Interview for

Alford Green

8/9/2019

Interviewed By:

Shanaz Deen

Date Interviewed:

Audio Recording of Interview
00:00 / 35:05
Summary

Alford Green, an immigrant from Jamaica, discusses his experiences as a gay person growing up in Jamaica and his journey to seek asylum in the U.S., where he found both easier access to education and a society more welcoming to LGBT individuals. He describes his journey to find an affirming church community and how he became the Ministry Director for the Hadwen Park Church, where he coordinates refugee resettlement services.

Transcript
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Additional Notes
Outline

Narrator: Alford Green

Date: August 9, 2019

Location: (Virtual)


Content Warning: Homophobia

Summary: Alford Green, an immigrant from Jamaica, discusses his experiences as a gay person growing up in Jamaica and his journey to seek asylum in the U.S., where he found both easier access to education and a society more welcoming to LGBT individuals. He describes his journey to find an affirming church community and how he became the Ministry Director for the Hadwen Park Church, where he coordinates refugee resettlement services.

Topics: Sexuality, Religion, Conditions back home, Mental Health, Family, Cultural Adjustment, Employment/Service, Leadership, Discrimination


Outline

Section 1: (0:00-11:51)

  • Sexuality - Grew up in Kingston, Jamaica as a gay man who was not able to comfortably  express his sexual identity.

  • Thought of his sexuality as a “sin” and unnatural

  • Religion, Conditions back home  - Told by his religion that being day was an “abomination”

  • Observed a difference between what the “average Jamaican” was like and values of the church

  • Mental Health - Depression that came from homophobia

  • Sexuality, Family - Never considered telling anyone he was gay, thought it would lead to ostracization

  • Religion- Despite being told that being gay was wrong, he still thought that God must have made him this way for a reason

  • Started to disengage with the church after moving to the U.S. because he was able to express himself and find acceptance

Section 2: (11:51-16:55)

  • Education- Wanted to immigrate to the U.S. partially because of access to education

  • Immigrated by student visa

  • Cultural Adjustment- Surprised by general friendliness in U.S., people in Jamaica more concerned about themselves

  • Sexuality- Could start dating openly in public without needing to have female friends tag along

  • Overall tasks like getting a driver’s license was easier

  • Sexuality- Did not want to go back home to Jamaica because he would have to go back into the “closet”

  • Found self-acceptance for being gay

Section 3: (16:55-33:04)

  • Religion- Wanted to seek asylum, so contacted the Peer Project then got in contact with  Pastor Judy, Hadwen Park Church and the LGBT Asylum Task Force

  • First encounter with Pastor Judy was at a Hadwen Park Church service

  • Surprised to see a rainbow quilt at the front of the sanctuary and a lesbian couple holding hands worshipping freely

  • Fell in love with the church

  • Employment/Service, Leadership- Joined multiple committees within the church, one being the search committee for Ministry Director.

  • After some hesitation, he applied to be the Ministry Director and was hired

  • Finds it extremely fulfilling to serve his community

  • Employment/Service- Coordinates services for asylees to help them resettle and gain self-sufficiency

  • Feels a sense of duty to help his community because he knows what it feels like

  • Religion- About 50% of asylees end up joining the church, not all Christian

  • Some asylees come to be a part of the community

  • Employment/Service- Goal for the next 5 years is to purchase a building, have another employee hired to make things run more automatically and have more programming.

  • Create a template to help others replicate the work they are doing across the country

Section 3: (33:04-35:00)

  • Discrimination- People either think of asylum seekers as burdens or people to be pitied, but that isn’t the case.