“Boxturtle” April 18th, 2009
– Another Gay Jamaica denouce boycott and its because he as no choice but because he talking the truth just read what he says and understand.
As a Jamaican gay activist living in Jamaica, I find the approach of these boycott organisers offensively paternalistic. Certainly it is well known that Jamaica is a violent and hostile place for gay people. But gay people here have been resisting that violence for some time. And as difficult as it is to see or as unsatisfactory as it seems to outsiders, everyday that there is one fewer homophobic attack or that we are able to speak in a forum about our challenges is a day of progress for us; everyday a group of gay men can go to a concert or play and be safe is a day or progress for us; everyday an obviously effeminate and feminised actor can go on stage unharmed and be the lead in the most popular plays in the country is progress for us. Our aim is to expand those small spaces. Some of us here prefer to frame our struggle as being about social transformation, not particularist rights.
People need to understand that we are not starting from the same place the boycotters are. This is why their context-devoid analysis is so puzzling. In one breath they castigate Red Stripe for not being strong enough in their support yet they claim that homophobia prevents gays from speaking out in the country. If homophobia has an impact on who speaks, it is more likely to be on those entities that are not specifically into the promotion of gay rights. Gay rights advocates have been speaking out, albeit, anonymously (and increasingly confidentially) but we are the gay rights activists, not Red Stripe. Red Stripe has more reason to be fearful about the repercussions of supporting gay rights than gay activists do.
Look guys, the last time we had foreigners calling for a boycott, there was a spike in homophobic violence in the island. When that happened, there were no foreigners around to help us deal with the fallout. Will the principals involved in this call be here this time around when those of us who are activists and who are becoming increasingly visible are the targets of a backlash? Will they help the gay community here when its voices are silenced?
Let me end by stating that there is a clear difference between martyrdom and victimhood. If we become martyrs in our own cause, very well. But we do not wish to be turned into victims of the excessive goodwill of others.”
“It was highly questionable from the beginning for Boycott Jamaica to take one statement from one Jamaican LGBTQ activist out of context to support their action, as a trump card to the nearly-unanimous opposition to their boycott coming from Jamaican LGBTQ people, but now we know that not even that person supports the boycott.Mr. Henry raises many of the same points I’ve lain out before on Bilerico: that any boycott or action that performed on behalf of another group of people should go through them first, that the groups’ specific action is counterproductive to the goal of reducing homophobic violence in Jamaica, and that Red Stripe is a particularly poor target for this boycott because of its history as a corporate ally to Jamaica’s LGBTQ community.
I’ve asked the organizers (to no avail) repeatedly for even an argument as to why they think this boycott would reduce violence instead of handing Jamaicans in general a scapegoat (LGBTQ people) for economic woes that are likely to come anyway as the recession continues. There is a risk with any demonstration or action, and the people who will suffer if the action fails are the ones who should be able to decide, themselves, what level of risk they’re comfortable with.Furthermore, the boycott organizers are not the experts on Jamaica here.
Jamaican LGBTQ people are far more knowledgeable about their own country than almost any American is. Boycott Jamaica has repeatedly tried to ignore JFLAG’s opinion by making the dismissive argument that Jamaican LGBTQ people can’t speak on their own behalf and need generous Americans to do it for them, generally pointing to that one statement from Gareth Henry as proof of their claim.The real question here is if there was any way at all for Jamaican LGBTQ people to express their opposition to the boycott and be taken seriously by the American boycotters. I hope that Gareth Henry’s statement causes some people to at least examine their positions more closely.” – strongjamaican