Remembering Mickey J

Remembering Mr. Michael Johnson, ally, friend, defender of anyone who was downtrodden, disciplinarian, adept management skills and a beautiful same gender loving human being.

He is best remembered for his pioneering work with Jamaica AIDS Support for Life in the Targeted Interventions Programs that linked MSMs and Commercial Sex Workers for access to ARV treatment and care and the Jamaica male netball team which included men from all walks of life and orientation believe it or not straight men too. He advocated tolerance. He was integral in seeing the team’s development and managed the affairs with a firm but fair hand.

Many of the successes the team gained overseas are credited to him and others. He was a staunch defender of rights and fairness as outlined in a testimonial report some years ago where a group of msms were harassed by police officers where he was asked to intervene.

Excerpt:
“………..The lead member of the group then called Jamaica AIDS Support collect and contacted the then Director of Targeted Interventions, Mr. Michael Johnson. Mr. Johnson came to the scene. One policeman looked at him and announced “a di battyman leader dat.” Mr. Johnson asked the policemen what was the situation because he had gotten a call to say that the police were harassing the group. One of the officers said he was not to use the word “harass” because they were only doing their job. Mr. Johnson again asked what was happening. The policeman then said he recognised Mr. Johnson from his other job at a bank. Mr. Johnson confirmed that he did work at a bank.
The policeman then began referring to Mr. Johnson as “sir,” and offered to take him aside and explain what was happening. He told Mr. Johnson the group was “loitering” and pointed to one particularly effeminate member and said that what he thought that member was doing he thought the whole group was doing and that he cannot support “man with man because God never mek man with man.” He said the only reason he was not arresting the group was because they knew Mr. Johnson. The policeman told Mr. Johnson that what Mr. Johnson needed to do was to talk to the group about being gay, and the fact that being gay is wrong and against the law, and that the next time they were not going to give them a break. Their last comment was to point to the effeminate group member they had singled out and say that they had marked him as the ringleader and a marker of homosexual activities and so anyone he was with they would know was a homosexual and so liable for arrest……..” continue here

Upon returning from a successful netball tournament trip from one of the Caribbean islands he took ill with a mysterious virus and later succumbed to his unease in 2001. It was a shocker to the community as a wonderful leader was suddenly snatched from us. His work with the special Targeted Interventions project of JASL was also exemplary, he was a no nonsense man and everyone knew you had to be on your Ps and Qs when he was in office and you visited the space. He insisted on correct behaviour but was attentive to his clients and the general public who also access services at the organization.

MJ sadly missed but left an indelible mark on our GLBT landscape.

H

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Author: GLBTQ Jamaica Moderator

Activist and concerned gay man in Jamaica with over 19 years experience in advocacy and HIV/AIDS prevention work, LGBT DJ since 1996.

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