Keeping LGBTs out of the closet

When Shari Inniss-Grant returned to Barbados in 2013, the human rights researcher saw a need to create a safe space for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.

After experiencing racial discrimination while studying in Connecticut and Washington D.C. in the United States, the 30-year-old was met with gender discrimination and homophobia on her return home.

“You deal with one kind of discrimination and then you come home and you deal with a different kind of discrimination, which is really the kind of homophobia that I felt and I heard around me,” she said.

Shocked by the blatant disrespect exhibited towards the members of the LGBT community, she founded Join the Conversation – an initiative under Equals Barbados, a civil society organization dedicated to working with and for the LGBT community. Join the Conversation aims to create a safe haven for LGBTs to share their experiences and educate family and friends.

“Join The Conversation purely came out of that question for me, as a person who identifies as queer, ‘is this someplace that I can build the rest of my life and, if not, what are the most important things that need to happen?’” she explained to Barbados TODAY.

Shari Innis-Grant

“We just wanted to create a space where people can get even simple questions answered. We’re not saying to you this is the answer, but rather you are able to work it through for yourself and determine it. It is really important for people who care about their kids and care about their friends to create a space where people can come together to learn how to deal with these moments and how to talk about it.”

For Inniss-Grant, the initiative is just the beginning of an effort to create a culture of acceptance in the island, at a time when people are seeking asylum overseas.

The former Yale Law School graduate acknowledged that homophobia and transphobia are a problem in Barbados.

She cited cases of transsexuals being ridiculed and shunned while walking through Bridgetown, while noting that people were more likely to accept lesbians and bisexuals than they would transgenders.

“Homophobia exists in Barbados. We see it in terms of the things that we have ministers saying, the things we see in schools where kids get bullied, or policing and the kind of complaints that get dismissed. We also see it in pockets of acceptance,” she said.

As International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biophobia was being commemorated today, Inniss-Grant expressed her wish for the LGBT community to be protected and accepted by their families, friends and the general public.

“I hope that we’re able to go down the street and don’t ever worry about having accidents because you know you are able to go the police; [that] we’re able to go to healthcare facilities and not worry that people are going to spread your business; and you don’t have to worry about going to school and people saying things about you . . . . Or you don’t have to worry about your government officials saying that nobody should be like you,” she said.

“We just want to live in a country where you feel safe, you feel like you can build the kind of life that you want to build and have the kind of family you want to have and you are not going to be harassed, and you have the same opportunities and acceptance as everyone else.”

6 Responses to Keeping LGBTs out of the closet

  1. allison archer May 18, 2017 at 11:49 am

    people just seek for a cop out to practice their lifestyle, all of us whether heterosexual, upright, just have to deal with those reasonslisted here in one form or the other
    your agenda is wanting the whole world to embrace and practiced this abomination, the only way for your existence to continue on, we born our children then hand them over to become lgbtq
    no Shari wrong is wrong and right is right, the bible says if you love me tell me the truth and what you are now is not right in the eyes of your Creator Jesus Christ you need to forsake to receive healing for your soul

    Reply
  2. Sheron Inniss May 18, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    Fellow writer pushing this agenda will get you somewhere out there. To each his own but wrong is wrong and this behaviour is abnormal. I still keeping all of my friends though. It is not my place to judge. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

    Reply
  3. Waiting May 18, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    I once worked with a male homosexual and he shared with me the challenge he had from birth and it left me understanding more fully the LGBT plight. It is true that some of them are just worthless as they seek financial gain but others have been given a awful hand which only God can heal them but it is left to them to seek the necessary help from Him. In the meantime we all are to show them love, the love of God.

    Reply
  4. Lalu Hanuman May 18, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    Colonialism really messed up our heads with this Bible nonsense! People should be able to live their lives as they please. Nelson Mandela ensured that Azania’s/ South Africa’s post-apartheid constitution was the first in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. We should emulate that in the Caribbean. Break with the colonialist mind set!

    Reply
  5. Bobo May 19, 2017 at 5:06 am

    Typical local Bajan’s comments — Ignorance is a …..–High Tec. Computer was created to gather information to educate self –search out Male and Female Hormones–chromosomes

    Be happy you are born ”upright” that doesn’t mean you have to insult those born with hormone deficiency, who knows whats the future holds for your children.

    Reply
  6. Denny May 19, 2017 at 9:38 am

    I don’t believe that most homosexuals have a choice in the matter. Have you ever seen a child on his or her way to school and not being sure of whether it’s a boy or girl?
    Have you ever heard of baby boys who prefer girls’ clothing?
    I was able to observed this trait with a little boy in the States. Because he attended the same schools as one of my sons, I was able to observe him over the years. Last time I saw him he was working in the admissions office at a major university. Today,according to his mom, he is married and he and his husband are living happily together.
    Do you think that as a child he planned this lifestyle for himself?
    Sometimes we have to excercise patience and tolerance.
    Can you imagine a household with several gay children? That exist right here in Barbados. I know of such a family. Do you think that they chose this lifestyle for themselves?

    Reply

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