Growing up in Jamaica as a lesbian is quite a challenge. Thoughts of being ostracized by family and close friends swirl about your head daily. Some of us even wonder if coming out will cause job loss, client loss or loss of life. Navigating this emotional roller coaster of Jamaica’s homophobia is not for the faint of heart.
As an out lesbian I have not personally faced the harsh realities of this however I have experienced homophobia within a community I previously lived. My partner and I were verbally abused whenever we were seen together. This continued for months until the distant verbal abuse became threatening advances the block our path home. Sadamite Gyal! (of Sodom; derogatory term used to describe a lesbian) Lightning! (hope that God will strike us dead with a lightning bolt) Fyah! (fire; burn in hell) Man Royal! (derogatory term used to describe a lesbian who does not confirm to gender norms) These were the words that followed us the last night we spent in that community. We tried to be discreet by choosing a dangerously unlit path, walking briskly to avoid unwanted attention. Needless to say this was a short lived idea when a concerned resident inquired about our well-being. This raised an alarm to the group of men who made it their point of duty to bellow at us these words. Our pace had to be quickened because our location had been compromised; a well lit area was still yards away and they were gaining on us.
I have been asked on a number of occasions if I had made a report to the police and my answer is always “and say what”? “Good evening officer I’d like to make a report about idle boys and men within my community who make it their point of duty to call to my girlfriend and I using derogatory words. No officer, they have not invaded our personal space nor have they trespassed on our property. No officer I do not know these men and I may be unable to identify them since these incidents mostly happen at dusk and the lighting in our area leaves much to be desired. Yes officer, we do feel threatened especially since they are now leaving us no alternate route of avoiding them and getting home. Once again that too is correct, we are unable to clearly identify them. We are only here to report this for reporting sake. After all, the powers that be thinks that violence against lesbians/gays is fabricated and we are doing it to our own friends”.
As sarcastic as my tone seem to be, this is a serious issue. That situation would have been cited as “boys being boys” teasing the pretty lesbians. As we say “what is joke to you, is death to me”. Under reporting of abuses and discrimination does not help the plight of lesbians, however, when the professionals charged with the duty of assisting or protecting us also becomes our “grim reaper” where is our safe place and redress?
This brings me to a point of contention. Religious, bible tooters and their followers (those who have never read a verse in the bible but regurgitates second hand information) have always used the story of Sodom and Gomorrah to show that homosexuality was the cause of these cities destruction. I’ve read Genesis 19 and its surrounding chapters and I did not get this information. Ezekiel 16 vs 49 – 50 (KJV) says:
“Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good”. This is not the only passages which speak to the reasons of its destruction.
I am not one to attempt to fight religion or beliefs however am I the only one that has an issue with Lot volunteering his daughters (who by the way were to be wed) to a group of apparently “horny” (using the argument of some religious individuals) men for them to have their way with?! So once again, women are paraded as sacrificial with no choice. These were grown ass angels with powers, who were very capable of defending themselves. For heavens sake they came to destroy the cities. Why would you offer your two virgin daughters to be gang-raped by a city of men?! Lets not forget that after they left the city and found a cave to live in the daughters got Lot drunk and had sex with him just to get pregnant. *raised eyebrow*
So if it is that even in Biblical days our will was not ours what does that leave men in today’s society to think about women? This thought is further magnified when they are face to face with lesbians. Lesbians apparently have never had good sex and some men will go as far as rape to correct our preference. Being a lesbian is not all about sex just as it isn’t all about sex with heterosexuals. Our relationships do not differ. We are not different from you. We are not trying to be anyone other than ourselves.
Give us the same respect you would want for your mother, sister, aunt, cousin, wife and daughter, because we are them, whether you know it our not.