture and sustaining relations of adults they may know who may be queer…” which adds to the growing number of cases of HIV/AIDS and unsafe sexual practices. [35] In fact, “heterosexual” parents, teachers, and clergy intersect for one common cause: to keep “intelligible information, support, respect, [and] condoms…” out of the hands of sexually active gay adolescents. [36] Within secondary schools in The Bahamas “teaching about sex or sexuality in any form has been [practically] eliminated…[and]…replaced with fabulously ineffective abstinence programs that are focused only on the putative horrors of unwed motherhood.”[37], If there is any discussion of sex and sexuality, it is from the perspective of the diseases students can contract if they refuse to abstain. To make matters worse, medical and mental health professionals add to the dilemma by “…invalidating and hounding kids who show gender-dissonant taste, behavior, [and] body language.”[38] Nevertheless, work environments like the educational system highlight how heterosexual privilege fosters the psychological burden of secrecy for both employees and its patrons, creating a systematic domino effect from top to bottom of the organization or institution.

Throughout this paper, heterosexual privilege has been shown to enforce the psychological burden of secrecy through institutions like the church, the law, and the workplace. These institutions use heterosexist ideologies enacted through a legal framework to perpetuate the continued disenfranchisement of LGBTQ+ people in The Bahamas. Yet, the intensity of the burden of secrecy placed upon LGBTQ+ people all over The Bahamas cannot be articulated in the words of one paper. Therefore, this paper is intended to serve as a catalyst for dialogue on heterosexism and homosexuality – a topic that the Bahamian society has been actively avoiding; at both the macro and the micro levels. For many LGTBQ+ people the psychological burden of secrecy is inexplicably tied to the complexities of the “closet” and the unique way each institution frames and upholds the structure of that closet experience. Upholding the closet and its accompanying framework simultaneously creates the platform that allows heterosexual privilege to exist while engendering feelings of powerlessness, hopelessness, and despair in the lives of LGBTQ+ people. Until Bahamian “heterosexuals” are made aware of the privilege from which they derive societal benefits and how that privilege is used to deny the inalienable human rights of LGBTQ+ people in The Bahamas, homosexuality will continue to be the “monster” upon which Bahamian society dumps blame for its perceived societal ills. 


[1]Heterosexism, or heterosexual privilege, is a system of oppression that reduces the experiences of sexual minorities to medical or criminal causes while victimizing people who are seen as sexual minorities through violence or diminished opportunity. ‘Heterosexism sustains a legal system that denies equal protection and property rights (such as marriage) and holds in contempt the personal relationship of sexual minorities.’ (see footnote 34, p.30.)

[2] Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Monster Theory: Reading Culture, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1996),7.

[3]Ibid, 7-8.

[4]René Girard, The Scapegoat, trans. Yvonne Freccero (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), 33.

[5] Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Monster Theory: Reading Culture, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1996),16.

[6] Ibid, 20.

[7]Timothy O. McCartney, Neuroses in the Sun, (Nassau: Executive Printers of the Bahamas, 1971), 140.

[8]Ibid, 140.

[9]Ibid, 140.

[10]Ibid, 140.

[11]Ibid, 140.

[12]Ibid, 140.

[13]Alan R. Lee, Open Word, (Nassau: Calvary Bible Church, 1998), 5.

[14]Ibid, 5.

[15]Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, The Epistemology of the Closet, (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1990), 79-80.

[16]Ibid, 7.

[17]Ilan H. Meyer, “Minority Stress and Mental Health in Gay Men”, Journal of Health and Social Behaviour 36, no.1 (1995): 40.

[18]Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, The Epistemology of the Closet, (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1990), 76.

[19]Ibid, 80.

[20]Ilan H. Meyer, “Minority Stress and Mental Health in Gay Men”, Journal of Health and Social Behaviour 36, no.1 (1995): 41

[21]Raymond M. Berger, “Passing: Impact on the Quality of Same-Sex Couple Relationships”, Social Work 35, no. 4,  (July 1990): 328.

[22]Ibid, 328.

[23]Ibid, 328.

[24]Expectations of rejection, discrimination and violence – with regard to the minority components of their identity in interactions with dominant group members. 

[25]Ibid, 41.

[26]Bahamas Local, “Judge: Killing was justified to avoid a homosexual act,” last modified June 11,2010, https://www.bahamaslocal.com/newsitem/2159/Judge_Killing_was_justified_to_avoid_a_homosexual_act.html

[27]“Judge: Killing was justified”


[29]James R. King, “The (Im)possibility of Gay Teachers for Young Children,” Theory Into Practice 43, no.2 (Spring 2004): 123.

[30]Ibid, 123.

[31]Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Tendencies (London: Routledge, 1994), 2.

[32]Claire Potter, “The Last Closet,” The Radical Teacher, no. 54 (1998): 37.

[33]James R. King, “The (Im)possibility of Gay Teachers for Young Children,” Theory Into Practice 43, no.2 (Spring 2004):124.

[34]Tonette S. Rocco & Suzanne J. Gallagher, “Straight Privilege and Moral/izing: Issues in Career Development”, Wiley Periodicals, no. 112 (Winter 2006):

[35]Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Tendencies (London: Routledge, 1994), 2

[36]Ibid, 2.

[37]Claire Potter, “The Last Closet,” The Radical Teacher, no. 54 (1998): 37.

[38]Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Tendencies (London: Routledge, 1994), 2


Rocco, Tonette S., and Suzanne J. Gallagher. “Straight Privilege and Moral/izing: Issues in Career Development.” Wiley Periodicals (Wiley InterScience) 112: 29-39. 2006.

Berger, Raymond M. “Passing: Impact on the Quality of Same-Sex Couple Relationships.” Social Work (National Association of Social Workers) 35 (4): 328-332. 1990.

Bahamas Local, “Judge: Killing was justified to avoid a homosexual act.” Last modified June 11, 2010. https://www.bahamaslocal.com/newsitem/2159/Judge_Killing_was_justified_to_avoid_a_homosexual_act.html (accessed September 2, 2019)

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