ala wai canal 1920 to 1928

I came to Kaua’i in 1992 as a missionary with my ex-husband. "The need is great," the church said, because there were about 1,000 Spanish speaking people there. They were from Mexico, Puerto Rico, some from South America. They were mostly farm workers. Some worked in restaurants. I don’t know if they had work visas or not.


I did missionary work on Kaua’i for 7 years. My whole family witnessed for the church. In 1999, I was 24 years old and have been seriously questioning my sexuality for several years. The church has this strict policy about homosexuality. With my whole adult life in missionary work, living with my husband, it was like I was living what I guess can be called a double life. I felt I had no choice but to disassociate myself from the church and to leave my husband. It was the hardest decision since it meant I would lose both my real and church family.

I knew a gay man on Kaua’i who was moving to O’ahu so I joined him. We became roommates in a Waikiki apartment on Seaside Avenue close to the Food Pantry. I have only lived in fairly rural areas so I was not accustomed to city noises -- yelling and screaming filtering in from the street in the middle of the night. On my second night in Waikiki my roommate took me to a gay bar with male strippers. Since he knew me as a married woman he thought I was straight. He thought I would enjoy it. Well I had never seen anything like that and was definitely not comfortable at all with the whole thing. The only naked man I had ever seen was my ex-husband.

Later that same night I met a woman at the bar. We started talking, then dancing together. The next thing I knew I was kissing her on the dance floor. My roommate was shocked. I guess I was too. But it felt good, after all these years, to finally not be pretending to be heterosexual anymore.

Lisa Rosas, 2003