Haitian Bisexuality: In The End



There are those out there who think gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals don’t exist in the Haitian community. Well, I’m here to tell you once and for all that it is a lie. My name is Stephen Yvens Fils-Aime and I am a student-athlete at the Plymouth County Institute of Technology in the city of Boston, Massachusetts. The tale that I am about to share with you involves me and some of my fellow Haitians who happen to be gay, lesbian, transsexual and bisexual.

As a community, Haitians are secretive and quite narrow-minded. Also, they don’t respond well to change. Haitian parents are notoriously tyrannical and quite often brutal when dealing with their rebellious offspring. And make no mistake, any Haitian parent who discovers that their son or daughter is gay or bisexual will see this as rebellious behaviour of the worst kind and reject them.

Like I said, our people don’t deal well with change. The word conservative doesn’t even to describe them. They are allergic to change in any and all forms. They reject it and those who bring it. If you attempt to persuade them to change their viewpoints, they will laugh at you, mock you, insult you or even hurt you physically. Such is the way of my people. Our country has been independent from colonial imperialist powers such as The French since 1804 but they still refuse to grant full equal rights to their own fellow countrymen and women whom nature made different.

Even the most well-educated and seemingly open-minded members of our community refer to gays and lesbians by derisive names such as Masisi or Madivinez, which is the Haitian equivalent for fag or dyke. Like I said, truly derogatory words. I don’t associate with anyone who repeats them. Our community desperately needs enlightenment. And I will bring it to them whether they like it or not. Haitian men and Haitian women, both living in the island of Haiti and in America will have to reckon with the fact that queer Haitians exist and are worthy of respect.

The first thing I did was create a group on the most popular of all student-oriented social networking sites. It’s fairly to create one of those online groups. All you need is text and a few pictures. And so I created it. In the group description, I gave a solemn welcome to all my Haitian brothers and sisters who identified as gay, lesbian, transsexual and bisexual. I wanted them to know that they were not alone out there. There was nothing wrong with being different. You just had to learn to protect yourself and fight for your rights in a hostile and intolerant world. That’s all. It’s difficult but not impossible.

After creating the online group, I set about finding relevant pictures to put there. I found pictures of black men and black women on the Internet. I also found images of Haiti, particularly our country’s cities, schools and most of all our flag. I put a lot of effort into embellishing the group. After searching the web for hours, I finally found something which gave me hope. A supportive web site about Haitians who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual. It wasn’t some random web site created by some random person. This site had been created by Haitian activists, scholars and other professionals who rejected the intolerance with which the Haitian community viewed gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals. I can’t tell you how happy this made me. I wasn’t alone in my battle! I added this miraculous web site to my list of contacts!

I went to class. I’m a criminal justice major. Someday, I’m going to be a police officer. My whole life it’s what I’ve wanted to do. Growing up in Haiti, I saw lawlessness and it wasn’t pretty. I remember days when angry Haitian men and women armed with machetes marched through the streets of Cap Haitien, my native town. They burned houses. They destroyed vehicles. They rounded up people they considered to be their enemies and beat them senseless. And the whole time, there was nobody around to stop these madmen and madwomen because the cops were gone and chaos reigned. Yes, I saw all that. And I didn’t like it one bit. I wanted to stop them but what could I do?

Years later, I am living in America. Attending a good college. Playing division two college football. Surrounded by bright men and women and learning at the feet of bright scholars. It was just like paradise. So many opportunities and possibilities. I still remembered where I came from, though. And this, more than anything else colored how I viewed the world around me. Since I grew up in a hostile, downright antagonistic environment, I was always looking for antagonists. People, institutions and forces who lived to tear others down.

I’ve seen a lot of injustice in America. A lot of bias in the system. Racial profiling. Discrimination against both men and women along with racial and sexual minorities. I watched good fathers being denied the right to see their offspring. I watched innocent men hauled to jail based on false accusations. I saw black people getting harassed and mistreated by a police force which labelled all of them Public Enemies.

I saw gays and lesbians fight for their rights to live their lives as they chose, enjoy the same health benefits as straight people and have equal marriage rights. Watching people fight for their rights, both triumphing and failing, was definitely an inspiration for me. So I decided to join the fight. I would bring the light of enlightenment to the Haitian community, whether they liked it or not.

When I came back to my computer after a hard day at school, I was pleased to discover that quite a few people had joined the online group I’d created mere hours earlier. There were eight people. When I looked at their names and faces, I saw that many of them hailed from the Massachusetts area and attended local colleges. There was a young woman named Mildred Joseph and she attended Bay State College, as did James Louis II. Leonard Jean Baptiste hailed from UMass-Boston. Jennifer Legros went to Boston College. Alexander Ange-Marie hailed from Suffolk University. Luther Andre went to Northeastern University. Rose Angel Maupassant hailed from UMass-Dartmouth. Georges Saint Michel went to Boston University. Jasmine Robert went to Berklee College of Music. And finally there was Arnold Jean-Luc, who went to Plymouth County Tech, like me. How about that?

I smiled, and sent a group-wide message wishing them all welcome. I received quite a few messages from them in return. They had a lot of questions. I did my best to answer them. I simply told them the truth. My name is Stephen Yvens Fils-Aime. I play football for Plymouth County Tech. I attend the school’s all-new campus in Boston. Yes, I am bisexual, though celibate at the moment. And so it began. The first student organization in America made up exclusively of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual youth from the Haitian Community. In time, our numbers would increase drastically. We were destined to be a force our community would have to reckon with. And I had set it all in motion.



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Beneath the I-12 underpass, the huddled form was barely visible in the twilight as I headed home from stocking up on a few essentials before the predicted storm front arrived. Wrapped in a black garbage bag clutching a small second generation handbag, the hapless figure beneath the overpass was well suited for a homeless poster but ill equipped for the torrential rain predicted. Pulling my aging Merc as close as possible, I literally drug the lifeless form...

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