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22 September, 2009

Lord, hear our prayer

In what some participants described in eager anticipation with terms like “This is our Stonewall” and “Today I’m proud to be Trinidadian”, last Friday evening about 50 Trans, lesbian, gay, bi and straight Trinbagonians, mostly laypeople but a few clergy from other denominations, were welcomed by one of the most senior officials of the Anglican church and one of its youngest woman priests into a church in Curepe. The two priests celebrated a mass targeted to GLBT people and their loved ones on the theme of peace, human rights and inclusion. It was a simple service. Its biggest stroke was the lip-synched performance of the offertory hymn. The sermon challenged GLBT people to not see our struggle as so unique, to hold on to and learn from similar struggles of Biblical characters like Esther, Joseph, Mary and Jesus, and to recognize that inclusion requires hard work and not just telling a victim story and expecting to get a bligh.

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Following on a July conversation between clergy and GLBT laypeople about Biblical interpretation, faith community and reconciliation with the Church, it is one of the ways in which GLBT Trinbagonians are claiming our right to faith and partnering with those willing to practise a theology of inclusion to create safe spaces for us to worship and heal from the spiritual violence organized religion has inflicted on our lives. No demonstrations in Tamarind Square, no full-page paid ads in the Express, no foreign evangelists or donations, no grand statements by faith leaders, no letters to the editor to Pastor Cuffie. Just a small action step that proves that our nation is capable of “dealing” with sexual orientation, and that people of faith of all sexualities can work together to build faith communities of inclusion.

Here are the prayers that GLBT community members offered at the service:

As members of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered community and as children of God, we bow not only our heads but our hearts in prayer.

We pray that we will know that there is a place for each one of us in you. That you provide not only strength, hope and comfort but there is peace, security and safety in your loving arms. We pray that in our times of danger, in times when we feel that there is no one else there, that we will know that your love is non-judgemental, and in your eyes we are all your creation.

We especially pray for those among us who choose to cross-dress and be on the streets at night until the wee hours of the morning. We pray that you will keep them safe and in their times of terror that they will feel your strength.

We pray for those who have been cast out of their homes, those who have been victims of physical, sexual and emotional abuse. We pray that you keep them safe in a world that can be cruel, brutal and exploit their vulnerablities.

Above all, we pray that you rekindle a spirit of community within all of us, so that we can be our brother’s keepers.

In your name we pray. Amen

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Click to link to Cedriann Martin's TnT Times story

O Powerful, Wondrous and Loving God, who has overseen humans’ creation of law and order, hear our prayers.

Creator of all nations and all times, who manifests in so many different forms in this multicultural and multireligious land of ours, we call on you in our Christian traditions to fill the hearts and acts of all those who hold political, judicial and law enforcement power in Trinidad & Tobago with the compassion and simplicity of our New Covenant. May they govern with the sense Jesus Christ laid out two thousand years ago, long before our young nation was born, that the core of justice is not the retribution of the Old Testament but the redemption and reconciliation of the New.

In the spirit of Christ’s words, similarly recounted in the Gospel by his disciple Matthew – “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s” – keep our leaders firmly on a path that separates their administration of secular justice from the judgments that are only yours, o God, to make.

O Jesus, who called out hypocrites and ran usurers from your father’s temple, drive religious bigots and panderers and those who use your name falsely out of our courts and legislatures, ministries of government and state corporations.

We pray especially at this time for those officeholders whose work and vision touch our lives deeply: For Prime Minister Patrick Manning, Chief Secretary Orville London, Leader of the Opposition Basdeo Panday and Minority Leader Ashworth Jack. For Independent Senators Ali, Anisette, Baptiste-McKnight, Deosoran, Drayton, Merhair, Nicholson-Alfred, Ramkhelawan and Seetahal. For Minister of Social Development Amery Browne, Attorney General John Jeremie, Minister of National Security Martin Joseph, Minister of Gender Affairs Marlene McDonald and for Acting Chief of Police James Philbert and his force. For Ellis Clarke and others drafting our new constitution, for Chief Justice Ivor Archie and all judges and magistrates, especially newly appointed Appeals Court Justices Humphrey Stollmeyer, Gregory Smith and Rajendra Narine, and for high court judges Shafeyei Shah and Judith Jones. For the members of the Equal Opportunity Commission who will one day hear our complaints. We pray fervently for those who work to create safety for people of all genders and sexualities in this bloody country – that you will continue to bless them with integrity.

We pray for the bravery and effectiveness of the United Nations, the Organization of American States, members of all charter and treaty bodies, special rapporteurs, lawyers, advocates and all those who defend human rights and address conflict internationally, especially in places where we are persecuted in yours and other Gods’ names. We pray for safety and relief for those of us who seek asylum, and your grace and protection for those of us who are able to stand and fight.

In profound recognition that Jesus took on our humanity and of the lessons that this continues to teach us, we pray to more perfectly reflect your vision for the divinity of humankind in our own mortal commitment to ensure that no human whom God has created is alienated from the rights with which that humanity is automatically endowed.

Finally, with faith that nothing can keep us from the love of God, we pray sincerely for those who have in good faith enacted laws and rendered judgments that have violated our rights. We pray for former Attorney General Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, retired Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma, and for Justice Smith. We pray for the deceased colonial administrators who enacted our buggery laws, and for the members of the 1986 Parliament that enacted the gross indecency law. We pray that those among them who have entered into your kingdom and been enlightened by your grace may intercede with those still living to change their understanding of God’s wondrous purpose for sexuality and sexual diversity, so that the living may one day add their voices to our work to change policy and legislation, hearts and minds and to ensure the freedom and equality of gay, lesbian, bi and trans communities here on earth, as it is in heaven.

And we ask you to bless and keep us in that difficult work, until you welcome us into your kingdom, where we and all those who oppose our right to God’s love shall be equal in your sight, and all redeemed.

Lord, hear our prayer!

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Most Precious and Sanctifying Lord, we come before you this evening with humble hearts, seeking strength, wisdom and guidance.

For our community, that we may be open to accept ourselves for who we are. For our family and friends, that they would embrace us.

For society, that they would tolerate us and for the groups that make up our community; which seek to implement these, that you would continue to grant wisdom and courage.

Open their minds to new ideas, bless their hearts to positively contribute to our community and in turn to society as we appeal for peace, human rights and inclusion.

Continue walking with us Lord as seek to become closer to you. For in these times, whom can we turn to?

All this I ask, in no other name, but in the Most Precious Name of Jesus Christ, who is Lord forever and ever.

Lord, hear us!

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20 September, 2009

Kolen Salandy, 16 & Rondell Thomas, 15 found dead in French Ft., Scarborough. Sexual or bias violence in play?

Filed under: Orville London,violence — caiso @ 23:54

Under the headline “Double murder in Tobago: Teen boys found battered, half naked”, Elizabeth Allard in the Express Tobago Bureau reported Sunday 20 September that:

Homicide detectives in Tobago are investigating the killing of two teenage boys whose bodies were discovered shortly before midday yesterday [Saturday] in the French Fort, Scarborough, area.

….

Both bodies, found not far from each other, were battered and bore marks of violence to the neck and throat, and both were found with their underpants and trousers pulled down to their knees.

But in an echo of the John Terry murder in Jamaica, in the following Tuesday’s Express, Allard reported:

One police source, who was on the scene of the murders of the teenagers on Saturday, condemned the information from the Ministry of National Security, which said the boys were found with their underpants and trousers pulled to their knees. This was erroneous and far from the truth, as the boys were fully clothed in their shirts and trousers, he said.

Tobago News later reported, from an exclusive interview with the leader of the prayer group that initially stumbled on Salandy’s body at the Fort:

Contrary to other media reports, the leader said that when they discovered the body of the teen boy, he was fully clothed. “We did not see any pants down to his knees,” insisted the leader.

Carl E Cupid in Newsday‘s Tobago Bureau reported September 20 that:

Police have identified one of the bodies as that of Kelon [Ed.: both the Express and Guardian have been reporting his name as KOLEN, which appears to be correct] Salandy, 16, of Piggott Street, uptown Scarborough….

Salandy is reported to be the son of Kurt Salandy, a TSTT employee and Pinky Mac Farlane-Salandy, his wife, who is a sister of NIB head Jeffrey Mac Farlane. Salandy was a past student of Bishop’s High School, Tobago who had reportedly just started studies at the UWI School of Continuing Studies at Signal Hill, Tobago.

Tobago Channel 5 said that Salandy “was identified by his mother Cheryl who avoided the media” after his “parents received a phone call about their son’s body being discovered.” TV6’s evening newscast that same evening September 19 identified Salandy’s mother as an employee of the THA Division of Tourism.

On Monday September 21, the Express’s Allard reported that:

the second teenager found at French Fort, Tobago, has been identified as 15-year-old Rondell Thomas of Signal Hill.

….

His mother, Ann Thomas, was outraged over the murder of her son, and is calling for the death penalty to resume in the country.

Rondell Thomas was a footballer with the St Clair Coaching School in Tobago and a Third Form pupil at the Signal Hill Secondary Comprehensive School.

“My son and him were friends, they get killed together. All I would like though is that they bring this to justice.”

The following day’s Express published pictures of Thomas and Salandy

n7and on Youtube there is a tribute to Salandy by fellow Bishop’s High School alumni.

Newsday on September 20 also reported:

The bodies, both dressed in long jeans and jerseys, were reportedly discovered sometime after midday in a bushy area at the top of French Fort where a bank of radio and television transmitters is located.

….

There were visible marks of violence on both bodies — one body bore multiple stab wounds while the other had lacerations to the head, according to medical sources.

and the church group who led police to the bodies told the Tobago News “When we arrived, we noticed fresh blood in the area;

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