This past Christmas marked one month since Haitian LGBTQ/human rights activist, Charlot Jeudy was mysteriously taken from this world. His loved ones had to spend the holiday, a time designated to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ (one of the most radical activists who ever lived), without their son, their sibling, their nephew, their cousin or their friend.
On November 25, 2019, Jeudy was found dead inside of his Petion-Ville home, a small suburb outside of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. He was one of Haiti’s most visible and outspoken LGBTQ rights activists; a leader within the nation’s M community (Masisi, Madivin, Monkonpè, Makomè, Mix). As of this writing, the cause of his death remains unclear, but his family, both the U.S. and French embassies along with many international LGBTQ rights organizations are pushing for a serious investigation into his premature death. Because while he lived, Jeudy received threatening and anonymous phone calls as a result of his work. In 2016, a festival planned by his organization, Kouraj (translated, “Courage” in English) had to be canceled due to the threat of violence. Jeudy’s friends and colleagues reportedly tried to convince him to flee Haiti for his safety, but he refused to leave because he truly believed in the work he was doing.
My sincerest prayer is that the local Haitian law enforcement conducts a thorough investigation that leaves no stone unturned. However, I’m doubtful that this will occur as more than a month has passed since his death, and no further developments or updates have been released.
Haitians are borne from a uniquely powerful, revolutionary lineage of people with the spirit of resistance. We are the first and only nation to gain their freedom through a successful slave revolt becoming the first Black independent republic. Our ancestors turned tables and demanded their freedom when it became painfully clear that liberation from the French would never be handed to them. On January 1, 1804, Haiti gained its independence from France. And ironically, one hundred and eighty years later, on January 1, 1984, Charlot Jeudy was born. And this spirit of resistance is what I believe empowered him to boldly step up as a leader within the M community in Haiti, even in the face of much opposition. He went on to create and expand Kouraj from a social group that offered a safe haven for the M community to the premier LGBTQ rights organization in Haiti.
While many people within the Haitian community and diaspora lamented his untimely death on social media, there were also a number hurtful and harmful responses, using language that I will not repeat in this piece. Although there is no official Haitian law prohibiting homosexual relations, the general Haitian culture does not affirm same-sex relations or gender non-conforming expression. Christianity and the Bible is a common thread often used to vilify, isolate and justify harm toward the gay and trans community, both in Haiti and beyond. Which is interesting as Jesus Christ himself was silent on homosexuality throughout the gospels. And when we closely read Genesis 19, the text often used to justify homophobia, the passage never directly mentions that Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed as a result of homosexuality, although it’s commonly interpreted and preached as such. Ezekiel 16:48–50 actually provides more context into what the sins of Sodom actually were. Additionally, the word homosexuality didn’t appear in Bible translations until 1946.
Far too many lack compassion or humanity toward the LGBTQ community, where Black people suffer doubly as their murder, suicide and homeless/poverty rates are much higher than their white counterparts. So when we claim that Black Lives Matter, our Black queer-folk should absolutely be in that number. (Especially when the founders of that movement are part of the LGBT community themselves, but I digress.)
I personally refuse to participate in a hateful mindset that’s costing people their lives. Or a system that encourages people to mask or suppress who they really are. Our same-gender loving friends are fully deserving of their humanity because God dwells within them too.
God is Love, period. So who are we to place limits upon the kind of love in which God inhabits?
Charlot Jeudy was created by God, in God’s image, and was loved by God all the same. And his life mattered too.