“Jamaica?” “No, she went of her own accord.”

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Here’s quite a tricky question from Damon:

I’m a gay man who lives in a medium-sized midwestern city. My mother lives in a smaller city, and is your typical midwestern housewife type. She is very sweet, moderately conservative and church-going. She’s a bright person, but not very worldly, and has rarely, if ever, travelled outside of her state.

Out of the blue this past year, she called me and said that she has always wanted to go to Jamaica, and that since I’m the only person she knows who has travelled extensively, she’d like me as a travel companion on her “once in a lifetime” trip to Jamaica.

I do not know why the sudden interest in Jamaica. She says it’s the beaches she’s seen in travel brochures and the adorable accents that she finds fascinating.

As a gay man, I have a problem with Jamaica, as it is a homophobic country. I’m not usually very political, but I don’t like the idea of spending tourist dollars in a place that is so culturally backward when it comes to gay rights. That said, my mother insists that she pays for everything, as this is her treat, and as both a birthday gift for me and a thanks for accompanying her, so it’s not really my money.

I asked if she’d like to see any other Caribbean islands, or if it has to be Jamaica, and she simply replied “I want to go to Jamaica.”

So answer me this: do I stick to my political beliefs and refuse to go to Jamaica, even though I’m not paying for it, or do I honor my mother’s wishes, hold my nose, and go anyway? I know that my mother is not aware of the ways GLBT men and women are treated in Jamaica, and isn’t interested in supporting it, but she’s also very fixated on this vacation.

Also, if I do go, is it fair that I talk her into getting cornrows done in her hair, as so many women who visit the islands do, as a wicked revenge?

Readers, help out.

Obviously whichever option you choose, she’ll be having the cornrows as well. Dyed to match the rainbow flag.

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4 Responses to ““Jamaica?” “No, she went of her own accord.””

  1. Damon Says:

    Update to this question: I spoke to my mother about my concerns. As noted above, she was completely unaware of the awful abuses condoned by Jamaican law. She was also very upset to learn that she would have to get a passport, as she assumed that since it was near America, it was part of the U.S. We decided that a better time would be had in Puerto Rico, where she briefly lived as a school girl in the 60s, when her father was stationed there with the U.S.A.F. We plan to go in April.

  2. Ali Says:

    “Take a break from your principles!” Then they’re not fucking principles, they’re hobbies. And desiring not to be around people that want you dead, imprisoned, or unhappy is a completely acceptable desire.

  3. Dave Oldham Says:

    To quote George Orwell “The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection, that one is sometimes willing to commit sins for the sake of loyalty, that one does not push asceticism to the point where it makes friendly intercourse impossible”. I’m inclined to think that you should take a holiday from your principles and go.

  4. Sam Says:

    Maybe the way to think of this is that you are not leaving your political beliefs behind, but that you are chipping away at theirs, by going. The position I’d adopt is that they are probably never going to get over their ignorance-driven homophobia unless and until they see that gays are not all freaks/criminals/loons etc. About the best way of achieving that on a cultural level is through (a) tourism (they get to see you for a bit and then you go, no harm done) and (b) time (enough for the bigoted types to die off). I admit this is a bit of a thin argument, but if you are up for a small contribution to the long-term, this could be it.

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