October 15th 2009 will mark eleven years of living together with my partner Kinno. I love him very much. He made a huge difference in my life and for that I am grateful. When we met I was 20 and he was 21.
Since my victories in the courts vs. the state I have not yet been awarded any compensation, but the victories were a small satisfaction because it acknowledged my rights as a human being and as a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago. My victories have fuelled my ambitions to work harder and to be an example to others who might have experienced similar circumstances or any ill treatment as a result of sexual orientation.
Personally speaking, I feel that the government of Trinidad and Tobago and other leaders would like to make our country a place where equal rights are afforded to everyone regardless of class, religion, race or sexual orientation; besides, it is part and parcel of a developed country that can meet international standards. However, governments of the past and present are afraid to address these matters correctly because of the fear of losing political mileage. They don’t want to be accused of “de-moralizing” society by opposing forces.
I think that society is changing and has become more aware of gender differences and sexual orientation. Crime has plagued our country for some time now and our young people are being taught to hate, discriminate and show little regard for human life. I say this not only because of the action of government on issues of sexual orientation, but also because our radio stations and cable channels are allowed to preach hate music with sexually perverse lyrics and it is being absorbed in the minds of the impressionable. And when these young minds mature, they act on what they were fed as it becomes established in their judgment, hence crime, violence, domestic abuse, drug abuse, AIDS, etc. How many lives must be sacrificed in order to make money?
It seems like there is no limit, since the government is poised to pay me over $150,000 for wrongful arrest and police harassment, rather than to make all citizens safe and protected under the Equal Opportunity Act.
In spite of the so-called homophobic society we live in, I feel a sense of empowerment since my court victories. People within my home and work community who have supported me were very proud of my victories. I feel like I have a responsibility to prove to them that although I am gay I am first a human being and a man who works hard. Never in my life did I ever feel the need to hide or pretend and they all seem to admire me for that. Things are going quite well for me and partner Kinno, and we will continue to fight in the battle for equality.
Two years ago, Guardian journalist Sascha Wilson and Verna St. Rose-Greaves (host of Treeay on Gayelle TV) introduced Trinidad & Tobago to Kennty Mitchell, his partner, and his unique story. gspottt lae.msy.roj.ram Community Voices is proud to feature them telling you their story in their own words.
From the outside looking in, they call me immoral, they say that I like vice and I have no ambition. “How could you live with a man?” they asked me. Others commented, “How long do you think it would last?”
My 10+ years with Kennty were not at all easy, as with all relationships, and just like a heterosexual relationship, there are fears of uncertainty and a number of mental challenges. Imagine me a young man living with another man, afraid of what society may say, afraid to go out, afraid of police harassment. It was not easy. I don’t think that I have one third of the courage that Kennty has. He was mostly a maxi taxi driver. He took care of me and I would play the role of house husband, attending to the special needs of my man. I made some money at home for a while also.
Let’s say that the relationship came to an end. No court in this land that would hear our pleas. All of my inputs, all my contributions, all of my years and tears down the drain. This is another problem faced by many people in same-sex relationships. All of their hard work and money invested, lost. I think that if the law of this land was fair and equal to all, it would allow for gay people to live more meaningfully and, as a result, be able to make more valuable contributions to our country’s development.
My ten years with Kennty have taught me how to be brave, strong and determined.
Looking back at my life now, I can see that we have had a symbiotic relationship. I was never in a relationship before, nor was I a self-confessed homosexual, but from the day I first saw him, I felt an attraction that only he can make me feel. I felt like I needed to show him so much and make his life better. I felt that I needed to take care of him and protect him. But it turned out quite the opposite. I love Kennty very much and I will never forget the day I first met him. We met at a time in my life when I was having difficulty being myself with my family. Kennty is a unique individual and it brings me great joy and satisfaction sharing my life with him. I hate missing a day without just looking at him.
My family has grown to respect our relationship and people within our community admire us for the years spent together. Friends and neighbors often seek us for assistance with many of their varied concerns. I think that the community is aware of the struggle faced by homosexuals and the need to be treated equally. “So what if he gay, as long as he don’t interfere with me,” some would say. And as for them who say “How long you think it would last?”, I am determined to show them.