"I am gay but I worship God"

Samoa should hold on to its culture and faith in God and continue to resist same-sex marriage.

That's the opinion of fa'afafine, Ieti Pati, whom the Samoa Observer spoke with Saturday.

The 40-year-old's views were sought in the aftermath of comments made by professional rugby player, Israel Folau, who has had his contract terminated by the Australian Rugby Union for saying homosexuals - among other sinners - are going to hell.

The issue has garnered a varied response from Samoans across the globe.

On the streets of Apia, Ieti said the matter is Folau's opinion and while he doesn't necessarily agree, he can understand where Folau is coming from given his Christian background.  

"I always hear people say the world is changing and I am always ticked off about it because whether the world is changing or not, we should not change our beliefs. Our culture is founded on God," he said.

"I cannot help myself having to grow up this way but at least I believe in God and having my family and my siblings to believe in me too is all there is.

"When it comes to Folau's comments, I am not bothered by them. Who knows I might be more of a Christian than they are," he added.

Ieti said he does not support gay marriage in Samoa because he believes Samoa has its own traditions that should be kept.

"I may be gay but I worship God with all my heart and that is what's more important. I do not care if the world turns against me but I just want to lay out to the world that I was born this way and I cannot do anything about it, even my family."

He said his family understands his true identity.

He added that they are very supportive of him because of his community involvement in everything - including the church.

Ieti said he attends the Catholic Church at Siusega. 

He believes that having been raised in Samoa is a blessing because not only did the culture teach him the right thing to do, but also the God he is supposed to worship.

He works at Vaigaga. He is a member of his church choir and aims to spend his whole life serving his church and family.

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