The Your Story regional Research Project
The Your Story research project captures the lived experiences and legal, health, and community supportive structures available to Caribbean LGBTQ people in a comprehensive survey questionnaire designed by members of I Am One.
A Comprehensive Investigation of the Lived Experiences of Persons Comprising Gender and Sexual Minority Groups
Across the English-speaking Caribbean colonial-era sodomy and anti-gay laws are still in place which criminalizes sexual acts between consenting adults. While countries like Belize, and more recently Trinidad and Tobago, have launched successful legal challenges to such policies, 8 islands maintain anti-gay laws including Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines. These laws limit the freedoms of Caribbean LGBTQ people, violate their rights to equality, and restrict their ability to live lives free of discrimination.
In addition to these laws, homophobia, transphobia, stigma, and discrimination are widespread and impact LGBTQ people’s lived experiences across the region. Many LGBTQ people lack access to appropriate primary healthcare, experience barriers to receiving mental healthcare, and are shut out of the formal employment sector which can lead to income insecurity and exacerbate poverty (Human Rights Institute, 2018). Court rulings like those achieved in Belize and Trinidad and Tobago are just one step, but many more must be taken to fully achieve acceptance and inclusion of LGBTQ people in the Caribbean.
Rationale for the Proposed Project Research is critical to challenging laws and social and cultural practices that infringe on the rights of LGBTQ people. However, research conducted in Caribbean LGBTQ communities is sparse, and is not always conducted using community-based research methods which can enhance a “community’s capacity for greater advocacy efforts” and facilitate long-lasting, actionable change (Rainbow Health Ontario, 2012). As a response to this, I am One has designed the Your Story research project which works to build local LGBTQ communities through generating data from within them. Your Story uses community-based research methods such as peer-research techniques and collaboration with LGBTQ groups and community partners to administer a 50-item survey questionnaire in their local contexts.
Additionally, without a solid evidence base many Caribbean LGBTQ individuals and advocacy groups employ North American information and statistics which typically does not capture the unique intersections of being LGBTQ in the region. The Your Story research project is unique in that it aims to capture the lived experiences and legal, health, and community supportive structures available to Caribbean LGBTQ people in a comprehensive survey questionnaire designed by members of I Am One. Knowledge dissemination is also central to the research project, and the findings of the Your Story is designed to be usable to regional advocacy and human rights groups to enhance their efforts for seeking equality across the Caribbean. Therefore, the creation of a centralized repository for the research where completed questionnaires can be deposited and where
key research findings can be disseminated from is a key component of Your Story.
In 2017, Your Story was launched with participants from five Caribbean countries during our King Conference. This pilot collected data from trans men and masculine presenting Lesbian Bisexual and Queer women.
Project Aim, Objectives, and Expected Results
Project Aim: I AM ONE TNT, To stimulate a wider study of Caribbean gender and sexual minority groups that is informed by their local knowledge and lived experiences, and which is led by members of these communities in the English-speaking Caribbean.
- Collect research data via survey questionnaires about the lived experiences and legal, health, and community supportive structures available to Caribbean LGBTQ people Train local LGBTQ community members in community-based research methods (i.e. peer-research) to facilitate the collection of research data via survey questionnaires administered in their respective countries (Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, St Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago)
- Develop a secure, online repository for completed survey questionnaires that can be accessible to Your Story peer-researchers
- Create an online platform that disseminates research findings to LGBTQ community
partners across the region to inform their advocacy work with evidence-based data
Organizational Background, expertise and experience of project leaders I Am One is a Trinidadian NGO that uses art, culture and research as tools to connect with individuals at all levels to build community. I Am One recognizes that although all LGBTQ people may experience discrimination and stigma, some of us experience multiple levels of discrimination due to race, class, gender, physical health and disability, mental illness, age, social status, financial status, geographical location, etc. Therefore, to truly build community in our diverse country and region in a manner that leaves no one behind, I Am One has developed several national and regional projects, which includes the Trinidad and Tobago Pride Arts Festival, The King Conference, The King Show, and the ‘Your Story’ Research Project. These initiatives directly engage with LGBTQ communities and seek to effect social and cultural change. The Pride Arts Festival provides a safe place for hundreds of people to interact, share ideas and build a sustainable community. ‘Your Story’ is a key to understand the specific needs of LGBTQ Caribbean people, to identify gaps, and to analyze issues and trends in our community. The King Show and Conference focus on transmasculinity and stud culture, which is heavily under-researched and discussed in the Caribbean.