Stop denying homophobia!
THE EDITOR, Sir:
This letter is in response to Jaevion Nelson's article 'Jamaica not as homophobic as portrayed' (Gleaner, July 3, 2014).
Nelson is right that the every member of the LGBT community does not have a homogeneous, death-unto-you experience marked by violence. And true, there is no one way to measure homophobia.
However, here is the problem with his article. There is an implicit denial of the shared experience of fear members of the LGBT community undergo.
No matter how much you resist it, no matter how strong you try to be, if you are gay or bisexual in Jamaica, at some point, you are afraid. You are afraid of what your parents, or friends, will do. You are afraid of what the public will do. You police yourself to ensure you conform with the sex-role stereotypes. And, importantly, most LGBT persons cannot openly claim their sexual orientation without some reprisal.
Our society defends and supports such reprisals and this culture of fear. That is the indication of homophobia. It is foolish to look for violence.
We know there are laws that deny rights to this community. We know there are persons who actively support this system of discrimination and we know the community is marginalised. It is culturally accepted and defended. To say we are not as homophobic because there is nothing to measure it is just blind. It is foolish.
I do not think saying "all gay men and women don't have the same experience with violence" is the same as saying we are not a homophobic country.
What it does say is that the homophobia takes many forms, that it varies according to class and education. Ian Boxill has a study that proves this. Homo-negativity is alive and well and publicly showing itself. So for those gay men and women who do not experience it, good for you, but it does not alter the reality I have described and Jamaica's cultural position on sexual difference.