Thursday, September 10, 2009

Coming Out to My Mother

Coming out is never easy. I think we can all agree with this statement, no matter our personal experiences. I knew I had to tell my mother before I left Jamaica, but I was growing scared that this might never happen. We watched gay-themed movies; we had discussions about gender, and sexuality; I told her of my gay friends, but I couldn't say three simple words: I am gay.

Yesterday, I did it. She went silent, perfectly on cue. It didn't help that I said the words most bluntly, in a matter of fact tone (as I've said before, people deal with the news a lot better when you sound sorry for yourself, concede that what you are doing is wrong/immoral, and that you want to change). For the rest of the evening her brows remained knitted, concern etched into her face. "I want to talk about this," I said to her, but she wasn't ready. Today, I pushed her to tell me how she felt. Though I am familiar with all the concerns she raised, it was still hard to hear them from her. I keep forgetting I do not have the luxury of living in a country where gay issues are pertinent, and where parents are sensitive to the issues that their gay children face. I was caught off-guard.

God. Sin. Anal Sex. Blood. Gender Incompatibility. Childhood. Effeminacy. Nature v Nurture. Love. Fear. Disbelief. Shock. Tears.

She couldn't sleep last night, and probably wont tonight either.

Sometimes in life it is much easier to leave things unsaid. Today, I chose the difficult alternative, and said things my mother would rather not hear, despite her suspicions. I'm not sure how things will progress from here, but I believe her when she tells me that she doesn't love me any less. Perhaps now she is just torn between her loyalty to me, her son, and her pastor who tells her to rid her life of sin. I am sin walking, I suppose.


*Knowing how deeply immoral homosexuality is, I should never have chosen that lifestyle for myself.

This is the same woman whose sons have had multiple children out of wedlock, with multiple women. They have collectively screwed half the women in my Parish. I doubt she ever chided them for choosing an immoral lifestyle. But oh, fornication is not sinful.

*I made her feel bad about the event with her Bishop, where I was fondled. Luckily the ordeal was lessened by the prayers and bible scriptures he chanted simultaneously. She would be so embarrassed now, if she had ever confronted her Bishop.

Okay. So heterosexual people who are raped shouldn't get redress, because they are supposed to enjoy heterosexual sex? The man put his filthy hands on me!!! Whether I am gay or fucking straight, my mother should be furious!

* She is not condemning me, I am reassured. That is very comforting to me, having just gone through all the reasons why homosexuality is bad.

Forget that I have to live with the fact that "my choice" is the bane of the entire developing/ religious world's existence. Being a gay Jamaican is nice and dandy. I am so thankful that my mother is stopping just short of kicking me out.

I agree she is ignorant, but I would rather she try to understand, rather than recycle all the misinformed, homophobic garb that I have heard time and time again.

*Sodom and Gomorra? Really?!

I don't give a fuck at this point. I told the truth. Perhaps she would rather live in Utopia, where all her children are heterosexual, and are busy populating the earth with their many babies.

She wants to put her hands to her head and holler out, crying. Okay.

I'm being very insensitive here, but didn't she say she always surmised? It seems to me that her reaction should be, "what took you so long," as opposed to one of outrage. The Gleaner article on the characteristics of a gay teenager were very explicit, she says, and everyone in the house read and confirmed that I fit the bill perfectly. I sent her blood pressure skyrocketing. My apologies. There isn't really a good way to tell you I'm gay.

She used an interesting analogy to explain her reaction.

You know when you know you are sick, but you try to convince yourself you are fine... and then after a while the doctor makes a damning prognosis that you don't want to hear: You have cancer, and but a few months left to live.

I'm not sure if the cancer is a pun for my malignant homosexuality.

I am angry. People are stupid. Instead of pulling people closer, they push them away. I don't fancy being regarded as a casualty of North American attitudes, and an imperfect son, because I know there is nothing wrong with me.

I am convinced that people can project negativity on you. I come to Jamaica and I morph in to this self-concious, fearful, self-hating version of myself. In the house now, I am battling a melange of feelings ranging from, resentment, to regret, to guilt and sorrow. I can't be surrounded by this.

Thankfully, I am just days from freedom.


When she returns she comes to the room with tears in her eyes. My sibling asks her what is wrong- if she is still troubled by what I told her.

Yes. She hasn't been able to sleep for the last few days. Every minute she thinks on it, and she breaks down crying. The way she is feeling now, she wished I never said anything. Then she said the words I never wanted to hear. It's the kind of stuff you hear in movies- the kind of thing that you know no gay child should ever hear: I do not now, and will never accept that you are gay.

*"What of every man, like you, decided to be this way (she can't quite say the word gay/ battyman), what would happen to humanity?"

Ammm, ok. People tend to ask this a lot. That statement is based on the premise that people can "turn" gay. This is simply not so. Homosexuals have always existed, and if they never undermined population growth before, they surely wont now. Everyone wont "turn" gay. The majority of people are predisposed (for whatever host of reasons) to be heterosexual.

My sibling tried to respond to her ridiculous question (I'm being harsh, yes, but I really do hold my mom to higher intellectual standards), and by this time I was so frustrated that I flew past her and ran out of the house. According to her, nothing I say or do will justify my "behaviour", so I saved my breath.


I watched the film Boys Don't Cry with my mom a few months ago, so we could have some serious conversation about gender, and sexuality. That obviously didn't work too well, because now she swears that I want to be a girl. "He doesn't walk like a boy", she says to my sister. "And look at the way he dances!" Okay. I have a penis, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I am ultra-masculine, and it doesn't mean that I like girls. There are variations of human gender identity and sexuality. I thought watching and discussing the key issues in the film would make that clear, and I thought she understood, but I guess everything changes when the subject of such discussions is your own child- well, apparently.

Anyway, I still tried to reach out to her before I left the island. The day before I left, I begged her to watch the film For The Bible Tells Me So. We started watching, and then she fell asleep. I woke her up, but in another minute, her eyes were closed. I grew so frustrated. I'm trying to make this woman understand me, even if from a perspective, which affirms some of her own biases (some of the families still think homosexuality is morally reprehensible), but she wouldn't even try. When she woke up after I walked away, she ended up staying up for the entire night. I guess she wasn't that tired.

The next morning, as I packed to leave, she asked if I could leave her a did of the documentary. I couldn't.

So I left the island, with a huge unresolved issue behind, but I am very glad the big secret is out. A huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

I'm sure she will come around eventually. I'm sure she doesn't mean it when she says, "If I wasn't a Christian, I would beat you with a broom-stick and kick you out of my house." After all, I am still her baby.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Gay in Kingston, Jamaica

I spent a few days in Kingston, and what a blast it was! I identified more gay men in Kingston in three days, than all my life in rural Jamaica. I stepped off the bus from my parish, and my mentality changed. I wasn't alone; I knew it. Before long, my vision of urban utopia was jarred when a group of young men spoke loudly, just after passing them, that I am surely a homosexual. I continued on my merry way, as I don't yet have the courage to stare homophobes in their eyes and actively acknowledge their hateful words.

Besides seeing many gay men walk by me in the streets, I spent some quality time with two gay friends of mine. One of them shares an apartment with another gay guy, who had two gay friends over. My friend's boyfriend had also planned to visit. 5 Jamaican gay men sharing the same space. I was too excited! It is different in America, because the experience that gay men have coming to terms with their sexualities is so diverse. Here though, I feel such empathy for my gay brothers, because I am fully aware of what each of us must face each time we leave the comfort of our homes and walk into the public sphere. It was nice to see gay men fraternizing, completely at ease and comfortable with themselves.

The day I returned home, I sat in a mall reading a book when a handsome young man, who I believed was gay, walked by me. I couldn't help but stare. Not long after, I followed in his direction, as I had to head to the bus stop. I walked by him, as he stood near the staircase with two other friends. As I passed, one of them hissed, "gunshot for a boy." I shook my head, mystified. How could a gay man say such ugly words to another? Both of us have to live in the same fucked up world, and perpetuating homo-hatred will do nothing to serve our best interests. I was very tempted to turn around and stare into his eyes this time, but alas, the thought came too late.

I can definitely see myself spending more time in Kingston. It's the most "real" I will ever be in Jamaica. It's the only place i've been able to gain some anonymity. I guess anonymity is an important factor to living without constant fear for the worse.


I came out to my mother last week. It didn't go too well. More on that soon.