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Gay Man confesses to SEARCHLIGHT

Editor: A few weeks ago I wrote to your paper addressing homophobia in this country in general, and remarks made by Minister Selmon Walters in particular.
This week, I wish to continue in a similar vein. However, instead of attacking one person’s homophobia, I wish to write about my own experience as a gay Vincentian. {{more}} Last week’s papers (June 18th) contained a few letters that dealt with the theme of homosexuality – both in a positive and negative light. Two of these letters specifically struck a note with me – Victor Cuffy’s letter to The News and Kenrick Quashie’s letter to SEARCHLIGHT.
I would like to thank both these men for their letters as they reveal the need for debate around the issue of homosexuality in our society. To Mr. Cuffy: many thanks for your humanistic comments, and to Mr. Quashie: thank you for engaging in the debate to begin with. Just a quick response to Mr. Quashie – you said in your letter that you consider Minister Walters “brave” for speaking his views, as they are unpopular. Unpopular? Since when has it been unpopular in this country to make homophobic comments? St. Vincent thrives on homophobia – it’s in our language, our music, our art and drama. ]
Music, especially, represents the prevailing views of a society. Just look at how many soca songs this year bash “chi chi men”, etc. No Mr. Quashie, Minister Walters was not being “brave”; he was not “speaking out”. In fact, he was being safe. Being brave would be preaching that “love thy neighbour” includes your GAY neighbour; being brave would be commenting that gays have as much right to a lifestyle, to a LIFE, as anyone else.
Whenever I come out to one of my friends about my sexuality I am always asked the same question: “How long have you been gay?” In response, I invariably reply: “All my life.” I think it is intrinsic in humans to desire understanding of the unknown, the different. This is why so many people are interested in what makes people gay. There have been many theories put forward; all of which are still just that – THEORIES. To date, no one has come up with conclusive evidence about the reasons for the existence of gays in the world. There’s the biology argument – everything from flawed genes to unbalanced chromosomes; there’s the socialization argument – we must have been raised this way. Many theories point towards the hypothesis that being gay is a choice.
I have, long ago, stopped worrying about what makes me gay. It is just the way I am. I did not ask to be gay; there was no cosmic request from my pre-embodied spirit to make me homosexual. Indeed, no Vincentian in his or her right mind chooses a gay lifestyle; that would be self-destructive. Who CHOOSES to locate themselves outside of the norm? We are socialized to revere the norm, to strive to attain it. To deliberately go against the norm, for whatever reason, is to risk the rejection of mainstream society. So no, I did not wake up one morning and say to myself: “Hmmm … I think I’ll be gay from now on; I think it’ll suit my flat-front trousers, well-groomed hair and effervescent personality.”
All my life I have known that I was not like other males. As a child, I was different from other little boys – my friends knew this, my family knew this, I knew this. It was not until I started to hit puberty that I realized just what this difference was. When all my male friends started noticing girls, I started noticing all my male friends (well not ALL of them, I can be quite discriminating). I know many people will roll their eyes at this, but it is true – this is what came NATURALLY to me. Thus ensued many years of self-deception, self-doubt and self-hatred. I did not fully come to love myself, and to accept myself, until I was 20.
I was raised Christian. In fact, there couldn’t have been a more outwardly appearing Christian than Little Joe. But I lived in fear – fear that I would be found out, fear that I would be rejected, fear that God would send me straight to hell for not only being gay, but for lying about it and “pretending” to be a Christian. Then I realized several things. First of all, God will love me no matter what; I could be a murderer, rapist or both and God would still love me. I also realized that in God’s eyes SIN IS SIN; whether it is a little white lie or a sexual relationship with another man – God does not discriminate between sins. I went on to realize that EVERYONE is a sinner – we are born sinners and we will die sinners – therefore, speaking out against any one sin is unproductive. We should follow our conscience, we should treat our fellow human beings with respect and love, and this is how we save ourselves. Judgment and punishment is not ours to mete out. Finally, I realized that being found out, and being rejected, were minor considerations – it doesn’t matter what people think of me, it matters what I think of myself. Of course, this does not mean that I am going to run down Bay Street in a pink halter top and tight shorts screaming: “I’m queer, I’m here, get used to it!” That would be self-destructive (and more than a little bit unattractive). But nor am I going to court some poor unsuspecting female and marry her just to “fit in”.
Yes, I went to counseling (both religious and secular). I mean, it was difficult; I did not want to be gay! My counselors told me to stop whining and go find myself a nice man to settle down with. I moaned to my friends. They told me to shut up and tell them what “IT” was like. I cried to my family. They actually cried back and then told me to quit feeling sorry for myself and go make myself happy the best way I know how. Ultimately everyone who knows me, and knows about me, wants the same thing for me – happiness. No one ever suggested that I try to bury my feelings, my natural inclinations. They have all wanted me to live MY life on my own terms. I have certainly been blessed in the people who populate my life. Of course, I have also been rejected – one friend told me that I’d fallen off her pedestal. I told her that she was a bit naïve to put me on a pedestal in the first place.
All of this rambling has one main point. I am normal. I am not a sexual deviant. I am not going to steal away your little boys and initiate them into some arcane and deranged practices. Nor am I a threat to your own manhood and heterosexuality – I am not interested in straight men, I know my boundaries. And to clear up one other point: I do not want to be a woman (one of my friends asked me if I was going to have an “operation”). I am not effeminate, most people were surprised when I came out to them – this includes the people closest to me. Being effeminate and flamboyant does not equate with being gay. In fact, I could be standing beside you unobtrusively right now, reading this article over your shoulder and searching your face for a reaction. You never know. Essentially, I AM queer. I AM here. So get used to it. Ok?
Thank you for the space in your paper. I must say that I commend SEARCHLIGHT on being brave enough, and having enough journalistic integrity to print my letters.
As before, I regret that I am unable to sign my real name.
Joe

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