Finding Myself in Belize

Joshua is a 26-year-old Belizean who talks about his journey of coming to terms with who he is, his sexuality, his experiences with his family and how he came to accept himself. In that process he highlights the main changes in his life that have helped him grow and develop into who he is now, and how he deals with challenges that still persist.

The starting point for me was when I began to engage with this organization, attending their activities, the social nights, the information nights, the booths etc. At the time, I wasn’t fully out to everyone or to my immediate family and I really wanted to be more open because I was always a very close, shy person. When I started engaging in these activities, I decided maybe I should push myself out there try to get along and maybe try to be more comfortable with myself. I have grown a lot and at least I know at the point where I could stand up for myself. I’m clearer rather than being in fear whether it’s the society. I feel more confident in the things I do nowadays. Especially when at the time I know I used to be very scared in talking in the public about my sexuality. Now I think I’m a little bit more confident now that I don’t care if I’m on the media saying “I’m gay,” I would do, I still have my reservation but I’m more open to it now.

When I was growing up, I was very family oriented and since I wasn’t really out at that time, I was struggling a lot, I didn’t have a lot of friends. My little group at the organization was actually my family so now growing up being very open, those values of families, everything families, everything you can’t say no to your family. I still struggle with that because when I go home, I still shut down. I have grown a lot since back then. Now I’m more open, I’m more comfortable in my skin in what I do or what I say, my mannerism and so forth. At the same time, I still have difficulty more like engagement with my family. That’s more directly with my parents. I don’t express myself too freely, so like in a little box when I go home. I go home because I want to be with my family because family is everything, but I just feel that’s the only thing where I still struggle in that area.

I was once in this space where certain persons from the community brought their parents and they shared their moments when they found out that their son or daughter was gay. That was something that really spoke to me a lot because I became more self-reflective of my own family and my own self. After that, I really toned it down with the way I talked to my family because from what I learned from the different families. One thing I ended up learning is that I shouldn’t be ready to jump and fight with my parents because, as I’ve been told several times, I need to understand that my parents come from a different time in the 1970s and even though they’ve grown a little bit – they talk very differently.

Those activities really helped me the way how I approach my family. Instead of approaching them in a more aggressive and negative way I become more, I don’t say sympathizing, but more understanding whereby the approach I take is instead of arguing we just talk to each other. If my family is uncomfortable talking about specific topics I won’t push it, but at least I will appreciate the fact that they try to engage about trying to understand what it is to be LGBT. If they have questions, I will answer them very calmly and peacefully and then have that two-way conversation. I have seen my mom moving away from comments like, “Oh, you’re gay you know everyone who’s gay have HIV” to, “How was your day?” and sometimes even, “How is your partner doing?” The language has changed and even as I mentioned before the topics in regards to LGBT is opening a little bit more. She now asks about personal LGBT issues and so forth and then I just try explain to them.

Another important change in my life has been my ability to imagine a future with a child. One day, I want to be a parent, I want to be a dad. Some of the activities that have been done where we engage with LGBT parents and their children and opening up the conversation about ways to be a parent is something that really has my brain turning around. I’m not only thinking about the future, about trying to live a happy life, but now I’m thinking about the future, having a child in the mess of that and the fact that this is something I can think about is amazing.