WHETHER we want to admit it or not, homosexuality is still very much a taboo topic in Jamaica. In fact, some have dubbed Jamaica one of the most homophobic countries on Earth, and many have linked this to the fact that we are a deeply religious country, with beliefs steeped in Old Testament tradition.
As such, the very perception, the inkling, the suspicion that a child is questioning his/her sexuality will have some Jamaican parents chanting brimstone and fire, and many of the young, gay men on the streets have spoken of being kicked out of their homes and communities as their families couldn't deal with them 'coming out'.
But with the world becoming more liberalised, are some attitudes changing locally? We asked parents, how you would respond to your child coming out of the closet?
Gary, 49, trailer driver:
Well, I couldn't change the fact that the child is my child, and so I could not depart from them. I also couldn't turn my back on them because they are already my offspring. But I would just make sure that the child knows that I don't want to be involved with certain things, like giving them any relationship advice or having them spend any weekend at my place. I am not into that.
Shaneika, 26, marketer:
Well, I am bisexual, so I have an understanding of what it is like to be attracted to the same sex, so I would not have a problem. In a country like ours, though, where people are still so violent to members of the LGBT community, I would encourage my child to be careful. It's not really hiding their sexuality, but just to be careful about the crowds, the environment.
Devon, 33, carpenter:
Well, they would have to find their way out of that. I wouldn't want to have any part in it. So hopefully when they make the decision to take up that lifestyle they are adults, because I honestly don't want my money to be feeding or clothing anybody doing those kinds of things. My stomach gets sick even thinking about this, and it would be a disappointment coming from a Christian home if any of my children came to me with that. As a matter of fact, as I get home today I am telling my wife to start teaching them how the people of Sodom and Gomorrah got on God's wrong side and were destroyed.
Abigail, 37, realtor:
If you had asked me this five years ago I can tell you that I would be angry and insulted that you'd even ask me to consider this. But having done some studies, and watching a friend of mine struggling to suppress her own sexuality, has made me sad. Nobody should ever have to cage their happiness, be afraid to be themselves, and be fearful of loving and being loved by whomever they please.
As a parent, I only want the best for my child; I want my child to be happy, to be supported, and to be loved. I honestly could only embrace my child and help him to explore this new world — whatever I can do to help. I think love is love, and if people want to judge you for that, let them.
Nordia, 28, teacher:
That would be very tough, but young people and young adults like to experiment and I would probably look at it like that initially. But whether it is a phase or not, it is something that I would have to live with because I love my child. I would learn to respect her decision, even if I am not supportive of it. I think that the parents who sacrifice their relationships with their children are more concerned about the stigma that is attached and that would be associated with their families even more than the biblical principles that they often like to use as an excuse. And even to the very religious I would tell them that God is one of compassion, we have no authority on Earth to judge, and whatever plans He has for my child's life shall be fulfilled.
Shameil, 25, teacher:
I honestly would be furious, but at the end of the day I would want to know why and how the child feels being gay. I would try to be as supportive as I can be as well.