Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Jamaica: Lesbian scared of returning home

Flag JamaicaImage by erjkprunczyk via Flickr
Source: Sunday Herald

While many lesbians remain closeted, Neisha Hemmings has decided to open the doors to her life for all to see by revealing her sexual tendencies. Born in St Mary 28 years ago, Hemmings now residing in the United Kingdom for the past 12 years says she feels obliged to go public, even knowing that she could lose friends and even jeopardize her own safety.

“I got into my first lesbian relationship at the age of 17 and since then I have been enjoying my life,” Hemmings said. But while she has finally stepped out, she is concerned about some of the negative feedback from some of her friends and family members. According to Hemmings she was warned that some of her relatives and friends in the village where she was born are saying negative things, while others declared openly that she should not return to the district because something terribly could happen to her.

“I have been hiding my sexuality for a long time and am not going to cover up anymore. I am a lesbian. While I understand Jamaica has a reputation of being a homophobic country, I must be true to myself,” Hemmings told the Sunday Herald.

She said based on the reports from her friends and associates and what she read on the Internet, she was scared of returning home. Hemmings contends that her sexual tendencies were her private business and she should not be punished or threatened by persons who don’t share her lifestyle. She is encouraging other lesbians to come forward and declare themselves, providing they feel comfortable doing so.

Hemmings is among several homosexuals who have fled Jamaica for fear that they could be harmed because of their sexuality. Sexuality, according to experts on sexual behaviour, “is an important part of who we are as humans. Beyond the ability to reproduce, sexuality also defines how we see ourselves and how we physically relate to others.”

Sexual orientation

JFLAG, the local organization representing homosexuals believe its members are being targeted. Much research has been conducted to determine if sexual orientation is the result of nature.

However, most scientists today agree that sexual orientation is the result of a combination of environmental, emotional, hormonal, and biological factors.

In other words, there are many factors that contribute to a person’s sexual orientation, and the factors might be different for different people. Experts argue that homosexuality and bisexuality are not caused by the way a child was reared by his or her parents, or by having a sexual experience with someone of the same sex when the person was young.

Also, being homosexual or bisexual does not mean the person is mentally ill or abnormal in some way, although there might be social problems that result from prejudicial attitudes or misinformation.

Experts say for many people, their sexual orientation becomes evident to them during adolescence or young adulthood, and in many cases without any sexual experience. For example, homosexuals become aware that their sexual thoughts and activities focus on people of the same sex. It is possible, however, to have fantasies or to be curious about people of the same sex without being homosexual or bisexual, or choosing to act on these impulses/ attractions.
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