As congratulations poured in over the past few days from friends and well wishers wishing to express how they felt about my first column, I truly felt a sense of pride that it made me even more determined to do the best that I can do and say the best that I can say in this given forum, for it is true that our minds are like sponges it absorbs.
From Trinidad and Tobago
Violence exists in any society, whether you are living in a third world country or a developed country, it exists, it taunts us, it makes our minds whirl at the very thought and existence of it. Violence can inhibit the growth of a nation as it can attach itself to its people. Personally, this column is not meant to be a forum to proclaim vengeance or vindictiveness or malice towards those who have over the years supported violence toward the gay men and women in our Caribbean society, but I would like to send a gentle reminder that violence whether it is subtle, aggravated, physical, or emotional it is still violence.
As a people, we ought to remember that our words, thoughts, actions, or in-actions are indicative of who we are as a person, people and a nation. For it is a fundamental fact that rampant homophobia exists in our Caribbean societies, in some instances such as the case of Jamaica, it is more predominant, than in some other smaller islands. But it does not mean that homophobia doesn’t exist in St Lucia, or Grenada, or St Kitts, and Martinique, or Trinidad and Tobago.
On a more personal and intimate level, my journey into the US, has been one that is fraught with fear, trepidation, and bittersweet freedom.
When I use the term bittersweet freedom, it simply means that, even though I lived in Trinidad and was afraid to be myself, I found that in coming to the US, I can be myself and use that freedom to express who I am as a person. Despite that, I still miss my country and no amount of visits can make up for the spontaneity of what my country represents.
I miss the people, the joie d’ vivre of the cosmopolitan nation, where every creed and race should find an equal place but where, if you are in the slightest way effeminate your character, you are immediately marginalized. The hush hush tones you hear from of the washer women type bacchannalists ressurrect and the boys on the block or the work place gossip, where they chatter about “who is a maccommere man (pronounced Mak -cou – meh) or a worst yet, who is “ah buller,” “ah hen,” “ah tanty,” “ah panty man.”
These are just some of the names that I have had thrown at me and it is only recently, as in the last decade or so, that the Caribbean nationals living abroad have gotten a new vocabulary in labeling gay individuals. So its not strange to hear someone from Tabaquite, saying “aye the faggit (faggot) writing fuh ah blog in de states” or someone from Deigo Martin say, “I knew that poof when he/she worked in St Ann’s Hospital!” Ask them where they got their labels from and they will tell you they imported it just like the labels they got from Conway or American Rag.
But yes folks, from Port of spain, Trinidad, to New Kingston Jamaica, to Castries St Lucia, the verbal assaults have always been the same, yet still over the years, there are no changes to the attitude only the vernacular.
The years preceding my arrival to the US, I lived in fear.
I was always a fiesty person.
I would be the first to defend the defenseless.
I would stand up to the bullies who would seek to “pelt” bottles and stones at us, as was the case one lovely Friday evening on the Brian Lara promenade some years ago. Look, the promenade was and has been and will always be a place to meet, it was the center of town and it was scenic. Thanks to the then government, they choose to rename the independence Square, which was so named in 1962 when Trinidad and Tobago gained independence, almost 50 years ago…. but I digress.
Anyways, so there was a group of us, some of us more visible than others, but we were a group, and under the cover of darkness, amongst the drug dealers, the hustlers, the vagrants, the straights, the confused, the not-so-confused, we were a group who was over a period of time, constantly bombarded by violence. So it was on this Friday evening, that I decided this must stop!
The group of guys began the normal heckling, and name calling to which we did not respond but when the first stone landed next to me I said enough is enough! I made my way across to the group of guys, and in a very matter of fact way I ask the guy who appeared to be the ring leader, “what was his problem?” the rest is history, but what made it more fascinating, is that I, in my nursing uniform, bloodied and beaten was thrown in like an Easter Sunday pig on the back of a police pickup truck and dropped of at the Port of Spain General Hospital. What was even more amusing was that, even though I was in my nursing uniform, some of the emergency room staff could not help but snicker and laugh amongst themselves. Despite my pain, I even heard an MTS security officer tell another officer via his radio that “they just bring in ah buller who get beat on the promenade.”
Check out pics of an this gay man been followed then beaten in the Caribbean:
Violence exists in every society.
I made a police report, the police dropped me off, they were never seen, nor was I sought.
I woke up as if in a dream I knew that before long, I had to leave Trinidad and Tobago if I wanted to survive.
I am not the only casualty, there are instances and another instance comes to mind, a young troubled gay man, no older than twenty-five, was walking through a park, whether he was cruising or making fares (it is not for me to judge) he still did not deserve to be lit afire!
He was a human being, some woman’s son, the seed of a man, someone’s brother, and a friend to many.
Violence exists in every society, homophobia exists because we allow it to. Our own insecurities about our own selves are the major factors of the very existence of homophobia. We cannot cast blame on the political directorate or the church unless we as a people begin the change within ourselves, unless we open up our minds, our conscience, and walk in another persons shoes, we ought not to judge.
Homophobia in all its forms with all its attachments, should not be ignored nor tolerated.
No aspect of my story today was fictional nor were there any additions. The incidents mentions are true and real recollections of my journey.
Presently admiring hot Italian men in the Hamptons.
NEXT WEEK: Women who sleep with gay/bi sexual men.