Mon | Dec 11, 2017

Letter of the Day | Pride in Jamaica

Published:Thursday | August 17, 2017 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

This year, thousands of members of the local and diasporic Jamaican LGBT community and allies celebrated Pride in Jamaica. Throughout the week, I reflected on my own sense of pride and what it meant to be young, black, and gay in Jamaica, and how much of a privilege it was to be able to celebrate pride and the opportunities afforded to me to even volunteer at different events for the week.

Although I didn't get to attend some of the events, I could feel the fervour imbued in the community as they educated others, conversed, and had fun. I also reflected on those who can't 'pride' - the many young persons who are afraid of being outted, ostracised by their families, friends and co-workers for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or a person of trans experience. I reflected on my friends who are still afraid of safe spaces that pride in Jamaica have created to celebrate who they are.

Three years and counting, pride in Jamaica has had no major incidents and this is something Equality For All Foundation Jamaica (J-FLAG) should be proud of, especially in the midst of whispers that our country is one of the most homophobic in the world. I hope there will be even a drop of attention from the international media on this and that there will be a reshaping of the narrative.

I was happy to see members of the diaspora coming home and being welcomed with open arms to celebrate pride.

Pride reinforces to me that we are not ashamed of our queerness. It allows members of the community to come together in numbers and celebrate our difference, our humanity. For me, pride is healing the wounds that have been inflicted, both physical and emotional, by a heteronormative, heterosexist society. Pride for me was celebrating for those friends who couldn't and allowing their spirit to flow through me. Celebrating pride is a privilege and never should we forget that.

Pick up your flags and celebrate; reclaim your pride.

Mikhail Williams