25 year old Jamaican Elton McDuffus is a Procurement Officer for a local LGBT group and a gay man. He has suffered homophobic bullying all his life, but says that he hopes to use that experience to help other LGBTQI+ people who have been discriminated against. To contact: email: emcduffus@gmail.com, Instagram: classicman_imageguy. Jamaica is one of 76 countries where same-sex acts are illegal. The LGBTQI+ community in the country have regularly faced violent homophobic and trans-phobic attacks, and discrimination in almost every sector of society. However, in the last ten years, through the emergence of courageous grassroots LGBTQI+ grassroots non-governmental organizations and activists, the country has seen progressive gains for LGBTQI+ acceptance. Photo Robin Hammond/NOOR for Witness Change. 25 September 2016

Elton /

“‘He survive’- homophobic bullying
I never knew it was bullying until I got to know the word too well. Then I learnt it was homophobic bullying because I was being teased and called ‘fish’, ‘faggot’, ‘battyman’ and other degrading names. For half of my life I felt as though something was wrong with me. I thought maybe they were right for teasing me. I didn’t fit into the typical cope of masculinity; I preferred reading and writing poems rather than playing football with the guys. I enjoyed playing with my sisters rather than going outside to play in the dirt, doll house or a game of dressing up was my much suited fantasy. So they called me names- names I now laugh at. High School was the rawest deal, I was attacked a couple time and had to fought my way through High School be it physically, psychologically, emotionally and financially as I wasn’t from a ‘well off’ family.
Given that High School was where immature pupil congregated to learn I could excuse the homophobic bully ordeal I went through. At no point I felt I giving in, perhaps giving up. As I started to stay away from school, robbing myself from a perfectly good education. I had to play catch up many times in teaching myself what was lost from not attending school due to feeling very uncomfortable. I escaped that reality after what felt like lifetime of slavery/ torture; slavery in the sense of mentally I felt like I was crippled by my fear of going to school and never returning home to my parents to never see my siblings again or to grow up to see and enjoy life.
Then University happened and that changed the way I felt about being controlled about what people say and do. I promised myself that I would never allow it to stop me from achieving my goals. I knew now that I was special and should allow feel comfortable in my own skin. So while the bullying continued at this level, it was subtle and I didn’t allow it to control me this time. I decided that I wanted to do something about this so I began working with civil societies. I now work with J-FLAG, Jamaica’s Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays where I fight for the equal rights of all members o the LGBT community. Why? Simply because I want to see a better Jamaica where everyone can feel safe to be themselves. This in itself comes with a lot of challenges as I had t move countless times in and around Kingston so that I can have peace of mind and feel some sense of the word “safe” oftentimes living in uptown communities where less discrimination occurs. The struggles continues the fight for equality will always be one of my number one priority and giving up is not something I plan to do. I am happy with the man I have become, LGBT and brave and paramount to my development of self. I would want to encourage others to never give up, be your best self and remain true to who you are. That bully might just be somebody lacking love and attention. Never let the fear of giving in let you give up.
– Elton McDuffus”

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