Written by Lovey Archer
Aaahhh … the Caribbean! One mention of this word and a blissful feeling of sun, sand, sea and freedom comes to your mind, right? Just like the hundreds of thousands of people that visit our shores every year, you probably also think the Caribbean is a perfect paradise.
But as an out lesbian living in beautiful Trinidad and Tobago, I sometimes feel as if everything our slave ancestors fought for in the name of freedom is forgotten or even lost here in the Caribbean.
For those of us lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or intersex (LGBTQI) folks living in the Caribbean, the sand, sun and sea means nothing because our freedom, is sadly suppressed.
It is still very taboo to ‘come out of the closet’ to your family and friends in the Caribbean. Our heterosexual counterparts scorn the very idea of anyone who belongs to the LGBTQI community. It appears as if religion (the church) and capitalists (the business community) have a stronghold on government’s decision making process in allowing for freedom in our community.
Lesbians are not Respected Here
Some would say it is a little bit easier to be a lesbian than to be a gay man in the Caribbean. However, from my experience this is thought to be so for all the wrong reasons. Lesbians are not respected, but instead we are seen as sexual objects to both women and men for their threesome fantasies. Thus to them, it is about nothing more than hooking up and having a good time. But for women who truly love women, we acknowledge and view our love and relationships seriously.
Coming Out to My Parents
Coming out to my parents wasn’t as bad as I imagined it would be and for this I am grateful. I was terrified of admitting to them that I was in love with a woman, as the stigma of becoming an outcast to the “Caribbean heterosexual norm” plagued my mind.
Even though at first they were skeptical of my fiancée, once my parents got to know the woman who captured my heart, they came around to adoring her.
Additionally, I appreciate my real friends who have supported and stuck with me to date. Needless to say, the fake “friends” distanced themselves and so my circle has gotten a whole lot smaller.
Why I Stay
To be who I am, comfortably and truthfully without fear or ridicule, is my ultimate goal as a lesbian and more so as a human existing in this universe. This is such a strong desire that some of my friends and family have migrated to the ever-popular United States and Europe to attain this freedom and self-expression.
Whenever possible, I support and sign any petition that advocate for abolishing the archaic Caribbean laws that criminalize being part of the LGBTI community. I cling to the hope that new legislation will be put in place to ensure that we enjoy the same rights of marriage, bearing/adopting children, safety and freedom from victimization, as heterosexuals do. In so doing, it will prove to us in the Caribbean and by extension the world, that our forefathers/mothers struggle and fight for freedom was not in vain.
We just want it to be known that in the end we are all human and love is love!
Lovey Archer, a 30-something lesbian living in the Caribbean, came out to her family and friends about four years ago when she met the love of her life. They are now engaged to be married, are growing beautifully together and are hoping to effect and see change in their part of the universe!