I have been itching to tell this story for some time, but as with most of my actions that are delayed, I was waiting on perfection.
We are never short of negative stories, those seem to be the ones that are most popular and in the www and social media world, get the most attention. Jamaica has been donned most homophobic in the world, I have watched in amazement at how this medal we wear, doesn’t appear to acknowledge the real impact of homophobia on people’s psyche and by further extension, people’s actions.
Studs/butches or women who dress and present more like men have a real hard time, as do effeminate gay men, ofcourse as it is the jingle of the purse that leads us, so there is hardly any technical awareness or interest in the issues faced by lesbians, as it can’t be tied to the cash cow of HIV/AIDS. Like many issues experienced by women, homophobia and attacks are usually accepted, and not spoken of by many lesbians, who as many women are accustomed to suffering in silence…not on that day when she decided to fight back!
SHE is a stud in her early twenties, residing in one of Jamaica’s major cities, like many, she has developed mechanisms to avoid the mentally and physically disturbing lesbo-despising sentiments and advances that are common-place for a lesbian that does not have the luxury of avoiding contact with commuting Jamaicans and all the others that make up the public Jamaican space. Her methods have ranged from staying at home as much as she can, crippling what could be considered normal desires to work, go to school and become an active and progressive member of society to walking with a weapon just in the event of anything.
On the day of fighting back…she was going about her business when men on the corner as usual started hurling their fighting words ‘hey sadamite gyal a waa gi yuh some cocky, yuh gwaan like yuh nuh waa nuh man’, these words are regular for her and she had already perfected the ‘deaf ears’ strategy, but today one of them decided to grab her ass and started to feel her up. She tried to get out of his grip but he was too strong, she reached for her knife and it became fight, her attacker ended up with three stab wounds, and she bravely sat on the sidewalk and awaited the police. She was fed up. She was locked up, then awarded bail, after court, her attacker was charged with harrasment and she got away on the charge of self defense.
The truth is carrying a weapon is illegal anyway, but never ever give up your right, no one has the right to touch or attack you for any cause. If you fear there will be a problem, report your grouse to the police, they may heckle and joke at you, but insist with a straight face that your issues are documented. Discard the notion that the police will do nothing, it is their job to serve and protect Jamaicans and until we start holding them to their own mission, we cannot be allowed to pass any judgment. We have to also acknowledge that the police have come a far way in being more sensitive to the issues of LGBT persons.
Most of the challenges and limitations we perceived are first conjured in our minds…
a)attack them there first by adopting that life is not worth living if it isn’t a life that is free, accepting that regardless of your sexuality, you are also human and deserve to be treated as none less.
b) Start by reminding yourself that all change came with opposition, the fight for inclusiveness and love for people inspite of their sexuality is a a fight for a change in how we treat each other, it is a fight for love.
c) Don’t forget that everyone even those you as a gay person despise has rights and not even you are allowed to advocate for another what you would not want for yourself.
d) Do unto others as you would have them do unto you