I wear my Pacific Islander hat much more easily than my Christian one.
You can probably guess why.
Christianity has become a dirty word in the modern world. I have no defence against the reasoning. I mean, take your pick - the abuse, rape, and murder of children, the coverups, the delay in acknowledging and apologising for the atrocities committed, the "holier than thou" sermonising, the discrimination against the LGBTQI community... The list goes on.
I was raised Catholic, which of course is just one denomination of Christianity. Like many Catholics, I reject certain things the religion stands for.
Actually, reject is too weak a word. I hate certain things the religion stands for.
But there are things I do love. Like the hymns at Sunday mass. I grew up to the sound of them. Each Sunday, alongside the smell of frangipanis and hibiscus, the island air would be filled with the sweet strains of voices raised in harmony as Christians all over Fiji attended mass.
We'd get up, dress up, and go. For an hour, we'd listen to scripture, take holy communion, and, well, sing.
Listen to Mamamia Out Loud on the big jersey debate. Story continues below.
The singing was always my favourite part. Have you ever heard Islanders sing? There's nothing quite like it. The voices just soar. Some would say it was heavenly.
O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works Thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed!
That's How Great Thou Art, one of the most famous hymns in the world. We sang it so many times the words are permanently embedded into my brain.
When I in awesome wonder consider all the works Thy hands have made. Thy Hands. God's Hands. Basically, the song is saying - God's hands made everything in the world and isn't it beautiful?
It's a nice thought. But that's all it is; a thought. It means nothing.
Because this week, seven Christian Manly Sea Eagle players - six of whom have a Pacific Islander background - were so affronted and offended by the idea of wearing an inclusive rainbow-coloured jersey for ONE GAME, that they decided to boycott it. In fact, they won't even be in the stadium on the night to cheer their teammates on. Apparently, this is for security reasons, and not because, you know, they don't want to be there.
Perhaps they will be at a church service, listening to a sermon about love, peace, and tolerance.
Oh, the bitter, bitter irony.
Which brings me back to the beginning.
I wear my Pacific Islander hat much more easily than my Christian one. Or, I used to anyway. Because this week, because of these players, I am deeply embarrassed.
I am ashamed of these fellow Pacific Islanders.
This is my heritage, and I'll be damned if I let these anti-rainbow jersey wearers speak for me or my Christian Pacific Islander family and friends who are gay, transgender, and non-binary.
If you're looking at my picture or my name, and thinking, "You're not a Pacific Islander, you're Asian", then excuse you, but I am.