November 2, 2017
I am a 21-year-old, 5’6, bisexual tomboy living in Jamaica. And while not the best country to be in while being outside the sexuality of straight, I try my best to live my life the way I am. I remember countless times simply walking down the street and suddenly hear someone scream a slur at me as if I was standing in their house. I usually annoy these jeers unless physical contact is made telling me that I must “look like a girl” and “walk like a girl” or “act like a girl”. I would retort with a reply somewhere along the lines of “how about no?” or a simple shrug of dismissal. In the workplace is where I feel most suffocated and persecuted; built on heavily constructed Christian beliefs, that is what my workplace was like. With my boss being a Jehovah’s Witness and my office manager being a devout Christian with seemingly pristine home, a husband and two kids, I would more than too often hear them talking about the new Sodom and Gomorrah being today’s society, what with marriage equality being legalized in the United States. I would often have to pretend to be what I wasn’t to fit their intolerant, homophobic narrative, saying things that go against what I originally stood for. I would sit behind my cubicle agreeing with something my manager had said while rolling my eyes wondering why this affected her so much. It was exhausting, being an imposter, all to keep a job that was barely paying my bills. Needless to say, I don’t work there anymore, for more reasons than the homophobic speeches, but it played a huge part. While I grew to love who I was and learned not to care what anyone thought of me, it was still agonizingly harmful to my psyche, listening to them any longer. So I moved on, and I try to be as much of myself as I can unapologetically in this country and culture filled with societal stereotypes and deeply ingrained gender roles. I try to find safe spaces in LGBT friendly restaurants, and I keep myself surrounded with open-minded friends who couldn’t care less what sex I’m attracted to. Jamaica has a long way to go before any progress on basic human rights is made, but I just take it one day at a time, living my life as best I can, being who I am.