A global support network for the LGBTIQ+ community

December 12, 2017

Mikhail C

I was 15 when I confirmed my sexual orientation to myself. There are memories I tried hard to blot out. But they come to the surface every time I tell my story about being alone and afraid because I was a gay, young man in an all boys’ institution in Jamaica. At first, being bullied or teased wasn’t a result of being gay, it was because I was too bookish. Being bookish to the hypermasculine boys around me at that time was a sign of effeminacy. Added to that, I was friends with boys who had a few effeminacies about them, whether it was their hand gestures or their voice.

All the macho boys did sports and to be a regular boy, I started doing sports. For a while, the plan worked, I was cool and one of them. I quit field events because I knew as much as I was trying, I would never fit in and being like them wasn’t the aim, I just wanted to be accepted. I struggled with that for a while and added to that, the bullying and rumours did not cease. I thought about committing suicide so many times and the many ways I could have if I really wanted to. But I knew in the back of my mind that there had to be something greater than this and although I couldn’t see the bigger picture then, my home was here – Jamaica and no one could displace me from here.

It was the embrace I received in college when I met my first real friend who was part of the LGBT community that made me feel whole. It was also the first guy that I fell for there, who eventually shattered my heart. These experiences taught me how to be brave and how to regain a oneness and an innocence I had lost back then. In 2017, I came out to my friends and some members of my family and after carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders like Atlas for years, I felt free. My first Pride in Jamaica also helped me to see how privileged I was to be able to be open with who I am and how it’s important to shift the narrative that we live in one of the most homophobic societies. Working for Equality for All Foundation Jamaica helped me to become the voice for that boy who is afraid and alone because he’s too different, too bookish, too queer.

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