The phrase “mixed feelings” doesn’t do justice toÂ myÂ long-held antipathy toward the island of Jamaica. Ever since dancehall artist Buju Banton had a late-80’s hit with the songÂ Boom Bye Bye, which not only incited but also openlyÂ celebrated the murder of homosexuals, the country has been at the top of my shortlist of places to avoid. Jamaican criminal codeÂ prohibits sex between men (but not women, natch) and neither of the island’sÂ politicalÂ parties shows any support for gay rights. Moreover, according to both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, the country remains one of the most homophobic places on earth. What has long irked me, however, is the tourism industry’s perspicacity in the selling of Jamaica as a carefree, inclusive society – a marked contrast to the reported high incidence of anti-gay violence and a widespread social conservatism fueled by religious zealotry and the economic fallout from globalization. Yet as I mature – somewhat glacially, I’ll admit – I see in the last half of that sentenceÂ the unintentionally ironic parallels to our own social failings and am reminded of reading an interview with UK activist Peter Tachell, who claims that homophobia is a 19th-century concept brought by BritishÂ colonizersÂ and Christian missionaries andÂ not an authentic expression of Jamaican culture. Perhaps if I stop my finger pointingÂ long enough I’ll find out for myself. Which is why, dear readers, I am currently on a plane to a place I never thought I’d go. And feeling so very – visibly – gay.