Homophobia in Jamaican Music (17.03.10)

Western Mirror Posting

Reggae artistes whose shows are being boycotted in the United States and whose records are blacklisted in Europe, must be hurting financially. And we are often reminded that it is not only the artistes who suffer, as many of them also contribute to the care and upbringing of numerous underprivileged children in their communities.

Recently, the UWI Open Campus IN Montego Bay hosted an excellent public lecture on the role of Jamaica’s music and dance in national development. This lecture which was dedicated to that great light from the West, Professor Rex Nettleford was masterfully moderated by the Mirror’s own Lloyd B. Smith and appropriately featured Professor Carolyn Cooper of the UWI (the authority on Jamaican music) as the main presenter.

During a very interactive panel discussion, which in addition to Professor Cooper featured the Montego Bay Junior Mayor; local ‘conscious’ artiste Mackie Conscious, Paul Blake (of Blood Fire Posse fame who is now clearly on fire for God), and an educator from Cornwall College who spoke of her experience with the negative impact of dancehall music on boys at that institution, Professor Cooper made the statement that there is a need 1’01’ the Jamaican government to lobby on be­half of boycotted artistes as a push hack against gay lobbyist.

In her opinion, the world needs to be told that Jamaicans are homophobic ‘with good reason’.

Due to time constraints, I was unable to ask her if she believed Professor Nettleford, being the type of person he was, would have approved of her statement.

So instead I have pulled together some responses I received to a recent letter to the Editor which enquired why Jamaicans are so homophobic. I wanted to identify if the blacklisted artistes in fact reflect a general national homophobia and the reasons for such homophobia.

In summary, Jamaicans don’t accept the gay lifestyle because they fear it will unleash a Sodom and Gomorrah cataclysm on Jamaica such as the re­cent Haitian or Chilean earthquakes. There is also the perception that gays will recruit young boys, the human race would decrease as less ‘straight’ sex would occur if buggery is legalized, and gay sex is ‘nasty’ so it must spread disease.

It is clear that the rationality of these expressed objections to the gay lifestyle is suspect. At the same time the private sex acts of consenting adult males was largely felt to be nobody’s business and no longer worthy of legal regulation.


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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