|A "candle" dies in Libya|
"A candle looses nothing by lighting another candle" Mohammad Nabbous
The Libyan activist and CNN contributor Mohammad Nabbous was killed by the pro-Gaddafi sniper fire in Benghazi as he attempted to go to a neighbourhood where there was news of chidren being killed by rocket fire. Nabbous was 27 and he had risked his life to bring back live videos and pictures over the last two weeks from Benghazi which was seemingly a black hole to the West with no foreign media stationed there.
Nabbous death came as Benghazi was saved by the destruction of the advacing tank column/convoy by the coalition aircrafts (US, Britain and France). Foreign intervention prevented a massacre in Benghazi. The battle field graveyard of Gadaffi's tanks, anti-aircraft guns, trucks spread for kilometres. The rebels who were opposing Gaddafi had little chance of winning - they were poorly organized, poorly armed, and were not trained. Their anti-aircarft guns were from the WWII era. They were staring at death before the deliverance from the metallic flying angels from the sky above.
The negative response by the Arab League to the success of the air-strikes and possibly saving thousands of people was quite hypocritical and ungrateful. They had bought into the argument by Gaddafi that there were civilian casualities as if Gaddafi ever cared about civilians. "What is happening in Libya differs from the aim of imposing a no-fly zone," said Amr Moussa of the Arab League. They had asked for help against Gaddafi in supporting the UN "no fly zone" but now turn their backs on Libya.
The US is taking lead albeit reluctantly. Nato could also not formally enter the conflict without the support of Turkey, a member country. Turkey is said to be more progressive in their religion, but in the last decade have increasingly turn towards religious extremism and away from secularism. Turkey's religious premier, Recep Erdogan has been actively undermining the Turkish army which has been defending the secular constitution. Despite the criticism in Singapore by the Christian Right against Secularism, for many countries, without secularism, there would not be freedom of religion, including Christianity.
The Russians were also particularly unsuportive with President Prutin condeming the UN security council "no fly zone" resolution - "It allows everything and is reminiscent of a medieval call for a crusade", said Prutin. He was no doubt reminded that Roman/Catholic Church directed the crusades to attack Constantinople significantly weakening the Eastern church in 1203 urshering in the takeover by the Ottoman Turks in 1453. The Eastern Orthodox remains the faith of the Russian State.
The Catholic Pope also came into the fray calling for civilian casualties to be minimised. On the attack on the Gaddafi forces, the Pope responded with an "urgent appeal to all political and military leaders, that they take to heart, above all, the safety and security of the citizenry and ensure access to humanitarian relief." Where were the Vatican guards when the Gadaffi foces were killing the civilians? the civilians do not need humanitarian relief, they needed protection from a madman.
In Benghazi, Mohammad Nabbous died today for freedom. Like many other rebels/activist, he faced little chance of success. He could have hid in the closet but the World would not have known much about Benghazi without his live streaming videos on the internet. Forty years under the tight grip of the dictator was too long for him.
We are reminded, that the GLBT community seems contended even when there is so much taken away from their lives.
The inaction by the GLBT community is disturbing especially when the Christian Right is planning how to put Gays in jail. We have laws banning gay sexual relationships in Singapore championed by the churches here. We are still decades away from Gay marriages. Yet, not many are perturbed. Just surviving becomes the priority under such homophobic oppression. Are gay christians here willing to voice against the rise of the Christian Right! Perhaps they are practising the Christian virtue to love thy enemy even when their own community was suffering.
Perhaps we are not called to be such fervent patriots as Mohammad Nabbous. Religion is not a given, it is a choice, and often we make the choice to be fundamentalist to rationalise our faith in an uncertain world. Yet, when it is something innate such as our sexual orientation and right to marry our loved ones, we often do not make the choice to defend ourselves because we did not choose to be straight or gay in the first place.
However, I am reminded of what Bayard Rustin said in the 60s,
Gays are beginning to realise what blacks learnt long ago, unless You are out here fighting for yourself then nobody will help you. I think the Gay community has a moral obligation to continue to fight.
Bayard Rustin (organised 1963 MLK march to Washington)
What Rustin meant was that unless you are out in the open, fighting and standing up for your own basic rights and freedom as gays, and as gay christians, believing that your course is just and that God accepts you as a gay person and not as if you are second best because of the fallen nature, then ain't nobody gonna save you. God can't love you more, if you don't love yourself. Rustin came out into the open as a gay men, lost all his friends and forgotten by most for his vital role in the black rights. He was remembered as a footnote in history, but was a giant in pushing for non-violent tactics which was then foreign even to Martin Luther King. It is sad that the contributions of gay men and women in society are simply discarded because they were gay.
Shortly before he died, Rustin gave the following speech in 1986 to support the New York Gay rights bill:-
Today, blacks are no longer the litmus paper or the barometer of social change. Blacks are in every segment of society and there are laws that help to protect them from racial discrimination. The new "niggers" are gays. . . . It is in this sense that gay people are the new barometer for social change. . . . The question of social change should be framed with the most vulnerable group in mind: gay people
When Gay Christians do not begin to learnt to fight for themselves then nobody will help us. The Libyans were in bondage for 40 years before they rebelled. The Gay community has been in bondage for a thousand years. It is not only a social rights issue, or a differring of opinions with the mainstream Christianity, it is a call to declare that enough is enough.
The Black Rights Movement by Martin Luther King was centered around the Christian Faith. They drew strenght from the stories of deliverance and exodus from the land of Egypt. Yet, the Gay Christian Community in Singapore seem so comfortable to hide in the closets of the mega churches, rather than crossing the Red Sea.
There is a moral obligation for gay christians to continue to fight for the basic rights of the GLBT community and to find within this battle, the meaning for their existence as a faith community. The battle has not started with most gay christians still in the mega churches when they should be the rebels in the fight for freedom and a candle willing to spread its light rather than a lamp hidden in the deep closet.
We may lament at the poor giving of Gay Christians. Can't they give as much as City Harvest we lament! The gay "affirmative" churches are usually very small and so every cent counts. However, when there is little growth except for the frequently changing faces, what hope for a better tommorow are gay christians offering to the gay population in general. A big cave/closet where different Christian religious views are accepted may offer only slightly more freedom than the mega churches. It's not enough without fighting for a better tommorow with a Gospel of God's love and acceptance for the GLBT community in Jesus Christ.