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CONNEK Interview with CONNEK ambassador: Mainz

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Tell me about your experience with queerness.
”My experience comes with the negative and positive. Especially in coming out. For me, I was always that kid who was wrapped up in fashion. When I was young I wasn’t able to express myself the way I wanted to so I would always dress up the kids in my in my family and neighborhood. Getting older, involved more in my interest of fashion and meeting more trans people like myself in Jamaica gave me courage. ‘If they can do it, I can do it too.” I opened up a new instagram account where I could express myself and show who I really was. Immediately people started reaching out to me with lots of compliments, encouragement and so I felt support. When I go out people mistake me as a cis girl but so far it’s been fine and good comings. The negativity is out there but for me I don’t focus on that. For example if I know an area in Kingston is a bad area I don’t go into that area and try to “base up” myself. I rather spend time with my people. Sometimes people will see me make and comments but I don’t pay attention to the negativity.”

How do you conceive of home?
”Jamaica is very “run and go”. If you’re trans, born and bred in Jamaica you grow up thinking home is overseas in “foreign” where you can express yourself more and meet more people like yourself. However I’ve come to realize that a lot of people here accept it, you know? On the low. I’ve seen over time that the misconception is the majority of Jamaicans here don’t accept it but that’s more so in public. Around dem friends, in mix company. Person to person a lot of people have said to me and I have heard ‘Nothin nah wrong with what you a do ya know? I like you for you. I will still show you love.’”

What is one of the biggest myths about Jamaica?
I think the biggest misconceptions about Jamaica is that people are not allowed to express themselves the way they want to in Jamaica. Maybe it’s because of the music. Yes there are close minded people here but overall that isn’t everyone in Jamaica.    

Why is the CONNEK project important to you?
It’s really important to me because it gives me a good energy knowing that I can connect / link to people like myself not only overseas but locally. I think the project can bring a lot of opportunity for people here and there. The networking will be great and we’ll also get to bound. I think it’s important that we fight for each other and link up. For people like me, it make us feel more safe knowing that people out there are reaching out to us and want to connect.

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