04 Nov Being LGBTIQ in Saint Lucia
“My home, my country, the fair Helen of the Caribbean, Saint Lucia. The perfect escape to be shared with your partner. Tropical weather, welcoming accommodations, and unexpected adventures await all who travel to this paradise island. Romance can be found at resorts or while hanging out at a popular upscale bar north of the island. Together you can bask under the Caribbean sun, sail into a champagne sunset, and cuddle beneath the vast, starry sky. Discover new romance and re-spark old love over a candlelight dinner on a secluded beach or a cozy apartment!
The above passage highlights the image of Saint Lucia marketed to heterosexual couples. When I browse the myriad of tourist magazines and social media sites, it would be most questioning to see same-sex couples on the front page at least not in the open. To be gay in this tropical paradise of Saint Lucia means to be most accepting of the reality.
Anti-sodomy laws within my country’s criminal code paints a different picture of the life of a gay man in tropical paradise.
In such a small space, my sexual orientation hinders my ability to walk freely with my partner. Being openly gay is confined to certain members of one’s family circle, just as his or her social circles.
Being gay in St. Lucia means having to deal with the loss of loved ones from the LGBT community, while at the same time being a support structure for so many who are closeted. Being directly involved with a community that faces a high level of social stigma and discrimination on a daily basis means having the energy and courage to ensure that the cries of the LGBTQI community are heard.
This paradise has afforded some opportunities, as the negativity surrounding my sexual orientation has fueled me to be observant, to travel and explore other places that are less homophobic, to be strong-willed and intelligent, and to be aware of how my rights as a Saint Lucian can be trampled on. As the head of the organization [United and Strong St. Lucia], I am responsible for ensuring that United and Strong becomes the voice of the voiceless, the strength of the weak, and a place of solace for the vulnerable.
I think being gay has encouraged me to be less complacent and more vigilant, not only for myself but for younger LGBTQI persons. Our culture and laws have unfortunately left us with little hope of ever enjoying law reform. To date, we have had at least five murders, all of which have no resolve from law enforcement. The LGBTQI community continues to live as the system fails us as a minority. Until then, I can only continue to work with United and Strong to raise awareness, in the hope of eventually seeing some change.”
Adaryl Williams is an LGBTIQ activist from Saint Lucia attending OutSummit 2016