Jones or Jonesie born c. 1920 Jamaica
gouache on paper, 11 x 7 inches
Private Collection

In her essay, “Man Royals and Sodomites: Some Thoughts on the Invisibility of Afro-Caribbean Lesbians,” Makeda Silvera recounts conversations with her grandmother and mother about the lesbian women in their community. One of those women was Jones or Jonesie, as she was known.

Jonesie lived in Kingston, Jamaica. Described as a “mannish-looking Indian Woman with flashy gold teeth,” she was loud and brazen, but generous and easy to talk to. She dressed in her husband’s clothes, smoked Craven A cigarettes and could often be found in her yard with her dogs, “always barefoot and tending to her garden and her fruit trees.” She had the best mangoes on the street and would always share.

Silvera’s mother remembers Jonesie keeping to herself, except for when she would visit their veranda. On the veranda she talked to anyone, she was always drinking and smoking and reminiscing about her past. Especially about her love of women, she would say things like, “Dem girls I use to have sex with was shapely. You shoulda know me when I was younger, pretty, and shapely just like the ‘omen dem I use to have as my ‘omen.” She would brag about how she could go to Coronation Market and pick up any woman she wanted.

Ordinarily if you were deemed a ‘man royal’ or a ‘sodomite’ you were in danger of repercussions, especially if you were unmarried. Those repercussions ranged from social ostracization to battery or even gang rape. The fact that Jonesie was married provided her with a certain amount of protection. People made fun of her, not because she was a lesbian, but because she would stumble home from the rumshop drunk. Jonesie was tough though, she could take care of herself. No one would really mess with her and she threatened to beat up anybody who tried.


Brodell, Ria. "Re: Miss Jones or Jonesie." Received by Makeda Silvera, 17 Jun. 2016. Facebook message.

Silvera, Makeda. “Man Royals and Sodomites: Some Thoughts on the Invisibility of Afro-Caribbean Lesbians.” The Lesbian Issue.  Spec. issue of Feminist Studies 18.3 (1992): 521-532. Web. 28 Jan. 2015.