Ulelli: So tell me your name, where you from?
Danny: My name is Danny Thomas Jason.
Danny: Danny, Thomas Jason. In fact, are you on Facebook? I will add you so you can see the name properly. I really like what you all are doing, first of all.
Danny: It’s really cool.
Ulelli: So, how long have you been expressing yourself, I don’t know, ok how do you think you express yourself, I mean in your own words?
Danny: I try to express myself the way I see myself. Growing up, I always see myself as a boy but it’s just hard to explain to others how I feel, like doing “boy stuff” I have issues, and on top of that I choose to be born again at the age of 17, which sort of push me sub-consciously to hide my true self.
Ulelli: What do you mean by “born again”?
Danny: Born again, being a Pentecostal, baptized, sanctified and the holy kind of thing. I got baptized at the age of 17 but I left the church at the age of 29 in 2011 for whatever reason, I thought I actually fell or was attracted to my first woman in 2011, but I was actually attracted to my first woman in 1999 just before I got baptized.
Ulelli: How old were you then?
Danny: I was 17.
Ulelli: Why did you baptize, was it something you wanted to do or…
Danny: It was something I wanted to do, I felt “the movement of the Holy Spirit” as they say. I’ve always been a spiritual-minded person - even now. I’ve never believe as much as I’m not in church anymore; I do believe in God, I just don’t believe in God like people believe in God because going to church, I never accepted that whole thing: some people will go to heaven and some people will go to hell; that has always been a problem to me. I’ve never accepted the discrimination against gay people, I couldn’t understand that, if someone wants to love a woman, a woman wants to love another woman, that’s their choice. If God give us choice, why can’t we give other people choice and respect that choice, cos other people respect our choice as Christians and stuff like that. Those were the things that I didn’t agree.
Ulelli: Why did you leave the church?
Danny: I actually left due to some issues I had. I was molested growing up, I had sex with a cousin and stuff like that, not sexual intercourse but you know... and to deal with rejection and pain, I had sex with guys, confess my sins to a sister who sort of rejected me. So I left, I felt I got the greatest amount of support from people outside there. Then there is a young lady who came and started to live with us so I kind of was attracted to her and then I met another woman who I was strongly attracted to, I thought it was wrong. So in 2012, I was in class and we were talking about gay and I had the Blackberry because the Blackberry was popular back then....
Ulelli: The what?
Danny: The Blackberry. So, I put up my status, “I’m bi-sexual” and I met my first girlfriend online two weeks later.
Ulelli: Because she saw your status?
Danny: Someone who saw my status introduce me to her and then we were living together and by December, we were separated with a fight. I had issues to deal with so I was kind of violent and stuff like that so I got up and I started talking dirty, to deal with the hurt I slept with 3 guys and the day before my birthday, guys start asking me what do you want to do for your birthday and one of them ask, can I take you for dinner? Let me treat you special now. All of it involved let’s have sex and I just said to myself no, and I said because I really love [women], I think I felt sexually alive with a woman. I supposed to be sexually dead with a man... as I said with guys, I used to be like, “Seriously, what time…?”
Ulelli: How long they going to take to…?
Ulelli: To reach orgasm?
Danny: So I just fed up so, but with women I wanted, I felt alive and over time I was still with my skirt and stuff like that but my personality was that of caretaker, to be the provider. Even with guys, I had that personality. So, somewhere between 2012 to last year, because I was attracted to a feminine woman only... certain butch women I find cute. I just shit it all, I give away all my clothes. I mean, this pant is because my aunt refused to buy new clothes for me and when you getting jeans for free, that’s when I can wear unisex pants. I agree with that but my shirts: as much male as possible. I try to buy male clothes. The first time I went to buy my first male pant, I almost had anxiety attack. I did had anxiety attack and I’m like, I’m buying my pant for the first time and the lady said oh, don’t worry somebody came here this morning to buy male pant and I said female? And she said, girl don’t worry so I was like really? Because as much as my parents love me, they don’t accept my lifestyle; is like, sometimes you feel as though they love you because they have no other choice but they are your parents or because to me acceptance is accepting my lifestyle where you feel comfortable if I bring someone home to you; where don’t go pray and hope that the Lord save me once again; where you say ok this is who she is, I’m proud when people message, “Why is your daughter sharing gay stuff on Facebook?” - you don’t come and tell me stop sharing gay stuff on Facebook; where you say ok then that’s who she is. Total acceptance. I don’t think I am reaching to the place of accepting myself, I’m expressing who I am deep down inside but I am still, still, still, still very nervous and still frightened. I am taking counselling, I had to take counselling; I reach to the stage where the counselor told me you need to go see a psychiatrist now and you may have to take tablets. I’ve accepted that, I need to move on to the psychiatrist level now. They have some people who could be gay, like when a guy be gay then dress up and leave the house and the mother be like let me a take a picture with you, that’s my son, I’m so proud of my son, it doesn’t matter if he doing something other people consider to be unacceptable. But it has some people who don’t have that.
Ulelli: Do you still live with your parents?
Danny: I moved out; this year I celebrated one year since I left home. I’m 34 years which is…
Ulelli: You are 34?
Danny: Yeah… but I actually celebrated a year since I moved out then because the first time I had to move out I go back and I stayed there until last year so.
Ulelli: What do you think about people who, even though is hard but still stay at home?
Danny: Financially, is like personally I wish... my grandmother died in April, and she have a 5 bedroom house in Laventille, the problem is I can’t... if I go back up there, I won’t be able to bring my girlfriend to spend a night or something which is kind ah like…
Ulelli: Up there, there’s rooms?
Danny: Yeah, that’s where my dad lives. My mom and my stepfather lives in Princes Town, they are from South. And besides, my mom and my stepfather are born again Pentecostals, my dad is Anglican, I am a practicing Buddhist or something like that. Is just that financially they stay at home, they can’t afford the rent. Is hard since the middle of the year I’ve been on my own I’ve had to get 2 roommates. I’m willing to get my 3rd roommate, she is going to move in sometime this weekend.
Ulelli: How is it for you when you walk on the street, how do society or people treat you?
Danny: Some may suit (catcall) me, some may watch me. I did a poem recently about “the stares” when you walk, you see them watching me so I made fun of the fact women just watching me, they wanted to get my number so they could know if my finger digit would work better than his magic stick.
Ulelli: Explain that for those who don’t understand.
Danny: Fingers... I don’t have penis so, technically my vagina, my finger, my tongue, another part of my body that I will have to use to pleasure myself. You ever saw a movie call “Finger Smith”?
Danny: That’s where I got the “finger digits” from, it says Finger Smith - I change it to finger digits.
Ulelli: Maybe I’m daft, I always thought fingersmith had to do with someone stealing.
Danny: No, there is a lesbian movie call “Finger Smith”.
Ulelli: I know, I know, she didn’t steal at one time?
Danny: But it certainly kind of Victoria era kind of stuff, is like it have a blacksmith so she was the fingersmith, she was the blacksmith of the lesbian world, fingersmith.
Ulelli: They want to know your?
Danny: So that is what I think as I’m reading their thoughts. So as the woman ah watching me, watching me with disdain, the women ah watching me wondering what is my number because they want to know if my finger digit could replace his so call magic stick.
Ulelli: That’s weird.
Danny: Kind ah weird.
Ulelli: So you got people approach you because of the way you dress or did they stay away?
Danny: I’ve had few women socially and stuff like that, they like the way I dress, they like my shirt and tie, how I look because when I go downtown, I have a tie on most times. I sure they like that, because even though my dad, he was my inspiration for dressing. When he see me in my shirt and tie and pant like that, although I trying to look as neat as possible, my dad was my inspiration for that and I think women clothes are horrible but you see a man put on a shirt, put on a pant, neatly slim and stuff like that, I was just like wow. So, even though he may not like it, he was my inspiration for dressing so I try to have this shirt and tie look or shirt and jeans, the most I will go for is I have the cut-up jeans, I have simple open shirts. Or polo, that gentleman there back in the 60s, you know there’s a plain gentleman look, classy.
Ulelli: Like where do you go when you dress in pant, where do you wear it at?
Danny: I go to work.
Danny: I go to work with it.
Ulelli: And how do they react to that?
Danny: There are three people in my section, all of us dress “manish”.
Ulelli: Manish, as in male?
Danny: Yes, all of us. I came in straight, I came into the organisation as a Bible-toting Christian young woman who like men and somehow I end up as a no label/stud/semi-pooch lesbian, kind of weird within the space of six years. Many times when I used to put on make-up, you need to dress feminine; this thing you putting on, they does pay attention to the way the other women dress with manish look. I’m like, if you see me dress rudely manish, what are you going to think?
Ulelli: So people at work would tell you that?
Danny: People at work but I will tell the young people to accept it. Some of them still like there’s a time they used to dress in certain way and stuff like that but I get more acceptance than anything else so, it is not that bad.
Ulelli: What about your circle of friends?
Danny: I am not trying to make gay friends. My circle of friends are mostly straight. No, they won’t really... if anyone of them come to the play [“Buss De Mark”, 2016], anyone of these nights, I’ll be totally surprised. I’ll be like you actually came, because people can love you but they have a problem with your lifestyle and it is because of what we have been told, is a simple thing like today, we learn that devil is the way we explain the evil that lies in the heart of man and we also learn that God and Jesus gives us hope for tomorrow and takes credit for all the good that we do. What we do not learn is how to accept responsibility for ourselves.
Ulelli: What exactly is the evil of man, I mean who decide what is evil and what is not?
Danny: And that is where we need to show the people, the world, what their definition of normal is not actually normal, is just society following a path because they have learnt it. Is like this skeleton, you have graphic image of skeleton and stuff like that and I actually have one with his mouth open and different heads coming out, you actually see faces and you see skeleton and stuff like that and one of my tag line state, embrace the demons you have inside to allow creativity to flow. We grow up thinking that skeleton is something that is evil but if you take away your skin, what do you get, not skeleton? So, skeleton technically is a part of you. Demons are man, in my opinion, manmade demons are not, demons are what happens when we don’t deal with situations that happens in life properly, that is what a demon is. My demons is that I’m too clingy because I don’t want nobody to leave me, I have not dealt with some things in my life that have acted in a way that got me too clingy. I want to hold on to you and won’t let go or can’t handle rejection so, is about embracing the reality of who you are, this is who the fuck you are, you are clingy, fine. I’m clingy, I’m not clingy by the way if you are putting that in text next thing you know I see my picture...
Ulelli: You are just giving example...
Danny: I’m just giving an example, next ting a pretty girl see my picture next year and say that she clingy... no, I’m not clingy girls. But if it is my problem with rejection that is my freaking demon, then I need to understand that that is my problem and I need to deal with it, I also need to embrace it because by embracing it, when it happens and because is going to happen again, I could deal with it in a proper way.
Ulelli: Ok so, what do you want to tell society about you, about your expression, you gender expression, how you express yourself in the way you dress? I mean there are lot of misunderstanding with how society see you.
Danny: I am learning not to care, I am who I am, this is who I am if you see me dress in shirt and tie because of my desire to look a certain standard, if you see me dress in a jeans and a jersey and a sneaker, that’s a look I just want to go with. My expression is my moods so, how I dress is an expression of how I feel about myself. So, when I dress in a shirt and tie, I’m on fleek.
Ulelli: You are on fleek.
Danny: I’m on fleek.
Ulelli: What does that mean?
Danny: I’m always on point baby.
Ulelli: Ok, anything else you want to add?
Danny: No, as I said, I want people to know that the definition of normal need to be redefined hard and when people express themselves, it is not gender transition or gender reassignment is just a mere “gender realignment” (you put ‘cc’ by that, I came up with that, you ‘cc’ that shit).
Ulelli: Ok, thank you
Danny: You welcome.
Ulelli: You brought tears to my eyes just now...