In last week column, I indicated that I would deal with the church’s position on homosexuality in Caribbean countries but instead, I want to get a little more personal with you, my readers.
I want you to see me, through my world. It’s not a cut and dry clear mirror, but after reading, I trust that my story will in some way, alter your thinking about male homosexuals in the Caribbean.
I was born Damian Kevin Lugo, in a rural village in the beautiful twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. My parents separated before I was born. I am my mother’s second child. There are three of us, all from different fathers.
I grew up with my paternal grandparents in an extended family, amongst several cousins, uncles and visiting family members. My grandmother was my “god.” My earliest recollection of her is running into her bed in the wee hours of the morning to snuggle with her.
I never bonded with my father. As a matter of fact, my father never acknowledged me. To him, I was a hook up gone bad. I was not special to anyone…except my grandmother. After my birth, my mother gave me over to my grandparents to raise me as. I met my mother at the age of seventeen.At age seven
I always knew I was different. Instead of playing the games boys played, I loved playing with my cousins dolls and dressing in their clothes. I believe I learned to walk into a pair of heels before I could spell it. I also craved attention, so I would sing and dance and anything for attention. It was as though I always knew, but maybe due to my innocence, I was not prepared for what lay ahead of me.
My sexual abuse began at age seven, or perhaps earlier but I know that at age seven I was being molested by three of my male cousins.
My grandparents were gardeners and sometimes instead of taking me into the bushes with them (which I hated), they left me in the company of these older cousins, who were facing puberty or post pubescent stage. If my recollection serves me correctly, they were thirteen, sixteen and nineteen respectively.
It’s easy for someone to say, “why didn’t you tell someone.” When you are the minority and you are subjected to bullying and you are afraid because they have sworn you to secrecy by telling you if you told any one…..
…. trust me, a seven year old kid like me, wouldn’t dare say a word! To be honest, in hindsight, having a secret to share with them perhaps made me feel as though I belonged.
I was raped at age nine.
My family are staunch Roman Catholics. I had to follow the traditions of first communion and confirmation. Church attendance on Saturday evenings were mandatory.
One evening, whilst I was on my way home from first communion lessons, it was around 6:30pm but it looked like 7:30pm, and the area I lived was surrounded by fields of cocoa, coffee, and citrus. As I hurried to get home, I came upon one of my older cousins, who was much older than I was, he was in his early twenties. He stopped me and asked me where I was coming from at this time. I told him. He said that I was lying. I protested and he slapped me across my face, telling me that I should not speak back to him and in one sweeping movement, he picked me up threw me onto his shoulder and carried me into the cocoa field.
He held my mouth shut and in no time he had me with my face on the cold earth and my trousers down.
I begged him.
I pleaded with him.
I must have passed out because when I came too, he was standing over me slapping my face. He lifted me up and carried me into a patch of stinging nettle and warned me severely I will never forget the look of pure evil in his eyes as he said if ever I were to tell anyone, he would kill me and they would never find my body.
Broken, battered and bleeding, he took me and shoved me into a stinging nettle patch. I found my way out of the dark cocoa field and found my way home in the darkness. I heard my grandmother’s voice asking, why was I so late?
I have often thought about my answer that evening. Should I have said, “You just missed Brian raping me?” Would she have understood then? Would it have made a difference? Instead, I told her I missed the bus and had to walk home, made a quick sign of the cross for a God that I still believed in. She took me by the hand and gave me sound whipping on my already painful ass for missing the bus and getting home late.
By the time I was thirteen there were four of them, never all at once, but all on separate occasions. One of them, even referred to me as his wife! He claimed that when I get older, we would run away together. He would on occasions, give me money. Five dollars, ten dollars, however, they all refused to speak with me in public. Instead, they would taunt me by calling me names; Aunt Merle, Tanty Man, Hen, Buller. If I responded to defend myself, they would stone me, or beat me mercilessly. And when they found me alone, they would tell me how sorry they were and that they had to pretend so that no one would suspect anything.
Despite all this, I managed to do well at primary and junior secondary school. I loved singing and I felt on top of the world when I would be asked to sing at various functions. I loved composing calypsos and even participated in competitions. I heard the hecklers whenever I performed but I did not care. I loved to sing, I loved to be seen and I loved attention.
In defiance, I began to answer to the names. My cousins called me “Issbella” and my school mates at junior secondary called me “Merle.”
I believe it was a that age I began to fight back. I was answering to their taunts and it irritated them. That’s when I learned how to cope.
To be Continued…
Post Script: My sharing here doesn’t come with the “I am a victim syndrome” but instead serves as an example of the challenges that a gay man faces every day. Those who claim its a choice, should think about it. Despite my fighting back, I was taunted to the point of suicide…..read next week’s column.
I will be at the Gay Caribbean Pageant’s launch and Boatride this Sunday in New York…… have fun folks!