A Belizean journey: Social Change! Peace! Love! Does it matter


Written by:
Caleb Orozco

I have stood my ground for over 30 years dealing with shitty cock, faggit, salad, skittles, boi gail, battiman. Over and over for 30 plus years. I have fought in the middle of The Central American Boulevard, a bully who met me days before infront of the Nazarene High School with three other persons wishing not only to be insulting, but to do physical harm. I managed to get a hit on the face of one person, one to find out months later, he was a student trying to help me. This happened between the years 1988-1992 while I was going to St. John College. 

It was not the only fight, but it was one of many memorable encounters. I could remember in primary school, i did alot of horse play, " punch in your belly games" was a thing. Until, I got the punch. In standard six , i remember getting into a fight with Deon Pitter, he was a bully back then, but I stood my ground. Its funny, I spent all my primary school years rolling between, anger and depression. I just did not know why. Separately, I remember, a short , but loud bully sought to shame and bloody my face infront of his friends. I only remember his name as Jones. He managed to hit me with a 2x4, we even ended up at the Principal Office, Mrs. Stuart at the time. Well, I got my piece after school and we tackled near the drain at the corner of dean street and Amara. The fight ended with him being shoved  in the drain and me never being harassed by him again. It did not end there, there was Elisa, there was Kevin and the list goes on, each seeking to show how easy I was to get beaten. 

It was years later in high school that I accidentally, bounce into Kevin Cadle, he was always bigger than me. He had a child on a bike and we tussled on the ground me in my uniform. I never reported the incident, for verbal and physical harassment was part of being told I was gay. I hated him, he was disrespectful in so many way. Then I met him at the Youth Hostel, and he said some really cool things to me like, " I always admired you for your intelligence!" In my mind, I was like ,"what?" For the week I volunteered at the Hostel, I came to appreciate his shift in tone and was able to forgive him. I even ended up at his wedding years later. Which still, blows my mind. No matter where he is, no matter who he is with, he always acknowledges my presence. I say what a turn of events.

In between 1988 and 1994 my life was a mess, my mother had left the home, my father became disabled, and we fought over the way he treated my younger brothers who did not have a voice. To this day, I had not idea what profound effects I had on them till one said before he was married, " You remember I use to go to sleep hugging your food?"" Do you remember putting me on your shoulders so I can see Carnival?" "Do you remember talking me to the doctor one time when I had malaria?" " If it was not because of you, I would not have gone back to school!" My reply, "boi stop yo rass!" At the times, he mentioned any of it, I did not remember. Then I realized, in return, He borrowed money to buy a computer, begged for a office chair, and paid for my internet for three months. The result, I got my first grant to start my organization, the United Belize Advocacy Movement. 

The other brother, I did not have a good relationship with, he was always difficult, I did not help much. Looking back I was the symbolic parent doing a job with not parental skill, living in a dysfunctional family in which I took on the emotion of all my siblings in the house. It was horrible mentally, until I sought the help of a Psychiatrist named Dr. Lopez, he once said,:" Im sick and tired of people telling me that the feel like a victim, when you are 5 you may not have control over your life, but when you turn 18 years old, its important to take some responsibility!" So I promptly wrote a note to him and said, "FUCK YOU!" and walk off. Only to realize minutes later that he was right. When I returned to him he said, " its clear that you have issues with your father!" and promptly referred me to a psychiatric nurse. As the months past,my grades improved and finished with above average grades in fourth form because I became conscious about how to free myself from a mental jail. Still, I remember in 2nd form that the homophobia did not loosen its grip, the math teacher made jokes once in a while and I learnt to become a smart mouth. I was 18 years old, less depressed, but not less frustrated about the economic instability of my life.

I got into St. John's Junior College  in 1992, I was the odd man out. I remember, dropping out of school the first semester, but it was my cousin Loraine Gomez who said, " register for evening school" I will pay the first semester. She kept her word and I got my Junior College degree four years later. It was a woman, a Trinidadian write in between that time, "Why arent you a leader?" I said, " but don't I need someone to recognize it first.?" Well, the lesson was clear, leadership is discovered through risk taking, passion and setting the example. I did  oknow it then, but the question was part of my journey to discover myself.

Well, it did not take long, in 1997 when my father died. For six months, I thought I was dying and for that time I took pain pills. I got sick and tired of the pills that I stopped fearing death and needing the pills. The pain in my knees disappeared.  It would take me another three years to get to University, it was anger that got me there, but it was also my moms early values of getting an education which stood with me no matter what. I got my University degree in 2004.

Roll on to 2018, facing 6,000 people protesting my LGBTI work in Belize between 2011 and 2016. Fighting the Churches, government, my own community complicity. I stood my ground. The stress seem  unbearable, looking back,  my life's journey was preparation. I was always fighting base on principle. I learned that doing the right thing was not always easy. And that standing my ground did not always generate popular support. I learn that transformational leadership require sacrifice, administrative structure and a clear vision to act. To wait for the voiceless to recognise their complicity to correct their abuse was to wait in vain. I wanted to fight back, I took the risk, and on August 10th, 2016 won my decision to decriminalised same sex activity which by the way impacted heterosexual couples as well.

I look back at my life after 24 years, I am famous or infamous in Belize. The consequence of success was, I would have no personal life. I would be care-taking and supporting others, but could not expect the same in return. I had to watch where I walk, limit my exposure to go to clubs, concerts or any non-LGBT event. I had to learn to drive at age 39. Go out at a certain time. discovering strangely, closeted and married men are attracted to me.  As I grow older, I have stepped into a sugar daddy role. I am now twice as old as the up coming generation. I am now married to my job, but not to anyone. My intimacy is work-related, yet, in 2016. My need for love was awoken in Uruguay, I just did not know it at the time. I would have preferred it to stayed in my slumber. I only later realized through a Black Mirror episode, like all my other achievements, the needs of my heart would not be addressed so easily. I was like fuck, why must everything be so hard. Going between  3 states and two countries, many hugs, and despite not speaking for months, It feels like  I met that son of a bitch for the first time. He lied about dating someone, says, if he stays in the US he will never meet his soul mate. The SOB says he just wants to be friends. The fucker does not know what he wants. Yet,he hugs me like he does not want to leave me. But then, move back to being cold. 

Separately, I learn in Geneva, this October, that its important to retain 3% of your sanity. I am ready to defend that percentage. I refused to be played like a violin,  I like my sanity and so will ground myself in what I know. What I know is that dealing with a violin player is not good for my mental health. I will do the following, 1). Stop being treated like a conference friend 2) Cut out the hug routine 3). Keep things business like 4). Limit my conversation to work 5). Accept I don't have the emotional energy to buck an emotional wall. 6). Finally, I go with the flow

I suppose the theme, is fight, fight and more fight until the day I die. I know that I cant take any achievement with me, political power, or influence. So its to leave behind the inspired, the inform to build on what has been started since 2006. Shetty points out imagine three things and work towards them. I imagine concluding section 53! I imagine advancing anti-discrimination legislation! I imagine love finding me in my private life. Two out of three seems possible right now. I have no idea if the last will find me. I know one thing, I said, I wanted to know how it feels to be loved as a human being before I die. That's the dream! The journey to being a historical figure was never written, it was discovered and has evolved! The journey to address the needs of my heart, will that be the same? Will i be the first to be visibly married in Belize, I don't know. I am certain of one thing, the struggle continues!


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