Monday, May 09, 2005

Gay life in Trinidad and Tobago is hard

Yesterday I’m on gaydar and I get chatting to a guy who’s a hotel receptionist at a smart London hotel. He’s just finished the night shift and he’s interested in me visiting him for a bit of fun before he goes to sleep.

I visit him and we have an enjoyable session. Afterwards, he tells me a bit about his life.

“I came over here from Trinidad and Tobago almost 20 years ago.”

“Why did you leave?” I ask him.

“Because I’m gay, and it’s still illegal to be gay there. It’s the old laws from the time of Queen Victoria. They make it very difficult if they find out you’re gay. They blackmail you – everything.”

“Even though I’ve got a British passport now they still try. I was in a long term relationship and we used to go over to visit once or twice a year, just travelling as ‘friends’. On my way back to the UK one of the immigration officials spotted that I kept coming over to visit with the same guy, so he tried to make things difficult for us. So I shouted out ‘No – I’m not going to give you any money’. One of the security staff heard and started to come over to investigate, so he let me go.”

“The whole atmosphere is awful there”, he continues. “Before I came over here, I was at a gay party there. I was terrified when I recognised someone who worked with my father, a friend of the family in fact. I thought that he might tell my father about me. But the guy who invited me to the party told me not to worry because the guy I recognised wouldn’t want to admit he was there either. And even though we saw each other at my family’s house after that, we never mentioned that we’d been at that party together. Everyone gay lives in fear. I can never imagine going back there permanently.”

Since London is so gay-friendly these days, I forget how difficult it can be elsewhere. And of course, I’m ashamed to admit that the English are largely to blame, for leaving behind those abominable anti-gay laws in former colonies like Trinidad and Tobago.

6-Dec-2009: Another posting about Trinidad and Tobago

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

So true about Trinidad though :)
I am so fed up with laws against gay people here. I love where i live but apparently they don't want me to be happy here!

Anonymous said...

I'm straight but I know a lot of gay people and I'm sorry but I don't think life for a gay person is so incredibly difficult in this country. Yes, it's a lot more stressing at times than heterosexual life but that's generally when you come into contact with certain types of people. I know way too many gay people who are (care)free, open and enjoying life in this country to think that being gay is *SO* difficult in T&T.

Anonymous said...

I'm a gay Trinidadian man living in London for almost 20 years. Thankfully my reasons for migrating to the UK had nothing to do with my sexuality. I believe that change in on the way in Trinidad, even if it may be too slow in coming for some. I often listen on line to a live call in radio programe broadcasted from Trinidad. I listened with bated breath on one occasion as acaller talked about what the found attractive in his male lover. I must admit I was surprised that his call was handled with the same respect and sensitivity as the other hetrosexual callers. I can only compare my own experiences prior to coming to the UK but to me this signified changing attitudes. Progress takes time and even in a country as liberal as England there have been incidences, however infrequent, as recent as as three years ago of gay men being assaulted or even killed because of their sexuality. Let's work towards a solution rather than stand still and blame.

Anonymous said...

I am a gay guy living in trinidad and although i am not open to my str8 friends and family i still enjoy the convenience of going to gay parties , clubs and house lime... i totally disagree with the writer stating that he may even be killed here i think he havent been to trinidad for the past 20yrs therefore you cant commment on what is going on here if trinidad and tobago was anti gay then there wouldnt be open gay parties, shows and clubs wouldnt there?

19 yo Trini Gay said...

It is difficult being gay in Trinidad. People typify being gay as going to clubs and being promiscuous, but that's not it. It's hard to have a strongly intimate relationship with someone if you can't go to dinner with them alone, without being stared at. It's hard not being able to kiss the one you love in public, when you see them the first time in a while. It's hard coming out to friends that have the same archaic frame of mind as the rest of the country. It sucks trying to act all thugged out or whatever just to fit in and not face ridicule. Secrecy and love is just for books like Romeo and Juliet.

Anonymous said...

Trinidad is defintly the most open english commenwealth country's far not as open as the Dutch West Indies(antilles).
1st of all the mentallity of Trinidadians is still stuck as how it was in the 70th's over here in Europe, Trinidad claim to be a 1st world country but with no gay laws in place u cant call it a 1st world.Than to be openly gay in Trinidad u have to embark you on a jounry of seeing the same bunch at every party, its like a big family reunion.Its aslo in the center of gossip and being premiscious,it hardly gets casual.Main reason why ppl party in Trini is either looking for sex or hanging with friends or both, I believe thats not only the case in Trinidad,altough in Europe its more about the music and having a fun time not based on sex as much.
Than for the DL ppl i called them NOT so DL, because if all the DL know eichother and have sex together than its not very Down Low is it??? anyway gaybashings in trindad is not much the case, more family and friends problems thats whats tuff in trini.

Anonymous said...

hello all gay in trinidad there is not thing wrong with being gay if you want a gay friend from canada do contac me 416 804 5812 jim

Ravi Maharaj said...

I have lived in the UK for nearly 10 years. Its so much easier to be gay here and express myself. In Trinidad I was called batty boy (boi), faggot and every other name in the book and more. I have been insulted many times on my own, but worse yet with family and friends and also by family and friends. Although Trinidad is seemingly a Paradise to some people, it is hell to gay people. Yes, I have lived away from home for 10 years but when people say things have changed, they haven't really. I was home 2 weeks ago and its still hard for gays to express themselves. Gays who I know live in the dark and are frightened to do anything. What ever glimpse of love or affection they can get, they take it and cherish it for life. No matter how small it is - it feels like its the only sort of affection they will ever get. What I take for granted here in the UK, gay in Trinidad will never begin to experience it. I am grateful towards the UK for helping me become who I am and helping me to come out of my dark shell and see light and feel love and experience a relationship that is full of love and life. Something I could never feel in Trinidad. My advice to gays in Trinidad would be to study very,very hard and try to emigrate to a developed country.(If they wanted to leave Trinidad). Anything to do with the medical field would be an asset: Doctors, nurses, radiographers, dentists, hygenists, surgeons etc. And to people who quote the Bible for everything...give it a rest. We've heard the whole Adam and Steve BS already. Don't live your life by one book that is probably written by man to control man.

Anonymous said...

My experiences in Trinidad 30 years ago were quite different and for the most part positive. All my friends - the guys and gals who I grew up with knew that I was gay, they protected me, I believe it's a matter of how you carry yourself. True we are a long way from being like the US or England, but at the same time I cannot remember any gay bashing or killings happening in Tdad. I was in Trindad for carnival this year and was pleasantly surprised, gay clubs, gay parties I had a ball. It will take time but changes cannot take place if gay people in Trinidad stay in the closet and don't take a stand.

Marlowe -Mr. International said...

I will be in TnT from 9/17-9/22 in Sanfernando, and few other cities. I was wondering if someone can contact me to show me the island and any gay hangout spots, clubs or gay parties. Hit me back at blkmodelboi@aol.com

Eduardo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A. Friend said...

Well it would be quite unfair to try to compare gay life in Trinidad and Tobago with the UK. But then again I am not sure why every country must adopt a Western model complete with pride parades and other accoutrements.

My only concern though, is that there isn't much on the internet about gays/lesbians/bisexuals/same-sex attracted people in Trinidad and Tobago period.
I specifically mean there are very few of them out there blogging about their lives and experiences and stuff. I am trying to do that in some way. I just wish there was a greater Trinidadian presence on the net much more a "gay" one and even more a Seventh-Day Adventist one.

Lastly, things are not as bad as it would seem. Trinidad is pretty good for what it is. You're certainly nowhere near in danger of death, although if you confuse same-sex attractions with outrageous feminine style and mannerisms you are bound to be heckled in some places.

Anonymous said...

I am writing a novel on a gay relationship in Trinidad in 1953. I am interested in how gay men lived their lives in Trinidad in 1953

J. Wyatt said...

I'm 16 and bisexual living in trinidad right now. I have gone through soo much here.........
It's really terrible how being gay is described and used as the most derogatory term here. I recently came out to my parents and close friends but will not scream it to everyone even though i want to.
I did this simply because I did not want fear to rule my life.
I am in control.
But as trinidad is becomming more diversified in worldwide social issues, the population is becomming generally more open minded gradually, although it can be seen that the basic nature of our people is to put down and judge, discriminate whatever seems to be different. This change can be seen from within the new generation.
Artists, poets, no one is appreciated in this forsaken country.
I do not wish to live here, but i was born here for a reason.
Maybe it was to change things, idk, but I will try to leave for a new life, one i can live freely.
I don't know why there is so much conflict over such a trivial matter such as one's sexuality in this world.
Maybe if everyone stopped to listen to the people behind their lifestyles, they would see a person.
Maybe if we simply accept everyone's right to pursuing happiness, everyone can come out of the closet, and then psychological issues would not develop people into perverts, molesters and rapists.
This is a sociaty that has a culture of a very sexual nature, so why is a diversification in that so hard to understand?
I am just a child, and i have seen adults, 3o something year old men, on the "Down low" . I cannot imagine keeping a silly secret that long, espicially when i have no control over who i like.

The world seems silly in a child's eye. Maybe everyone should stop treating this like a big deal and be a little more silly........

Anonymous said...

Everyone who posted a comment here on this site all have a very very valid point. Being a gay man or a lesbian in Trinidad and Tobago is somewhat bitter sweet. Its not like we're stoned to death or ridiculed in a manner that is totally against all human rights, but yet we are not free to live a open life like gays in the UK, Canada, the USA or Europe. We are limited tremendously by the law but yet we are not bothered by the law...GAY LIFE HERE IS CERTAINLY AN OXYMORON. I am a gay man and i have experienced hate crimes towards me that i was once ashamed to share with anyone, i was attacked and beaten by two guys who fractured my wrist when visiting my lover one weekend almost four years ago. The police did intervene but i felt at the time that it was not worth the trouble putting it into the hands of the law, as my family and their 'feelings' was my concern. But i was brave and i was persistent in being who i am.
What i think is a major issue here is that you can't trust anybody or say that you're gay to just anyone - not even your family - because our society is a very judgmental one and we strive in the struggles of others, especially since it makes ours look small or seem nonexistent...if you know what i mean. Folks here are very nosy and its our culture to want to know each others business. Lots of people talk very nicely to your face and then go behind your back and spread lots of nasty rumors about you, after the fact that you've trusted them, and that is my major concern.
As for the men on the DL, well let me just say there are DIME A DOZEN, for every 12 gay men, ten are DL and would do EVERYTHING in their powers to remain that way, they get married, have kids, live a very heterosexual life, but yet still dabble in homosexual lifestyles. I mean the figures are overwhelming and the games are totally juvenile. And the funny thing is that Trinidad and Tobago is FULL of gay men, its unbelievable and its the truth - another oxymoron - this i swear.
Things are changing as more and more young men are coming out and being proud of who they are, but the older men, the very influential ones aren't. The ones who can truly make a difference seem to be more interested in their profession and their financial status rather than their TRUE FREEDOM. But in retrospect who can blame them, they're watching their own backs...right?
My best friend just got his doctorate at age 32 and his thesis was on homosexuality in the english speaking Caribbean, and his defense was done in an closed environment because of the nature of his topic, i could not even witness my buddy's day of accomplishment and had to settle for a synopsis of the event from his mouth. Though he has gained quite a bit of acclaim and opportunities to speak at very prestigious and open forums outside of this country, he too still has his disappointments with home.
I believe that we have a very long way to go and no real change would be made anytime soon. This i would say though, Trinidad and Tobago is sweet, we have our problems but its sweet nonetheless.
Gays here need to stand as one and stop hating on each other - another major hurdle that we have to cross. We discredit each other ALL THE TIME and talk of one another as dirt and worthless individuals, for reasons so trivial and unimportant like who is sleeping with who and who thinks they better than everyone else when in fact we're all just on a journey of self discovery and along that journey we are going to make mistakes.
I have found that the best thing to do living as a gay man here in Trinidad and Tobago is to do whatever you do the best and not allow policies to stop you from being the best, i have reached a place in my life where it really does not matter who knows. My mom and sister before they passed away knew and my dad who lives with me knows and that's all that matters to me.
God has allowed me his peace to be able to deal with my sexuality and for that i know he is not who 'they' say he is. My advice is to trust in a higher power and know that you are not alone in the struggle.
Trinidad and Tobago has no choice but to eventually legalize homosexuality and allow us to be free, otherwise not only would be left behind but our sons and daughter would would not accept a cell in a prison that they did not do a crime for.

Joshua said...

I tend to agree deeply with the previous blog since i myself was a victim of gay violence. You see when i was about 10yrs i was caught by my dad while my older cousin was fooling around. you know normal kids stuff, experimenting, anyway, about one month after that my dad came home drunk, starting calling me all kinds of degrading names about me being a faggot and pussy boy (i am sure that u know the drift) thatis, before he started forcing me to do things to him, sexual things which includes him having sex with me. Athough this went on for the next year or so before i migrated to the US, i just left it to myself and pretended that it never happened. I proceeded to maintain a normal lifestyle, having girlfriends, going to clubs, you know a normal hetrosexual lifestyle. At 21 yrs while i was still in the US i landed a really good job back here in trinidad with an international oil company so i decided to return to trinidad. i stayed home by my father for the first couple of months while i proceeded to find my own place further up north that is closer to my new job. my father acted as if nothing ever happened which i forgave him for anyway. by the time i was about 2yrs into my 'new' job, i was re-introduced to the gay lifestyle by an, what is now, my ex boss. although i had packed away that pary of my life experiences whein i was a youth because of the gay 'rape' with my father, this new experience was totally different. i enjoyed every bit of it. we both needed to be very very discrete since it could have cost us our jobs and more than ever embarrasment. now i am married, have a lovely baby girl and every now and again, i feel for some man-to-man pleasures with my 'man-friend' (my ex boss who is by the way bi sexual also).
You see, my point is that, in trinidad and tobago, there are alot of guys like me (besides that incest interraction) who is married and is looking for or having sexual relationship with a male lover or a companion. so don't worry. you are not alone.


creative8130@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

Life in Trinidad for gays and lesbians isn't as difficult as it was, lets say, twenty years ago. However, this is not to say that it's in any way easy now. There are alot of factors that we need to take into consideration:

1. Those that are confident enough and willing to come out.
2. Those that are forced out due to being discovered or their mannerisms.
3. Those that are waiting for things to get better.
4. Those that wish they could come out but are terribly afraid.
::And the list can go on::

So while it may be easier now than then, it's still harder for some than others. And any upturned nose to a brother or sister who falls into a sect that doesn't sit too well with you/us for whatever reason, isn't a step in the direction we want to be heading.

Trinidad is a beautiful place ... (Leaving out the politics) and change will come, but know that things could get worse before they get better. (Possibility!)

One person commented and said that there isn't a substantially gay Trinidadian presence on the internet, I absolutely agree... but who has to change that? All of us. That's where it starts. The thing is it's already started with this Blog, the question is; Are you going to be a part of it? (Change) I am happy to have come across this while actually searching for a gay trini blog... notice I said "A" gay I didn't think I'd find any. but there are a few and I think we all need to do something about it.

Peace and Love.

Anonymous said...

It's really refreshing to see comments about gays in Trinidad, and not only that, but recent comments. It shows that people are actually caring about it and want to do something about it.
I myself find it difficult to live in Trinidad being gay, but as a lot of other people said, it's not as difficult as other nations. I know a lot of people who have tendencies or know that they are gay, but for various reasons they refuse to admit or tell people about it. As a result, they continue to try living a heterosexual lifestyle to what would seem against their nature.
it really pains me to see people denying themselves because they want acceptance from the people around them. The y shouldn't have to put themselves out of the way for people who, by definition, are supposed to love them and care for them regardless. Something as trivial as sexual orientation and sexual preference shouldn't put one through so much stress.
I also agree that we have to be the agents of change if anything is to be done about the state of affairs in the country.
I hope to see more of these around for many, many years to come.

Anonymous said...

Regardless to whether or not the government changes the law, changing the attitude of the majority of Trinbagonians is an uphill battle. I am not saying it is impossible - but for homosexuality to be even tolerated in Trinidad and Tobago, an intensive PR campaign has to be implemented in tandem with the change of law for there to be any real change. As many of the others have said before, it's not the worst place to be, but then again it's not the best as a gay or lesbian. However, I often sit and wonder if this issue will ever be one the government will look at seriously. Let's be realistic here; we have rampant crime, blatant corruption, thousands of citizens living under the poverty line, a mostly inefficient health care system (I can go on and on), but the point is why should we (although justifiably) expect our issues to be taken seriously? It breaks my heart to see the wasted potential of this country, and I feel no remorse when I say, I am not sticking around to experience the imminent collapse of Trinibagonian society.

Anonymous said...

Hi guys I'm 26 and I'm gay I live in central and being gay is a very hard thing. Email me at ghanycrew@hotmail.com I want some friends to be safe with

Anonymous said...

I'm 26 and gay. I'm living in fear cause if outside people were to know bout me I'm dead why cause I'm gay. I didn't ask to be this way ok its very hard especially for trinidadians. Unlike some of u I can't leave my country I gotta stay. I'm very discreet about my secret nobody knows about me not even my family. Anyone in trinidad reading this I am gay I'm proud of it. But also scared at the same time. I'm looking for friends or even being in a relationship email me at ghanycrew@hotmail.com or feel free to call me 18683562902

cialis said...

I, of course, a newcomer to this blog, but the author does not agree

Anonymous said...

baby steps. Same-sex marriage issue raised in parliament.
http://lisaallen-agostini.com/?p=233

Anonymous said...

Gay life in T&T continues to be an issue. I agree that there are a lot of gays in T&T however, the culture does not allow then to be open about their sexuallity.

I'm not gay, or at least don't think I am but I did have a few gay experiences in High School as a teen. Some of those classmates got married and lived a hetero life others gave up the lie, divorce and live a secret gay life.

The gay issue for T&T will not go away because of the old laws, so it's time the leaders deal with the issue from the 21st century view point and let freedom reign.

Kamla Persad Bissear said...

I AM GAY IM A LESBOAN AND I LOVE PONKEY.SO KALA I AM I LOVE GIRLZ AND I GOIN AN DO SOMIN

Anonymous said...

Trinidad and Tobago is relatively conservative when it comes to gay issues. A small area and a small population coupled with relgious views tend to make this state anything but liberal.

I am a Christian young man struggling with my sexuality. I have opted for celibacy as the only means of not living a lie and yet not disappointing my family and the church. It is quite difficult though not experiencing intimacy. The ability to love is a gift and should not be taken for granted as many,like myself, are unable to experience that human condition.

If there were no rules and regulations I would love freely. When I travel abroad and it is refreshing to see this.

A lot of gay men in Trinidad get married to women. However, they have affairs with men. I suppose this, like celibacy, is another compromise. Doing what society expects but yet fulfilling an innate desire for same-sex intimacy. Neither of these are really achieved with celibacy, but there is the risk of emotionally hurting wives and children.

Societies evolve with time. My hope is that Trinidad continues to have faith in God and yet still respects the civil rights of everyone

Anonymous said...

How do you reconcile the strong fundamental religiosity in the Caribbean and being gay? Can they co-exist in harmony. Or is it about serving God Vs the enemy?

Anonymous said...

I really wish that all gay persons should come together and find comfort and support in each other. It is refreshing to see that there are others out there who feel strongly about this. I am interested to know if there are any clubs that one can go to to meet other gay persons.

Anonymous said...

I will like to have that real intimate relationship with someone. I hate having to pretend to be something I am not. I am a 24 year old female and I am interested in meeting someone I can be intimate with. I am trying to put myself out there but it is very difficult!

Anonymous said...

am gay and frustrated with everyone telling me to be normal. looking for a friend for support and understanding