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’.
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.
Next 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’.