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Jamaican Objects to the World’s Impression

This commentary is the opinion of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin

Timothy Kincaid

August 12th, 2008

jamaica-flag.bmpOccasionally I’ll remind you why gay people, their friend, neighbors, family, and folks in general that are not fond of an atmosphere of homophobic violence and hatred may wish to avoid the island of Jamaica. It’s time for another reminder.

In an editorial in the Jamaica Observer, Lloyd B. Smith is indignant that the courts in the States and in Europe are providing asylum to gay and lesbian Jamaicans that fear returning back and facing barbarism from their neighbors. He thinks it is the result of “the picture being painted of Jamaica by the international gay lobby”.

However, no one can challenge the fact that many gay men and women in Jamaica are generally ignored by the populace. In fact, the cases of violence directed at homosexuals are far fewer than the gay lobby would have the world believe.

And in many of those cases we have found that it was the public display of homosexual men and their physical response to public criticism that led to them being attacked.

Then Mr. Smith goes on to justify specific incidences of violence.

Mr Carr, the executive director of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition, in relating an incident in Half-Way-Tree when gay men were mobbed, chose to ignore the reported fact that the mobbing took place after one of the men splashed liquid on a woman who found their behaviour distasteful and said so.

Perhaps Mr. Smith thinks that in civilized nations a splash of liquid justifies a mob beating and police participation. Perhaps he is unaware that most Americans and Europeans find his attitude nearly as offensive as the violence itself.

And then he offers what he thinks is an acceptable solution.

We’ll repeat a suggestion we offered to the gay lobby three months ago. Instead of trying to sully Jamaica’s name, allow Jamaicans to adapt to changing perceptions of people’s lifestyles and the fact that individuals of all kinds can coexist.

Mr. Smith, let me respond on behalf of “the gay lobby”: If by “coexist” you mean beatings and murder, we reject your offer. If you believe that “public display of homosexual men” justifies a mob attack, we reject your offer. If you think that “people who regard homosexuality as sinful and repulsive” are of more value than peace-loving gay and lesbian men and women, we reject your offer.

We will continue to seek to remove Jamaican Murder Music from our communities. We will continue to protect those gay men and women who have escaped in fear and who seek asylum among modern nations. We will continue to warn our fellow citizens who may be lured by your country’s advertising that you are a nation that celebrates violence and that tourism is unsafe among people who are so eager to coddle their own bigotries.

We will refuse to reward you for your self-justified hatred and incivility and reject your arrogant suggestion.

Rather, let me offer a suggestion to the people of the island of Jamaica. Instead of trying to justify your mob behaviors that civilized people find abhorent, repent of your murderous ways. Rather than congratulate yourselves on your recent “higher level of tolerance for homosexuality among women”, recognize that you have far to go.

Decriminalize homosexuality. Provide civil equality. Commit to protecting all citizens regardless of orientation. Cease finding homosexuality as repulsive and instead place that revulsion on the small minded attitudes that plague your people. And then perhaps the world will cease viewing you as a ignorant, violent, and hateful people.

Comments

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Emproph
August 13th, 2008 | LINK

They don’t like not getting gay tourist $$$ and pro-gay tourist $$$$? That’s BOTHERSOME for them?

We are not here denying that gay men have not been attacked and beaten in Jamaica. We have reported on some of these atrocities and have condemned them in this space. […] the cases of violence directed at homosexuals are far fewer than the gay lobby would have the world believe.

We certainly wouldn’t want the “gay lobby” to report on any gay attacks, and thereby confirm to the Jamaican Government that they are lies, and thus, not in need of investigation…

Duncan
August 13th, 2008 | LINK

I applaud bringing attention to attacks anywhere in the world, but the articles on Jamaica seem to be giving a rather one-dimensional view of the country. You risk annoying anyone who likes their nation.

On the matter of Murder Music, remember that classic opera contains similarly bloody parts.

Sean
August 13th, 2008 | LINK

“And in many of those cases we have found that it was the public display of homosexual men and their ***physical response*** to public criticism that led to them being attacked.”

Physical responce? What is that supposed to mean? Their body language indicated they didn’t like the “public criticism” of being called a “batty boy?” Seriously. “Public display of homosexual men?” The Jamacians are displaying gays publically? Hmm.

Nice quotes at least. It goes to show that the island is probably centuries behind where many other nations are in terms of tollerance and acceptance.

(A note to the editors of this blog: I would be appreciative if under the comments policy you showed the code to italicize words and insert quote blocks)

TJ McFisty
August 13th, 2008 | LINK

Now Duncan. Really. When BTB publishes an article about Jamaican men and women getting beat up or killed for being gay, they should include a corollary: “Notwithstanding the violence against LGBTs in Jamaica, it’s still a very pretty country and everyone else should visit their beaches.”?

Timothy Kincaid
August 13th, 2008 | LINK

Duncan,

Opera does not have lyrics that encourage the listener to kill gay people.

Sean,

To italicize use the left carat (the arrow above the comma) then the letter i then the right carat. To end italics use left carat, forward slash (on the question mark key), i, then right carat:

italics

to block quote do the same using blockquote rather than i

like this

Snappyback
August 13th, 2008 | LINK

Sorry, Duncan, but which operas specifically call for the murder of gay people? ‘Cause I’m not familiar with any.

The editorial itself was essentially the wife-beater’s excuse: “Look what you made me do. Don’t mouth off next time, honey, OK?”

Too bad the cowardly Observer disabled their comments for the piece.

AJ
August 13th, 2008 | LINK

Insightful commentary.

One love, one heart, come to Jamaica and get torn apart?

I don’t think Bob Marley would approve.

johnson
August 13th, 2008 | LINK

You couldn’t PAY me to go back to Jamaica again. Dirty, crime ridden and unsafe. Biggest shythole in the Caribbean.

AJD
August 13th, 2008 | LINK

Bigotry on the part of listeners is the only thing that can explain the appeal of a song like “Boom Bye Bye,” considering its lyrical incompetence that makes thrash punk bands sound articulate.

Compare that to the poetic beauty of Bob Marley or the clever irony of Peter Tosh.

John
August 13th, 2008 | LINK

I was on a Carribean cruise recently that stopped in Jamaica. On the one hand, I did have a lot of fun on sea kayaks and climbing their famous waterfall with my kid.

However, it was one of the least friendly and most jarringly intense places I have ever been. There is just a level of tension there that made me very uncomfortable.

Since I was there with my 13 year old doing adventure type stuff and my partner (who has a bad back) wasn’t with us, there wasn’t any clue that I was gay, and we never faced any homophobia. But I have no real desire ever to go back to Jamaica, and if I was on a cruise that did stop there, I would probably just stay on the ship.

Sportin\\\' Life
August 13th, 2008 | LINK

Hear, hear, Timothy.

Duncan
August 14th, 2008 | LINK

This is what I meant, from the Lexington column of “The Economist”:

“[John McWhorter] admits that some hip-hop lyrics display an ungentlemanly attitude towards women, but he doubts that listening to violent lyrics causes people to behave more violently. If it did, there would be more opera fans stabbing their ex-lovers outside bullfights.”

Duncan
August 14th, 2008 | LINK

I would also like to add that the most telling mistake done by the editorial is to imply a dichotomy between Jamaicans and the “gay lobby”, in effect saying that gays are a foreign intrusion and that all patriotic Jamaicans agree with them.

Ephilei
August 14th, 2008 | LINK

There are PLENTY of countries as anti-gay as Jamaica. It would be fair to criticize them too.

TikiHead
August 14th, 2008 | LINK

Ephilei,

Care to name a few?

Alan
November 25th, 2008 | LINK

Care to name a few?

Spin a world globe and stop it with your index finger. Anywhere your finger rests (except perhaps in an ocean) would suffice.

Timothy Kincaid
November 25th, 2008 | LINK

No, Alan, there are not many countries in the Western Hemisphere that come close to Jamaica in terms of homophobia as a cultural norm. Jamaica is alone in the Americas, for example, in the extent to which it prides itself on its antagonism towards gays.

gabby
December 6th, 2009 | LINK

i wish who ever wrote this article would shut the f*ck up, because what was just written has seriously agitated me. you make jamaica seem like even if a spec of homesexuality is seen then its a bloody beating. first of all why go to a country and flaunt your gayness when you know its not accepted that shows blatant disregard for our beliefs, and never forget you are in our country. second of all being a jamaican i know that my people arent so quick to jump a gay person just because of that, they were probably flaunting it disrespectfully. and yes we will let you know in a flash that we do not approve or support homosexuality, its against what our and a lot of other nations are based on

Timothy Kincaid
December 6th, 2009 | LINK

gabby,

I noticed that you were not at all “seriously agitated” by any of the murder, beatings, or hatred that is found in Jamaica. You consider that to be “our beliefs” and what your “nation is based on”. You are only “seriously agitated” when those beliefs and behaviors are exposed.

I will continue to shine a light on the murderous and violent culture in Jamaica until the world shuns you. Unless your nation denounces the evil around you rather than defend it, you will soon find that there is not place in the tourism industry for haters, murderers, and violent bigots.

No doubt that will “seriously agitate” you as well.

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