Strikingly bold yet sedate eyes move frantically around the room seemingly fishing for something missing. His clothes stretch across his noticeably altered skin. He glides towards the door as his hands caress his fastidiously braided hair. He is not the stereotypical Jamaican male. He doesn’t want to be. He is a courageous young man clutching to a relationship with his family while learning to adjust to the consequences of having an unpopular identity.
At 19, Keive Dyre is a humble, hopeful, humanistic Jamaican homosexual. In a country in which males are easily and openly rejected for any public portrayal of a perceived ‘deviant’ lifestyle, he is somehow brave enough to reject social norms and embrace his ‘true’ identity.
Born and raised in Salem, a relatively small community in St. Ann, Keive grew to appreciate family life and develop a sense of independence and responsibility from an early age. His mother, Carlene Moodie, has five children; each with a different father. With no stable father figure present, Ms. Moodie had to assume the role of a single parent. “She had to struggle to make ends meet especially being a mom with five kids. Dad assisted financially but not always,” explained Keive.
In 1999, five year old Keive experienced his first major dramatic incident. The place he had called home was burnt to the ground, forcing the family to move to his grandmother’s house. To this day the cause of the fire is unknown. The family stayed there for approximately three years until his mom was able to stand on her own again. Ms. Moodie stated, “I did have to stay till I could buy back few furniture and find a new place to rent…Wen mi lef grandma him a did bout eight”.
During his childhood, Keive remembers sharing wonderful moments with his family. “I was a jovial and outspoken child…I lived like the average child. I played nuff games and had a free spirit,” shared Keive. He adds that the only thing he did that may be considered ‘different’ was to participate in ‘female’ games such as dolly house and dandy shandy. He maintains that his gender bending behavior was never seriously addressed by his mom. “Mommy did jus laugh wen mi gwan like girl and stuff…she and my sister found it entertaining,” revealed Keive. His father, on the contrary, was never amused by it. He recalls a conversation he had with his dad in which he asked his father to purchase additional underwear. His father replied “panty or brief”. Keive laughed. “I distinctly remember him telling me dat mi gwaan like too much gal and dat any day him hear seh mi gay him a go kill mi,” disclosed Keive.
The relaxed and fun relationship Keive had with his mom was something his other siblings envied. “They laughed like best friends. They were inseparable. If dem di any closer dem wuda be conjoined twins,” shared Keive’s eldest sister, Michele. “I rememba dis one time me and mum did a chat dis woman from down di road bout how she smell bad. Fun times,” shared Keive. In addition to conversing about trivial subject matters he remembers discussing with his mom his dreams, getting out of poverty and developing a strong sense of self.
At 13, while attending Ochi Rios High School, Keive’s sexual identity began to develop. He started having feelings for other boys and desperately tried to come to grips with his emotions. “I liked girls enuh but my heart was never really with any of them,” revealed Keive. As he progressed through high school, he met other gay teens, gained friendships and started dating. He states that he would often regret having feelings for boys. “I would never even wish this life on my worst enemy…jus coming to terms with yourself is extremely draining,” stated Keive. He argues that he never viewed himself as a misfit. He simply wanted to function as a normal teen. His only concern was disappointing his family and having to deal with people’s reactions. Losing his mother’s support was never a primary issue. “I know my mom. I knew if she found out her greatest problem would be others harming me,” divulged Keive. On the flipside, he vehemently worried about his father knowing of his sexuality. “Mi kno seh if he found out, he would stop financing me”. So as a precaution, he masqueraded as a heterosexual around his family and community members to avoid scrutiny.
However, this did not end up happening, as things took and unexpected turn. After returning from church one day, his mother greeted him at the door with his diary in hand. He was speechless. His diary held captive his daily activities, tales of all his relationships and confirmation of his sexuality. That night the closet crumbled leaving him open to the world. “Da night deh, I’m not gonna lie I was upset…Mi did always have a feeling but just seeing di proof like dat…I just wasn’t prepared,” revealed his mom. Keive added, “My mom and sister were very upset. They yelled, cried and mom even threatened to tell my father if I didn’t stop being gay”. Not once during the confrontation did Keive speak. “Him jus stand up wid dis sad look pon him face,” shared Michele. It wasn’t until bedtime that tears rushed from his eyes as he recapped the day’s events. After a few tense days, life at home returned to normal the following week. “Wi jus reason wid him and tell him we love him sameway and wi soon realize dat he was the same lazy boy,” shared Ms. Moodie.
Now that he and his mom had regained their relationship, the only other person to confront was his father Raymond. After leaving high school, gaining employment and moving out of his mom’s home, Keive prepared to break the news to his dad who had just migrated to the United States. He decided to send him a text message. “I jus got up and sent him a three word text “I am gay,” stated Keive. In less than a minute his father responded, “Thanks for the truth”. Understandably, Keive was quite surprised by his father’s seemingly positive reaction. Never in a million years would he have expected such a sincere answer.
Today, Keive enjoys a harmonious and honest relationship with his mother and siblings. “We are the closest we have ever been,” expressed Keive. He mentions that he communicates with his mother daily and for the first time, is able to discuss his relationships with her; something he finds a bit cumbersome. Contrastingly, he is yet to develop such a bond with his father. “My father never calls. We speak like every six months or so and I’m the one who always calls,” shared Keive. He describes the conversations as brief and forced. Still he wishes to have his father’s support. He shares, “I know it must be hard for him to deal with having a gay son but I would love to have him in my life. I don’t need society to approve of me; I would rather to have family. I’m not a rapist or some demon child… I just want him to see that I’m an intelligent and ambitious young man who wants nothing more than to make him proud.”