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Essays on Civic Engagement

This Is Your Democracy

Embracing Who I Was Meant to Be

Peta-Gaye Williams Worcester

All I was doing was walking with a female friend who was wearing male clothes, but one of my neighbors who was walking her daughter to school began shouting at us.  

“You’re going to turn my daughter gay and corrupt the rest of the girls.” 

It was as if being gay in Jamaica was a disease.  

Then my neighbor and other people started hurling names at us and said they would harm us if we didn’t leave the community. 

I was afraid; there had already been violence in that area. Sadly enough, this is very common in Jamaica and wasn’t the first or last time this would happen to me. A lot of people in the LGBTQ community have to run away and seek refuge in other countries.

“You’re going to turn my daughter gay and corrupt the rest of the girls.” 

This encounter terrified me but also opened my eyes to the mistreatment of people who identify as LGBTQ in Jamaica. I started going to a meeting for women that was held at the Jamaica AIDS association. This group was for lesbians who wanted a safe haven, and it helped women with the daily struggles they would face with being openly gay in Jamaica. As a part of this group, I was able to help people from the LGBT community, whether by assisting with necessities or by being a listening ear so that people had someone they could confide in.

 In doing this I felt a sense of pride and belonging. I was no longer ashamed of who I was and started embracing who I was meant to be.

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