Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Truth Has Been Told

Life is filled with options and each one that we choose affects our lives in incalculable ways. I started this blog a little over a year ago in an effort to find a voice, something that had been long denied me. Having now found my voice and achieved the objective I had set I will discontinue writing on this blog.

Throughout this journey of self-discovery I have trapped myself in a depressing reality. I want the world to change to accommodate me, but it won't any time soon. I want people to respect me for the honourable individual I try to be, but they can't because they are crippled by their prejudices. So what do I do till the world changes to my liking, wallow in self-pity? That should never have been an option.

I accept myself for who I am. I love myself, and I am surrounded by people who love me. It is time I start living for me. All my life I've tried to take a stand against anything I find unjust. I've done whatever I can to jar the worldview of others, and help them realize that there is more to this world than their own conceptions of it. But why do I think this is important? Who am I to mount a crusade against an army of normativity and ignorance? I have become so obsessed with what is wrong with the world that I have forgotten to focus on what is important to me, finding whatever happiness there is to discover.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, thank you for reading. Thank you for sharing these experiences with me, and thank you for providing words of comfort when I needed them most, or criticism when it was merited. For the gay Jamaican boy who comes across this blog by chance, remember to love yourself, knowing fully well that the only opinion about your self-worth that matters is your own.

This blog has served me well, and now it is time to move on to other ventures. I wish you all the prosperity that life has to offer.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Origin of Homosexuality in the Black Male

I recently read the work of a Black college student in America, which suggested that homosexuality in black men is a legacy of the subjugation of the "African male" by White colonizers. I don't mean to simplify his arguments here, but apparently the colonizers were intimidated by the apparently more virile, robust Africans (with larger penises) and sought to emasculate them through enslavement, and through raping them. I never realized emasculation was a primary intent of slavery, as opposed to developing from it.

I don't yet have enough knowledge to substantively disagree with this persons argument, but I have a few opinions I'd like to share. I do not believe that homosexuality has anything to do with lacking "manhood". As "manly" as African males were/are perceived to be, the occurrence of homosexuality is no less, or more, marked in African societies than it is in every other today. Surely there were/are cultural mores that proscribed homosexual behavior more stringently than in Europe (where there was some documented discussion about variance in human sexuality), but to suggest that (black) African people were entirely heterosexual before colonization is rather gratuitous. 

Why would anyone want to convince themselves that they are gay because of the systematic emasculation of black men by europeans? Supposedly this subjugation continues today with global structures that perpetuate imperialistic relations between (black) Africans and their descendants, and the powerful, white West. So, I am to believe that my attraction for men is less essential than the attraction European gay men feel for other men, because the incidence of homosexuality in my lineage is nonexistent prior to the 17th century. Oookay. So then if it wasn't for colonization and slavery I would be straight like everybody else? Fuck the white man! 

After responding to his essay this budding scholar was quick to remind me that "the truth is offensive". His claims are somehow credible because "he spends his entire time reading and writing, and has thought about the origins of homosexuality in Black men for months". Consider this "fact" that he reminded me of: homosexuality was considered a mental problem, but when alot of white people within the white collective started to come out of the closet, it was removed from the list of mental disorders. Oh really? I didn't know that. This entire time I thought it was removed because in fact gay people are not mentally ill. Obviously the development of a politically active (primarily white) gay community was crucial, but homosexuality was not removed from the DSM of the APA without due consideration of empirical data available.  

There are no homosexuals in Jamaica, or at least, there weren't any a few decades ago. It's tourism, American television, and the Internet that are eroding the moral purity of my Christian country. Bunkum and Balderdash! People need to stop recycling this misinformed and ignorant bullshit. It's scary what formal education can do to people who do only selective reading. 

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Blackmail: Battyman Pay Mi, or Else...

Blackmail. It's a word we don't use very often in Jamaican Creole, and I can't now think of an equivalent word or phrase. In detailing the struggles faced by gays and lesbians in Jamaica few would mention the threat of blackmail, but the Jamaican situation, marked with intolerance and repression, nourishes this kind of crime. 

A few months ago, one of my good friends from high school, we'll call him Michael, told me about how he was blackmailed. Like many Jamaican gays and lesbians he turned to the internet to try to find other queer Jamaicans. Michael happened across a popular chat-room in which one of the men took particular interest in him and hey eventually exchanged phone contact details. Through their phone conversations my friend became more trusting, and he mentioned casually what he was studying at a university and also the company he worked with. One day he was shocked when the tone and nature of the conversation changed. His online-buddy contacted an informant in the HR department of the company that he worked and uncovered his home address. This phone friend was not gay, and wanted to be compensated or else he would start telling people that Michael was gay. 

Michael was terrified. What if this guy went to the apartment and told all the neighbours? What if he went to the university and posted signs? What if people at the company were to find out, would he lose his job? Michael refused to answer any more calls from this guy, but then the texts came flowing in... characterized by stinging homophobic epithets, among death threats, and a reiteration of the price to be paid to keep the prospective informant quiet. The attacks continued for weeks, and would only come to an end after Michael contacted the telecommunications provider, explained that he was being harassed and asked that the number of the attacker be permanently blocked. 

The texts stopped coming. Michael breathed free. But he always considers that this unknown, malicious and opportunistic fiend knows where he lives, and could make another orchestrated attempt to corner him if her ever had the resources. 

Michael's experience is not unique. I'm sure many other Jamaican gays and lesbians have suffered this fate. Crimes like these will continue so long as people have to remain closeted. Now we have one more thing to fear, besides the wrath of our intolerant families, or communities. Fear and intimidation are bitches. In fact, what proof did this man have that Michael was gay, besides some cryptic online screen name, and maybe a few texts from telephone number he assigned the name Michael he wouldn't have much damning information. But the idea of being outed is paralyzing, and it was under the grips of this paralysis that Michael suffered for weeks. 

Online chat-rooms are not safe. You can never be assured of someone's purported identity, and should be careful about revealing personal details when using these media. 

Take care,

Monday, March 1, 2010

Coming Out On Facebook

A few years ago when I opened my facebook account I opted to leave the "Interested In" field blank. I wasn't ready to tell the world that I was gay, and I wasn't going to lie that I loved women. One day after coming out to a friend she revealed that she always guessed I must have been gay, because I left the aforementioned field blank. She opined that no 'normal' Jamaican man would give up an opportunity to tell the world that he loves 'pum pum', if it were true... and also, that the fact of leaving it blank suggests that I thought about what it might mean, knowing fully well that it would raise speculations about my sexuality. She was right. 

Most straight people include this information in their profiles, even though one would already assume they are heterosexual. It never crosses their minds that the decision to complete this field might be troubling for some (facebook does a similar thing for gender that I dislike, having only two possible fields: "male" or "female"). 

So the reality for gay or lesbian Jamaicans is grim; damned if they do and damned if they don't. It is completely understandable that many choose to lie by saying they are interested in the opposite sex. 

I envy straight people for the ease with which they can declare their sexualities. Since I like to push boundaries I do the same, but I am sure my decision will not be without consequences. However, this is something that I have to do. The more we hide our sexuality, the uglier and scarier it becomes to us and others. Every time I saw the blank field I was reminded that I lived in fear. I worried about what people I cared nothing for would say, or who they would tell. It was a constant reminder of the shame I should feel for simply being a gay Jamaican. I refuse to continue living like that. 
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." Dr. Seuss