Queer sexuality, a conflict of belief and religion

by Félix J. Saldaña Santos

      On March 5, 2014 at the Celis building of the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez three panelists discussed queer sexuality, spirituality, resistance and the different tools on how to manage to connect one’s religion and queer sexuality.

     The panelists were Dr. Pedro de Jesús Colόn who has a doctorate in theology, Dr. Aixa Rodríguez who has a doctorate in communications and is professor of the UPRM’s English department, and Dr. Rafael Jackson Martín who is an art professor at UPRM.

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Press conference panelists. Dr. Pedro de Jesús Colón and Dr. Aixa Rodríguez at the left and Rafael Jackson Martín in front of the podium.

       De Jesús Colόn, , talked about how six to seven verses of the bible have been used and manipulated to destroy lesbians and homosexuals. The passages are excerpted without taking into account what comes before and after the verses, which gives a wrong interpretation of the verse.

      In an interview Colón added that “Catholics are easier to work with and help when compared to people coming from Protestant believes since they have more strict measures and believes against homosexuals and lesbians.” He proposed classes about different methods of biblical comprehension that can help bring peace and calm and that there is no verse that condemns people for being homosexuals and Christians.

      An article writte by Michael Bronski, Ann Pellegrini and Michael Amico states that when considering what the Bible has to say about homosexuality, “The short answer is: not much. The longer answer requires understanding that sacred texts are given meaning through interpretation; these interpretations change over time and can also vary within any particular period.”

      Colón’s presentation was followed by Rafael Jackson Martín’s, who read a paper submitted by an absent presenter.It talked about work done by Gloria Anzaldúa and how it can be read as queer resistance. as a resistance of queer. Jackson Martín mentioned some ideals that Anzaldúa had: “if there is no adversity there is no spirituality” and “the question of identity is not a simple act of will but a forcing one begins.”

       In the final presentation Rodríguez, talked about the story of Bayard Rustin.

    Rustin, also known as the true hero of the social movement of civil rights, pacifism and non-violence, and gay rights, was discriminated and threatened for being black and gay. However, this did stop Rustin for fighting for the civil rights and in 1970s, he became a public advocate on behalf of gay and lesbian causes. On November 20, 2013, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

      The session ended with a question and answered period facilitated by Jackson Martín. About forty persons attended the session.

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