When James "Wally" Brewster arrived in Santo Domingo recently, he did so as a proud gay man, taking his new post as U.S. ambassador with his husband Bob Satawake beside him. Brewster and his husband even filmed a short video talking about their lives and reasons for wanting to live in the Dominican Republic.
Opponents of equality noticed—and succeeded in getting some media attention. They tried to paint LGBT people and equality as some sort of American import, no unlike big Macs. Accusations of "cultural insensitivity" are often used to criticize LGBT international advocates working to support equality. This, of course, is incredibly insulting to LGBT people in the Dominican Republic—or any other nation—who've spent years combatting prejudice.
"As an advocate who's been fighting for 10 years for the rights of the LGBTI Dominican community, I welcome Ambassador James "Wally" Brewster with the hope that his life will be a great example of the blessing of love, in all its diversity," said Dominican advocate Juan Jimenez Coll.
Brewster's arrival in late November got lots of media attention but so too did his appointment earlier in the year. Catholic cardinal, Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez used the term "maricón" ("faggot") when discussing Brewster, according to the Advocate. Another church leader, Monsignor Pablo Cedano, said he hoped Brewster would not come: "Because I know if he comes he is going to suffer and will have to leave," according to the Guardian.
Anti-gay statements around Brewster's announcement have been called out off the island as well by advocates like Albert Payano, a Los Angeles-based, Dominican born advocate, who took to Twitter to call out some anti-gay attitudes he heard recently on a radio show, El Gobierno de la Mañana. Payano and anti-gay guest Pedro Martinez, participated in a heated Twitter discussion.
GLAAD applauds Coll, Payano and the many advocates working hard inside and outside the country to stop anti-LGBT prejudice.