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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 GUYANA...
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Roland (user currently living in GUYANA) posted for gay lesbian transgender bisexual straight readers on 12/11/2012 tagged with at the work place, hate crime and violence prevention, health, human rights, sexual orientation, religion
well i dont tell long stories im 28yrs.got in a Fight with my boss becaiuse she wanted to pay me ne to nothing coz according to her gay people should be glad they getting a job. i cant go to the police for that. 2. trying to access public tranport. wow. ive been pleted with bottles many times and recently as well just for being at the park to catch the buss to go home and the moile police outpost is right their and the guy the police man just came out and close his door. i figure coz he realize im gay being the people are ccreaming our burn battiman. 3. its rediculas to get health care in guyana when u r gay. first they dont want to look at you and then when you turns comes which is way after they arrast you. 4.human rights is not even a issue in guyana when it should be.5. im a gay male and Guyana had scuccesslly made me know that im a outcast. thanks Guyana.6. I was a christian un till i was trown out o my church they should e somthing that monitors that coz it has had a real impack on my social life. who is to e heald responcible? but then again im gay, its my fault
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As part of its work to combat discrimination, Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) is privileged to present this story from the Spectrum of Korey Chisholm, a 20 year old man who lives in Guyana.
Who are you?
I am a young person who is interested in community development, especially working with young people and children. I have done training as an HIV peer educator, and I am working on some other courses in youth leadership so as to become better informed to take up a leadership role. I am active in a few youth groups, and I am grateful for all the training I have received. I am currently working in trying to ensure that orphans and children vulnerable to HIV are getting care. My role models are two young men and a young woman who have mentored me and allowed me to be open with them. I have recognised that there is a need for leadership within sections of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community, in terms of identifying important values so that we could support ourselves and not be self-destructive.
What is your sexual orientation?
I am gay, I am attracted to other men. I have had good relationships with girls when I was younger but after awhile, I have recognised and accepted that I am gay. For me, being gay means having some feminine qualities and sometimes I think like a woman.
Do you want to be a woman?
I would like to be a woman so that I could feel like a woman, but I do not have the desire to go through a sex change operation. I am comfortable with my body, and my genitals. I like dressing in drag , and I used to do it quietly at home, in front of the mirror. However, recently I took a major step, and participated in the Miss Gay Glory pageant.
What was it like to participate in the Miss Gay Glory pageant?
I wanted to help the organisers in terms of training and to make the pageant a success. I think it was important to give gay people a chance to be themselves and also to look at other things like intelligence and talent. I ended up participating in the pageant. The experience was very good for me in that I felt that I came out more to myself. I wanted to have fun, but there was serious aspects for the contestants to train and learn about their platforms, which were social issues. I felt that the makeup and the clothes would be a disguise, and that no one would know me. However, some people recognised me and shouted my name, not maliciously. I have been out a few times, dressed in drag, and had a good time in places where the owners are tolerant. I sometimes think of the risk, but I think that I want to be myself and sometimes I get tired of pretending. At work they ask about girlfriends, but I don’t say anything. On the night of the pageant, there were some people from my church who were in the audience.

Are you religious?
Yes, I am religious. I follow Christian principles. I am active in the church, and I love working in the different groups, especially with children and young people. I like music and singing. I find that that gospel music is uplifting, and for me, the songs when I sing them, they make me feel good especially when I am down. I know that if the church elders find out about me, that I could be dis-fellowshiped. I am at a stage of my life, where I would not have any problems with that, because I am comfortable without the church and I know that I could worship God on my own. I think many gay people are spiritual. At the pageant, we included gospel and a prayer which all the contestants had written. The other people from my church who were there, some are gay and some are not, they are supportive. I took pictures with them
How do you feel about HIV and gay men?
I am glad for the knowledge I have and I want to make sure that the LGBT community is informed and has access to services. I know that HIV is still a big risk to gay men. I always practice safe sex. I believe in monogamous relationships and even then, I will practice safe sex. Sometimes, people will say that they love me, and want to have sex without condoms. It is difficult to imagine, but this is still happening.
What is in the future for you?
I have to further my education while I make a living. I have to get some qualifications. In five years time or so, I hope to have my degree and be in a position to continue the work in community development. There are many options for me – community health, governance, working on leadership development. In terms of family, I know I cannot have children of my body. I think I will adopt when I am settled. There are many children out there who need care and I believe I am a fit person to look after them.
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Gay Bashing In Georgetown, Guyana - A Gay Man Shares His Experiences
Homosexual men in Guyana are still finding it difficult to live free from fear of stigma and discrimination as the World celebrates another AIDS Day today. These are everyday parts of their lives whether at school, work or accessing services from hospitals or transportation service providers. Korey, a young openly homosexual man, said his first experience with stigma and discrimination goes way back to his childhood when he was bullied and harassed. `Being in school, having persons tell you or trouble you and you would have to shift to doing certain things.` He explains some of the shifts he is forced to make to avoid the harassment. `If I see a set of guys lining at a corner I would walk around or take the longer route if that was the shorter route [to avoid passing there].`…If I go back home right now to where I am from in Berbice I would experience a great deal of stigma in terms of verbal words. Most of the stigma that I receive is verbal words,` he said. Korey said that although he has overcome being affected by words, some people take their attacks further than that. He said that up to the day before (being interviewed) while he was speaking on his cell phone, five young men were passing and one of them picked up a bottle to toss at him.
‘I stop at the time and I stand up, waiting to see if they were going to shy (hit) me with the bottle. When they realized that I am standing up there they start to say, `Oh, I am getting brave,` and that sort of thing,` he said. He added that the day prior to that incident, he was actually pelted with a bottle by another set of 20-something year old young guys. He said that most of the harassment that he receives would be in the form of people smiling in a mocking manner or nasty comments from older people. Korey works in a health facility. He says a lot of people know who he is. He thinks that because of this, he is able to access services quite comfortably, despite the occasional gesticulations from persons. But, the worst forms of discrimination come when he seeks access to public transportation.
`You find that bus conductors and drivers may not stop to pick you up, or upon discovering the person`s orientation may not want that person in the bus. I go to shop and I get sold, I get [attended to]. But even the taxi drivers, you have a big issue where they might not want to pick you up. They may slow down when flagged down but when they see who you are they drive away,` he said. He said that he has never confronted a transportation provider to know why he was asked to exit the bus. Instead he would simply comply with the demand to leave the car or bus. But there was one time when the minibus operator objected to him being in the bus and other passengers in support exited the bus also. Korey said that the problem has been escalating of late and it has been costing him money to move around. Openly gay men have more difficulties when it comes to employment. According to Korey they sometimes have to be somebody else before they are given employment because of employers` requirements for dress code.
`Lots of young gay flamboyant men are unemployed because of this, and this may lead to them engaging in transactional sex. They may not go out there at night, but engage in it right in their homes. In their minds it is not sex work. They do it occasionally to get income to [supplement] support from family,` Korey explained. Gay men do experience sexual assaults. Relating to an incident earlier in his life, Korey said that when he was gang-raped, he could not go to the Police nor could he tell his parents, because of the fear of stigma and discrimination. `When I got home I didn`t tell my family anything, I just told them I got robbed and dropped the matter,` Korey said. `The same is about telling the story over and over…and then to get the reaction from the Police, a laugh or a smirk or a smile, and the questions that they ask,` he said.

Today, Korey is part of the Guyana Rainbow Foundation and is also affiliated with the
Society against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD). He also has a youth community based organization called Diverse Youth Movement which looks at issues in the younger Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgendered (LGBT) community. His organisation looks at personal development and capacity building for young persons. He said that because the Guyana Rainbow Foundation is fairly new, they have not approached agencies for assistance with funding to look at social cohesion and conflict resolution. `I am now finishing the governance manual for the organization and once that is off, [we will be moving ahead]. We are registered with the Ministry of Culture Youth and Sport. Now we are starting the work, we are doing some personal work,` he said. According to Korey the Ministry of Health has been greatly involving the youth group in its programmes and initiatives in terms of HIV and AIDS in Guyana. Director of the National Aids Programme Secretariat (NAPS), Dr. Shanti Singh, said that the agency works with groups like Korey`s, providing funding for advocacy and training. There is also a coordinating committee at the national level that brings together all the NGOs that work with commercial sex workers and with men who have sex with men – once every quarter – to discuss with them whether things are going well. `Groups that have a focus on the LGBT community have been able to benefit from funding under the project to be able to do work among their members,` she said, noting that this is done through an arrangement similar to the groups that work with the female commercial sex workers. Dr. Singh said that from a health sector perspective it is very difficult for NAPS to infiltrate those communities and hence the use of the NGOs whose members may have the trust of the community that they are working with. Korey is trying to make a difference through his group`s advocacy work because of his experiences and those of people he knows in his community. `We want to work in the schools and homes because we have young men who have been placed out of their homes because of their status…people don`t want to come out because they are afraid of the stigma,` he said. - By Elan Era John, Panos Global AIDS Programme
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(user currently living in UNITED STATES) posted for gay readers on 26/02/2010 tagged with hate crime and violence prevention, human rights, sexual orientation, illegality of male to male relationships +5
Besides feeling that my antidepressant is robbing me of the immediacy of the fear I am running from, I am also wondering whether my claim has failed to be substantiated with the body of evidence I have. I recently had a discussion with my lawyer about what is acceptable as evidence of persecution against gay men in Guyana.

I've recently scoured the local online newspapers for evidence of gay persecution. What I found were many articles of men being shot, bludgeoned, or stabbed. I reviewed the local news upon suggestion by someone who lives there. He stated that there are many gay men being murdered, continually, that are not reported in the local media as gay crimes. They aren't reported as such for a number of reasons. One is that the men were in the closet, having gay relations in secret. Another is that their families don't want the shame of this being made public. Still, another is that the local media has ignored these as gay crimes. The culmination of this lack of reporting is that the anti-gay beatings and murders are never reported. Human rights take a backseat to shame and willful obstructionism. It also gives me insight to the amazingly ignorant rationalizations, by my mother, of the murders. She insisted that all the gay deaths that the local population hear about, but fail to report as gay crimes are not due to bigotry or hate. They are only lovers' spats.

This means I have no way of substantiating that these murders were against gay men. In December 2008, there were two reported murders of gay men that I became aware of. One murder was reported in the local media. The other wasn't. The only reason I became aware that the man was gay, was that a blog, that has since been shut down, discussed that he was well known in the underground gay community. The entry also discussed he was murdered by women in his community to protect their men. In an unrelated but important discussion, it reported there was a 'credible' call to arms against all gay men in the country. The call to arms is to cleanse the country of a moral and biological disease.

Such threats are important and dangerous. They should be well-known, however, they aren't. The fact that the local media refuses to expose the hysteria and violence against gay men means that I have little evidence to prove this in my case. Even though I managed to capture these claims on the blog, it is still technically gossip. So in both the case where I have speculative evidence that a murder was a gay crime, and the others where I have no claim that the crimes were homophobic, I have no way of substantiating their validity. In neither case is there an independent and trustworthy source validating these murders for what they were - a product of homophobia. It is a cyclic and unproductive argument, but one that is important to my cause.

In speaking to Wallaby, I discussed why there is no evidence. I suggested it is because the local population of gay people are still in the closet, living on the fringes of society, with no tourism industry and foreign media to highlight their silent plight. All the countries that are well-known to be homophobic and violent, only came to light after international media stumbled upon it. Foreign tourists, I believe are an important mode of emboldening a local oppressed population. When gay tourists bring both expectations of freedom to have sex, and the money to help the local economy, it is a strong incentive for the local gay population to inherit a sense of entitlement that they too should be treated with dignity. They are more likely to fight for it with a open-minded foreign population to buffer them from the local populace. My country has no tourism industry, economic incentive to be more liberal, or foreign media oversight.

Such countries may also seem to experience a flare-up of anti-gay crimes in proportional magnitude to the aggressiveness of the gay population's fight for legitimacy. I would argue, that what would seem like increased intensity in bigotry, to quash the confidence of the gay population, is mostly an unmasking of the problem already prevalent. So in my country, there is a hidden epidemic of homophobia that the local and international media ignore and I have no way of reporting it to save my life.
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