Being gay in St. Lucia

Published: March 19, 2011

When I was growing up, being gay meant being glad. People boasted of enjoying themselves in a state of “gay abandon”. Even in Kweyol, old people would watch a child having a good time and say “Ee jay eh?”.

Back then, being gay was not being sad — and to be told you were being gay was meant to be a compliment. But not today. Nobody wants to be called gay these days. Not even Ben Gay. You call a man gay and he either takes it as an insult and gets violent; or, in some cases, he’ll wonder whether you’re a spotter on the prowl with a keen sense of seeing what he’s hiding under his skin.
With the gay debate now here these days, I suspect we’ll be hearing a lot of the word. In fact, I’ve heard it so much this week that I ended up looking it up in the dictionary. (Believe me, I actually did…) My Little Oxford defines gay as “light-hearted, mirthful, showy and dissolute.” And then, at the end of the line comes the word “homosexual”.

So then, the word “gay” actually has more than just one meaning. But, I repeat, most people would rather not be described as “gay”, whatever or whichever meaning you mean.
The debate here hasn’t reached the stage where people are distinguishing between being gay, lesbian, homosexual, heterosexual, or all those other sexy descriptions of different types of sex between males and males, females and females, males and females – and ”toute moun” mixed together. It’s still a debate about whether gays have rights, why their rights should be respected, whether St. Lucia is a homophobic society, whether there’s place in a Christian society for gays and lesbians, whether we should promote gay tourism and whether the rights accorded gays elsewhere are recognized or applicable here.

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