Saturday, February 20, 2010

Gay Men Policing Heterosexuality in Jamaica

As always, the architects of the proverbial closet subjugate his mind and provide him with the tools needed to perpetuate the suppression of his fundamental instincts, and those of others, effectively elevating lowly "slaves" to the position of "slave-drivers". It provides for effective social control.

We hate ourselves, because we have been conditioned to consider who we are as evil. I can't remember if I shared this with you before, but it's relevant to this post so here goes. A few months ago I met my school's LGBT advisor for a conversation, along with one guy from Morocco, and the other from Connecticut. The American noted how interesting it was to meet gay men from other countries, for he had never thought of them before. I then said to him that we might be from very different places but our experiences trying to negotiate socio-cultural spaces that marginalize us is the same, albeit to different extents. He disagreed. He said, "my coming out was actually quite easy. I told my parents, they said okay, and that was that." 

I on the other hand struggled for years to get to the place where I am now. I never doubted that I loved men, or that I was gay when I discovered that people in the world identified as "gay" and led quite normal lives, but I fought hard to understand why society was so hostile towards the idea of someone like me. Many gay Jamaican men don't quite get to the stage where they question the validity of their cultural paradigm. Instead, they continue to hate themselves, constantly wishing the gay away, hoping to meet the woman who will sweep them off their feet. Some of the most robust rejections of my being gay have come from Jamaican men struggling with their sexualities. But, I understand extremely well the factors that give rise to this kind of self-loathing and oftentimes outright rejection of the notion of a gay identity. It makes perfect sense that we have internalized the homophobia of our society, and interesting how one is given the tools to perpetuate his own oppression and that of others. 

We must learn to love ourselves. We must erase every thought we've ever had that the attraction we feel is dirty, or evil. We will have to ignore every hurtful word people hurl at us when they question our masculinities. None of this is easy, but we must not hesitate to begin peeling away the layers of shame and guilt in which our Jamaican upbringing has encrusted us. The slave drivers were better regarded by their masters, but we gain nothing from perpetuating hatred and fear against our own. 

Live. Let-Live. Love. 


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