At the bi weekly meeting for Gays Lesbians & bisexuals led by a lesbian Executive member of GLABCOM and members of the previous Steering Committee structure sought to enlist support from the attendees on the new direction of GLABCOM (Gay Lesbian Allsexual and Bisexual Community) to have it become GMAJ – Gay Mens Association of Jamaica.
The concerns raised included the lack of support from the women (lesbians) who do not attend the meetings. regularly.
Other points raised included:
1). The men were too dominating in the meetings hence the reluctance of the women attending
2). Availability of funds for scholarships for interested persons – many were not aware of it
3). The confidentiality issue of the organization, HIV AIDS test results allegedly banded about by community members
4). The need for more training programs for LGBT cohort
5). The lack of proper role models – “Sketel imagery is too rampant in the behaviour of many of the men”
6). The availablitiy of Heavens Nightclub for a night for a fundraising party on behalf of GLAB – Macy (Mgr)
7). Suggestions of a workshop/retreat to deal with self esteem, anger management and other personal issues
8). Skills training for persons who display a propensity for talent – barbering, hairdressing, tailoring etc
Among the guests present were CFLAG personell from St. Lucia, Grenada & Curacao who briefly described their various jurisdictions’ LGBT issues and concerns. They all pointed out however that there are no sustained meetings similar to GLABCOM where issues are fleshed out and they hailed the acheivements of JASL/JFLAG in functioning in a hostile environment.
The new organisational structure was proposed by the Executive Director of Jamaica AIDS Support for Life Miss Stacy Ann Jarrett, guest speaker emplored that testing and other interventions were neccessary for the MSM population, she then instructed the persons in attendance to “run with it” as we are to form our own strategies in reaching the desired targets.
Targets include, High knowledge level of HIV/AIDS issues, sustained social marketing and behaviour change concepts, proper condom usage, adherence to anti retroviral regime for HIVers, easier access to medications and Counseling and testing.
As usual the unease of some of the attendants was visible as persons kept entering and exiting the room.
Let’s see what this new dispensation will bring to the fore but I am concerned however that the focus originally of GLABCOM has been missed, HIV intervention in the MSM population was the primary reason for its formation as it was a creature of Targeted Inteventions of Jamaica AIDS Support for Life. JFLAG was formed out of GLABCOM to address the Advocacy, Social Support, Legal Reform, Referrals and Crisis Intervention needs of the community that JASL couldn’t and wasn’t funded and equipped so to do.
Is it therefore that GLABCOM/GMAJ is struggling in the void of inactivity to find a place or foothold in between HIV/AIDS intervention and Self Efficacious/Advocacy strattegies in engaging the vulnerable groups?.
As a former Steering Committee member I am just baffled at what is happening, the loss of many of the younger newly joined members of the cmt for no apparent reasons and now a change of focus without any proper lead time into sorting out what are the objectives of each organization serving the same marginalised groups, i.e. Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (GLABCOM. GMAJ), Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays (including Women for Women). I think a serious education drive to include committee and general MSM persons is required to put things in perspective.
The Women for Women Chairperson who also happens to be the Co-Chair for JFLAG spoke in her capacity as Chair for WFW justified the reasons for the separation of the groups (men and women in GLABCOM) she explained that the women have their own set of issues to handle so both groups would have to in a structured way handle their own affairs before a meeting of the minds.
One of JFLAG’s founders and JASL stalwart who was present reiterated that line and went on to say that most gay men are too busy waiting for a female type lead to be their role model, men needed to take the initiative and be bold with our own development depsite how we present ourselves to the world (effeminate)
He also reminded us that GLABCOM meetings are not meant to be toyed with.
The WFW Chair continued to outline their intended representation at the World Gay Games in 2010.