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How I Live Outside the Closet in the Caribbean

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!

LoveyArcherLovey 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!

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Article written by:

Zamara Perri

Zamara Perri is the founder and editor of the Black Lesbian Love Lab blog. She loves black love and loves mangoes, cats, reading, cooking and writing about some of the challenges and joys of black lesbian relationships.

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  1. Avatar

    Great article but as someone who is also a black, out and proud lesbian living in Trinidad, I can acknowledge Ms. Archer’s point of view and even agree with a good potion of her opinions. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t include another point of reference to her experiences.
    My experiences thus far have definitely been much smoother than Ms. Archer. I have never hid my sexuality from my family, friends or co-workers and have yet to feel any negative push back as a result. Now I know from any where in the world any LGBTQI person would say I am very lucky and I am just an anomaly. I would agree if my best-friend’s experiences hadn’t almost mirrored mine, although I must admit she has gotten one or two negative reactions along the way but nothing horrible to date. We both live openly as lesbians and whether we take our cars to our mechanic or go to a bar we are always treated respectfully, even in the most unexpected places. I believe it does occur but it doesn’t to everyone and we have been activist for over 20 years. I also believe your experiences will differ according to your socioeconomic, racial, geographical and ageist demographics. I am more discriminated for the color of my skin than my sexual preference but that discussion is for another day.

    • Black Lesbian Love Lab
      Black Lesbian Love Lab

      Thanks for sharing your experience Noreen. I’m so happy for you and your friends. I’m thrilled to hear that you are able to be your authentic self without having to move away from your homeland.

  2. Avatar

    I was born in Trinidad and live in the States I visit frequently with my wife and cousin who also brings her wife. We have never had any negative things said to us or even bad looks. Family have been supportive at least the ones we talk to and we have a large family. I love that I can dance, hold hands, and just be me in my homeland.

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