St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Roughly a dozen Christian ministers from St. Vincent and the Grenadines and four other Caribbean countries urged the US to stop promoting LGBT rights abroad in a 2017 letter to US President Donald Trump.
The country refused to overturn its buggery and gross indecency laws, even after a request during its Universal Period Review by other UN-member countries, stating that the laws are supported by its “Christian society.” In response, St. Vincent did note that more and more people – especially young people – accept gays and lesbians.
Manage: Supporting Underserved Children with Theater and the Arts
For Manage, an actor and writer on St. Vincent, activism started in community college.
One of his lecturers, assessing students’ dance presentations, favored some students over others, Manage believed. When Manage called her out, she warned, “I’m going to fail you.” True to her word, when he got his grades, she had given him a zero.
This same lecturer had tried to insult him – both in private and in front of the class – by saying Manage acted “as if he wanted a man.” Manage is gay.
Manage knew he couldn’t prove she discriminated against him for being gay, but he believed he could prove she was generally biased against him. He invited the college dean and board to interview the class regarding his grade, and they did. He took it to Facebook and radio stations. He asked politicians to investigate. After a number of months, he was allowed to retake his test. He scored 82 percent.
It takes confidence to take on your school, but Manage, who has the big personality and mega-watt smile of a performer, also has clarity of purpose. He considers himself a social activist. “Most of my writings are on that level,” he says. “I speak to resistance a lot.”
He also speaks out on issues of race, gender, rape, and violence against women and children. “I speak to the fact that we are one people and needed to be treated equally, that we are humans and have basic human rights.”
Because Manage is gay, he hasn’t always been treated as equal to others. “For quite a while in my life I have been bullied, I have been harassed, maligned, and to use very strong terms, terrorized as an openly gay person.”
As a kid, he was called “girlie” and “a sissy,” although most of his three sisters and six brothers defended him. As an adult, if he went to a club and a DJ spotted him, they’d shout, “We have a battyman in the house” – “battyman” being a pejorative term in the Caribbean for a gay man – and they would spin homophobic music as people cheered and danced. But he was no victim. When they threw bottles or bricks at him, he fought back.
Today, Manage works in the performing arts. In 2005, he set up an organization called Urban League to support kids in underserved communities, like the one where he lives, nicknamed Baghdad because of the shooting and violence.
He works with 80 to 100 children a year, creating platforms for them to express their creative ability, through African drumming, poetry, and art workshops. His Urban Expression theater company is geared towards teenagers. He helps kids who don’t know how to read and works with teachers. He also collects donations for books and school uniforms.
All the kids’ parents know Manage is gay. “I’m accepted,” he said. “But if other gay men came, they’d harass them terribly.”
When we asked Manage what advice he’d give his 12-year-old-self, he choked up. He paused, looked down, and took a deep breath. “I don’t know. I don’t think there’s much I would have changed. I would say connect more to your mother. She wasn’t around a lot to supervise, she was working a lot, I had too much freedom.” He would also “stand up against the abuse more.”
It’s no coincidence he hopes to give St. Vincent’s kids what he lacked – a safe place to go when parents are working, and someone to teach them their own self-worth, so they can stand up for themselves.
Originally published by HRW