THE EDITOR, Sir:
I've worked with Jaevion Nelson for a couple of years, and to suggest that his article 'Jamaica not as homophobic as portrayed' is part of an 'agenda' or ploy to discredit the lived experiences of those homosexuals who are not as privileged as the individuals he spoke about is completely untrue.
We should not be so hasty to create conspiracy theories when stories that contradict popular belief or experiences are told (the Church should probably take note). Mr Nelson was not incorrect when he said that there are some homosexuals who have never experienced homophobia. That is the truth.
I ventured downtown Kingston recently and saw two supposedly homosexual men mingling with the crowds they gathered, tending to the women whose hair they were grooming. They were just one of the girls, to say the least.
At the most recent edition of Fashion Block, there were a lot of transgender women in attendance. When it ended, they congregated very openly in a park in New Kingston.
These two scenarios were humbling to me, showing that there are pockets of tolerance in Jamaica.
But how deep are these pockets? The issue I had with the article was not the content, but the title. While there are instances where homosexuals are not bothered, this is not to say that Jamaica isn't as homophobic. The truth is, there are contexts of homosexuality in Jamaica. I've learned this as well from reading.
What would happen to those two effeminate men downtown if they were to make a public pronouncement that they were gay. What would happen if they were to venture into a neighbourhood and someone shouted, "See di fish dem deh!" Also, those transgender women in New Kingston. What would have happened to one if she were not with her group of friends? It should also be noted that some of these individuals are living in gutters simply because they are different.
While there are locations of tolerance in Jamaica (and don't be fooled, these locations are small), there are still rules for homosexuals to follow. And these rules are a reflection of how homophobic the country is. It's like saying, 'you can be gay but don't show it'. 'Don't show it' means you can't be who you are. You can't acknowledge that you are attracted to the same sex. You can't be affectionate with your girlfriend or boyfriend of how many years because you risk persecution.
PRIVILEGED IN SMALL SPACES
These privileged individuals are privileged in the small spaces that they have. And in those spaces, in what context are they living those privileged lives? In a gated community? Do they commute privately? Can they walk hand in hand with their spouse in public?
The wider gay community does not have those luxuries. Too many persons from the LGBT community survive by suppressing who they are. Too many homosexuals experience verbal, emotional, physical and mental abuse for the atmosphere in Jamaica to be considered 'tolerant'.
These stories of tolerance, acceptance and love should be shared because they are beautiful. But the small group of gays who experience measured freedom is not enough for complete optimism. Jamaica is still as homophobic as portrayed.
Final-year UWI student
I'm Gay, But I Don't Prey On Kids
I have been listening to the ongoing debate about the 'gay agenda' and get the impression that the main objection is that children will be open to abuse if the buggery law were repealed. If I am understanding the argument, to be gay is equated with being a paedophile.
I am attracted to men. However, I am not attracted to little boys. Why are we assuming that gay men are attracted to little boys? I think this is an issue that has to be clarified before the 'moral majority' will feel comfortable.
Another thing that is making people uncomfortable is the fact that gay men are not easily identifiable. Gone are the days when they are all effeminate. Nowadays, they sit beside you in the church pew, across from you at lunch, and play with you on the ball field. The sense that you can spot them from afar has eroded. People are just basically scared because what they thought they knew for sure is not so.
This issue is not going away and the moral majority will have to live and let live.