Paul Dee / Jamaica
“I think I knew from around the age of 5 I was gay. In kindergarten I had my first brush with homophobia, although I didn’t have much of a clue what it meant at the time, it wasn’t until years later the flashback of it made any sense. I remember having something I would not share with a fellow classmate and he got angry at me and called me a batty man on the playing field (epithet for faggot) just for not sharing it, this was around 1989. Other cases of early homophobia during my childhood started happening; name calling such as ‘sissy’ became more frequent. One day I asked my mother what does ‘sissy’ mean. I don’t remember her exact responses, but I do remember her turning around with a look of gloom on her face to ask me, are they calling you that at school. I said ‘no’ at the time and from then on kept silent about it.
Growing up, Gay people were often ridiculed and were the butt of jokes in my family. In fact, if you really want to disrespect someone just call them batty man or homo. At a young age and obviously coming to terms with being Gay made it was hard for me and in some ways I started getting angry about it. I knew I could never say anything because of the fear I had developed. My fear has always been, if my parents or siblings found out I was Gay it would have been beaten by from my father, ridicule from my mother and further disgust and beatings from my siblings. So from then on, I vow to keep this a secret for the rest of my life. It was a tough decision, but I didn’t know how much it would have an impact on my life and how I would handle my sexuality later in life.
When I witness the progress in places such as North America and Europe, I further realize how lonely and isolated I am at times to the point it becomes unbearable. I am at an age where I want to express my sexuality, find companionship, a lover, a partner. I don’t know what the future holds for me living here. Sometimes I wonder if this is just my burden to bare. Maybe one day in the afterlife if exists, I will finally be able live without fear.”