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

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