I grew up on an island formally known as “Land of Wood and Water.” Jamaica is divided into 14-parishes, all of which are uniquely different and special in its own right. I was raised in the capital, known fondly as Kingston these days, but once upon a time, the nation’s capital was Spanish Town before the British changed it.

Kingston never goes to sleep. For that reason, as a child, I always had somewhere to wander off. I dare not venture too far from home; my mother would often remind me. For I was different. Different in terms of how I was treated. Different in how I saw the world, and that world was then my community.

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I was raised in a small Kingston garrison within a constituency where everyone knew everyone or, at least, they thought they knew everybody because we all lived too close together. All I knew back then was from my little town. I have horrible memories of childhood. So horrific are these memories that it is difficult to put them into words.

I had some inclination of my liking for other boys at the age of eight or nine years old. I knew I was different. I felt different and indifferent was how I was treated by friends, family, and even by my own mother. It felt restless and almost too burdensome. I often found myself praying to ask God, Jesus, Abraham, or whatever name he chose to go by, “why I was like this?”

Of course, this was always a battle because I never got a response. At least, none I could recall. Many nights I would cry about the day that had ended. The bullies at my school and the whispers and finger-pointing in my neighbourhood. I would climb fruits trees and sit in them for hours, watching the world going about its business with envy in my heart for others being who they were and hated in my own mind for being me.

I was never told that it was okay to be different. Jamaica is not a society that welcomes difference among its own, but I was, however, reminded that it was punishable to be unique. And a regular punishment it was, indeed. I was beaten by my mother with belts, hoses, boards, electrical cords, slippers, anything she could find in fact. I can even remember a few stones being hurled in my direction.

Being Different in Jamaica: When Me Was A Boy

Throughout all of this, I loved her still, but still, I wanted to be different. I had had the girlfriends. That didn’t work. I had bragged of the things I was expected to do with the ‘bad gals’ and other girls, but of course, none of it happened. I figured, in the end, it might just be better for me to be alone with the boys than to be a total outcast.

No matter where I went, or who I was with, I never truly felt safe or as if I was ever a part of there or them. So, like many thousands of other Jamaicans before me, I relocated a few times as I got older. Eventually, I left Jamaica altogether. But it was ever the same. Where I grew up had left me mistrusting of people. Often times believing that nothing people said or did was ever to be believed. If they say or do a thing, question it.

But I still remember my first crush, my first kiss, and that first touch. My next door neighbour was a short, chocolate-coloured, smooth-skinned boy with a backside so firm you could bounce a penny off it. His name was Leighton, and he was rather playful as I recall. Always sweating, he was, and he would always find a way to lure me under the house to the cellar where the chickens laid their eggs. It was dark and smelly down there, and we would kiss, forever, while touching each other’s private parts. We were nine or ten.

Leighton liked when I came my little dribble in between his legs. I, however, loved when he laid on his stomach, so I could fit my swollen rod between his thick thighs. Me in there grinding into what seemed like heaven. It was even much better if one of us had brought Vaseline along for the ride.

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