Greater Portmore of all places in the greater domicile of the community in St Catherine has factored yet again in a forced eviction and verbal threats incident in August of this year. I met the gentleman who was the centre of this entry and who had to leave as nosy neighbours alerted his landlord in the Monsa section of the housing scheme. This is not the first and definitively won’t be the last case in that part of the country involving gay men who find themselves in challenges. The gentleman was gracious enough to share his story with me as we chatted in the gas station in Spanish Town where we had agreed to meet as he had an appointment to fulfill. I remember an old case in 1999 where another friend of mine had to have police accompany him and his furniture with the movers truck as a crowd had gathered cheering his departure; as he was accused of harbouring too many men; and while there was no untoward behaviour as in other cases that sometimes impact unwanted attention persons were just inquisitive and decided he was a predatory faggot so they wanted him out. That predatory conflation is a main driver of homophobia and indeed violence that is justified in the minds of some.
What was interesting about that case was that I too used to visit the home regularly especially after my numerous court dates as my buggery trial was still in progress and with strained relationships with family in that period I used any means of escape just to remain sane; friends were a major help for me and over nighting or just hanging out were a crucial recovery strategy and distraction. I suspected a similar motive in this latest case as gay men we always socialize for long periods enjoying each other’s company or just the comfort of being with like minds can be most redemptive. The gentleman in this case was willing to admit that he may have contributed to the ordeal but that also nosy neighbours who were eyeing him for a while also factored in the final analysis. Typical Jamaican inquisitiveness usually chips in when a man lives alone or has too many male friends or men who look not normal as other men or thug types/hyper-masculines. Although we have a homo-social construct in how men socialize profiling is crucial for them as they want men who are not soft or non typical and who have girls so the misogynistic exploits can be bragged about in their conversations.
The impacted gentleman told me he had been watching off and on a gay porn DVD and was also jumping around the flat doing chores but he had the sound at a maybe too high level in his eyes in retrospect. He was interrupted by a violent knock on his door and an angry male voice inquiring who was in the house; dotted of course with the colourful parlance of the day and threats of violence if it is confirmed that there was gay sex taking place. The man opened his door with a pot with dishwashing suds and all and responded sternly demanding why was his home was invaded by this noise and chatter of threats; the impacted man is some six feet tall and physically imposing so I suppose another man would think twice in as far as attack becoming a reality. An argument ensued for a couple minutes as the television continued the ‘sex sounds’ as he did not stop the movie from playing. The angry stranger demanded who was making the sounds made sure his protests were loud enough to attract an audience and that was where the usual castigations from others began as they claimed they always suspected him as he had no woman.
The angry nosy interrogator got no evidence to the effect he wanted as he thought the sounds were that of another man in the house with him; sensible folks would have thought the thing would have died down instead it continued with more joining the fray and hence the threats of violence if he did not leave. It was then someone else suggested the landlord be contacted and pious hypocrisy came forth as they claimed how can a landlord rent somewhere where such sounds can be coming from? So a man who is paying his rent in the privacy of his own abode cannot entertain himself how he sees fit! Stupidity is as stupidity does I guess. Things calmed down after some hours in as far as the verbal nonsense but days after the occasion battyman barbs would occur as persons passed the home in the close walkways of the area as is customary for the design of most Portmore houses. Teenage boys in particular who reside nearby simply mimicked their older elders and at instance the gentleman claimed he was walking in from disembarking a JUTC bus and he heard the cynical if not threatening ‘gunshot’ sounds being made by some males at the end of another road as he passed; which is a sign of a antigay thinking process being exuded by the creators of said sounds. I can remember my own ordeal years ago but I ignored it by walking passed such persons with a vacant expression and it worked. One must NEVER give strength to such verbal barbs I have since learnt. Once one responds that is when the perpetrators feel emboldened and continue or step up their public homophobic game and more so to gain support with a view to develop strength in numbers.
The gentleman decided things were getting too much and he comfort was interrupted too many time so much so that the landlord himself came to the home in an attempt to embarrass the man but he ignored it (a smart move) as he owed no rent and there were no other challenges so why turn up in a loud chaotic sounding approach? The impacted man responded in one sentence, that he would live out the deposit after the due date for the rent passed and he would find somewhere else to go instead while stressing he owed no rent and that he was always on time. Of course the gentleman was suggesting he may not find another tenant so easily who would be so timely in payments; there is some truth in that but the answer did not sit well with the loud landlord as he may have felt embarrassed as other persons were in earshot of the answer from the now beleaguered tenant. Some persons were said to be laughing and saying that the gentleman was disrespecting him when he answered the way he did. “Him a tell yuh seh him have money” according to the gentleman as we moved into the Tastee Patties Store by Burke Road, ordered food and continued the conversation/report.
Seeing the response as an insult he was enraged complete with expletives while the tenant sat in the house ignoring him though tempted to go outside and knock him out but he also recognized that the house is his no matter what so a cool head was needed and some strong patience. Things calmed down and during the near one month duration of discomfort he was also seeking another flat which he was successful in gaining for rent. On the day of removal however the disgusting neighbours literally cheered as he had his belongings moved; the moving men looked uncomfortable as it became apparent to them what was up but they continued to carry out their contracted duties. The landlord was called but the impacted gentleman was able to vacate the house and close it up prior to his arrival; so the keys were left in the keyhole, a kind of last lick insult I think and cute too. Actions speak louder than words indeed.
It was last month another report came in of a lesbian couple who had to report a matter to the Greater Portmore ‘100 man’ police precinct as a man and his friends who had been verbally abusing them has stepped up his campaign via threats as he has now suggested corrective rape openly with tacit support from other thugs living nearby. The walkway from the car park is dark and can be lonely so one cannot take such threats likely these days; so that was a good proactive move by the ladies I agree. One would think as Portmore overall is mostly a middle class domicile with white and blue collared persons such ignorance would be less but I am proven wrong so many times at so many levels. Even the more affluent Garveymeade has seen its fair share of challenges over many years from an attack by men from Gregory Park some years ago to lesbians forced to move by also jeering neighbours, sounds familiar?
I am glad this reported case thanks to the impacted individual himself ended without any serious violence but as hinted to I guess persons did not want to test the 6ft tall gentleman as he may not be so soft to the touch to intimidate or beat down.
Be vigilant be safe (an old tagline I used to use as my flash banner on the blogs and is applicable nowadays again)