Under Oath is the first in a series of glimpses into my own life; my struggles, joys, hurts and life's experiences. As you experience the series, you will understand why I am, the way I am and why I do the things I do and maybe for those who are questioning my romance with or defense of marginalised peoples; including GLBT populations, perhaps this serious will elucidate you to some extent. I refuse to sit by and allow anyone to experience what I experience(d) without doing all that i can to shift cultural thoughts/attitudes/behaviours.
I swear to tell the truth – di wuola chuut and nutt’n but di chuut!
I am Damien Marcus Williams; a young, gifted (if I must say so myself)Caribbean male of African ancestry. I grew up in a quaint village in Point-Fortin, Trinidad. Following my formative years, I moved to Grenada to join my mother, who lived there. My mother had five children. I am the only male (well at least by society’s definition. I have a penis. Her other children have vagina). Growing up in a house with women has caused me to, perhaps, appreciate the softer gentler side of humanity a lot. Maybe even to my own detriment.
Caribbean males are supposed to be rough and crass; void of any sense of purpose, decorum, sensibility or finesse. In fact, in order to survive, without much taunting and trauma and to define your masculinity in the Caribbean society as a man, you might as well show that you can “hold your liquor” from an early age; "mek di bad wod dem roll hoff yu tuong smuud, smuud" and you better try “jam totie” (have sex even before you reach grade 3). I did none of those quite well. I played with dolls and I read books and stayed inside. I never pitched marbles nor kicked football. And I was comfortable not doing those things not knowing that I was being rendered a social leper.
Growing up, I have been called all sorts of names: Tanty, man-ooman, bulla-man, batty-man. I walked with no “swagger”, I spoke English (my mother demanded it) instead of Creole, I was not promiscuous (at the time…lol) and I sang every part on the choir. Those were the things that made me queer; that deemed me an unequivocal, undeniable member of the bulla-man/batty-man fraternity. Albeit these were unsubstantiated assignments of labels, they were assigned anyway; sometimes even coming as word of knowledge from “god”.
It was irony of ironies. Even though I was this social leper due to my perceived sexuality, my superior academic performance at school made all the macho homophobes my friends. I was president of the literary and debating society both in high school and college. Similarly, my abilities in the performing arts gave me, “the so-called Homosexual” a place in the pulpit and in ministry within the church even though everyone was whispering behind my back. Meanwhile, as others heard from “god” about my sexual prowess, I was a big ole virgin. I learned very early that “god” was in the habit of telling lies; especially the “charismatic god”.
Having experienced all of that, I was convinced that I had experienced the worse of homophobia and castigation (even when I was innocent) until I went to seminary… That is a story in itself. I won’t belabor that point here. But just to say, I recently went to a particular ministry the other day, which called to ask me to join their team because they are impressed with my knowledge and how I articulate same. However, in a follow up meeting, they went on to question my sexuality because:
1. Someone from seminary raised concern about them taking me on their team because of the question that surrounds my sexuality
2. How I talk and walk
3. That I seem to always want to defend members of the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender (GLBT) community
My response to all of this is?
I have, for most of the short life that God has granted me, tried to defend myself and my sexuality. Today, I refuse to continue to do so. I am an intelligent man whose abilities and qualification and integrity as an individual must be able to speak for me. Am I qualified for the Job? Who am I as a person? Those are, to me, the only fundamental and relevant questions that need to be answered. I am NOT who I have sex with. I am a person who is God-fearing in a world where the love of/for God is obsolete and unacademic. I am talented, smart and ABLE. I am somebody’s son, brother, friend, mentor. See me, not through the narrow vision of cultural definition of masculinity but for who I am. When we experience the world only through such backward prism, we miss out on experiences that can help to better ourselves and others.
I am Damien Marcus Williams and I am Under Oath.