Homosexuality threatens the arts, fuels crime—Clarke

By Yvonne Baboolal
February 25, 2014 – guardian.co.tt

Leroy ClarkeHomosexuality is not only threatening the arts but is used to indoctrinate gang members, says artist LeRoy Clarke. The T&T Guardian asked Clarke to elaborate on the comment he made last week at his book launch which shocked and outraged some of his fellow artists, members of the gay community and others. In a phone interview yesterday, Clarke related homosexuality to the increase in crime, saying young men are usually indoctrinated into gangs with homosexuality and because of the violation of their manhood use the gun as a symbol of their masculinity.

He added: “It is brought about by power bases that manipulate the principles that hold our heritage for their own advantage. “Something is happening with the gender paradigm today. We had guidelines where we looked at certain types of conduct as abominations. We took it from the scriptures.” The Bible, he added, was one of those and verses clearly refer to homosexuality, men with men and women with women, as “unnatural” and an abomination. “Today, the word abomination does not have the same tone. People indulge abominations, accede to them,” Clarke lamented. “At 73, I can say the world is no longer mine,” he said.

Asked exactly what he meant by saying homosexuality was threatening the arts, Clarke said with the exception of the sailor and maybe the midnight robber, there were no longer any definitely male costumes in Carnival, not even in portrayals of the devil. “An effeminating power has taken over the costumes and even the rhythm of the music. Carnival is no longer male and female.

“This is a very serious matter. We are dealing with a problem that is threatening our heritage. Fifty, 60 years ago what is happening now was not prevalent. I grew up in Gonzales.

“The conversion is threatening identity. It had made it into a ‘oneish’ kind of place,” he added. Clarke said he had been hearing rumours about the reactions to his comment, expected to be misunderstood and did not expect the comment to be popular. “But,” he said, “I don’t feel threatened. I believe in God.”

Asked which god he believed in, since he was an Orisha elder, Clarke replied: “I started off as Anglican. I am an Orisha elder now. “But I have gone even beyond that. I do believe in a God I don’t know. All I know is I have God-yearning and it is to that I yield.” Clarke said he was not waging war on anybody but was speaking about something that made people uncomfortable but others were afraid to talk about it. He said homosexuality was threatening not only the arts but the dream of becoming a society. There was a need to have discussions like these without animosity, he said. “Why is it we are afraid to speak? I come out (sic) and suddenly I am a bad fella. “Somebody needs to point out that something is definitely off-balance,” he added.

‘Retrograde thinking’

Writer Monique Roffey said she had been deeply affected by Clarke’s comment. She said: “It is not what I would call progressive. It shows a lack of connection with modern thinking. if you consider the UK where gays were granted rights to marry. “It shows lack of awareness, compassion, humanity. This is such a big error of judgment. “It is very surprising because it is a very intolerant thing to say about gay people, about a so-called minority who fought long and hard for equal rights. This feels really retrograde.” The Bible, she pointed out, is 3,000 years old.

On her own sexuality, Roffey said: “I am not lesbian. I am queer.” Her erotic life is described in the award-winning Trinidad-born British writer’s memoir, With the Kisses of his Mouth.

In it she tells of a sexual odyssey she embarked upon after a dramatic breakup, which led her “into the worlds of casual-sex dating sites, western neo-tantra, Native American neo-shamanic sacred sex practices… the famous swingers’ resort of Cap D’Agde, and to a cave in the south of France where Mary Magdalene is said to have escaped and prayed for 30 years after the death of Christ. “Some light BDSM (bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism), some sex magick, some five-rhythms dancing and a couple of Bronze Age Stone circles also feature.”

Roffey said, as reflected in her memoir, she struggled to find a place for herself in the world outside the mainstream, challenging the heterosexual norm. “If you are different to mainstream, you face constant criticism. This is the kind of comment associated with the conservative mainstream. There is no space on the planet for that kind of thinking,” she added.

‘Discrimination is colonial’

If Clarke was speaking on behalf of artists, he was not speaking for artist/writer Christopher Cozier, who has been internationally recognised with a 2014 Prince Claus Fund Award. “It is deeply ironic that he has built his career on conversations about recognising the value of people of African descent and discriminatory colonial laws. “Laws discriminating against gays are also colonial,” Cozier said. Nazi Germany under Hitler discriminated against Jews, the physically challenged and gays, he said. And so did the apartheid system in South Africa under white rule.
Cozier said he was not gay but knew a lot of gay people and young people reading Clarke’s comments may wonder what were their prospects in a place like T&T. “It’s sad when he and people like Pastor Cuffie say the same thing,” he said. Told the Bible denounced homosexuality, Cozier replied: “I am not into that kind of thing.”

‘Attention-seeking babblings’

Founder/director of the Bocas Lit Fest Marina Salandy-Brown said: “What nonsense. The ruination of the arts here is the lack of a proper arts policy for the country that has been articulated and communicated to the people, the lack of planning, infrastructure and public education. “The poverty of the arts discourse is at the heart of the problem and these attention-seeking babblings from someone who should know better are just proof of that.” Carnival bandleader and designer Brian MacFarlane said: “It is unfortunate that Mr Clarke has chosen to make this comment. I have always had great respect for him and his work. “People from all walks of life, be it colour, creed, race or sexual orientation, have contributed to the development of culture in all its forms in T&T and continue to do so.” Actor and 3Canal member Wendell Manwarren said he had no comment to make on anything Leroy Clarke said.

Source: https://m.guardian.co.tt/news/2014-02-25/homosexuality-threatens-arts-fuels-crime%E2%80%94clarke

12 thoughts on “Homosexuality threatens the arts, fuels crime—Clarke”

  1. I think his comment is thought provoking. If we step away from being defensive or emotional we can give it some regard. Within the gang world homosexual or anal sex is part of the culture. It is considered powerful whether with a man or woman. His reference to other gang behaviours like dress with yuh pants down has become part of the dress code of young people. We need to look at the origin of these behaviours. Did they come from… places. Do we need to adopt every policy of the Western World.

  2. What is the problem with Leroy Clarke comment? People of God wake up! Whatever chain satan has used to tie you to himself, you should break it. It is so demonic what is taking place in Trinidad today and I feel that the general public 89 under a spell. Be careful that all we end up with is Steve and no eve in the near future.

  3. Mr. Clark has touched on a satanic nerve. Satan does not announce himself as such but comes in the guise of an angel of light. Hence the “gay” agenda is defended by those who absolutely think that it is the morally right thing to do to defend “gay rights”, whether or not their own proclivities are different. We wrestle, not against flesh and blood, but powers and principalities… Anyone with a shred of spiritual discernment will be against the “gay” agenda, satanic as it is. And Mr. Clark is right to come out against it.

    In any case, the time is near when Yahweh promised HE would redeem and regather HIS children, and also judge the wicked. Those who have allowed themselves to be sucked into the “gay” agenda perhaps need a word of prophetic warning. See http://theafrican.com/plague.html.


  4. I think is quite alarming the lack of progression and uneducated babble that some Trinidadians are displaying. All you need to do is open your mind, read, learn, educate yourself on the history of the world and also the bible and maybe, just maybe you can understand why to most of the civilised world, you look like fools. I am a Trinidadian living away and grew up With the same the same things being taught to me, then I started to educate myself and am happy beliving in God, but understanding. These people forget the same bible they bash, one one group. The ten commandments are taken for granted in Trinidad everyday, does it not shake much more than the art? If that doesn’t fuel crime then what does?

  5. Leroy Clarke long ago exceeded the reasonable limits of self-important posturing. Comments this foolish reflect a deeply insecure personality, unable to find satisfaction in the absence of some supposedly validating external source: the Bible, a political party, neo-African costuming. These aren’t hateful comments – just incredibly stupid ones. Why is it that individuals so anxious to reject discriminatory practice against ‘their’ group are so blindly eager to demonstrate their freedom by suppressing others? The consolation is that deep personal anxieties appear from time to time to generate interesting art. Mr Clarke confirms the rule.

  6. I totally agree with Sense/Nonsense and while I regard Mr. Clarke as a very talented artist I have long lost interest in reading his poetic verses, which reads like flowery verbosity unreadable after a few lines. As an Elder, meaning experienced older person he is to be respected and admired but I have long known that deep personal anxieties is the cause of his constant anger, superficial charm, his constant criticism of persons and his infernal grumpiness.

  7. What are we up in angst against? In the same breath that he is called intolerant we express intolerance at his comments. In the same breath that we say we must express ourselves and who we really are, we say, how dare he express himself! Who are you to call another’s comment stupid? Is it not a fact that unfortunate young men are raped/abused and indoctrinated into gangs? Does this not happen also in the prison system all over the world. Does this not lead to anger and rebellion? This is not breaking news. It is reality. What are we doing about it? Let us not close the doors to discussion by our own close-mindedness. Let everyone speak, but everyone must listen.

  8. Homosexuality and crime

    By Dana Seetahal
    February 28, 2014 – trinidadexpress.com

    In the many years that I have been involved in the criminal justice system I have never heard of a link between homosexuality and the increase in criminal or deviant behaviour. Although it was in 1985 that I did a master’s degree in criminology, I have since then kept up with developments by, among other things, participating in conferences and doing literary and practical research, including research done during the course of a Fulbright Award in criminal justice.

    It was thus with surprise that I read of the assertion by artist LeRoy Clarke. According to newspaper reports, Clarke related homosexuality to the increase in crime, saying young men are usually indoctrinated into gangs through homosexuality and because of the violation of their manhood use the gun as a symbol of their masculinity.

    In an immediate response head of the Police Service Victim Support Unit, Margaret Sampson-Browne, said she could not validate the statements. She said that while it is common that abused children grow into troubled and sometimes violent adults, she was not aware of research to show that young men are being indoctrinated into gangs with gay sex, leaving them angry and violent. Sampson-Browne said that Clarke has perhaps conducted his own research and found a basis for his statements but she was not able to make a connection between crime and homosexuality.

    No evidence

    My personal enquiries of senior investigators have not elicited any such connection. Further, there is no such connection known to the Criminal and Intelligence Gang Unit of the Police Service. That unit has not recorded homosexual activity as a means of indoctrination used by gangs. The preferred methods of indoctrination appear to be to cause the “applicant” gang member to either commit a robbery or shoot at someone — seemingly to test how far the person would be willing to go. As to using a gun to symbolise masculinity, while this might be so, anecdotal reports suggest that young men become gang members in order to get a gun. This prop of masculinity was particularly important to those who were academically challenged.

    In further contrast to what was has been asserted, internationally there have been recorded reports of persons being killed by gangs BECAUSE they were homosexuals. For instance, in 2008 a teen who was a member of the Family Swans (a subset of the bloods gang) was killed by fellow gang members after they discovered he was gay, according to the police in Baltimore. Reports have also emanated that in Jamaica there have been killings of persons who were said to be gay, whether by gang members or not.

    It has been argued by some that while, as in the wider society, all gangs do have some gay gang-members, the percentage of gay gang members would be a bit higher than the national average because the nature of gang life itself attracts gays. It is argued that the closeness of guys hanging around and pledging their loyalty to other guys, putting their girlfriends second might be indicative of the gay life style. There has however been no research to statistically support this view, at least none that I have come across.

    Homosexual street gangs

    There are however reports of some street gangs whose membership is only homosexual. Police in New York City have reported that they have evidence of gay gangsters swearing allegiance to Gotham rival sets, the Sharks and Jets. These gangs have emerged in somewhat large numbers, leading to an influx in cute little trinkets, avant-garde fashion and the spontaneous unfolding of seemingly choreographed skirmishes between the two gangs on main streets all over the country.

    An NYPD Lieutenant during a police conference on interstate street gangs described them as follows: “Travelling in finger-snapping, strutting packs, the members of the Sharks and Jets support their overtly gay lifestyles by aggressively peddling exotic homemade fashions, fashion accessories and pieces of art to unsuspecting members of the communities they move into, often by openly mocking the individual’s more practical tastes.” There is no conclusion however that these gangs are really criminal gangs rather than street gangs made up of homosexuals.

    No parenting

    During the course of my practice I came across what might be termed loosely a “gang” made up of a few boys of ages 17-18 who lived on the streets. They collected and sold bottles to support themselves and slept in vehicles parked on the street or cemeteries. This particular group was made up of boys who had been abandoned by their parents. They engaged in “small” robberies and engaged in homosexual activity. Two of them were eventually arrested and charged for murder.

    Despite this fact there was nothing to suggest that they were anymore criminally minded than perpetrators who were not homosexuals. In fact the majority of persons charged with violent crimes were, from all evidence, not homosexuals.

    Given that most gang members do not appear to have any male role model or, to be more specific, a father in their lives, it might be relevant to consider research in this regard done by the American Psychological Association in 2012. They sought to test the hypothesis that paternal absence during childhood was significantly correlated with masculine-feminine identity, intensity and type of anxiety experienced, and proclivity towards antisocial behaviour. The results indicated that paternal absence is related to trends towards a feminine identification (though not in terms of overt homosexuality), aggressiveness, anxiety related to sex and oral tendencies. No significant relationship was found between paternal absence and anxiety as reflected in general fearfulness or incidence of antisocial behaviour.

    From the research, information from the police and my own experience there appears to be no basis to conclude that any increase in criminal activity in this country (or indeed elsewhere) has been occasioned by homosexuals or homosexuality.

    * Dana S Seetahal is a former independent senator

  9. Threat for Leroy Clarke
    Artist Leroy Clarke has received a threatening phone call, warning him his public denunciation of homosexuality could damage his career. “It was a semi-threat. It was not a threat against my life but my livelihood,” Clarke told the T&T Guardian in a telephone interview yesterday. “Somebody called me on my telephone. I did not recognise the voice. He said I have a career and to watch it. I could damage it,” he said. Clarke said the indirect message was that the gay community would no longer be patronising him.

    Gangs: not us and gays
    A Laventille gang leader, who requested anonymity, said of Clarke’s comments. “Is the opposite. Plenty women and plenty babies. “Trinidad gangsters are not homos. I despise that. That kind of thing is not accepted. God tell me that is wrong.” Fr Clyde Harvey, who works with gangsters, told the Guardian he had never heard about homosexuality being used to initiate them. Heterosexual male dominance was the symbol of power among gangsters, he said.

  10. Leroy Clarke’s comments linking homosexuality to crime are quite far-fetched. This was the first time I heard that criminal gang members are “usually” initiated by performing homosexual acts. I wonder where he got that from?

    While I also think that his comments about homosexuals threatening the arts are equally ludicrous, he may have a scintilla of a point in terms of the feminization of male elements in the arts. I witnessed, in dance for example, a feminization of male performers. Unlike long ago where a male dancer (I suspect regardless of sexual preference) would embody masculinity in his movements, that is not so evident today. I recently read an interview conducted in the late eighties or early nineties featuring actor and dancer (the late) Gene Kelly where he said that there weren’t many masculine dancers anymore. In his younger days, he said, one could find greater distinction in the movements of male dancers.

    While I can still appreciate male dancers dancing in feminine ways, I do think that that has become more of a standard than an option for most. Perhaps this could be due to the domination of female dance teachers. This effeminization may be applied generally in the arts as well. But it is not a reason to reject homosexuality.

    Also, within the Orisha religion there are many homosexuals. I’m not sure if it is accepted as a normality or merely tolerated but they don’t seem to hide it. I guess Clarke may be speaking from his (former) Anglican and colonial biases.

  11. Are who we are as individuals [sexuality] the result of our chemistry or our name and form?

    Mr. Clarke — Sir, intolerance is something which many truly great men have lived and died for and continue to do so today. You will certainly not be in this category. Your intolerance appears to have no boundaries.

  12. Me thinks thou dost protest too much, Mr. Clarke……I always thought that you were gay.

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