Is the Jamaica Herald Naive & Prejudiced? …… Promiscuous gays threaten strides in reducing HIV/AIDS incidence

Article Published: Sunday, December 13th, 2009
Senior Staff Reporter

Jamaica’s stride in reducing the incidence of HIV/AIDS is being threatened by sexual promiscuity of homsexuals living with the infection. Some such persons are reported to be involved in relationships with unsuspecting heterosexuals.

Health officials have warned about the clear and present danger facing the country, arguing that if the situation is not checked much of the gains made over the years in reducing HIV/AIDS would come to nothing.

The HIV prevalence rate in the gay community is a worrying 32 per cent compared with the national average of 1.8 per cent.

Health authorities are fearful that the higher HIV/AIDS prevalence rate, although mostly concentrated in the gay community, could become more generalized with the growing promiscuity among gays, who are infected with the virus and have strong sexual links with the general population.

The homosexual category, Men who have Sex with Men, medically referred to as MSM, constituted the most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS infection but in spite of this fact, they are the most promiscuous.

On the flip side, commercial sex worker, which is another category of high-risk group, has shown a greater level of responsibility in greater condom use, resulting in a decline in the infection rate to eight percent.

The national Knowledge, Attitudes, Practices and Behaviour survey commissioned last year revealed that high-risk behaviours such as multiple partners, inconsistent condom use and early sexual debut is fuelling the HIV/AIDS infection rate.

Growing promiscuity

While heeding the warning, Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) is seeking to set the records straight regarding the increasing HIV/AIDS infection in the homosexual community and the growing promiscuity among gay men, who are infected.

JFLAG programmes manager, Jason McFarlane, argued that the rate of the epidemic in the MSM community might be attributed to several factors, key to which are homophobia and social discrimination.

He stated that homophobia has negative and destructive consequences on sexual behaviour with many men, who have sex with men being forced to live double lives, hiding both their sexual orientation as well as their HIV status.

McFarlane pointed to social factors, which he added cause many gay men to end up dropping out of school before completing secondary education ending up unemployed and leading to homelessness and exposure to abuse.

All these social factors, he articulated, increase the level of risky behaviour in the gay community.

Societal pressures

The J-FLAG programmes manager said the impact of these factors, coupled with the general stigma in society that treats a gay person as less than human, impacts greatly on how homosexuals conduct themselves and in particular, when negotiating safer sex.

“In fact, in this context the devaluing of individuals by society has led to persons not placing sufficient value on their own lives so that taking risk becomes a ‘norm’ since there is the expectation that there is not much else to live for,” McFarlane told the Sunday Herald.

In a society where sex between men is punishable by law, McFarlane contended, “gay men often are simply happy to be in a sexual relationship and as such issues of condom negotiation rarely are discussed or raised.”

According to McFarlane, “because of the societal pressures, many of the men who feel forced to have female partners, feel protected in the ‘sexual space’ with their male partners, are not empowered to feel strongly about protecting themselves in either context.”

The J-FLAG official posited that this forces persons to assume heterosexual behaviour when they truly have homosexual desires, stressing that the duality that people live in manifests itself in a whole range of risky behaviour.

This is the second of a three-part series looking at HIV/AIDS and the gay community.

Disturbed by Xnews Story on Drag Queen and Gay Cop

Several weeks after the Jamaica Observer and Television Stations carried a story on a drag queen in Clarendon and the subsequent radio call in show hosted by Ragashanti where it was said “she” phoned in The Xnews tabloid now has joined the frey.

With a full photograph on its front page (hidden for this post) they had the headline “Male Cross Dresser Barby says, ‘Cops a Blow up mi phone’” on December 3, 2009. The paper of course reinforcing the impression that police officers have been calling her in secret for hookups. Why now Xnews and why also carry the gay cop story nearly a year after his ordeal? In the radio interview where Barby was said to have phoned in, Barby did say that some of the cops from the police station at the time had been calling her but the host Dr. Kingsley Ragashanti dismissed her claims as spurious and that she was implicating the officers at the station at the time.

So why is the Xnews reviving this now, Is there a link here or is the Xnews saying that since there maybe more gay cops by the implication of the Barby story that they should also leave Jamaica via the asylum route? I am also very disturbed that another full photo of the drag queen was shown in full garb knowing the possible implications to her person. Doesn’t she have a right to dress how she feels without fear or incitement guided by a third party such as what the Xnews is now doing?

Why were pictures of other alleged drag queens (see above) shown in the story as well? They were not a part of the original ordeal. Where is the journalistic responsibility or am I asking the wrong paper this as the Xnews has been known for its “trash” element.

Jason McFarlane, Programs Manager from JFLAG was quoted in the story as well, “To my knowledge He is OK, he has not received any threats and I have spoken to him a couple of times and no threats, thankfully.”

“I don’t think they are going to start going door to door looking for him maybe if they saw him dressed as a man then there would be a problem.”

I am a bit puzzled at those remarks as well if they are so as quoted by the paper, they sound and strikes on naivety on the part of gay culture in real terms and a misunderstanding of what actually occurs on the roads in regards to drag culture or cross dressing in Jamaica. “Barby” is not the first and won’t be the last publicly identified cross dresser and some transvestites may be indeed transgendered identified individuals psychologically in my estimation. Other cross dressers before have been murdered chief among them was the ever so popular “Browning” who was stabbed allegedly by a “client” who she was negotiating a sexual transaction with some 6 years ago. The case to my knowledge was thrown out of court due to lack of evidence.

Meanwhile the Xnews again quoted Jason McFarlane on the asylum issue with the cop who was vilified after a newspaper interview. “Yes asylum was granted his case has gone through but maybe I shouldn’t say that just yet. He has applied and he has a good case particularly because of the media exposure he got, he is currently living and working in the UK, ……………. I last spoke to him three weeks ago and he was quite happy to be safe in a country where is rights are protected. I don’t know what sort of job he is employed in because it was just a quick check in I did with him but I know that he is happy.”
Probably too much information was given here and the comments seem too “by the way” to be believed. Maybe this may also be a way for the Xnews to say well all of us as gays should run away and leave Jamaica via the asylum route.

All this has left a bitter taste in my mouth. Weh unu feel?

Recent contact directly with Barbie by phone and some of my sources has revealed that she is livid in a sense, as she feels her conversations with key persons from JFLAG offices were leaked to the XNEWS, even if this is not true the country’s only official GLBT rights organization cannot be seen as untrustworthy to the community that it serves. Just by the type of newspaper the Xnews is perceived to be a quote or statement present in its content it may be viewed at negative towards whatever the subject matter is at hand.

The impact of this story has led to a noticeable decrease in movement by some of the captioned queens and Barby herself as a precautionary measure as normal weekend social gatherings at regular spots were visibly empty this weekend.

How can we fix this issue for the time being …… I really don’t know.