Wednesday, Dec 11, 2019
HomeOpinionLettersThere’s no place for gays: three perspectives

There’s no place for gays: three perspectives

Dear Editor,

Some may disagree that gay-based discrimination exists on the basis that gay people hold professional careers.

However, this may mean that there ought to be a re-consideration of what discrimination means. Take for instance these anecdotal perspectives on the way gay-based discrimination is institutionalized in The Bahamas.

The police

The police are generally thought to be professionals employed by the taxpayer to both uphold the law and protect citizens.

Indeed this they do.

Notwithstanding this is the sheer threat gay men often face when being handled by the police.

I, and most of my friends, have all at some point experienced the latter.

There has been more than one occasion where I have been handled by the police in a discriminatory and unprofessional manner due to my sexuality.

In one instance, I sat on the beach with my gay lover only to be accosted by the police.

Instead of making us aware of the offence, which was loitering, the officers descended into a demeaning frenzy of homophobic slurs.

On another occasion, I joined my friends at a gay-themed event New Year’s night in 2017.

I remember vividly, one of my friends had dressed in drag.

That morning, when we arrived at his apartment, a few men in the neighborhood had spotted him and began spewing threats, slamming objects about exclaiming, “We ain’t into dis sissy ting dis morning!”

Feeling threatened and unsafe, we got into the car and went to the Elizabeth Estates Police Station to file a report.

When we explained our story, one officer responded, “das ya boyfriend eh”, while the other snickered at his desk.

Avoiding eye contact, another officer told us to wait for a patrol car so that they could investigate the matter. We waited for two hours, into 12 p.m. unacknowledged, in spite of the fact that patrol cars had come in and left. We left the station and the matter had never been resolved.

Work

In places of employment, gays often slip under the radar.

While there may be generally accepted signifiers that speak to their sexuality, such as gendered behaviors, it is still not, in most cases, divulged in fear of discrimination and safety.

As was mentioned earlier, most Bahamians share the idea that discrimination is non-existent because of the fact that gay people hold professional jobs.

Most gay people keep their sexuality private because they feel heterosexuals do not announce their sexuality (or whatever that may mean).

In any event, discrimination takes the form of ‘sip sip’; “You think he like that?” or, as I have experienced with a former employer, subtle talk aimed to suggest that my sexuality must remain private (even though I haven’t suggested that I am gay or straight).

Discrimination is so institutionalized in schools that even some teachers instill it into students and perpetuate notions of fear and guilt.

It is relevant to note that, in this way, gay children are already at a disadvantage because they are institutionally unrecognized.

I remember a grade-level seminar where a pastor spoke to children on how gay lifestyles are inherently wrong and that God is displeased.

While that singled out gay children in the audience, the bigger picture is that it affirms that there is the manufacture of anti-gay sentiments in children.

I hear daily that phrase that has become a fixture in the Bahamian imagination: “You like man eh?”

The verbal hostility which I have experienced from my students due to my sexuality is obliquely encouraged by adults.

Family

Of all the places gay people seek refuge, the family is the most ideal.  However, this is not the case.

In January, a friend of mine died in a traffic accident.

Some consider it suicide, while others think it was just circumstance that caused his death.

Having been a close friend of his for a time, I could not help but notice the way he complained about the non-acceptance of his family, which stirred hatred in him.

Along with this, he struggled with well-known depression, of which he couldn’t seem to recover from.

Innocently, I drew linkages between his death and his depression.

As I have witnessed, even in my own life, gay people experience rejection from family members which takes the form of gay slurs, even violence.

I have personally been called names from my family in times past because I was gay, which has led me to develop stronger bonds with gay people like myself who could offer protection.

I have learned to overcome the trauma, which made me more aware of the ways in which gay-based discrimination is institutionalized in The Bahamas.

Long since buggery has been abrogated, The Bahamas still grapples with the inconceivable, such as a push for transgenders to be exiled, to talk of a Pride Parade being aggressively objected by the Christian Council.

These stories often go untold in fear of the international reputation of the country being compromised.

– Glenn King

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