Dr. Matthew Christensen
27 April 2014
Sexual Diaspora in Caribbean Culture
It has been over fifty years since Jamaica gained its independence from the United Kingdom, a momentous occasion for all Jamaicans whose cultural identity was sequestered by the imposition of Western colonization. The struggle to achieve its independence was to escape the “powerlessness” Derek Walcott describes as indicative of third world countries or “the ex-colonial world”. Without reservation, such countries endured “the loss of history, the amnesia of the races,” and a multitude of other colonial ramifications. As a result of imperialistic dominance, the corollaries consequential of post-colonialism emphasize the marginalization of Caribbean peoples and the divided sense of self. Yet despite the hegemonic dominance of this third world republic, there are evident cases of its inability to extend the same desire of freedom to those who are a part of the sexual diaspora and more specifically to those engaging in homosexuality.
As noted by theorists today, homosexuality has become a muted subject within Western literature. The Caribbean, representing a colony of the West, is recognized as a territory that has unequivocally been influenced by Western modes of thought. Thus, in Caribbean literature topics “of interracial desires of same-sex and of homoerotic colonial fantasies continue to be elusive and contradictory in most commentaries on colonial narrative” (Hawley, 278). The identification of these concepts as “elusive” suggests the recently freed territories fall under a regressive conceptualization of sexual creeds. Academics label the stigma created by homosexuality as a product of colonization. Taking from queer theorist Hema Chari, after the examination of Edward Said’s discussion of orientalism, a connection to colonization and homoerotic as well as psychosexual needs exists. As she states:
Colonial power sustained its domination and status by appropriating a contradictory but systematic process of avowal and disavowal of sexual desire between men in the colonies. Further, the ambivalence of colonialist masculine erotics, which is simultaneously a promise and a threat, powerfully substantiates my claims that discursive practices of deferred and displaced homoeroticism underwrite colonial rule, and in fact continue to dominate the politics of postcoloniality.
Chari points to the huge impact colonial power inflicted upon the colonized not only in terms of identity, but the displacement of sexuality. She also makes reference to Edward Said who “examines the sexual and political dynamics of race by consistently investigating the feminization of the Oriental races and cultures” (278). Alluding to Said helps Chari explain the Caribbean’s rationalization of treating homosexuality and the like as a negative way of living. Furthermore, it reaffirms the constant need for those who deem themselves as homosexual to temper their sexual identity in order to escape the oppression on such peoples. The backsliding nature of the Caribbean’s view towards homosexuality was made evident on July 22, 2013 in Jamaica’s Montego Bay, the day transgendered Dwayne Jones chose to attend a party to completely represent himself as the woman he believed he was. According to USA Today News, “like most Jamaican homosexuals, Dwayne was careful about confiding in others about his sexual orientation.” However, after recognizing a female friend at the party Jones cautiously admitted his transgendered identity. Regrettably, his idealistic nature of Jamaican society and culture is what led to his brutal murder. Jones’ human need to express his sexual identity is a freedom he was not allowed because of strict anti-gay laws inflicted on Jamaicans as well as the brutal negative view of homosexuality. The article continued to mention “international advocacy groups often portray this Caribbean island as the most