A party which was hosted by two same gender loving females as thought which occurred on Tuesday March 6th an unusual day in the week for a party as our events do not happen mid-week but on a Friday, Saturday and sometimes on a Sunday if it precedes a public holiday was the scene of attacks, fear and homophobic slurs by persons allegedly aligned to the event. The party which was held on the western end of the island was a birthday celebration and several uninvited male guests turned up who were friends of one of the security detail who was hired it was suspected that they eventually assumed it was a freaky affair with lesbians present so they turned up according to reports.
As the male patrons from our community began to arrive however mostly dressed not in usual masculine garb and upon reaching the security check point they were heavily scrutinised and cross questioned especially one who was dressed in pink who was harassed by the men who inquired what were they doing there? As more guests arrived including regular patrons of lgbt events it was clear that an air unease was present as persons saw the strange faced men who were in no mood to entertain effeminate males, other female guests also were uncomfortable as the men began to openly hurl homophobic slurs and threats, it was also alleged that men had guns at the time of the event but was not substantiated by my sources. The men threatened other male guests who arrived that they would have been shot as they do not belong there in typical Jamaican parlance . Word quickly spread to other patrons via messenging services and blackberry who were either getting ready for the event or making their way that they should turn around and head home, some however braved the reported threat and turned up in true defiant fashion as many of these patrons are seasoned ones who have been through extraordinary events like this before and know how to respond.
One male patron managed to escape the men as he surmised something was wrong the moment he drove in and was being directed to park by the unofficial valets, one of the valets upon seeing it was a man aboard he lashed out that no more men should be there as ” ….battyman fi dead, a weh unu a go?” etc. the would be patron took evasive action by turning on his headlights on full bright to temporarily blind his attackers and floored the gas pedal of his vehicle making good his escape as they dove for safety away from the fast approaching vehicle. One other male patron was not so lucky according to reports as he was chased after a verbal spat with one of the unofficial security detail and his uninvited friends who were on the prowl.
The patron ran and hid in nearby bushes then covertly making his way back to the motor vehicle under the cover of darkness and through shrubbery timing the movements of the unofficial valets darting between other cars then managing to reach his vehicle, disarming the alarm then starting his engine, he then messaged his other friend who had arrived with him who fortunately had made his way out of the immediate party venue as things heated up, the driver then drove out and met the friend at an agreed spot sent in a previous message, they both left where he reportedly attended to his injuries at the friend’s house.
Other drag divas who passed easily as females were spared the initial horror but as the party progressed before its premature end the thugs present were obviously examining patrons by making their way through the crowd, the “girls” eventually subdued their dancing and stuff during the night so as to avoid any untoward and unwelcomed moves by the thugs and eventually left as quietly as they could. Reports also suggest the DJ at the time was being coerced into playing anti gay lyrics but the hosts of the event would have none of it at the time when the attempts were made to do so as they tried to calm the fears of those present while other activity were taking place behind the scenes.
Other minor skirmishes were said to have occurred as other patrons just wanted to have a good time and argued with the security detail and their thug friends to allow persons who were invited to enter freely no matter who they were as the hosts of the event also had gay friends but this did not go down well with some members of the thug group who said they would have no battyman around (noticeably lesbians were not targeted for attack both verbal or physical) There was one reported physical exchange as a male patron who was reiterating the message of acceptance of non conforming guests was slapped in the face he reportedly return blows to his attacker and reminded him in a few choice words where he was from etc.
The even reportedly ended well before the normal time that it should have as under regular circumstances.
This incident in my mind brings the need to be vigilant despite the level of comfort we feel these days in attending same gender loving hosted events although we have not had any serious mishap such as this in years, the last one that came to mind was that awful picketing and bonfire by neighbours at a venue in Kingston where tyres were lit just by the gate and photographs were taken of patrons by persons hiding in the trees by the perimeter fence and motor vehicles that were parked on the outside as no parking was allowed on the property where the party progressed.
Thankfully the Half Way Tree Police who myself and the event’s host visited and filed a report which they took and accompanied us to the venue, they ordered the fire be put out by the picketers and that patrons must not be interfered with upon leaving the venue peacefully given a 20 feet distance be maintained, this of course after the party was stopped and the equipment secured and packed.
The picketers however continued ……….. taken from the post on sister blog Gay Jamaica Watch on February 16 2010 entitled High Drama as Homophobes attempt to disrupt and picket party - “The protest apparently stemmed from a party that was held the week before which at its climax had a very public altercation between several patrons of that event, that event indeed was a gay party as I was in attendance but left before the damming proceedings unfolded. The immediate neighbours said that they were upset at last week’s public brawl on the streets and demanded that no other “dutty, nasty Battyman and sodomite come bout yah” (dirty nasty gay men and sodomites come here) the leading female protester said. The host of the current event that was being picketed tried to defuse the situation several times by explaining to the protestors that she only knew of the previous week’s incident in detail on the same night of finalizing her event and couldn’t be held accountable for that. She said she was assured that all would have been well by the respective parties involved in its organizing. The protesters however went into overdrive saying that they didn’t care about that and we must move our nastiness elsewhere among other unmentionables inclusive of expletives.
I strongly suspect that they never expected the patronage to stay their ground and basically ignore their agitation outside the precincts of the private property bearing in mind the owner was present. While we must respect the right of freedom of speech/peaceful protest, igniting a fire just at the entrance to private property is way out of place and the hurling of threats and abusive remarks dotted with plagiaristic lines to look as if they are tolerant to a point but …. That never impressed me. As one patron commented we are here and we all are going to have to learn to live together and stop this foolishness one day. The action as how it unfolded was totally uncalled for. “
The other that came to mind as well was that stoning in Stony Hill some seven years ago after an event at a venue next to Boone Hall was invaded by curious persons living nearby who heard the music and were enthralled, a river that ran just alongside the property where the event was hosted separated it from a hillside squatting community, they soon realised it was not the normal dancehall typed gig as have happened there before (by mainstream promoters) and notified other persons who lay in wait when nervous patrons realised there was trouble and started to leave, almost every car that left that night upon reaching the only narrow road exit to go to Stony Hill square was stoned with many owners suffering serious damage with broken wind-shields and dented areas, while mostly men could be seen cheering and jeering panicking patrons as they left with stones still being hurled at other vehicles making their way out the venue.
Please encourage all you know and even yourself that when going to lgbt planned and hosted events find out and try to do the following:
Who is hosting
Where is the venue and safety (try to get some guarantees)
Make sure hosts have a track record of previous successful gigs
Scope the area upon arrival at the venue, look for suspicious characters
Be on your guard as this incident proves we cannot be complacent and my nearly two decades of being in the lgbt party business as a DJ, promoter and planner I urge you not to take matters lightly.
Peace and tolerance