A day in the life… of a Jamaican lesbian

Tamitsansai-BadgyalJazz

The faux-lez mommy and her dog, apparently.

               I had planned to write/publish this post tomorrow, but I’m so appalled that I’ve decided to post it right now. Up until about three hours ago, I’d been having a pretty uneventful day. Woke up at noon, walked my dog, had lunch, then spent the greater part of the afternoon searching for a welcome letter that would allow me to reclaim my old phone number — my phone was stolen two weeks ago. Where is she going with this, you ask? Don’t worry, we’ll get there soon.

Before I get into it, let me just state very clearly that I have no problem with lesbians, homosexual men, or any other kinds of ‘sexuals’ that exist (no offense meant, there are just SO many to cover). I simply live my life and allow people to live theirs in the way that most pleases them. It is neither my job to judge, nor to discriminate against people for any reason, let alone their sexuality. I simply have had an experience this evening that opened my eyes a little bit more to the things some Jamaican homosexuals might experience, and, boy… was it scary. Incidentally I’m always saying we’re not nearly as homophobic here in Jamaica as people make us out to be, but, it appears that some of us just cannot accept that. Anyway, let’s backtrack to 4:30 PM.

I’m at home, my room is topsy-turvy and my hair looks an absolute mess, but I realise I need to go on the road soon. I get dressed, put a Du-Rag on (remember those) and notice that it looks even worse. Of course I can hardly find anything to salvage it since my room looks like it’s been hit by a cyclone, then I see this beanie I got as a gift from my boyfriend earlier this year and put it on… it works, so I head out. Jump on a bus heading to Half-Way-Tree, there are more men than women and they are ALL staring at me. Of course I shrug it off, I’m used to it…my style is deemed eccentric by many. Who cares? Then this mosquito lands on my leg and as I’m about to swat it away I notice the woman sitting beside me tenses up. Wait…what? Confused, I look up at her face to see absolute disdain and then it dawns on me, ‘Ohhhhh shit, she thinks I’m gay!’ I chuckle and get off at my stop two minutes later. I guess with my beanie, full black outfit, armful of jewellery, nose-ring-wearing self I should have figured that I ‘fit the profile’.

Tami Tsansai

Clearly

Walk into the store, more stares and whispering. Approach the counter, one of the ladies addressing my concerns is being difficult, the other is really flirtatious. Of course, I smile and proceed with making my request in her direction, happy that my newfound lesbian perks have made my life easier. I was in there for a while but when I finally got through I was happy, so I took a selfie. By then I had completely forgotten about the whole profile thing because that’s just how my sieve-like brain works.

Processed with VSCOcamNext up, the supermarket…where more piercing stares ensued, yay! I’m a huge introvert so by then I just wanted to get home. I couldn’t care less about who was looking or why. Finished there and started making my way to the bus stop about three minutes off. Half-way there I see a group of men and realise I have no choice but to walk past them. Peachy. Passing a bunch of men anywhere in the Half-Way-Tree area is almost always a disturbing experience as most women in Kingston know, but that’s a story for another time.

Then to my horror and disgust, one of them attempts to grab my lady parts! I had to swing the bag in my hand before me and quickly get out of the way. He then laughs and says, ‘baby come mek me stab out yuh belly till you forget ‘bout you gyal’. I’m outnumbered so I just try to get away from there as fast as my legs can carry me… which, with a bag of groceries in hand, wasn’t fast enough. His accomplice (who, by the way, looks like he would kill me and then go have a beer with his friends) starts coming towards me and says, ‘Ya eediat man you nuh see a woman she want… hey lesbian gyal mek sure you wash you hand when you done finger you gyal!’

I start going faster, hear them coming behind me and start to feel a little afraid. I then hear a woman in their midst say, ‘Lef her alone, you nuh see is a bwoy one dat?’ By then I was just a stone’s throw from the buses so I immediately got into one and got out of there. Phew, what an experience! Call me naïve, but I definitely did not think of how fearful and defensive it feels being ‘on the other side’ and in that moment a whole lot of things —like why teenage homosexuals often commit suicide— started to make sense. Can you imagine this being your reality EVERY day?

I may not be a real lesbian, and I always claim to understand the plight of people who are discriminated against for whatever reason, but my experience today has made me understand exactly how it feels to be profiled and treated accordingly, as well as the self-defense/fight-or-flight thoughts that naturally come along with it. Discrimination is wrong, people. It is full of hatred, miscommunication and misunderstanding, and with such poisonous fuel it can often escalate into unnecessarily violent situations.

Let’s try to get to a place of love and pure intent, try not to judge others. If something doesn’t sit well with you, leave it alone… you might be able to avoid being that one straw that ‘broke the camel’s back’.

Namaste.

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73 thoughts on “A day in the life… of a Jamaican lesbian

  1. Imagine it was a night. I’ve also heard of women who may be/are lesbians are targeted. Never leave your house without a pepper spray Tsansai. Damn out of order. Half Way Tree has become this disgusting place where people welcome/use crowds to carry out all form of wrongdoings.

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    • My apologies I didn’t realise my response didn’t go through. Sure, you can. I believe we need as much awareness around the issue as possible. Thank you!

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  2. God loves the sinner but hates the sin. God wakes the fagot and the fornicator up every morning, the liar and the lesbian. Without Christ in you, its impossible to understand this concept of loving the person but hating the sin. Please don’t think I’m condoning homosexuality because I know some bwoy would want to fly out mi marrow just from uttering these words. But get this all you buttybwoy and lesbian haters out there; di whole a you are hypocrites because the sins you commit, deserve the same punishment as those you hate: death! So, when pronounce death on homosexuals you are pronouncing the same judgment on yourselves: you hear! Di whole a we haffi tan gyad and cum outta di wages of sin because ALL sin deserve death. There will be no mercy for the merciless! Humble yourselves, and know yourselves inna dis ya time. You feeling comfortable while you tek care a three, four, five woman in one week? You tink you better?! Cha mon! Cool yourself and pray for di buttybwoy/lesbian and yourself! Jesus died to save the three of you. I don’t know where this is going or who is gonna read this but pass it on.
    Fear God, and give glory to Him for the hour of His judgment has come. (Revelation 14:7) Bless up!

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  3. Growing up i used to wear baggy jeans, men’s sneakers & large T-shirts cause thats how i felt comfortable. Back then i never thought that someone would think i was gay and attempt to assault me but times have changed. It’s very sad that u cant dress how u feel comfortable as a female without being branded. I’m just happy that u were not hurt by those idiots.

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  4. Mercy! What a harrowing experience!. Yes. HWT is a mess. I do not go there anymore…day or night. Very happy to hear that you survived it and it has made you wiser instead of bitter..Bless up.

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  5. ummmm ! i dont think u looked like a les in those pics and that outfit . as for the the lady that sat next to u in the bus i still dont get why outta all the things u could have thought , ud think she thought u were a lesbian . after all the lady could have been like me weh nuh wah nuh body touch them especially in these times when all kinda disease a go round . i think most of ur blog is just assumptions that might not even be true . the stares might have been bc ur pretty and u looked different . like there is sooooo many reason ppl could be staring but if i saw u id stare prolly cause u look diff and i like when ppl look different . its refreshing . as for the hwt incident ohhh gosh dem man deh justttt ugggghhhhhhh . dem just …………… not even worth talking about . i really disagree with most of ur blog .

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    • Well you do have a good point there Janelle, they didn’t have to be staring for that reason, and I didn’t think or set out to look gay either, that’s why I said I thought it was the normal “oh, she dresses different” stares for the most part. the woman who pulled away may have been an assumption as well, however based on how she looked at me and the energy of the moment I realised that’s what she had in mind. The only thing I’m really positive about is the Half-Way-Tree part where the men were explicit. Ps thanks for calling me pretty! *jig*

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  6. I am in shock! I am appalled! I am happy you’re safe. I hurt for those that have been caught when they couldn’t run fast enough or were trapped. I haven’t lived in Jamaica for 30 years and this attitude is one that hasn’t changed much. Why should anyone think it’s ok to intrude on another’s private life? No matter what happens inside or outside their bedroom…..it’s their life!!!

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  7. Yea… I’ve seen this happen too many times… I’ve even been caught up in this once in the same half way tree (since I don’t sound or behave like the typical jamaican man would expect) and realised that jamaica can be a cruel place… I’m glad you’re okay…

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  8. Your article reminded me of an incident in Half WayTree (HWT) which my daughter recounted, a few years ago, while she was an Architectural student at the University of Technology (UTECH), She was neither born nor grew up in Jamaica and had never taken the bus. Her uncles or a Taxi operator, she had selected, took her wherever she wished. On one occasion she needed some school supplies, urgently and was directed by a friend how to get to HWT from UTECH… “a straight drive”. She conducted her affairs without incident but on approaching the area to get the return bus to UTECH one of several men, who appeared to be just hanging out, commented on her “beauty”. She moved to another section of the bus stop…he followed. She saw a bus about to leave and hurriedly boarded…he followed. She squeezed towards the front and told the driver that someone, on the bus, appeared to be following her and where she was going. He put her off directly in front of the entrance to UTECH and she made a frantic dash for the safety of the inside. She swore never to even return to HWT. So it appears that these social miscreants who now infest HWT, target “women” in general, regardless of sexual orientation, especially if you are perceived to be “cute”.

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  9. Well written! #reveting … It sadly reminds me that there are several Jamaicas in our ONE Jamaica …we all have different realities depending on where we live, our socio-economic condition … and – yes – our political and sexual preferences…

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  10. Wow… and I don’t even think you looked like a lesbian at all! My first assumption would have been that you were a student since you dress ‘weird’ (in the opinion of other people). But you looked super normal to me :/

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  11. Interesting read. Your article just happened to pop up on my Google feed. I’ve never read your blog nor was I aware of who you were. I must admit, it was your beautiful smile that made me stop but then the headline got me. As a straight (Jamaican) male, I’ll admit sometimes I’ve assumed – based on behavior & dressed in men’s clothes- that a female might be gay. I’m sure I’ve been wrong before. However, looking at your pictures I would not make that assumption. What made me chuckle was your (supposed) “lesbian profile”. If anything I’d be saying isn’t it hot in Jamaica for a beanie-lol? By the way I currently reside in the USA. I left Jamaica from I was young (over 30 years ago). I was on the island a few weeks ago & noticed a huge shift on the homosexual front. New Kingston was a rather interesting place in that regard. But I think with time the initial shock of dealing with homosexuality in public will lessen. Remember, you’re dealing with generations of people who always believed it is wrong. We were always told it wasn’t right. So throwing the foreign ways on them will take some time still. Heck, they’re still dealing with this in America… Just like the racial issues.
    Personally I’m attracted to chocolate skin women with short hair & I’m chocolate myself. I guess I’ve been dating women that might fit the “jamaican lesbian profile”, since I like short brush cuts on females & being different is a plus. Oh my! 😂 😂 😂

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  12. I don’t agree with homosexuality I do believe it is a sin, but I also do not believe in others using violence because they do not believe in the choices people make. According to the bible we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God so who has made us judge and jury when we do not agree with someone else’s life style? I believe that we can all have our differences of opinion that is what makes up a free democracy. A lot of Jamaican’s are very homophobic but those same people will wear their pants down their asses showing their underpants like anyone wants to see that, which one is more gay? I’m just saying before you start to throw stones look at your own life and the sins you have committed. Let’s get away from the slavery mentality, just as when our ancestors were enslaved by the white man, let’s not do the same to our own kind.

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  13. Just wow.. being a female I can only imagine how frightening that was. This speaks to two things though, the state of our society is such that a group of men can approach a complete stranger and feel it appropriate to sexually assault her.. which is what touching a person’s private parts without their consent is… disgusting pieces of filth. It also speaks to where our focus is. There are so many heinous acts being committed by men and women of this country but our priority is to not only label but judge someone on the basis of their sexuality. Even if you were gay, how the heck is it any of ANYONE’S business? ??? You’re right, discrimination is wrong. Very insightful piece.

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  14. If I see a man dress and flex like a gunman (even if he is not) do you think I am going to trust him….Life is a war….one has to be judgemental to survive…likewise if a man dresses and flex like a scammer…am I gonna trust him with my money…Instincts is what keeps humans afloat until now even if he is wrong…..When one is Driving…why when approaching a corner the driver slows down…(One is being Judgemental that something may be around the corner…because its a corner and it is treated as such) hence things are categorize in life and one can only – initially – identify a subject with the category it matches until the details/ truth are revealed to him.

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    • Interesting… I like to shake myself out of being judgmental every chance I get. In fact I preach against it and give my friends permission to “shot mi a box” if they find me guilty of such. But so true like you say, it’s all a part of survival, if not, there would exist nothing such as caution. But it is also important to note that differences in opinion should not necessarily lead to violence or give one the right to make another’s existence uncomfortable. Observe and make an assessment if you so desire, but no need to externalize it always. After all, is it your battle to fight and if so are you fighting it smartly? Does it uplift the parties involved? Ask yourself this question whenever you are tempted to go off on a rampage on those deemed to be different.

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  15. I’m glad you were not physically harmed, but I don’t see anything wrong with your dress. Even if there had been something wrong with your attire those clueless so called men are the ones with the problem. Those aren’t men. We have taken this kind of behaviour from males in this country for too long. They have no right to put their dirty hands on your person. We see it everyday. They refer to women in the most derogatory manner. They don’t know how to treat women properly & some women have taken this behaviour sitting down. There are many persons who dress inappropriately for their body type, on the street out in public but that is still not an excuse for someone to grope or attack them in this manner. I’m not even going to touch the homosexual question, but there are some crazy behaving people of that ilk who have been behaving very badly out in public.

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  16. Wow is all I can say. My experience today was not as eventful but scary for me. I a taxi going home from work and as I was not feeling well I wanted the window seat. A man opened the door and I proceeded t ask him (nicely i thought) to go on the other side. When he came in the cab he started cursing at me and then said “you nuh like man eeh. You lesbian gyal… You a which one the man or the ooman?” He said this with such disdain I could not wait till I was out of that cab. It really did hurt me because here I am sitting in peace and this man comes and accuses me of being something I am most definitely not, but sounded as if he would reach over and hit me… Sigh!!!

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  17. Unfortunately, if you look like a duck and walk like a duck, you are perceived to be a duck. That is the sad reality. But acting all culture shock and demonizing HWT?! GHFOH

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  18. Years ago, my gay friend was hogtied and killed in a hotel room by a gang with this same mentality. Sadly, It is still prevalent today.

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  19. Wow, you are actually really very lucky that they did not attack you, and that is the truth. I have done alot of research on this and also personally experienced similar to what you went through as well… one day a guy started harrassing me and because I did not respond to his overtures in the space of 0.0001 seconds flat it changed from “sexy!” to “sodomite!” This is unacceptable and one of many things I find backwards and barbaric about the dominant culture of Jamaican male machismo and quite frankly one of the reasons I could never make Jamaica my permanent home. NEVER.

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  20. Every is human and when we judge one another some how some one is judging us we need to p especially each other be lives with RESPECT SO WE CAN GET RESPECT and godly love .VERY nice for you to bring this out thanks

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  21. Is it safe to point out that straight girls ensure similar indignities ….i think its less about gay or straight and more about why so many people (men especially) caan find some constructive things to do.

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  22. Pingback: One month later: Reflections on ‘A Day in the Life of a J’can lesbian’ | Sour Skittles

  23. I’m so speechless, this is y i don’t walk at all in half way tree or any area to that matter… I hate it, i go through that every day and i don’t even look like a lesbian. smh

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  24. That customer service thing happens to me, where I wonder if I am being treated differently because I am gay(I am) or is this person just shitty at customer service

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