(This piece is written and contributed by Shum Preston, a trade unionist and human rights activist from San Francisco, California. Mr. Preston married his husband under California state law, and they are the proud fathers of 4.)
CASTER SEMEYA or BUJU BANTON??
The next time Buju Banton sells an online download of “Boom Bye-Bye,” will he spare a thought for Caster Semenya?
Caster Semenya, as the whole world has learned, is the young South African runner whose privacy was recently violated when her medical records were leaked to the media. The nation of South Africa has honorably rushed to her defense, as various international sporting rivals appear ready to attack her for having some male traits, a situation sometimes called intersex.
Ms. Semenya is a beautiful part of the human spectrum, and deserves nothing less than the freedoms of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
I hope and believe that she will achieve that. But my heart is heavy because I know that around the world many people just like Caster Semenya will end up assaulted, attacked, battered, bashed, abused, beaten and yes sometimes killed because they’re different.
The batty boys that Buju Banton fantasizes about murdering in his controversial song “Boom Bye-Bye” often look not much different than Caster Semenya. They might be intersex or gay, lesbian, all-sexual, transgender, or whatever other word you might want to use to describe their part of the human rainbow.
That violence takes a terrible toll on my brothers and sisters. Literally thousands of them have been killed in my home country, the United States. I mourn our martyr Brian Williamson, the murdered head of Jamaica’s J-Flag group. My blood runs cold thinking of the two young men who were hanged in Iran.
It is genocide. There is genocide in Darfur, and genocide across the globe as these beautiful people are targeted for death because of who they are.
And what role does Boom Bye-Bye play in the genocide of sexual minorities in our world today? Who knows? But Boom Bye-Bye has emerged as history’s most notorious call to kill queers. It has achieved iconic status. Its message of shooting, burning with acid, and setting on fire batty boys has been sung and heard millions and millions of times.
And Mr. Banton still makes money from that message by selling it online. That’s not a youthful mistake, or something in the past. That’s selling the glorification of genocide so a pop star can get even richer.
I have rarely been as impressed with a country as I have been by the passion and compassion the nation of South Africa has shown in its defense of its daughter Ms. Semenya. They are blessed that Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Tutu overthrew the British colonial “Buggery” laws and made sure that nation’s constitution protected the rights of all sexualities—from Batty boys to Caster Semeya.
Buju Banton has made pretty clear with his media statements that he doesn’t care what I–a gay man just trying to live my life—think. Whatever.
But I hope Mr. Banton can spare a thought for Caster Semenya and all her brothers and sisters around the world.
Because I hope and believe that if he does, Mr. Banton will either stop selling that song—or perhaps begin to undo the damage he’s done by making very clear publicly that no one should be bash and kill the world’s sexual minorities.