Why is "FUNNY" so funny?

Caribbean people are very funny. We’re funny as in humorous, amusing, comical and witty. We are also funny in another kind of way. And here I mean funny as in odd, weird or peculiar. There’s also a third kind of ‘funny’.

Gay men, especially in Jamaica are often euphemistically referred to as ‘funny’, and I find our attitude to that kind of ‘funny’ to be sometimes funny on one hand, while being confusing and contradictory on the other hand. In Jamaica, a man who acts ‘funny’ onstage is a guaranteed commercial hit every time. But a man who’s genuinely gay off-stage lives with the risk of being literally and physically hit at anytime. And that’s not so funny.

Comedy shows

But funny also sells. In Jamaica, there’s an increase in the number of comedy promoters. There were eight major comedy shows in Trinidad & Tobago over the last two weeks. I performed on three and I saw the ads for the other five. As a Jamaican, one of the interesting features of Trinidadian comedy shows for me is the number of acts that employ cross-dressing men or men playing gay characters. I find especially funny how the audiences find them funny. A man comes on-stage in neon coloured wig, skimpy bikini and bra, and the crowd goes wild. Chairs turn over, people run up and down and ‘buss blanks’ and di place nuh good again.

Two such acts appeared on the same events I did. One was a man playing a woman giving tips and sharing recipes for women who want to learn to fix foods to keep a man tied. The other was a drag-queen-comic protesting the promoter’s decision to shorten his act when his motto, philosophy and mantra can be summed up in four words, “want it long!” People loved it. The thousands of people at Jean Pierre Complex, and Guaracara Park in Trinidad, as well as an unbelievably massive throng at Dwight Yorke Stadium in Tobago threw big cheers, applause and adoration at those performers. I couldn’t help thinking that if they were in Jamaica the audiences would probably respond with not cheers, but chairs, tables, stones and other missiles. But that’s not necessarily true.

Selective

You see homophobia’s very funny- and selective. Gay men are tolerated if they have the right connections, or they work in stereotypical spheres like cosmetology or choreography, and they are adored and celebrated if they consent implicitly to be perpetually framed as comic relief. In fact, based on current official logic, it’s OK to be gay and acceptable for gay people to form groups as long as they don’t try screechie into Mr Golding’s cabinet, insert themselves into the police force or own guns.

But I wonder if we realise that technically there is no law in Jamaica that says it is illegal to be a homosexual. What’s illegal is buggery. And buggery means anal sex (whether it’s with man or woman!) Funny eeh?

Funniest part of the scenario for me is Ernest Smith the MP. He righteously condemns buggery in Parliament, but as a lawyer he has to earn his money yu see. So, based on what I read in the papers, here’s how it look to me. A noble lawyer, who’s a Smith, stands before an honourable judge, who’s a Pusey, and makes a plea in mitigation on behalf of a man who pleads guilty to buggery! Funny eeh? Well at least it’s funny to me.

Imagine if the government made JFLAG illegal. They could then become his clients and earn him some real funny money. Trust me, he might not be anywhere near as hilarious as ‘Bashment Granny’, but I think the South West, St Ann Member of Parliament is very, very funny.

What you think? box-mi-back@hotmail.com

The curious case of these "Curious Heaviots" Part 2

Heaviot = masculine downlown sometimes bisexual male (aka “trade” in US)

In part 2 we continue to look at the dangers and happenings in the world of gay and bisexual men who cruise the public places for hook-ups.

This second reported incident happened a week ago in the downtown Kingston region, a 20+ year old unemployed male who occassionally gets a few small chores for pay was free that day and found himself wondering along an empty corridor of a certain commercial region. He came across a young man who was resting on his bicycle and smoking what seemed a ganja/marijuana spliff.
Their eyes met and the man winked at him and beckoned with his left hand discreetly. The curious male so as to not “dis” the “ganja man” obliged and approached cautiously as he was aware that there are men who pose as gays so that “They can rob or beat yuh” he commented as he related the story to me.

They exchanged words for a while which led to them arranging a secret rendezvous at a desolate location nearby so off they went, with the man riding his bicycle a few feet infront so as to guide his new friend. They arrived at what seemed a good enough spot and the ganja man eager to get into it initiated the “play”

About ten minutes or so into the exchange the man brandished a gun and demanded all his money, the young man nervously complied, the gun man proceeded to replace his attire and searched his victim which included a small pouch he was carrying with a small amount of cash ($3400+) he had on him, his shoes was also removed (a fairly new pair of K Swiss sneakers).

Fortunately the attacker did not harm the victim but departed with words to the effect that he didn’t want any sex, he was just “lookin a food” – colloquial for robbing or to huslte someone.

They have been uncomfirmed reports of liaisons resulting in more disastrous outcomes as we comb through them we will try to unearth the facts behind these attacks, you can appreciate that many of the victims do not wish to rehash these occurences or to even let their friends and counterparts become aware of their cruising ground(s) or techniques.

If you are a “Cruiser” be warned, it’s dangerous out there. Stay safe.

Volunteer

Gay men in hiding – Avoiding health care because of stigma survey suggests

Petrina Francis, Gleaner Staff Reporter

AS DEBATE stirs over the Jamaican Government’s insistence on retaining legislation against buggery, homosexual men continue to suffer from discriminatory acts which make it difficult for them to seek health care in the country, a study has indicated.

A 2008 survey commissioned by the Ministry of Health showed 31.8 per cent of gay men in Jamaica are living with HIV. Another 8.5 per cent were found with chlamidia, 2.5 per cent had gonorrhoea and 5.5 per cent had syphilis.

According to a release from the Caribbean HIV & AIDS Alliance (CHAA), the high number of sexually transmitted infections among gay men, sometimes termed men who have sex with men (or MSM), is linked to the way they are treated by the law and members of the general population, including those in the health sector.

“Many MSM are not secure in themselves and so put themselves at risk by having multiple partners,” an MSM peer educator, who requested anonymity, said.

That claim was corroborated by the MSM survey. Some 27.7 per cent reported having two or more sexual partners in the last four weeks; 25.9 per cent had a new partner in the past four weeks; 28.8 per cent had a female partner in the past four weeks; 15.9 per cent live with a female partner; and 33.8 per cent had two or more female partners in the past 12 months.

Discrimination

The peer educator explained that even with the high level of sexually transmitted infections, MSM are reluctant to go to health-care providers, as they fear discrimination.

“Our main problem is that based on the law, we have problems interacting with each other. There are no safes spaces,” the source said.

Devon Cammock, targeted intervention co-coordinator at the Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL), explained that even when meetings were convened, MSM shy away from them or hide their sexuality. This makes it difficult to conduct programmes that are needed in the community.

Through funding from the non-governmental organisation, Caribbean HIV and AIDS Alliance, the JASL has been conducting voluntary counselling, testing programmes and peer education training with MSM.

The CHAA, which was launched in Jamaica yesterday, will continue to work in close partnership with JASL, as well as other key regional and national institutions, governments and donors, on various activities to empower MSM and other vulnerable communities.