First gaining momentum on the bootstraps of the UNIBAM movement, Pastor Scott Stirm has once again become vocal concerning the LGBTQ+ community. Despite my doubts that anyone really cares what he has to say, he has been the go to for media outlets (assumably desperate for controversy on a slow news day) to interview in light of the coming Gay Pride celebration in Southern San Pedro. Pastor Stirm, will, if asked for his issue with, well, just about anything progressive happening in Belize, express something along the lines of “foreign powers, with money to throw around” attempting to “defile the morality of Belize,” a morality that he has been a large part of shaping. At the very least, you have to admire his consistency; this has been his go-to scapegoat for his bigotry since his first surge in popularity and relevance. What’s curious about this justification, however, is that Stirm himself is not Belizean. He is a missionary pastor from Texas with orthodox baptist leanings, railing against foreigners evangelizing their beliefs to the Belizean people. Stirm, just one, in a long line of black coated missionaries sent to spread the good word to the godless heathens near the equator cannot possibly, in his position, understand the undeniable irony of this. Neither, it would seem, can his followers who cheer on his condemnations of homosexuality and championship of “good old fashion Belizean values,” but the irony is there.
In an interview with Stephen Fry, Ugandan morality and ethics minister, Simon Lokodo said of homosexuality: “if you are advocating that, I will treat you as a destructor of Ugandan values.” Lokodo’s words are indicative of the views held by commonwealth dissenters to social change; they believe that their morals are inherently specific to their cultural group, making any foreigner attempting social change to be an invader, when in reality, these “Ugandan” or “Belizean” values were European in origin (something that is starkly obvious when juxtaposing commonwealth laws; they are all worded the same).
The irony inherent in these circumstances are accurately represented by Pastor Stirm’s qualms with foreign aid to the side of the fence he does not sit on, and by Lokodo’s reliance on antiquated British ideals to maintain the morality of his people. These ideas, this heavy religious presence, these prejudices are dangerous fossils, long cast away by the regime that established them in the first place. The white wigs worn by justices, the pomp and circumstance of trials, these are all archaic institutions that Britain has left behind leaving these commonwealth nations to hold these and other practices to be their own, without regard for their origins, or rather, with high regard for their belief that these customs belong to them and always have.
Belize Action, the organization of ‘church warriors’ headed by Stirm has been known to organize marches to oppose all manner of progressive and more inclusive social change, but more specifically, those which make life easier for LGBTQ+ individuals. This is relevant because of the physical aspect it presents; a sea of locals marching down an open road holding effigies and spouting bible verses led by the stereotypical visage of imperialism; the white haired, fair skinned, male bodied, final authority. Stirm, the champion of the concept of Belizean morality not only ignores his personal origin and the origin of the legislature and mindset he has been fighting to maintain, but also his similarity to those imperialists who came before him. Those imperialists who decided, based off their own personal perceptions of these savages, that their voices where necessary to lead the primitives down the path of the righteous.
The irony in all this, is of course, lost on those blinded by their internalized Eurocentric concepts of right and wrong, those who refuse to allow their society to move forward, out of the dark shadow of prejudices handed down to them by their former oppressors. They have been left to steep in this culture for too long to understand the need for change. One can only hope that the next generation understands their history and it’s faults in a way that prevents it from repeating itself once again, disguised in a new, more modern black coat.