On trying to make “Heterophobia” a thing

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” – George Orwell

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On a relatively normal day, Madame Commissioner, Nicole Cole lies in bed, thinking about the country’s anti-buggery laws. She sits on two commissions, the Women and Gender Equality Commission and also, the Rights of the Child Commission – but Nicole has always known that her true calling was to set up an Anti-buggery unit in the country. These plans would face hindrance if the buggery laws were to be struck off the books and she could not have that.

She wasn’t too sure how she would do it, but lack of information had never stopped her before. She wondered briefly whether the gender neutrality of Sections 352 and 353, of the Criminal Law (Offences) Act, which criminalizes buggery, would be a hindrance in setting up her unit. Its neutrality meant that anyone who engaged in buggery, even heterosexuals could be charged in the face of the law.

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She was a bit conflicted about this because as a champion of the rights of heterosexuals, she wondered whether even this was maybe, something that could be called “hetero-phobic.” Ignoring her cognitive dissonance, she reasoned that even if a few heterosexuals were to be imprisoned once her unit was set up- the fact that Section 351 specifically criminalized any form of intimacy between men who have sex with men MSM- it just might be worth it. In every revolution, she mused; we lose some of our own.

It has been several days now since Nicole realized the depths of hetero-phobia in Guyana. Living in a heteronormative society where anyone belonging to another sexuality is seen as deviant and castigated, she never thought she would see a day when heterosexuals would be under such strong attack by those queer folks. She just didn’t understand it.

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She was a commissioner on the Women and Gender Equality Commission, she believed in equality. Yes, true to Orwellian philosophy she believed that some were more equal than others but that’s only because that’s the way God and Rastafari wanted it to be. Hell, she wasn’t that bad. She had even marched with queer men and women in the Guyanese leg of the Life in Leggings movement. She remembered that one Thompson girl asking her whether her marching with queer folks was the equivalent of, “I can’t be racist, I have many black friends,” when it came towards the LGBT community. Nicole had only responded by speaking of her self-proclaimed ‘bonafide-ness.’

Surely, she was ‘tolerant,’ yet those heterophobes were accusing her of discrimination. Since when did telling consenting people they do not deserve the same rights as others, discrimination? Even those liberal loving pansies at the W&GEC were calling her discriminatory in their press release. That one had hurt her. Even though the press release had absolutely no teeth to it, it still had hurt her and she was beginning to think there existed some heterophobic persons on the commission also. How come they didn’t issue a press release against the buggery of children? She wondered. “They would bugger the boys until they lose consciousness,” she said.

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It didn’t matter that the number of hetero rapists of children are much, much higher than that of homos. As a scientist, she was not too concerned with facts, because science is about feelings after all. Could it be that they were able to see through her airtight argument that she was not being homophobic but was merely trying to protect children from buggery?

She was a respectable activist for women’s and children’s rights, that was not up for debate, but all of a sudden everyone was calling her a homophobe and she just had to deflect to the protection of children. ‘It was needed,’ she uttered to herself, staring up at her portrait of Haile Selassie.

That Thompson girl is such an upstart, she muttered bitterly. So what if my initial aim was not to bring attention to the buggery (rape) of children and was instead to denounce an entire sexuality? So what if heterosexuals are statistically more likely to rape and abuse children? So what, she expounded, that homosexuality and pedophilia were not the same thing? The fact remains, that that Thompson girl needs to mind her language. It doesn’t really matter Nicole mused that she tried to form dialogue and I only responded with my many hashtags of heterophobia and how evil LGBT persons are, she should have remained respectful always. ‘I am a commissioner after all, a champion of equality. I am bonafide,’ she said puffing her chest.

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Nicole was becoming slightly worried, not much though. She had survived threats to her job already. But still, she was worried. That Derwayne Wills boy who wants to be both a journalist and an activist told everyone about what is said in the Constitution about the rights commissions. She knew it well, she had read Article 212H (1) several times before because it stated that a new commission “… be appointed for three years and shall be eligible for re-appointment.”

The fact that it had been more than three years since she was appointed sat heavy on her mind, and since they were victimizing heterosexuals now, she did not see herself being re-appointed to the commissions.

She knew she had people on her side though and she found some comfort in that fact. She was grateful for Joseph Harmon’s pet boy, Darren Wade for coming to her defense and even taking it one step further and claiming religious persecution. Those were the kind of leaders we need in this place. Those who are not afraid to stand up for discriminatory practices and who grab at any opportunity they can to feel victimized. Yes, those were the people who would see her through this tough time, thought Nicole. Even if they were to eventually abandon her, she would survive against all the hetero-phobic attacks she received, because she was and remains ‘Madame Commissioner.’ She was, hashtag bonafide.

Love makes a family

Last night, I gave a speech at an event hosted by the European Union and Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination in observance of IDAHOT. Due to my clumsiness, I did not finish my speech and I was asked to post it up in its entirety. So here it is, with a few edits and additions.

As a child, it seemed like everything had definitions. Not only definitions, but stringent ones; ones that you could not necessarily change because it did not seem to apply to you. Just like how I learnt that us humans are basically made up of stardust and I learnt how to differentiate between water type and grass type Pokemons, I also learnt that a family was made up of a man, a woman and their children. There were some slight deviations from this of course. We not only had the nuclear family, we also had the extended and single parent ones too. What all of these definitions had in common however, was that they were all centered on heterosexuality. There was not a hint of queerness to be found anywhere, but I never questioned it. I didn’t question the erasure of my people in the education that my family was paying for. I didn’t know how much I had been conditioned in the heteronormativity of family until I saw depictions of queer families and felt like there was something wrong with it. It was quite an ironic but jarring experience because it made me realize that our entire system is based on these little oppressions of erasure.

We keep trying to wrap a neat little bow around the concept of family. But it is much too diverse, much too chaotic and full of hurt, pain and rejection at times. It is much too fulfilling and special to be tied down to just one meaning or subtle deviations of it.

When I realized that my experimentations with women were not just a passing phase and that it was an intrinsic part of who I was, I often thought about my family. They were a religious bunch, not fiercely religious but they were religious all the same. I wondered about how my mother would feel, I was her only child and she wanted me to be perfect, I wasn’t. I was my father’s eldest child and he wanted me to be a role model, I wasn’t. Then there was the rest of the family who banked and continues to bank their hopes on me. They wanted me to be a lawyer or a doctor so as to have a secure future and they wanted me to be straight.  For a while, I thought I wanted these things too. Instead, I turned out a bisexual writer, drenched in activism, an uncertain future and many, many mini-existential crises. I want to be none of those previous things I wanted. I no longer get a feeling of disassociation when I see queer families represented, what I do get is the hope that there will be more representations that are not rooted in stereotypes. What I do hope is that in those families, there is an abundance of love.

Due to societal expectations of what normalcy is, I see so many persons belonging to the LGBT community be castigated and treated as unimportant by their families. As a mother and as a queer woman, I know it is my responsibility to untie and continue untying all the little bows that society tries to impose upon my daughter and me. She is turning five next month and some people find it weird that I have such in depth conversations with her. They believe children should not know certain things, but she asks questions. Just as I’m sure I might have asked questions or my brother and sister had asked questions that might not have been answered. We talk about how gender is a social construct, how everything really is a social construct. We talk about how persons belonging to the LGBT community, like her mother, are people deserving of respect and love. It is often hard to try to get her to unlearn everything she learns when she is not with me but occasionally there is a ray of sunlight. She no longer believes that clothes and colors are specified to gender and if she passes a trans person on the road, she does not bat an eyelash. If I ask who that person is she tells me that they are a person. She is only five, yet she understands these things, why is it so hard for us a society to understand? Can it be because our parents believed that we should not know certain things?

What we end up with here is a culture in which any deviation from normalcy is punished. We have queer men and women afraid to be themselves because they want to remain a part of a traditional family. Or they want to remain protected from the violence society will mete out against them. Often, we get a bit of hope that our identity will someday not be attacked when we hear the words of the leaders we elected to represent us tell us that they will respect our right to exist. Instead, what we get are threats of a referendum that is set up to further marginalize us, and commendable but still empty unfulfilled promises to recognize our rights.

I know it can be hard to be disowned or despised for who you are by the people who surround you, but just know that you have an entire community behind you. We are here to support and love and annoy the daylights out of you. I know I am.

I’m not that little child struggling to understand definitions that seemed right but felt wrong. I am relatively, a big woman now, even though that in its self is up for debate. I know now that often when definitions do not paint the entire picture, we might have to make our own definitions. So if someone were to ask me, what is a family, my thoughts I hope should not go towards hetero, homo or asexuals but towards collectives. Because family is not about ones gender or sexuality, family is about love, acceptance and support. Family is about waking up every morning, or if you’re like me, sometimes in the afternoon and knowing that there are people out there who care deeply for you and will do all that is in their power to protect you. The sooner we stop letting stoic definitions define our love, we’d all be better off.

The parking meter fiasco

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Since the conclusion of the Local Government Elections, City Hall has found itself making innumerable questionable decisions. From moving vendors from the Stabroek market to breaking down the ‘Dread’ Shop, we watched as City Hall through its rubber stamps and overzealous and incompetent town clerk, Royston King committed several oppressive acts against the poor.

There were arguments that these changes were needed, necessary even. We needed to restore the Stabroek Market environs to its former glory. No one was against the idea of a clean square, but making unilateral decisions without consultations with those who would have been affected with no alternative measures put in place was, dare one say, dictatorial.

Now, with the vendors once again back at the Stabroek market square and the area boasting ghastly covered holes, one begins to wonder whether City Hall is run by people capable of critical thought or people whose self interest is so high that they cannot see more than two steps in front of them.

One of the major incidents that has irrevocably caused me to ‘cut my eye’ pon City Hall, was the parking metre fiasco. I don’t own a vehicle but their shady deal with the equally shady company with its laughable misnomer “Smart City Solutions,” should be cause for concern for everyone. It displays City Hall’s flagrant dismissal of the electorates need and desire for transparency and accountability.

This action has caused many who would have voted in the Local Government Elections to wonder whether the changes seen are merely cosmetic, while the systems, principles and mindset of the previous council remain intact.

Despite fierce public calls, by not only the electorate but by sitting council members and Deputy Mayor, Sherod Duncan, the deal went through and we are now stuck with ghastly green monuments of corruption obstructing not only our lives but walkways in the city’s environs.

In passive protest fashion, many persons simply refused to pay for parking and became creative with their parking areas and aside from being amusing, I found it commendable that they are refusing to let the meter company drain them when the economy is already extremely tight.

Then, there was a protest earlier today against the meters by Sherod, where he labelled the meters as burdensome- which they are. The council from all indications has not done a feasibility study regarding the impact these meters will have on not only businesses but the working men and women in the city and even how this affects schools and persons residing in Georgetown.

Personally, meh spirit ain tek Sherod. There is something inherently false about him that makes me shake with uneasiness. A lot of his actions I believe are motivated by the pure desire for validation but hey, as long as he is seeking validation by standing up for and with the small man, I guess I’m good with that- even while I continue holding reservations and continue wondering about some of his actions such as staying away from the vote on the parking metre in December.

Journalist Gordon Mosely, today posted a short extract of Sherod’s words on parking meters during the LGE debates and as hypocritical as it may seem and actually be on Sherod’s part, one needs to be fair. Gordon’s post was a bit one sided in that, aside from not doing an actual follow up with Sherod, is one not allowed to change one’s mind on something? I have said and done things in the past year that I am not particularly proud of and which do not define the person I am today. That aside, I am not sure that Sherod is against parking meters themselves, but rather the corrupt insidious way in which they were implemented as he explained in a facebook post on his page.

Many can understand the need for stricter-monitored city parking, and there will, of course, be the upside of jobs being created and long-term revenue being garnered for the city if we cave in and decide to pay for parking (which I am hoping we don’t.) However, this process should have been carried out more transparently, and attempts to breach a contract which is valid for 25 years should never have happened, as it upends all the promises regarding transparency and due diligence made. I love that members of the GTU recently went out to protest against the meters because the council needs to know that it is accountable to the people. The realistic side of me says that it may not actually bring about change but I have always held firmly to the belief that the best way to stymie a revolution is to believe that one cannot make a change or cause a dent in the status quo, so power to everyone protesting and griping about the injustices meted out against them. Strong steps will form into powerful movements.

 

 

 

 

Why “Hidden Figures” matters

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Katherine Johnson- Physicist and mathematician who was instrumental in NASA’s journey into space and their landing on the moon

I’ve long since become accustomed to seeing leading black women in movies as slaves, love interests and/or maids. Other times, I’ve become accustomed to seeing them as caricatures; either they are women who do too much or too little, women who act but don’t inspire because their characters are one dimensional and overdone.

For years, we would ask for not only minority representation but strong minority representation that doesn’t reduce us to either eye-candy, sassy black woman and/or a mammy characters. We were told that what we wanted just was not possible. Our underrepresentation in films were not a result of some active and implicit bias but simple Mathematics. We were told that movies with lead black women would just not do well at the box office. Only movies focused predominantly on white heroism, pains and struggles would. So, they would give us things like Madea, The Help and so on, not yet knowing that their argument would soon be riddled with holes as “Hidden Figures” (based on the book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly), has even beaten Rogue 1 (as it well should because Star Wars is crap) at the box office while having far fewer theatres available to it. Now that their argument is demolished, I hope that this movie will represent a tide of changes to come within the film industry.

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Mary Jackson- Mathematician and aerospace engineer at NASA. She was the first black black engineer at NASA

I went into the movie the day it opened at Giftland, excited but slightly skeptical. Would this movie fall prey to the common trope of the tiara syndrome and that of the white savior? Would this be NASA’s version of ‘The Help’?

While on surface level there might have appeared to be elements of both, there weren’t, not really.

Harrison, the leader of the mission in a nice scene breaks down segregated washroom signs. I was a bit dubious about this part until I realised that he did not do it because he feels particularly sympathetic to Katherine, he did it because it was in his and NASA’s best interest to do so. They could not have their lead mathematician running off everyday for close to an hour because she did not have access to bathrooms close by. Meanwhile, the women are not silent persons waiting to be recognised, but actively pursue and adapt themselves to achieve what they want and that is highly refreshing.

People often shirk at the idea about positive representation in the media. Entertainment is entertainment and in the larger scheme of things it doesn’t matter. While that may be true to an extent, seeing not only one but three trailblazing women who look like you accomplishing so much in a much more oppressive system, does wonders on the minds of little black girls everywhere and lets them know that they too can do great things.

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Dorothy Vaughn- Mathematician who was the first black woman to supervise staff at NASA

Within five minutes, I was in tears. This silly tear spilling over the women, their triumphs and their struggles continued sporadically throughout the film. I was thankful that it being day, not many persons were in the theatre, but I did gain a strange look from the ticket collector on my way out because of how red my eyes were. If such a movie can matter to me, someone who has by and large been very privileged and grew up hearing that I could be whatever I wanted and throwing away my family’s lofty ambitions and aiming to become a writer, then imagine what it means to those less privileged and who are told that their stories and lives do not matter. Just imagine.

I liked that the movie was not this idealogical pipe dream which saw the white people all realising that, “Oh, they’re just people like us and as such we should treat them equally.” No, it is a movie rooted in reality and as such, the evolution of the central white characters are subtler and one gets a sense once again that they are not being accepting because they particularly like these women, but because it is in their best interest to have the best minds working for them. The movie offers a very sobering question about equality, biases and the implications these have for our advancement as a people. While we see the barriers the women face with regards to advancement due to their race and gender, we begin to wonder how many persons never got a chance to make their genius known due to the prevailing biases surrounding them.

I know no prince but the prince in the North!

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It has been very interesting reading several comments on the small protest that was held on Harry’s visit to the Commonwealth War graves yesterday. I found it both amazing and slightly disturbing that four protesters were able to incite such widespread condemnation from the same people we were trying to stand up for. For those who think that the protest was some “attention grabbing act,” yes, yes it was. We made the unpopular decision to protest against a monarchy that encouraged the marginalisation of our people and we did it where we knew we would get media attention. We did it because people need to be reminded of our history and to be reminded that the effects of colonisation still lingers on. This fierce ethnic divide we have here, yeah, thank the crown Harry represents for that.

There are so many things I want to say about the majority of Guyanese and their colonial mentalities which insist that they must grovel at the feet of Massa’s offspring’s and protect their empire from accountability because we like our histories rewritten and whitewashed-but I won’t.

What I want to do is address this misconception we seem to have that in order to move forward, we must not look back.While I understand that there is the desire to move on from the dehumanization and commoditization committed against us by the British Empire, it is extremely narrow minded to believe that the past does not shape our future and that its effects are not lasting. To quote William Faulkner in Requiem to a nun, “the past is never dead; it is not even past.” Demanding an apology is not holding unto the past, it is asking to be shown a bit of human decency that was not afforded to our foreparents and to let us know that their lives are just not remembered in terms of dollars and cents. I will not even broach the subject of reparations, another post for another time, because there can never be an amount suitable enough to cleanse centuries of suffering.

While I understand that an apology will not automatically (or ever) heal old wounds; it is a steppingstone we can work from to help us get over our histories. One cannot continue hiding under the excuse that slavery was at the time legal and that it was very long ago. Not because something was/is legal means that it should happen and not because something happened long ago means that its horrors should not be addressed and accounted for.

To be clear, this has absolutely nothing to do with Harry nor Elizabeth as individuals, this has to do with an empire which plundered and stunted growth in our countries and islands and are yet to apologize for its role in it. It matters not who was or was not born, you are a representative of a system that stifled us for centuries and your refusal to even address it shows us what we really mean.

I went into the protest fully aware that the chances of actually getting an apology approached the chances of zero, but protesting is not always about getting what you want as that is largely ideological- it is about making statements and letting them know that we may be few, but we are here and we will not be silent. For those of you who considered the protest action and the protesters to be “an embarrassment” to the country, I am perfectly okay with that label. I would rather be a pariah than to sit by idly and wave, smile and fawn over a man whose family’s legacy was strengthened off of the back of my people.

*Nalini Mohabir, Kevin Brice, Jermain Ostiana and Robert Jones, thank you guys for initiating this protest. #notmyprince

 

In solidarity with sexual assault and harassment victims #lifeinleggins

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For all the conversations, panels and education movements we have on sexual violence and harassment, there has been the persistent perpetuation of silence where victim stories are concerned. Yes, we do have those who, according to one friend, become poster-women for abuse but while this is commendable, too often these people are removed from the larger society which they are trying to change. Then there are those who speak out and are not believed. Then, there are those who speak out and are believed but are expected to carry on as if nothing is wrong. All this feeds into the belief most victims of sexual abuse and harassment have that it was somehow their fault and see’s feelings of loneliness and depression consume them, particularly if (and it is mostly the case) the person was close to them. That is why I particularly love the #lifeinleggings movement because while it can be seen as just another hashtag, I love that it is helping women to come forward and share their own stories. It is an important movement that we need to see more of.

Its a movement I need to see more of because like many victims of sexual abuse and harassment, it makes me feel as if I am not alone and I have no reason to be ashamed because it is never our fault. The first time I had a hint that my father was sexually abusive was when I was 12. One of my cousins in a letter to my aunt told her that when she was younger my father used to come into her room at nights and touch her inappropriately. I confided the details of the letter to another cousin, letting bare my anger at what I presumed to be a lie. It was not long before I forgot the letter and the way I viewed my father and the unwarranted love I had for him had still not changed. It was only the morning after he had tried to have sex with me when I was 14, stopping touching me only after I started crying did I remember the letter and realised how I was complicit in the culture of silencing victims.

The relationship with my father evaporated after that. While he never did it again, every time he was close by I would feel dirty, every time he looked at me, I felt violated and every time I told someone I was made to feel as if it wasn’t that bad of an experience because “he didn’t really do anything.” One parthner had would even use it against me when he was annoyed with me.So it did not matter to them that I was disgusted by his mere presence, I would still be forced to see him and occasionally sleep in the same house with him because the ones who knew (not a lot of persons did know and only two persons in my family knew) did not think what I went through is concerned real sexual abuse. While I know that there are those who have had far worse experiences, when we begin to trivialise and normalise rape and sexual harassment what we are effectively doing is lining up potential victims for sexual abusers because they know that they will be protected. I don’t think a lot of people understand how these incidents can break little boys and girls. I have since forgiven my father, not for him, but for me but even in my forgiveness, I still feel uncomfortable when I’m in the same room with him, I still feel unsafe.

I have long since stopped talking about it but I have realised that my silence also see’s many persons trying to go through it alone when what we need is conversation and action. I want to be a part of the movement to help break the silence but in all this we should be mindful that it is not our place to force anyone to speak about their experiences but rather to let them know that they are not alone. We are here and we stand with you. #lifeinleggings

https://redforgender.wordpress.com/2016/11/27/lifeinleggings-call-for-feminist-solidarity/

The good, the outrageous and the subtle perfections

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When it comes to the issue of photoshop, I am a bit torn. On one hand, I love that photographers now have these advanced technologies they could use to better perfect their pictures because lets face it, sometimes we all want that large zit on our foreheads to be removed. Many of us also want to be photoshopped inside the USS Enterprise beside Uhura. (Okay, maybe that’s just me, but moving on)

Photoshop is undeniably, a great tool to have. Look at how flawless my skin looks. Not that it isn’t already flawless, but loook…

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However, like most things, we tend to go overboard with it as is seen in photo below. (My waist has not and will most likely never be that thin and the fact that the designer preferred a grotesque shape to my actual one says a lot about what we promote through photoshop)

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Anyways, no worries, this is not a post meant to further denigrate photoshopping because I think we can all agree that it has to some extent become harmful in the idealistic concepts of the human body it portrays. No, this is a post praising the artistic use of photoshop and to show how sometimes, less can be more.

When I first became aware of Brian Gomes photography, particularly his “Made in Guyana” calendar, I was happy yes, but not particularly bought over. I was interested because anything that helps to destabilize the belief that we should be ashamed of our bodies in its natural form is something I am down with because this belief has caused considerable agony to persons over the centuries, particularly women.

Side note- (I am not sure whether Brian would have been the inspiration, but a flurry of photographers shooting naked women suddenly became the rage and unlike Brian’s work, I found these to be exploitative.)

I saw one of the shots from the calendar online and while I considered it beautiful and expertly shot and lighted, (forgive me, I don’t know the terminology of photographers) dare I say it did not really move me. This was in part due to the fact that I never really take close looks at photographs online, its a quick look and I’m done with it. Regardless, the one photo I saw convinced me to buy it because aside from liking to support the creative arts where I can, I like pretty things and the picture even on one glance was pretty.

Away from the confines of my computer screen, able to see the details, I turned from page to page in joy that at least one photographer is getting it right! Whether the imperfections in the photographs were left to make some grand statement or not, I absolutely loved every red patch, generous waistline and stretchmark showcased.

Behold this glorious shot! (I’m sorry, I’m really excited about all this) there’s not much smoothing of edges and while its hard to see in this shot (maybe my eyes are bad) her stripes are on full display

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There are those who I would have shown the calendar to after I received it and the majority seemed to be of the belief that the photographs should have been more edited or that he should have used thinner models in some cases. No need to say that these people were quickly shut the fuck down because if you think that representing different body types and leaving ones imperfections is a bad thing in high art then it really is unfortunate that society has worked such a number on you.

Photoshop should not necessarily be used to cover, that in my opinion is a lazy photographer’s way of displaying the human form. I love as much accurate representation as I can get and as such, I believe that it should be used to enhance a subject rather than change or thwart it in some way. That’s why I love Brian’s calendar, because the usage of photoshop seemed to be  more about bringing the images more into focus rather than changing them. In an age where men and women are told that our bodies are not good enough because that’s not how the media portrays it, it is refreshing to see real women at least, represented realistically.

Maybe if I get over my camera shyness I’ll pose for one of Brian’s calendar. If you have any difficulties identifying me in the future, just look for that bronze butt with the stretch marks.

On why I’ve never ‘come out’

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It has been four years since I knew that I was genuinely attracted to women and three years since I’ve accepted the emotional and sexual fluidity that bisexuality allows me. Despite never hiding my sexuality since then however, I have never really come out of the proverbial closet and I think because of this, many persons view me as the hot-tempered heterosexual writer girl, who may be a LGBT sympathizer but does not particularly belong to them.

In a way, I guess this can be seen as a ‘coming out’ of sorts and to my friends and family learning about a part of me through this post, I’m sorry that I’ve had to become a label to justify my queerness to you. Hopefully, we can continue to have the same strained conversations we have all grown so accustomed to over the years- But let me for a minute explain why I’ve never come out.

Honestly, I think the whole thing is a bit too dramatic. I just could not see myself having a sit down with family and friends to tell them I ‘like like’ women. Awkward. I know it may sound weird but for some reason I felt, and still feel as if me having to officially announce my sexuality to individuals somehow gives off the vibe than I am ashamed of who I am when in actually it is something I revel in.

Another reason I’ve never seen the necessity of it was that I generally don’t understand the pressure persons belonging to the LGBT community face to come out because their sexuality is not considered normal and as such, needs to come with theatrics. My reasoning is, if you’ve never had to come out as heterosexual to me, I should not be pressured to come out as queer to you because my sexuality does not define who I am. You feel me?

I do not want to be known as that bi girl and oddly, I feel that when you come out as part of the LGBT community to people, they tend to dehumanise you. You are no longer a person, you are a sexuality, one either to be fetishized over or to be angry and hateful towards.

I realise I’m beginning to sound like one of those persons who encourages others to keep their sexual identity to themselves but that is very far from what I am trying to say in this somewhat incoherent post. Many of my friends and family realised I was interested in women from the smallest of things, a facebook post, a casual comment, seeing me flirt with or kiss a girl in front of them. Legit, me casually kissing a girl in front of her was how one of my friends found out and I was secretly so happy and proud when she didn’t ask any questions and just went along with it.

Anyway, I think that’s the way it should be. We shouldn’t be pressured to justify and made to feel tremendous guilt at our sexuality, it should be a normal part of our lives, because believe it or not, we are pretty normal-sometimes boringly so.

 

 

 

 

The right to bare arms

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(Yes, this was the dress I wore)

I know, I’ve written on this topic already but I believe in continuous comments on rules that are nonsensical. Even if no substantial changes are being made, rules such as the dress code implemented in so many buildings across Guyana should continue to be challenged.

Today, forgetting once again that we are a country still trapped with a colonial mentality when even our colonizers have grown from that, I went to the National Communications Network (NCN) for an interview in a dress that dared not have sleeves.

There I was met with two guards, one of whom told me that I could not enter the premises as my dress had no sleeves. (Yes, my arms were that arousing.) I pointed out to him that the sign he was so diligently referring to made absolutely no mention of armless clothes not being permitted.

The other guard after checking the sign told him that I was right, but the guard probably feeling as if I threatened the small modicum of power he possessed refused to hear reason and insisted I not go in.

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I began to speak to him like the fool he was because he could not understand the rules he was so tirelessly trying to uphold. I only later saw that Sonia Yarde, well known dramatist also had on armless and passed by the same guard but she had no problem entering. Why are we at the whims of irrational beings who cannot even stick to their nonsensical belief systems about how a woman should or should not dress is beyond me.

(See below photo of skunthole guard)

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Finally, an NCN staffer came down and offered me her blazer. Realising that I stood no chance in reasoning with an idiot, I pulled it on so that I could leave the guard hut. As soon as I was through however, I shirked it and dared him to come remove me from the compound and continued to refuse to don it again in spite of the many admonitions.

The thing that bothered me with the rule however, was not really the attitude of the airheaded guard, but rather, the attitude of the women who worked in the facility. Yes, they all agreed that it was a stupid archaic rule, but calmly advised me to don the blazer once again. After all, that was the rule and how dare I, a common citizen question that.

I await the day with glee when a government agency will begin turning away Sandra Granger or female parliamentarians from entering buildings just because they dared bare their arm to the public. Maybe only then will women earn the right to bare arms in public venues and not be condescendingly told that those are the rules because by then we would know that often, rules need changing.

 

The Orlando shooting

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With every mass shooting, bombings or acts of hate and terror in countries such as the U.S and U.K, the world watches in grief as the often-grisly murders are explained to them. Often, these killings overshadow similar ones in continents such as Africa and Asia as mainstream media decides who gets our sympathies and who does not.

Whether it is acknowledged or not, the attitudes and opinions we hold on certain tragic matters are largely influenced by the media and the stories they harp upon.

This is one reason why we hardly heard a peep about the 49 persons who died in Syria and the 35 others who were injured in shooting and shelling and hardly anything about the rise of Boko Haram and their countless victims.

Before I go on, I should say that I am in no way trying to undermine the brutality of the act of hate mixed with self loathing which resulted in the death of 49 persons and injuries of over 50.

The speculated reasons behind the assault are many, with the most popular one of late being that the shooter himself was gay and was struggling with an identity he was conditioned to hate from childhood.

To an extent, it can even be considered an act of terror, which was very particular in its nature, as was the case with the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

It should be noted that the shooters ghastly act not only wounded the gay community but also served to add fire to the proverbial flames of anti- Muslim sentiments in a time when followers of Islam have been singled out for hateful political rhetoric.

Whatever the reason behind the work of that deranged mind however, I know that the attack has caused LBGT persons in the U.S and around the rest of the world to feel less safe than they had just a few days ago.

Even here in Guyana the tension and unease amongst the gay community can be seen and felt as many persons openly share their sentiments which are largely urged on by religious views, that the man’s act was justified.

For every one of these bible thumpers however, there are maybe five who are sympathetic to the shooting. The sympathy and expressions of condemnation have been so overwhelming that it has caused me to wonder whether us Guyanese would have the same sympathetic response had such a shooting against LBGT members occurred here.

While we have never had such a mass shooting, over the years there has been a continuous rise in violent attacks often resulting in death against homosexual men, particularly those who are transgender.

Despite the deaths of these men, public response to these murders were miniscule at best with only a selective few seeing the clear trend of hate driven crimes that was forming. The years, 2013 through to 15 saw these targeted murders rising but yet, the larger public remained oblivious and even the police force did not seem to see the significance in the crimes nor the need to actively pursue and solve them.

In 2014, there was even a march against the slothful way in which the police were attempting to probe into the murders of several homosexual men with several citing the reasons for sloth as being trans-phobia and homophobia deeply ingrained within the psyche of the police officers.

While it is no laughing matter, I cannot help but find it amusing when I heard some of our nations leaders protest against the shooting and comment upon the need for tolerance and acceptance when nothing substantial is being done to protect those belonging to the LBGT group in their own country and removing outdated and dangerous legislation which makes criminals out of otherwise law abiding citizens.

If nothing else, this tragedy has offered us at home and abroad the opportunity to confront the often-unchallenged anti-gay rhetoric and actions touted and carried by friends, family and acquaintances. When these views remain unchallenged all they serve to do is contribute to the acceptance of hatred and violence against those in who their distaste lies with. Too often, these messages of hate and discrimination come from our churches pulpits and podiums when there is an urgent need for messages of love and acceptance. Too often, these messages of hate are passed down to the minds of our children. Regardless of what religion one belongs to, efforts should be made to ensure harmful ideologies, which discriminate against each other are not adapted.