Being Queer in Jamaica
Trigger Warning: sexual abuse, homophobia
In order to assure the accuracy of the queer experience, two members of the queer Jamaican community were asked for their input both of whom identify as male and gay. They have asked to remain anonymous.
Jamaica has had a dark and difficult history with the queer community. Much of this has to do with its colonial past. Slaves were often subject to sexual abuse by their masters. Such acts have resulted in transgenerational trauma which materialises as widespread homophobia and extreme ideas of masculinity. Moreover, the presence of Christianity in Jamaica since colonial times has served to reinforce homophobia.
The general stance on the LGBTQ+ community is therefore, unfortunately, a negative one. The pressures of a religious society that demonises queer identities often leaves people in the queer community feeling isolated and shunned. This general lack of acceptance means that queer couples should be cautious when moving around Jamaica as a whole. PDA is advised against, as it could be met with jeering, humiliation or even threats. In a more controlled setting such as a resort, hotel or private space it is very different. Resort and hotel staff are held accountable for behaviour towards guests and intolerance or homophobia is not accepted.
Whilst Jamaica is a very fashion-forward country, the delineations between menswear and womenswear are clear. Mixing the two could impact interactions.
Sadly, Jamaica has a long way to go when it comes to attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community. Whilst it is slowly becoming more normalised and people increasingly feel able to share their sexuality with those close to them, identifying as queer can have a negative impact on one’s life in settings such as the workplace. This can often lead to the feeling of living a double life; in turn, this has led to the creation of an underground queer community, one in which many LGBTQ+ people have found a sense of acceptance and freedom. This community is tight knit and those interviewed for this section preferred not to go into too much detail about how one would find access. It is suggested that if the traveller comes across someone who is open about their queer identity, this could provide an opening for the traveller to get involved.