Despite a sociocultural brick wall against homosexuality in Jamaica, gays and lesbians say they, too, find creative ways to fête their partners on Valentine’s Day – even if for the most part underground.
Jason McFarlane, programmes manager at the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), has said sex minorities are forced to be extra vigilant while trying to bask in the euphoria of the day.
“We buy flowers and chocolates like everyone else,” he told Saturday Life.
“However, the challenges of not being able to show your affection for the same sex openly prevents us being able to do the lovey-dovey things that heterosexuals are allowed to do in public. Because of this, persons have had to find creative ways to make their celebrations meaningful,” said McFarlane.
There is strong repulsion to homosexuality in various quarters of Jamaica and polls have shown that there is resistance to open affection among gays. Though homosexuality itself isn’t illegal, buggery is outlawed.
Occasional acts of violence against gays, as well as widespread condemnation from dancehall artistes and religious leaders, have earned criticism from global rights bodies such as Amnesty International.
Twenty-five-year-old George Brown, who has been a practising homosexual since 18, told Saturday Life that Valentine’s Day is the most important day on the gay calendar – red roses, chocolates, gift baskets, the whole shebang.
“We have private parties, like a red-and-white affair and candlelight dinner and the same romantic stuff,” he revealed.
“When we are at parties, you have the same dancing and you would really be surprised to see that a man can dance like how we do,” said Brown.
He plans to attend a private party today and will look as hot as ever.
“Yes, I will be all up in drag next week when I go to my party,” Brown told Saturday Life last week.
He intends to attend the party by himself this year, as he is not in a steady relationship.
Brown says Valentine’s is also the perfect day to send gifts for secret admirers in the gay community.
Valentine’s Day is celebrated February 14 each year. The history of the day is inconclusive, comprising elements of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition.