By: Johan S. Rodríguez Cabán
On March 5, in the Celis Building of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez a conference was held where three panelists talked about spirituality as a tool for resistance, specifically for the members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transvestite and Transsexual (LGBTT) community. The atmosphere intensified as ideals came up for discussion and opinions clashed, debates formed and views were challenged.
The panelists were Dr. Pedro de Jesús Colón, Fernando R. Lanuza, and Aixa Rodríguez.
In the first presentation De Jesús Colón, who has a doctoral degree in theology and is a member of the LGBTT-friendly christian church Iglesia Nueva Creación in Cabo Rojo, discussed new methods for interpreting the bible in specific verses that were allegedly against homosexuality and fomented homophobia.
Dr. De Jesús Colón referred to people whose faith is in the older interpretations as fundamentalists; furthermore, he explained how the fundamentalists have used these interpretations to their advantage and convenience. Inadequate use of the holy bible, he argued, has created disputes between Christians.
When asked about what the mission and purpose of his Christian life was Dr. De Jesús said in an interview he added that his Christian mission is “to reconcile the believer’s faith with his sexuality.” He explained that this is not equivalent to promoting homosexuality in Christians but to “healing these people who have been hunted down and emotionally scarred because of their sexuality so they can then decide on their spirituality.”
The second panelist was supposed to be Fernando R. Lanuza but he could not attend so he had a representative give the power point presentation for him. This second presentation focused on creativity and happiness as contributors to a person’s spirituality; presenting happiness and creativity as means of resistance to the powers against a human being.
Lanuza also favored resistance over opposition because opposition makes believe it is unconnected to such power while resistance is inherent.
The last panelist was Dr. Aixa Rodríguez, professor in the UPRM, who spoke about the life of Bayard Rustin and his struggles.
Rustin was an African-American homosexual. He was a pacifist leader in the fight for equal rights for African-Americans. Mentored by A. Phillip Randolph, he was main coordinator of many events for equal rights, although he had to be disguised as associate director when he was blackmailed for his sexual orientation.
All the panelists brought up different views on spirituality; however the one which caused much controversy around the audience was the first panellist Dr. Colón. Surprisingly the first person to confront Dr. Colón was a member of the audience who identified himself as a homosexual.
He questioned “Why force a gay interpretation of the bible when it is better to lead a secular life?” Dr. Colón replied, “we want to be part of religion because we believe in it. We have decided to stop running. Maybe you have decided not to believe because of personal experiences but there are homosexuals who have faith.”