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The Your Stories section is all about you! Please take a minute to tell visitors of the ILGA website about what LGBTI life is like in reality. Please submit your personal story and share your experience!

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Readers Experiences

This is what people are saying about life for LGBTI people in DOMINICA...
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Linden Shillingford (user currently living in DOMINICA) posted for gay readers on 27/09/2013 tagged with at the work place, teaching lgbt rights in schools, hate crime and violence prevention

EDITOR’S NOTE: Living with discrimination is not easy but for Linden Shillingford it is a part of his life.

He told his story at a youth symposium on Tuesday afternoon. The event was a collaborative effort between the United Nations Youth Development Program through the Caribbean Youth Think Tank (CYTT) and the National Youth Council.

Below is Shillingford’s full presentation.

My life consists of discrimination.

Born on 13th March 1993, I am an individual who has been through a lot and still continue to go through as a young person in society.

My name is Linden Shillingford, better known as Mafysel Beltro to the Dominican public.

Discrimination is wrong and as I continue speaking about my situation you will see its disadvantages and advantages. In 1999 at the age of six I was touched by my neighbor. In 2001, at age eight, I questioned my sexuality. In 2003 I was touched by a bus driver. I continued my journey for we all consider life to be. In 2006 I started high school and was bullied a lot in my class, from being called names to papers and other objects being thrown at me.

I then developed an anger that could be considered a hurricane, which I used to stand up for myself after which class mates began to respect me.

In 2009 January 31st I was sexually assaulted by a security guard. I felt like I was cursed or had a spell on me because I was already touched at a tender age.

However I never told no one about this particular incident until it was reported in February by someone who had overseen the act of the guard. At the time I felt that it was too much to handle and I confirmed it was true to the school principle in the presence of my mom and step dad.

The principal discussed this among her staff and then I realized that the staff told students and then the situation got worst. The matter was then taken to the police headquarters and up till this day I never heard anything about the court case although I went to the court on two occasions. My life became sour after the students found out. I was not only the talk of the class or the school, I was the talk of the town

A lot of people threatened me and promised my death. Up until this day I still get the statement thrown at me. That February (2009) I dropped out of school for I couldn’t handle the pressure. I stayed home until April where I started another secondary school for five days.

I was the most popular student until the 5th day when I waited at the school gate. Upon reaching the gate I heard a lot of students saying “look him, all you look him.”

I then understood that they heard the story about the security and then began to act like the students of my old school.

I ran out of the school yard with tears in my eyes. As I took the first bus out, I cried all the way to my house. I never returned to school after the first week. I was truly feeling like giving up I later on in November of that year, I started classes at the Adolescents Skills Training Center.

The story of the guard reoccurred and this time I made up my mind to stand my ground. I was teased a lot but it only lasted for a while.

In 2011 I was homeless for about one month after being put out by my sister’s father who said that he does not want any “chicchy man” in his house.

I stayed everywhere from (Botanic) Gardens to Peebles Bark and the Bayfront.

I went to the welfare office, however I was discriminated against by one of the mcouncilors and one of the big shots who said, “You’re a shillingford you can’t be homeless.” Does it take a person’s surname to determine their homelessness? If so, what a society do we live in?

With nowhere to go and no one to turn to because I’m gay made me feel less than a human though at the time I felt no different from a woman. My family totally turned their back. As for society they could care less about how I felt. To them I was the biggest “buller” in Dominica.

In 2012 I was involved in explicit pictures of me being circulated around Dominica and the world by extension. At that time I was employed an got a lot of pressure by my coworkers. I was called names and was promised my death.

In December of that same year I was terminated on grounds that didn’t make much sense. In my opinion everything leads up to discrimination by employees and certain managers who still up to today call me names. And seeing that I was the issue as they say it was my word against their’s.

I felt like committing suicide after these two situations because it hurt me that now that I was able to make money and live my life by renting my own spot was not gonna continue.

In fact I tried taking my life away several times. I took over 500 pills including antibiotics among other painkilling tablets but nothing happened. There was no need to report to hospital. The tears I cried could maybe full the tank of a vehicle. I felt so rejected by many family members and fake friends. I even tried stabbing myself. I failed for I realized that I didn’t live life yet.

In 2013 I continued my journey as an unemployed individual. I was then homeless in March and April. This time I slept on the grounds of a church I located in a village away from the town for I did not want people to see me nor to see them.

After spending my days and nights on the cold floors of the church I had a lot running through my mind. I felt like I had been through way too much already you would think that I did not go through more well I am still going through.

In July I got a ‘burst head’ on the street that leads to my home as I was walking on the dark road with my light flashing on my phone I saw a scrooter pass me. Then I saw no trace of the bike as I continued. I found this strange. Not even two minutes later I got a lash at the back of my head then I collapsed to the ground with blood dripping from my heads all the way down to the ground.

I ran to a nearby shop where I requested a top up to call my landlord. There was no top up and as I continued walking bottles and stones were being pelted at me from the direction. I made it home where my landlord’s daughter was rejoicing about my burst head. She later on celebrated with the fellers in the area whilst I was rushed to the hospital.

As if that was not enough I got another burst head in August, this time it was in town when someone ran up to me and burst a Carib (beer) bottle on my head. I stayed in shock as I felt it was a dream but it was true.

Later on that night I was promised to be chopped to death. In fact it almost happened but luckily someone nearby noticed and encouraged the person to leave me alone.

Today we are in September and I am still standing. These days I take pleasure in listening to songs of Cindy Lockhart especially “true colors”

As I close I say to everyone show your true colors, be yourself, for you can only be you.

I hope that my story told you more about discrimination and what can be caused by it.

Be free like a bird in the sky. Life is so sweet and I don’t want to die but honestly I can only be me.
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