I am a young gay man living in St. Vincent and the Grenadines – an island in the Caribbean known to be the Land of Blessed but blessed for whom might I ask with the ever present small island mentality and double standard of living which so freely abounds. However, before this be frowned upon to be an attempt to paint my country in a bad image, that is the furthest thing from my plight as

I am merely trying to tell MY story from MY perspective.
Like many who would have grown up attending church regularly in this “religious” island; I’ve been religiously indoctrinated at church, home and school on a regular. Suffice to say that even at a tender age I always grew uncomfortable and felt personally attacked whenever someone would preach or proclaim damnation to anyone who was gay. Yes, I was cognisant if my inclination from a boy. Religion which should preach forgiveness and compassion has and continues to be a main tool used by bigots to sow discord and echo their ignorance. The very scriptures which profess that man is created in Gods likeness and image has made me struggle and deny my true self for far too many wasted years at the cost of being ostracized by our society’s ever present judgemental propensity and religious condemnation. Is being myself; being gay worst than the pastor sleeping with the church sister or you gossiping and spreading propaganda about the neighbour who would feed and clothe you when warranted? Is one sin greater than another?

If I were to entertain a religious debate I’d opine that ALL sin is sin so who is without “sin” please cast the first proverbial stone.

For years I’ve been afraid to identify as being gay or even dating guys here but it took an epiphany for me to accept and love me for ME. From since I’ve come into my own, I’ve known that I wasn’t attracted sexually to females. Society says to be oneself yet if one even attempts to be out of the “norm” he or she is seen as a deviant. So the real question remains, “Should I be free to be me or should I live as a shell of myself living someone’s perception of who they think I should be? I refuse to any longer be imprisoned by the preceived notions and thoughts of anyone.

Should I join the bang wagon of countless men who have married under false pretenses to ruin someone’s daughter/sister’s life with a facade and barrage of lying, cheating and double living?” That would echo a resounding no! Yet, I am not free to walk nor live my life in peace WITHOUT the constant name calling of “batty boi”, “buller man” or uncanny death threats that ricochete my way. I’ve spent most of my life dodging questions about marriage, having a child and girlfriends because I didn’t feel compelled to explain or validate myself to anyone. Well damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

I often wonder how many of you mothers, sisters, aunts or even wives would react to the fact of your son, brother, father, uncle or even husbands having such tendencies.
Being gay in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and by extension the West Indies is no walk in the park. It is seemingly a multitude times more difficult than being a corrupt politician, a dead beat father or rachet prostitute with AIDS. One former coworker once told me that I should be careful not to expose my orientation at work less I be sacked. It’s just a sad state that the place I’ve called home all my life treats me as an outcast in my very community. Never mind that like myself; men of such temperament are some of the most educated, influential and hard-working in fashion and music industries the world over. To be frank, our society is not tolerant of gay men but will cover up the molester in the family or esteem a wife-beater or village thief. Where is the same outrage and energy when our young boys and girls are being molested by STRAIGHT men, women are raped, our youth employment rate is about 46%, increase in poverty and violent crime due to job loss and shortage. Shouldn’t these be more important and pressing social ills than two men who merely seek the right to be and live? You’d think that persons will simply live and let live but in these parts you can be read out of church, shunned by family members, made redundant from work and even omitted from other opportunities due to the slightest inclination of your sexuality. These are factors on which this anti-buggery law is presently being contested. Human rights!
My sexual orientation aside, I am first and foremost someone’s son, brother, uncle… I am human and I have rights! I am a law-abiding citizen, earnest contributor in this very society that so passionately hates me and my kind. I used to think that me embracing my sexuality will inevitably be a cause for celebration amongst the “gyalists” and “womanizers” but instead it has given rise to much contention and contempt.

Despite how the masses would like to portray most of us “gays”, most of us do genuinely lead decent and respectable lives and wish to simply be respected as individuals first and foremost. Unlike public opinion, we are not attracted to each and every man – yes, we actually have taste! Although we make some of the best, honest, open- minded and fun-loving friends you’ll ever encounter, we are often castigated as society’s worst set of people.

Nonetheless, we are a very resilient people as we literally give life to the adage of making lemonade with the lemons thrown or given to us. So the next time you think of verbally harrassing someone because of his sexual orientation, here are a few things to consider;
1. It isn’t easy being gay in this toxic homophobic society. If you think I’m kidding, try being different; get a bizarre haircut/ hairstyle or switch to an eccentric mode of dress. That guy must have some real balls to be brave enough to own up to his sexuality and accept himself in public. Who would choose to be booted from church, damned by religion, ridiculed by society and loose out on opportunities if they had a choice? Unlike many people, this man chose to live his life openly and honestly. I wonder what skeletons are in your closet. Do you think you can walk a mile in his shoe? 🙄 yeah I thought so.

2. Ladies, would you prefer to marry to a man who cheats on you with another man? Would you wish such for your daughter, mother, sister, aunt or female friend? So why not let gay men be gay and date each other without being subjected to your unwarranted ridicule and mockery?

3. Fellas, if a dude is gay it simply means more women for you so why aren’t you happy or are you so bitter with hate that what a person does with their life unrelated to you and yours makes you unhappy?

4. If you don’t study men why is it what a guy does in his privacy concerns you so much?
5. Is that gay dude a threat to your relationship or masculinity or is it that you covertly want in on the action?

6. If you’re not feeding, financing or having sex with men simply concern yourself with whom you feed, finance and have sex with!

7. Are you going to have to give an account for this person and how he lived his life before your maker? No? and before you purport to wanting to save souls why aren’t you more compassionate in your approach rather than indifferent? Well, let him do and be himself and you carry on with yours. Why do you feel more obliged and entitled to dictate who and what one does with their life when there are far greater socio-political and economic oppression and depression in this country without redress affecting ALL of us which is of more pivotal importance?

In conclusion, it’s about high time you lot quit talking about gay people forcing an agenda or homosexuality onto anyone. Are the fornicators, adulterers, rapists, murderers or thieves forcing these respective acts onto you? The way I see it, NO ONE can force or influence another to be or do nothing that that person does not want to do or isn’t. Ignorance is surely a bliss!

The views expressed are not those of ANN but of the writer,please send all opinion piece to news@annsvg.com

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