Stigma and Discrimination with Jamaican Homosexuals

With special ongoing consultations taking place with various groups and organizations on stigma and discrimination from an HIV/AIDS standpoint many ideas and suggestions have been unearthed and are being looked at to address the issues involved. Such consultations are closed to the public so the contents and findings I am not at liberty to divulge.

In response however it would be good to have an ongoing conversation outside of those all important discussions and to see if there may be other ideas and experiences floating around that may have been left out of the closed meetings. Gays in Jamaica as the world knows are not new to stigma and discrimination usually presented as homophobic violence, ostracism, bias in the delivery of healthcare to persons suspected of being gay, murder and inciteful or hate music and internal community discrimination.

Here are some questions worth pondering:
1. How can we begin to tackle this scourge?
2. Do we need to have the cooperation of governmental arms and civil society?
3. How can we address the internal strife that sometimes beset the LGBT community?
4. Have you ever wondered if you were discriminating without realizing it?
5. Do you agree that specific norms should be adopted in our diverse LGBT communities to control the divisions present?
6. Have you ever been met with discrimination in the public or private health system?
7. Are you at liberty to share your experiences of stigma and discrimination in whatever forms they may have come?
8. Do you think enough is being done by the LGBT organizations, individuals and groups to tackle this problem?
9. What self efficacious activity are you willing to adopt to check yourself against exacting discriminatory actions and attitudes to others?
10. Do you know anyone who has been discriminated because of their HIV/AIDS status?
11. Do you know of any lesbian who has been discriminated?
12. Ever experienced discrimination from law enforcement representatives?

Please answer these publicly on the comments section or if you wish to be discreet send your responses to your answers won’t be published unless where expressed prior consent is granted and you can use an alias or pseudonym in your responses.
The information here will form part of my own study and review on this issue and it may be used as examples in forthcoming discussions on the matter with the relevant agencies involved.

In inter –community discrimination has been of concern to me for a long time as have yet to be tolerant of each other in as far as orientation, class and just basic respect for other human beings. We vilify each other, discriminate each other because of the two Jamaica demarcations that exist in mainstream society. Persons are judged by how they look (gym body in males and beauty and aesthetics in females vs fats as seen on many social network profiles loud messages screaming no fats people) what material possessions they have, where they live (uptown apartments and gated communities vs. ordinary housing) educational background etc.

Not that these do not exist in other societies and cultures but it seems very pronounced in our LGBT experience. We use labels and names to belittle and ascribe negative imagery to persons who we want to insult. Words burrowed from mainstream dancehall culture such as “sketel” which means loose female without any serious goal in life who is usually promiscuous. Effeminate men are shunned in most instances as well and the more metro sexual yet masculine man is the man of choice so as to avoid suspicion of homosexual accusations from onlookers.

All in all we have all these issues to contend with, how do we grow out of this friends?

Please respond.

Be vigilant tolerant out there folks.

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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