Last edited: July 16, 2004

Two Bahamian Men Talk About Their Lives

Nassau Guardian, July 28, 2003
#4 Carter Street, Oakes Field, P.O.Box N-3011, Nassau, N.P. Bahamas
Fax: 242-328-8943

By Shavaughn Moss, Guardian Staff Writer

Unlike other countries, which have liberalised both their law and social practise, in The Bahamas there is still a law on the books against the euphemistically named “unnatural crime,” or buggery.

There is also an entrenched religious and social condemnation of homosexuality, even though there’s no evidence to indicate there are any fewer same-sex relationships in this country than anywhere else in the world. What is evident, however, is that the homosexual Bahamians feel constrained to hide their sexual preferences and to live much of their lives behind closed doors.

It’s because of this that we do not see two men or two women walking down the street being openly affectionate.

After the past few weeks an uproar in the country is forcing Bahamians to recognise homosexuality is here and being thrust into the public eye.

In this series, The Guardian introduces you to two homosexual men, 23-year-old Lavardo, who describes his profession as merchandising, and 28-year-Alex, who is in the service industry, (names have been changed to protect their identities) to get their views on homosexuality, and why they are the way they are.

Lavardo and Alex answer questions on whether homosexuality for them is just a sexual experience or more about companionship.

They tell how homosexuals identify each other, what some find fascinating about dressing up as a female, and what characteristics they look for in a mate.

In this no-holds barred interview, Lavardo and Alex talk about men and women who indulge their homosexual tendencies for money, clothes and jewelry, but who try to live heterosexual lives.

A burning question Lavardo and Alex will answer is whether they feel they were born with homosexual tendencies, or if it was something they grew into later in life.

Gay, sissy, pooftah are terms used in a derogatory fashion to describe people who like the same sex. Lavardo and Alex prefer to be called homosexuals.

Asked for their definition of the word “homosexual,” Alex said to him it means two persons of the same sex having feelings for each other, whether mental or sexual.

Lavardo’s definition is two persons of the same sex attracted to each other in a relationship.

The interview began tentatively. Alex and Lavardo, both young, handsome, intelligent men, had to warm up to me and the discussion about their lifestyle which, in the past, they had only discussed in the company of fellow homosexuals.

The friends, referred to me by an acquaintance, and who are not an item, say they agreed to the interview because they felt it was time the homosexual community had its say. They are tired of being lambasted because of feelings they say they can’t help.

Lavardo and Alex are not in or out of the closet.

According to Alex the answer is not black or white, but has a lot of gray.

“I think I’m pretty much in between, because of our community, and how people accept it and deal with it,” he said. “You don’t want to seem like you’re pushing or throwing your lifestyle in people’s faces, and you have to protect yourself and your image.”

He said he was not, but was more or less adapting to what Bahamian society sees as acceptable, to which Lavardo agreed.

“I would say I’m in between, too, because I take part in the activities they have here at the local club, but I won’t go anywhere around the island and just say I’m this and that, because you have to respect people. And we live in a country that says what we do is called unnatural sex, and if you throw that in someone’s face, there’s no telling how they’re going to act towards you.”

Lavardo cares about his image at home, but said if he lived in the United States, particularly Miami Beach, he wouldn’t care if people knew whether he was gay or not.

“Nassau is so small and your name is basically all you have, and we don’t have any rights per se, so people could not afford you opportunities just because they know that,” said the well-groomed young man.

“We know that people know or assume, and on some level we don’t care,” interjected Alex “and by that I mean we’re not going to be living our lives to try and prove them otherwise. I guess we live at a point where if they know, they know, but we don’t have anything to prove to them or to show them.”

While they accept who they are, neither Alex nor Lavardo has told their families they are gay. Both say their families have heard rumours but neither has sat their family members down and told them they were gay.

To live their lifestyle, both had to move out of the family homes and get their own apartments.

Alex said his family found out he was gay through a relative who had a conversation with a mutual acquaintance about him. That relative then told the family what had been told to him.

“Never at any point have I admitted it. I’ve never come out and told my parents that I’m a homosexual, but they always remind me that they know,” said Alex.

Coming out and telling his parents he’s homosexual he finds complicated.

“First of all you already know it’s a burden. We grow up in a community where your parents have certain expectations of you. They think that eventually you will marry, have 2.5 kids with a dog and picket fence, and I think that’s pretty much why it’s so complicated to have the conversation.”

Alex says his family does not have to accept him, but he thinks they’re dealing with it. He isn’t pushing his sexual preference in their face, and they don’t want to break ties with him.

Lavardo said his family had inklings of his sexual leanings early on in his teenage years because they would eavesdrop on his phone conversations and read his letters, but he, too, has never actually told them he is gay.

His family questioned him on the issue, but he said he denied it, to protect himself.

“They would tell me that they hate this thing so much, yet they still asked me to admit it to them, but I didn’t. In essence they’re asking me the questions, but telling me at the same time that they don’t accept it, so I can’t even see myself admitting it them really and truly,” he said.

His response was to move out, get his own apartment to live his own life, free from their questions.

Lavardo’s family rarely visits him at his home, but he says he goes by their home once in a while to say hi. He says that people tell them stuff about him.

He wonders why his family can’t just accept that they are a regular family with problems, with a black sheep, but they are the kind of family that has to look a certain way so they can look good in the community.

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