Ulelli: How you pronounce your name?
Roe: The full name is Roeshel but you can call me Roe.
Ulelli: You prefer Roe?
Ulelli: Tell me about why or how is it that you comfortable dressing like this?
Roe: Like this gangstar?
Ulelli: Yea, like this.
Roe: To be honest, I choose to dress this way because, 1. I’m a lesbian, out and 2. I choose to be the dominant one in my relationship thirdly, I dress this way that is to tell the world out there especially men I’m not interested in them ok and also, being the dominant one in the relationship, I play like the male figure that’s why I have this outlook in terms of my dressing and I do feel comfortable like this.
Ulelli: And what’s the reaction when you go out in the street, how do people react?
Roe: Is not always a positive one mores so negatively men on the whole do discriminate in terms of saying that don’t bother with you, all you want is a good dick and you change, all you want is a good dick and you will change or they will be like, all you playing yall is men and I get the real thing, things like that they will say on the street or if you walk with a female, they will react, they going to attack the female like the other person who dress normal. They will tell her, she ent get the real thing to give to you, we get the real thing, why yall want it soft when you could get it rough and hard, things like that happens on the street.
Ulelli: Alright, can you explain what you meant when you said, you're the dominant one, is that, dominant how?
Roe: Ok, actually I said playing the male figure, I won’t say male but the head in the home, being the head of the home, I see the dominance, because yes she has some amount of aggression and so like that but me being the one like solely responsible for so many things, I play that role that’s why I’m the dominant one in the relationship.
Ulelli: Ok, I was trying to find out, I don’t want to say physically when you said dominant if that is what you mean.
Roe: Not physically.
Ulelli: Ok, just checking
Roe: Chuckles, is not like that. Is just the roles that you play within the home or, basically, the roles you play within the home, but physically it can go both like if I put it sexually, I could say that but, anything else though.
Ulelli: You prefer to be called a stud?
Ulelli: So I’m trying to find out if you present yourself as male to the public or you don’t, you will be comfortable or will you say, I’m a man or you just see yourself as a stud,or how do you feelwhen you present yourself when you go certain places, how is it that you feel in your heart that says this is who I am.
Roe: To be honest, let me see, actually, it depends on exactly where you are right, it depends on the surroundings, if amongst my friends and other peers, we would address ourselves as guys like bom-boy or whatever, in society like heterosexual society, I do not present myself as a male because you find conflict in that, it’s like you going to be back and forth trying to explain yourself because at the end of the day, they see a woman right, is not like I’m transgender or anything, they will see a woman and you going to be arguing all the time so, amongst the heterosexual society I do not present myself as a male but within our society, the rainbow, yes I will say that because that’s how we would normally address each other yea like.
Ulelli: what do you want society to understand about the way you present yourself when you go out into the street?
Roe: Ok, it’s going to be a challenge 1. Because people are very normal minded, people are not open minded especially in Guyana, they not open minded. The heterosexual Christian, like strong Christian believing people, you will find hard time, as much as I would try to present myself as ok, some person would know me from before, they know the way I used to dress back then, I have negative remarks from them because is like you are born a woman well, to me I will say yes I’m in this body but I really don’t feel and see myself that much as a female and I will try to show that but because of the negative remarks you will get all the time, every time, even in the work place you will get it especially from the men. It’s a very challenging one, being a lesbian or being gay within that circle. As much as I try to show people that as much as I’m this way, I’m the same person, I interact the same way and everything but they just judge you from your look, the way you look and they just run with that.
Ulelli: How is it for you at work? When you at work.
Roe: Ok, where I’m working, persons come in all the time, it’s the insurance, people always coming from various parts of Guyana, people would normally be surprised when they see me, it’s like she working here, how she get this job, discrimination right away when they see me dress like this, they are like always have something negative, how they hire her and they gone be like I wan talk to a female because ent understand this is what in front of me. Things like that they would say.
Ulelli: They say this to you or just within the work place?
Roe: They might not say it to my face but they will say it and I will
Ulelli: They say it loud enough for you to hear?
Roe: Yes. Actually I had problems with that and I was moved from that section to another whereas I don’t have to deal with members of the public and I still continue being nice to them but the supervisor realize that it was too much and they decided to transfer me from that department, it was very, very challenging, it’s like every day, you wouldn’t find it with everybody you deal with but you will find it everyday
Ulelli: Would it be more from men or women?
Roe: Mostly, the majority is men, some women, yea you would get it. I would say with the older folks you will get it but with the younger folks you won’t have that kind of problems, you will have it, you will see it on their face but they won’t bring it out, the older folks especially pensioners, they will say…
Ulelli: You assisting them?
Roe: Yea, older people like elderly, they will use terms like Sodom and Gomorrah and things like that, this world coming to and, we can’t understand why it got to be like this. A whole sort of things you does hear, I could remember once, a woman, she came in, she was getting problems with her pension, she talk to one of my co-workers, they weren’t finding her information on the system so they ask me to assist her and I took her card, the first thing is when I approach the woman, good morning ma’am, how can I be of your assistance today? The woman watch at me, who is you now, I’m wearing, as much as I’m not dressed like the female, the other females there, I’m wearing the colours representing the organization and this woman just look at me with this negative and mind you she is very old, she had this negative look like, who is you, you is work here (chuckles) I just smile at the woman and said yes ma’am I working here, how can I assist you today she is like, I don’t know what you could do for me, what you could do for me, me ent want woman.
Ulelli: Me ent want?
Roe: Me ent want woman, I said pardon me? One suck teeth , my supervisor was coming down the stairs, he heard everything and he went to the woman and he was like excuse me ma’am if you be like this to the staff, you will not get assistance and if she go on to someone else you will have to wait, you want to get through, cooperate and yes it’s a staff and she is like so why you can’t help me he is like ma’am this is not my responsibility that’s her job or else someone else will, cooperate with her or someone else will take your place and you will sit there. She was silent and then she said, look the card, look the card, he was like you see your attitude, you will make anybody see you coming and they will make you sit there.
Ulelli: Who said this?
Roe: The supervisor was telling her, you need to change your attitude, you coming for assistance and as much as yes, you might be upset and still you cannot act that way because people that trying to help you is the people you negative on and she said yall hurry up, hurry up, hurry up now and it coming up to lunch time and he was like ok, I am very happy that you are very much aware that lunch is approaching so the staff will have to go off to lunch so if you need assistance cooperate nicely and you will get and she was like aright, aright and she gave it to me, finally gave it to me. Then I went and use my log-in and got the stuff, and I don’t know, something with the main branch, I don’t know she had to take in a life certificate because she wasn’t in the country and that’s what happened she had to take in her life certificate and she didn’t so time pass and it hold everything for her so when she went to her bank account, she didn’t see not funds, no pensions, that’s why she came in so I explained that to her so she said why they didn’t tell me that in the first place (laughs) before she say thank you right, why they couldn’t tell me that in the first place, they got me going round in circles, they abuse me, I don’t know what they got working here these things.
Ulelli: I don’t know what?
Roe: I don’t know what they got working here, these things, that’s how was she addressing me.
Ulelli: I don’t know what they got here
Roe: These things, yea, these things.
Ulelli: What about your family, how did they receive you?
Roe: Coming out it was hard for my mom and my grandmother, it wasn’t an easy one actually (gasp) it’s a long story, you have time for that?
Ulelli: If you want
Ulelli: You don’t have to if you don’t want to, if you not comfortable
Roe: It wasn’t alright, to just put it in a nutshell, it was tough because my mother, my family, they have this strong Christian belief and it was something that was pointed out to my mom by a friend of hers, he saw me, he called her and tell her he saw me hanging with well, they won’t say lesbians, brarata or cockson, I saw your daughter liming with one of these cockson like she is one of them, my mother she, she did not believe so, she just let it ride so I think another time the same individual saw me again and he call her the second time, she said ok good I will talk to her, she came the morning, she came over and she wake me, she was like I need to talk to you seriously I was like what happen, I was still kind of sleepy she is like wake up, we need to talk, we need to talk, I can’t leave it, I need to deal with it now, I was like ok and I got up and sat on the bed, I was looking at her, I was like what happen, something happen to you, she was like some ent happen to me yet, I said what, you gon know when I finish, I said ok. So, I was like so what’s the problem. She was like you like women, no she didn’t say you like women, she say you is a cockson? I didn’t answer, I was like I couldn’t believe my mother was asking me that, at least in that manner and she’s like you ent answering me, you gone dumb, I said no I ent gone dumb, you can’t ask me a question like that in that manner, she’s like, so how you want me come and tell you, this what everybody seeing, a lot of people seeing you because she don’t want to say she friend because I saw him right, is a lot of people seeing you and calling me and telling me that you liming with this cockson so I wan know you is one of them, you turn, well, I’m the kind of person that don’t lie to my family right, I didn’t want to answer her but she start roughing me up, you gon answer me today and I pull on my cloths so, I responded and I say yes I’m a lesbian, by the time I could finish calling out that word, I get one slap so, I jump, I was like what you slap me for and I wasn’t underage.
Ulelli: How old were you?
Roe: I was like 25.yes, 25 and she found out and I got upset and I continued and I say what you hitting me for and I get another slap and I get up, I got up off the bed and I say, I ent taking this nonsense so I get up and I was about to walk away, she pull me back, well she is a prison officer so she knows how to being aggressive towards people and all these things, she pulled me back in a rage, when I walking and telling to come back, she start cuffing me this time saying things like, she saying oh, I know I make a girl child, I didn’t make no man, you wan shame me in this, you wan shame me all over and people talking about me and I turn and said but this is not about you, this is about me, I’m not a kid, I’m an adult, I’m grown adult, old enough to make my decision and know what I want, she said my decision, I’ll kill you there and this woman continued hitting at me and my grandmother, she wasn’t home, she came in and she heard the noise and she heard my mother speaking, thinking that I will get help and it was just worse, she start hitting me too, is like both of them on me and my grandmother, she had something, she had I can’t remember if it was a bat because I was into cricket I’m a sports person, I think it was my cricket bat, she was hitting me with this bat on my foot because I’m taller than them, my mother short and they were trying to bring me down to their height and I realize that no I was actually 26, I wasn’t 25 because I already had my daughter, she was small, she was months old, she was walking and talk certain words and she was crying.
Ulelli: She was there?
Roe: Yes, she was there, she was crying and hearing my daughter’s voice crying and calling for me, I get in a rage I say look I can’t take this anymore and I push them off and I ran out the room and I pick up my daughter by the time they could come out and I don’t know if they had plans for me but they lock all the gates, the front gate and back gate so, no, the back gate wasn’t locked, the front gate was locked so I put down my daughter because they won’t do her anything and they come and hold on, on me again in the yard, the front yard, chuck me into the wall start hitting, my mother start hitting my face and say oh is the face they like and start slapping me up, I gon damage your face today, that lady run to get a knife and my grandmother was still hitting me with the bat, I see this woman, I turn in the house and I see she with a knife coming towards me and I push off my grandmother and then I run around the house and I head through the back gate, jump over the gutter, I had my phone in my pocket, I made a call and I just got away from there, after that, my daughter’s father, I called him up and tell him he must go and pick her up because I’m not there and my family and I, well he knew, he knew I was into women because we would had, we were actually on the verge of getting married and I came out during the engagement leading up to the wedding day, I said to myself I cannot live this life and be happy with him, I broke it off but we had that kind of good relationship back then because I wasn’t out like dress this way because I now coming out so, I called him to let him know to go and pick up the baby and that day, when I go away from that house, my family didn’t hear back from me until like weeks after. Yes, because I went to my very good friend, I was so upset I posted stuff on Facebook about them, I was in a rage I wanted to go to the station to report them but then I remember my grandmother, she ent that strong because suffer from arthritis and all that stuff, I think about them and I say, I won’t do that, so I went to the health center because I had Two (2) nurse friends, went to the health center and I see a doctor there and they check me examine me to make sure my bone not broken, nothing, and I got medication and so on. My friends actually helped me through that, I use to go, I had to stay away from work all for like 2 weeks because they gave me medical for the 2 weeks and I stayed away from work in order to heal and I had to go for counselling because I was that stressed, I almost meet depression stage where I could have hurt myself and give up on life because I had all those thoughts, when I think about the pains that I feeling and all of that, knowing this are the people that I love and I respect my family and everything but for the way they reacted when I came out, I was really, really upset, it took me years to forgive them and eventually, they actually came and apologize. Yes, my mother apologize first and yes, my mother apologize first like 2 years after and then my grandmother, eventually she came around and apologized.
Ulelli: You never went back to live there?
Roe: Yes, after those years, after my mom apologize, I went back because when I had moved, I was with, I was staying by my friend and then I form a relationship because at that time even when I came out, I wasn’t in a relationship and I had form a relationship with the girl and we were living together but then we had problems during that time, I came out the relationship and I was staying with another friend, we were renting together and then my mom came and she beg me to forgive them and we try to work it out she said come back home and let’s deal with it, that’s your family, the approach was wrong, she said she was anger and that is why she reacted that way, now she is older and she, I don’t if she probably did some research and she found out or persons talk to her, she is in a better place in terms of dealing with it maybe in this way but she actually begging me not to come out and to dress this way right. She was begging me not to do that and that while I was living in because I was already out. Since I said everything is out, it makes no sense hide it and I always wanted to be like this.
Ulelli: So when you went back home, she ask you not to?
Roe: Yes, not to present myself like this, its’ like ok I understand that you love women, this your preference, I understand that but can you please not to dress this way to show society, I was like I’m not hiding anything 1. I went back to the same day when they brutalize me at home there, I say the neighbours already know because y’all did it openly in the yard, people came out and they were looking and all of that so, it wasn’t no secret, it wasn’t anything that could have hide because persons were there and they hear so even I dress this way, they not surprise and I told her that. She is like yea she understand and I said good, I glad you understand, I need it like that, she drop the issue and my grandmother she was out of the country, she returned and she apologize and it was like that. Presently, I don’t live with them but we have a good relationship, my grandmother she is not in the country now, we have a good relationship but I cannot like live with my mother and keep up whatever after all of that as much as I forgive her, we good, we speak, we walk, we go out together and everything but I can’t like live with her because I know she’s still dealing with it.
Ulelli: She still?
Roe: She still dealing with it. You can see it in her eyes, like talking to her sometimes, you actually can see it and feel it. She wouldn’t bring it out, is like that.
Ulelli: Anything else you want to add? How do you deal with society though when they tell you things, when you go home in your quiet moment?
Roe: Actually, when I go home, I don’t think about it is because I have really condition my mind like ok, you go out there, from the time you step out the door and people see you, especially they don’t know you, they will say something. Some men, yea they will, like just now when I step out the car, I was like I’m shutter.
Ulelli: Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Roe: It’s kind of a good thing because they will see you like you not this soffy person, you this tough person, they could call you shutter.
Ulelli: So that mean, he is like comfortable with that.
Roe: Yea, he is comfortable with me. You find that, mostly is men that makes comments, I don’t really stress on that, if it’s like more than me I will respond to them if not I’ll just ignore it and just continue going my way.
Ulelli: Ok, thanks.