Cypher Avenue Interviews: Small Islands – Same Problems

By OckyDub | Posted Mar 23 2012 | 7 Comments  

 
Here at Cypher Avenue we are moving forward with our plans to bring our expanding audience new content.  With that in mind we are starting a new series of interviews featuring everyday homosexual /bisexual men of color, speaking on their life experiences and situations.
 

 
First up is my Caribbean friend Raymond.I met Raymond over 5 years ago on BGC.com.  We did the usual, exchanged body pics, exchanged phone numbers chatted on the phone for weeks before meeting in person.  Raymond lived in the United States but was originally from a Caribbean island known for having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Raymond is masculine, stereotypically tall, dark and handsome and his thick Caribbean accent added to his sex appeal.Raymond and I dated off and on for a couple of years before deciding to just be friends.  This was easy because Raymond was very intelligent, logical, mature, highly educated, with a good sense of humor and great conversation.Raymond has since moved back to his island after being “Americanized”in the US for many years. Having the opportunity to fully explore his sexuality has added to his overall US experiences. Recently Raymond traveled back to the US for business and I wanted to take the opportunity to ask him a couple of questions about how he is adjusting since moving back to his island homeland.

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 Let get right to it because I know you are hitting the clubs tonight.

LOL…Let’s do it.

What’s it like living on the island vs. living in the US?

The island is more close nit and laid back…US is lot more restricted. The US has more rules and regulations that are heavily enforced.  Life on the island is a little bit more (or in general) an easier way of life.
 
Is there a gay culture on the island and is there also a gay club scene?
Yes there is a gay culture but there is not really a gay club scene per se.  There are no gay clubs on the island; however there are regular clubs where gay men frequent or clubs where these men go and hang out together.
 
 
Raymond goes on to explain things a little further as far as the pseudo club scene goes…
There is a club I go to where it is a lot more urban or for a lack of a better term“ghetto”.  It’s always interesting to watch how these super DL guys act…how they communicate, how they stand, how they signal to each other when they sense you may be down. And of course it’s an island so word about your sexuality or practices may get out to those in the lifestyle…because of that, they may try to signal and send a message.

Okay so if this is how the ghetto scene is, how is the more upscale or professional gay scene.

I really can’t say too much about that because my strategy is to not associate with gay men in my professional status.

(We start to laugh but ask)…Why is that?
Because the society is so tight and small and thirsty…they talk a lot.

Okay elaborate…

Well there is a guy that I have been seeing, dating, (whatever term you want to use) named Jason and he has been on the island his whole life. Well he has been gay for over 12 years and that is a lot of time for people to pretty much know or find out your business…so it is pretty much known that he is gay…so I kinda guard myself and watch where I go with him in public.On the other hand I feel like wait…there is another side to me that is like fuck this…I shouldn’t care who sees us together, I can hang out with a gay guy if I want to.

We went out one Sunday to a shopping mall and saw a group of guys that I somewhat could sense were gay.  Well Jason confirmed this and told me that one of the guys in the group was very messy and most likely he would start calling around to try and figure out who I was…and sure enough this is exactly what happened.

Another time Jason and I were out at a lounge and my cell phones rings not to long after being there and I got a text from one of my straight female friends asking “who was the gay guy I was with at the club?” Someone of course had seen us there and notified her within minutes after arriving…that’s some bullshit.

I am saying all of this to say; the less I expose myself to the “gay” men in my professional circle, the less these things will happen.  I don’t want to be around these professional types because of the way the network and gossip.  I would much prefer to deal with men who don’t run in my circles…we may not have anything to talk about but at least I don’t have to worry about these type of situation happening.


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Even through you live on an island do you feel there is a smaller or larger selection of masculine gay guys to choose from vs. being in the United States?(Raymond starts to laugh)

I get asked this question a lot. There can be 20 million men here (in the US) but they are all the same thing.  By simple math there is a smaller / concentrated selection of masculine men on the island but it is hard to meet them because they operate under a cloak…there may even be discreet professional men that or cool that my hang out together…but they are still not my type…so the selection is very small. So you then have to deal with gossip, them stealing or going after each other’s men. When I came back to the island these men got excited and I created a firestorm because I was somewhat a new face on the island.So I went out of my way to not associate with them and only deal with those not in my professional status because I would not have to worry about my business being out there.

Are the men you meet and deal with younger or older? 
Usually younger.

Can you see yourself in a long term relationship on your island?
Yes…because I think it would be easier because there would not be a whole lot of distractions.

Is there a gay prostitution area on your island or as I call it…”The HO Stroll”?
Yes there is and it is known in the gay culture here, but maybe not to the outside world.  It’s known to the masculine gay guys and also to the drag queens.

Whoa! Drag Queens on your island…Really? Wait do you mean the area is known to the masculine gay guys?
Yes…there are a lot of drag queens and they have their area where they prostitute and you have the area where the guys prostitute…and the guys are very masculine. You may think it’s just a guy walking down the street but he will be prostitute, they roam around that area.

So this area caters to those looking for drag queens as well as masculine male prostitutes?
Yes

Wow…
I know right

What is the attitude on your island compared to other islands about homosexuality?
Well first, personally I am torn with homosexuality…I mean since living in the US, I have accepted that part of me but there is a part of me that is this island and I thinks it’s wrong and I don’t accept it.

If I answer your question, of what the general attitude is…it will be based on an American perception and my island perception…Do you understand what I am saying?

I understand but, like what does the media on your island say…meaning like are their public opinion polls in your newspapers about gays or gay right?
Well yes…they have gay rights.

But can you recall any poll or opinion results?
No I can’t tell you that.

Okay…what about attitudes or opinions amongst your heterosexual circle of friends or your family?
To answer that question very plainly and clearly…the attitude is the same as you would find in any “small town” in America.

There is a lot of misconceptions…you will hear people on the radio saying things like “it’s a choice”.  They attempt to use religion to change you and justify why it is incorrect…but having said that, there is a guy I went to school with who is now a drag queen as an adult and he is very open and very public and works in a prominent store as a sales person in our down town area.  He works dressed as a drag queen… He is employable so obviously people understand he has the right to be who he is. Understand?


So there is a gay element on your island for lack of better terms that is open and in your face?

Oh hell yeah.  Yes there are drag queens that are out and open and for the most part no one heckles or bothers them.

OK…well as you may know there is a problem in the US with kids being bullied for being gay or being perceived as being gay…is this  aproblem on your island?
Yes it is…when I was a kid bulling was not this big thing that it is now and yes we have had some instances that have made our news.  But keep in mind…if you are gay on my island you are either super DL or very out and open…there is not a whole lot of in between. For the most part gay men on my island are at least 90% masculine and un-clock-able.

When you look at other islands in the Caribbean like Jamaica where they are literally killing gayfolk, is that a problem on your island.
No, that is not a problem here. My island is nowhere near as bad as Jamaica….that is like one of the worst places on the earth.  I remember when I was living there and I overheard a group of guys talking…and they were very animated and they were saying…”Jamaica don’t have no gay men in it, and if they did we would kill them on the spot.”

Has there ever been any type of gay activism or anything of its kind on your island?
Well yes there are discrimination laws that can protect you from being fired because of your sexual orientation just like here in the US.

Is there anything you would like to add at all?
Well…I think one thing I would like to clear up is a misconception that most people in the US and around the world think and that most of the islands in the Caribbean are like Jamaica.

Yes…a lot of us do.
Well, the same way I said earlier to you, the US has places in it like “small town” America that have certain attitudes towards homosexuality and you also have places on the islands that are acceptable and are tolerant like some major cities in the US…Atlanta, DC, New York etc.

Me living in the US and living on my island…there is very little difference.  Trinidad is one island that is very tolerant…some people on my island have said that being gay in Trinidad is like a fad because it seemed there were a lot of gay people from that island and that is a perception some may say my island has as well because you can see drag queens open and walking down the street.

In your opinion what is the gayest of the Caribbean islands?
I would say it’s between Trinidad and Barbados.  But I would say Trinidad because they have a lot of gay clubs but you won’t catch me there because the muthafuckers I am trying to avoid on my island are over there visiting…LMAO!

Well man thanks for taking the time to speak with me. This was very interesting.
Well man this was cool…very therapeutic for me.


About the Author
OckyDub

Octavius is a founder and editor of Cypher Avenue. He's here to help speak for us and show the world that masculine gay / bisexual men of color are not a part of the stereotypical gay normal that is seen and fed to the masses. No...we are a distinct breed, filled with character and pride. Cypher Avenue is here to show the world how we are different.

   
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7 Comments Feel Free To Join The Cypher.

  1. Tyrone Liberated | July 7th, 2013
    0

    I am Caribbean myself and I can agree with quite a bit of what he said. I recently returned to my island to live for a few months and I can say things are changing a little from what they use to be but you can still hear words like “Anti-Man”, “Batty Man”, “ChiChi man”, or jus faggot. My parents are very anti gay, and it sickens me, they dont know about me because I love them alot and I fear being alienated, I do try to argue with them and show them that what they are doing is wrong. The island gossips ALOT so DL are super Downlow. On my island there is a group of people called the “outters” and their sole purpose is to out the DL men on island. The last thing I heard was they caught a police officer and another guy kissing in a home through a window on photo and posted it and circulated it on facebook. Me personally, I love my island, but I dont think I can spend the rest of my life on it because of the blatant ignorance. I love the articles on this site.

  2. JerseyCity C.Block | July 7th, 2013
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    I knew a DL guy from Kingston, Jamaica (lets call him Rasta) who had to miss the birth of his first child because he was outted to his overly homophobic father.This guy Rasta was messing with on the low apparently did it because he thought Rasta would be spending more time with his BabyMama when the baby came. His father not only disowned him but had the nerve to banish him from Jamaica. Out of respect for his father, Rasta moved to the states and has never been back since. This guy was sooo insecure with himself and his stance in life that he eventual succumb to crystal meth here in the states and i never saw him again after our short friendship disbanded.

  3. Jerome | July 7th, 2013
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    hey guys nice article. I am from jamaica and i can tell you it is not ad bad as people paint it out to be. Gay people are not being randomly killed in jamaica. like most places in the world jamaica is religious and most people are christians. You have gays right across the spectrum here. The thing with jamaicans are that they will make remarks but as long as you keep to yourself they are find. Another thing is that people will hold hostility towards more female inclined gay guys and they are not so acceptings of public display of affection. But as you are a good person who goes about yor business people will leave you alone. They are not much gay clubs here but lots a parties, events, gay friendly places and all that. When it comes to crime most gay related murders are dont by jealous lovers or some dl dude who fear being outed. There are no mobs going around attacking people. That is not to say you not have to be area of where you are and the people you are around. And yea raymond had that right we in the caribbean live in a small society so people will know each other. Like with anywhere easy people using stick to their circle

  4. jamaiquino | July 7th, 2013
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    I am from Jamaica and it’s really not what people think it is..in comparison to Haiti where we are quite bland. There are a number of things that should be understood about Jamaica.
    1.The heavily religious population does not tend to allow an over expansive study (knowledge) into sexuality. This can be seen in most population studies of the similar circumstances (like in the US). This lack of study may be limited to few people but likely dismissed after decades of ‘brainwashing’ and/or likely not spoken about because of the majority’s (ignorance).
    2.Jamaica’s hyper media steered the direction of the culture especially during the 90s with the music and print. The media is more accessible to the public unlike the tertiary education system where one has to choose (& pay for) to study sexuality/socialogy.
    3.Jamaica has a ‘gay’ culture but as I say to most people in cultures of suppression.. education is the key. One has to gain & earn their money ..money is power and people in a class of power tends to garner a certain respect. Overall discretion is the key.

    Example:
    It was not unlikely to see in the newspaper that a teacher was caught with a student. Where in the US this could be seen easily as an occurrence of Pedophilia…in Jamaica this is a situation of ‘battymanism’ .. ‘buggering’..because teenagers are expected to make adult decisions and not seen as children. This situation was broadcasted only (mostly) for male on male and not male on female where it happens more often.

    • Coshamo | July 7th, 2013
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      Thank you for speaking up and letting us know the truth instead of us LIVING by MYTHS about a place. It speaks volumes about what really goes on there on the Island of Jamaica.

  5. Coshamo | July 7th, 2013
    0

    This was a very good article. This was my second time reading it, and as they say, “the second time around is always better.”

    Revealing. Thorough. Informative. Eyeopening.

  6. Dre G | August 14th, 2014
    0

    This was a good read.I’ve experienced the whole thing about being questioned about being in the presence of someone who was suspected of being gay.It’s like being guilty by association.Those of who us who reside in relatively smaller communities can definitely relate.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing more of this type of thing if there are ore men out there who want to share their stories.




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