A glimpse into the lives of Taboo Yardies

Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer

TABOO YARDIES, a documentary that examines Jamaica’s indifference toward homosexuals, will have a screening at the General Theological Seminary in New York City next week.

Selena Blake, a 49 year-old Jamaican filmmaker who is producing Taboo Yardies, says persons attending the April 24 event will see 17 minutes of the film which is expected to be released in late 2009.

“I hope that the documentary will be a springboard in the way we as Jamaicans conduct ourselves in the name of God,” Blake told The Gleaner this week from her home in New York.

Blake, who was born in Old Harbour, St Catherine, started work on Taboo Yardies in 2007. Through interviews with gay Jamaicans in the United States and Canada, she attempts to show the un-initiated a look at the prejudice homosexuals face in Jamaica.

The documentary also has interviews with businesspersons who have suffered because of the anti-gay themes of some Jamaican dancehall acts. Businesspersons like show promoter D’Niscio Banks of the annual Carifest concert who was strongly criticised by New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg for inviting Buju Banton and Bounty Killer on that show last year.

Thumbs-up from gay advocates

Taboo Yardies has already got the thumbs-up from gay advocates like Wayne Besen who has called for Americans to boycott Jamaica and Jamaican products, due to persistent violence against gays in the country.

“I strongly urge all people interested in stopping the anti-gay violence in Jamaica to see Taboo Yardies, a film-short on the issue. I saw a preview of the movie and I highly recommend it,” said Besen, author of the book, Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.

Same-sex unions are illegal in Jamaica. Intolerance for homosexuality in the country has been played out in many dancehall songs, the most infamous being Banton’s 1994 underground hit, Boom Bye Bye.

Blake has lived in New York City since 1979 and made a living as an actress and catalogue model before branching out into filmmaking. Her first film, 2005’s Queensbridge: The Other Side, is a documentary about the Long Island housing project where she lives.

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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