Guest post: Musings of a Jamaican lesbian

Andrea Dwyer

Andrea (left) with friend

This is a guest post by Andrea Dwyer. Contact info below the post.

Many of the privileges and rights I have as a naturalised U.S citizen, are unfortunately not afforded to my LGBTQ brothers and sisters around the world, such as in my home country, Jamaica. I love my country. She represents belonging and freedom to me. I want to go home but the truth is it scares me somewhat. I’m keeping distance because of the state of Jamaica’s “proud” and violent disdain of homosexuals.

The few times I’ve visited in recent years, and happy as my trips in many ways are, I’ve also had exasperating experiences.  For instance, while buying groceries at a market in Kingston, I was accosted by a young man for ignoring his sexual advances. He bitterly yelled,  “Sodomite!” in an attempt to embarrass me. On another occasion, while enjoying the company of friends at a hip sports bar in Montego Bay, the topic of lesbianism came up. After hearing reasons why women were gay such as, “They just haven’t had sex with the right man” I said “I’m a lesbian and you’re making no sense right now.”

Yet I have the tools to cope with such comments so they don’t get under my skin, and also I know visiting Jamaica, as an “American tourist” isn’t quite the same experience as living LGBTQ reality day to day.

Back in 2006 Time magazine pinned Jamaica as the most homophobic place on earth. In August of this year an alleged gay man was stabbed to death and his house set ablaze as his lifeless body burned inside. Only a few days prior, a murder mob attacked what (they perceived to be) two gay men. I was crestfallen when a young gender nonconforming youth was murdered by the streets I safely roamed as a young girl.

Strict homophobic laws and old-fashioned religious views contribute to the intolerance. Sodom and Gomorrah and the fire and brimstone story (18,19 Genesis) in the Bible are often cited when opposing homosexuality. Not only are the Jamaican church and law in opposition of LGBTQ equality but also popular reggae dancehall is sometimes laced with homophobic lyrics. Buju Banton’s “Boom Bye Bye”, describes, among other things, wanting to burn homosexuals like “an old tire wheel.”

It’s imperative that our president, Portia Simpson Miller, and her cabinet take action towards changing the harsh climate for the vulnerable community in Jamaica following the lead of more progressive states such as the US. Only if the laws change will the minds and hearts of Jamaicans too open to change.

I will never forget my beautiful Jamaica. I had the liberating experience of growing up there. As an adventurous and curious tomboy I spent many days climbing trees, hunting birds, and picking fruits. I grew up surrounded by family and although my homosexuality isn’t always understood my family continues to love and support me.

Jamaica, I thank you for all you’ve given me. But I look forward to a day when I don’t need to thank you from a distance. Until then, and despite the love you evoke in me, I now call America home.

Ms. Dwyer, the author of this post, was born in Kingston, Jamaica. She now resides in Atlanta, Georgia. She’s a freelance writer who’s passionate about equality in the LGBTQ community particularly as it relates to people of the African Diaspora. If you would like to reach her email her at

  • Amanda

    Beautifully written by a dear friend of mine. Proud to support her and her quest in equality in her home country. The world is evolving, slowly but surely, and my hopes that Jamaica will follow suit are high. Good job D

  • Akhumo

    My heart is deeply touched and my spirit moved by these words. As a lesbian woman making her way out the closet in a confused n disgruntled South Africa, I applaud such women who dare to stand up and say, “Let me be. Your hatred is misplaced” that is what your words have said to me, Ms. D,

    stay blessed xxx

  • Davida “Andrea” Dwyer

    @ Akhumo. Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I’m well aware of the struggles you face being out lesbian in South Africa. I applaud your courage for being out in such a harsh environment. Take courage my friend and dare to be different, dare to be yourself. Your sister. Ms. D

    P.S You have such a beautiful name, I love it!

    • Akhumo

      Ms D. I must say, the name Akhumo was one I dreamt when i was younger and thought myself a writer and poet/ performer. But thank you for the compliment, I’ve since held on to it as my “alter ego”