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Living and Dying

Queer in Haiti

by JJ. D.

I was born a masisi. I am an effeminate homosexual.

My sexual orientation was given to me at birth. I did not choose to be who I am. But I am not going to be ashamed of my sexual and gender orientation either.

Haiti has become a dangerous place to be homosexual. Recently there were protests against us. A mob of religious protestors armed with sticks, machetes and rocks beat two men to death in the downtown area of the city. This happened at the conclusion of the march against homosexuality organized by the so-called moral leaders. They say we are asking for rights that we don’t have the right to have. But we are human beings!

For myself, I am a student and being from a poor zone, I have always lived in fear. At the state university I experienced discrimination and was forced to leave because my professors said they could not teach a homosexual because it conflicted with their religious beliefs. Now I attend a small university where my professors are mostly diaspora and foreigners; they accept me for who I am and they do not authorize any discrimination.

In my neighborhood I experienced a lot of violence so we were forced to move to another neighborhood. I was beaten by some men when I was only 15 years old. They said I was an animal. They hit me with sticks and rocks. I thought that I would be killed by these men.

After this incident my mother said I must be more careful so I did not leave the house for five months. But one day I was obligated to leave to go to the pharmacy to get some medication for my sister. She had a fever. When I was on the street a man saw me and he started yelling at me, calling me a masisi. A large crowd gathered and they were pushing me, throwing trash at me, and hitting me and kicking me. I was so afraid.

I escaped and went home.

My mother took me to the police and said she wanted to make a complaint because her child was attacked. They said I was a pedophile and would be arrested. The police officer took me into the back of the police station and told me to give him oral sex. I cried and screamed. My mother yelled a lot and the police let me leave.  After that time we were forced to move to another neighborhood.

In this area we lived for six years. I had no friends. I did not talk to anyone on the street. The people thought I was deaf because I ignored all the talk around me. I did not respond to anyone. But then one day a young man saw me on the street who recognized me. He started saying things, and other people heard him call me a masisi. After that time they were all suspicious of me. My mother sent me to the countryside to live with my father’s family. In the countryside no one bothered me.

Soon I left and moved to another city to attend university. I did not return to Port-au-Prince. But I could never hide who I was. Anyone who spent time with me, who got to know me, anyone could see I was an effeminate homosexual.

I wanted a normal life. I wanted to meet other people who were masisi. I wanted to be in love and I was very depressed because of my situation. Every day I lived in fear.

After I was forced to leave university I entered into a serious depression. I did not want to live anymore. I had no hope at all. My heart was not at peace. For a few years my life was horrible. I had no work, no education, no opportunity for anything at all. My mother called me one day and said to return home. After the earthquake she moved to another place and she made arrangements for me to receive a scholarship for university. I study English, Psychology, Social Work and Computer Information. Now my life is a little better but I know that if people in the area discover who I am they are going to make violence against me. Every day I study while I wait for “the other shoe to drop.”

In Haiti our society has become very violent and hostile towards homosexuals.

This is different than in the past when people were allowed to live and were accepted. The Christians say that we caused the earthquake because of homosexuality and voodoo, that our sin is responsible. And it is not just Haitian pastors that say this, it is the American pastors as well. They took their American hatred and they imported it to our country. They gave it to us as “aid” and poisoned our society with their religious ideas, their culture and their beliefs. This is why I reject the influence of the foreigners in our country.

Today I say: I am Haitian. I am a human being. I am a masisi.

This essay originally appeared on the Kasama Project.