"You’re Not My Son Anymore" a short story by Geoffrey Philp

I found this very poignant piece written on a blog written by a Blogger: BlogJamaica, it describes rejection of a young man by his father and by extension his family because he is gay. The piece is posted here with permission from the host. Please visit this blog for more stimulating readings. It reads:

taken from the book: Who’s Your Daddy?: And Other Stories

Pausing by the hospital door, I took a deep breath. The last time I’d seen my dad, Harold Sr., I was lying on my back looking up at his fists and twisted face. “You think you can fight me? You think you are a real man? You’ll never be a real man. You and your battyman friends!” I pushed the stethoscope deep into the side pocket of my jacket so that I wouldn’t be confused with the other doctors who worked at the hospital. Gently opening the door, I braced myself for a sight that I’d seen so many times at the hospice where I’d worked, yet to which I’d never grown accustomed. “Who’s that?” “It’s me, Dad.”

“What are you doing here? Didn’t I tell you I never wanted to see you again?” It was as bad as I’d imagined. AIDS had ravaged my father’s body. A stroke had paralyzed his left side and he was now almost blind. “I wanted to see you, Dad.” “You mean to see what’s left of me? Look and leave. I’ve spent your inheritance. You’re not even in my will.” Dad tried to pull the sheet over his chest, but he couldn’t. The tell-tale signs of Kaposi’s sarcoma covered his body. “I don’t need your money, Dad.” “Then, what are you doing here? I told you before. No son of mine is a battyman!” “I don’t want to fight anymore.I’ve come to make peace.” “Peace? What peace? Go and look for that somewhere else. You forgot about the last time? My God, if I could get up out this bed, I’d knock you down again.”

He tried to raise his tired arm over his head, but failed. I swallowed hard and slumped into the visitor’s chair. A web of IV drips surrounded his bed. “Dad, it doesn’t have to be this way.” “What way do you want it? Or is that how your confused battyman friends–the ones who spread their disease to real men like me–used to ask you?” I bit my lip.
I wanted to say, “Dad, my friends didn’t give you this disease. If you’d just worn a condom when you were having sex with your girlfriend, you wouldn’t be dying now. If you’d worn a condom, my mother–the only person who kept you alive by giving you your meds regularly–wouldn’t have died three months ago after you infected her.”
But I didn’t. Instead, I gazed at the beam of light that lanced across the headboard and gilded the charts that declared his death sentence. “Bugger!” He kept on cursing and I listened and waited until his tirade ended.

A nurse poked her head through the door. I told her that everything was all right. From the look on my face, she knew I could be trusted with his care. She left without a word. Dad was so exhausted from his rants, he collapsed into a deep slumber. Rising from my chair, I brushed the wisps of hair over his head, so that if anyone saw him, he would still resemble Harry Lewiston, Sr. And not what he had become–a scarecrow in defeat. I pushed the chair close to the bed and walked toward the door. Although I had said as much as I could, I still felt as if I had left a shadow in the room.

And, somehow, as I closed the door, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the next time I’d see my father, I’d be closing the lid of his casket.

"Keep it to yuself mentality" on homosexuality

The notion that gay people in Jamaica should keep their homosexuality, tendencies and or urges to themselves is a strong one, hence the no PDA – public display of affection unwritten rule for expression and aesthetic presentations and behaviour.

Reggae singer Queen Ifrica(photo) popular yet subtle anti gay song “Keep it to yuself” echoes that message oh so loudly in which it says:

“Yu feel like a bad man (Keep it to yu self)Doan bring it to Jamaican (Keep it to yu self)We nuh want dat a jamrock (Keep it to yu self)Wi can’t tek no more slackness (hear dis) …..

Yu can change di laws of manBut yu can’t change di laws of god

So if dem nocking a big glass dem glad

Wan wi fi change a must mad dem mad

Somebody tell mi what is happening

A don’t want no fish inna mi Ital dish

To see mi son become a father

Mi greatest wishDi situation kinda very ticklish

But everybody fed up from parish to parish(Yes) and to whom it may concern

A nuh dat deh way wi want di table fi turn

As a citizen wi got a lot of concern

Di truth is a nuh dat. Wi want wi chrilden dem, fi learn

Chorus

Verse 2:

Yu fi multiply an replenish di Earth

An dats why di woman labor inna child birth

Mi nuh want si mi brother Dress up inna no skirt

An mi sister nuh fi mek lift up her skirt

As a nation nuh matter what wi put god first

If yu pass eighteen issa blessing not a curse

Lighting an thunder Bown fi mek di cloud burse

A just di water from

Di Sugar Cane can quench nany thirst(Yes) and to whome it may concern

A nuh dat deh way wi want di table fi turn

As a citizen wi got a lot of concern

Di truth is a nuh dat. Wi want wi chrilden dem, fi learn”

Clearly the song outlines that heterosexism is to replenish the earth’s population which enhances a popular sentiment expressed by the christian community and others, a challenge to the cross dressing of males is also evident. The “Fish” in the verse is a subtle term used here to refer to gay men who are mostly effeminate.
This call for repression of one’s expression as a human being I feel is one of our main problems in how we interact with each other as gays and lesbians. The question of the “downlow” comes into play here then it’s no wonder why so many persons choose this path than to confront and accept themselves for who they are instead of living a lie as I see it. The other problems of situational homosexuality and behavioural bisexuality further compound the issues in our highly sexualized society with HIV/AIDS and the bridging populations.
Repression of self can lead to falsehoods and a shaky sense of security and self esteem issues I feel (I am not a psychiatrist or psychologist). Are therefore to just glibly hide ourselves forever?

Look out for Part 2

H