No paradise for gay people

Tuesday July 09, 2019 Published in Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Greetings and allow me to introduce myself. My name is Joe Fox, and I just spent a week visiting your beautiful country.


I am a successful business man. A loyal and generous friend. And I hate to cook. (but I love how the cooks cook in the Cook Islands).

I’m into David Bowie and Brahms. My dad was a rabbi so I grew up with a strong sense of spirituality.

And by the way: I’m gay which, according to the letter you published a few weeks back by Bishop Tutai Pere, makes me a bit of a sinner.

So this letter is in part written to the good bishop but I also hope, a letter as well to my brothers and sisters of the LGBT community who might be struggling with an issue or two. To boil down Bishop Pere’s letter:

1. The put upon feeling of being lectured to by insensitive and ignorant outsiders who have no idea of the Cook Island culture and mores;

2. That if we knew anything about the culture here we would know that LGBT folks are never excluded or turned away.

3. The underlying theme of the day: that we’re sinners.

It would be so easy to ignore this save for the fact that the largest newspaper of the Cook Islands gave this man a platform to espouse views that are immoral in their own right, hurtful and degrading in every way, and honestly for a country that depends on tourism, do you think a letter maligning gays and lesbians is going to play well in countries you’re depending on for your livelihoods?

Pastor, the part when you talk about gays and lesbians being free in their own community and society, is that free to live our lives openly and honestly? Or to live in the shadows?

Lest you forget, there are current laws on the books in your country that could arrest me because of who I am. So what kind of freedom is that?

This is a litany I’ve heard my entire life. For the better part of my life I ignored the things you said. But not any more. I’ll speak and counter you word for word.

It’s gotten better as of late – now that sinners like me can get married in most countries including the US and New Zealand. I hope one day the community you call sinners can achieve the same parity as all.

And truly the Cook Islands would live up to its tagline of “a little bit of paradise”.

Joe Fox

New York, USA

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