Well at last nights weekly Wednesday Open Mic Open Soul at the Couture Oasis Lounge the unexpected occurred when representatives of Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays showed up to include later the Executive Director himself none other than the brown Teddy Bear Mr. Dane Lewis. Unfortunately he didn’t hang around long enough to tackle the topic of the night which was “Sexuality” also present were the heads of fellow bloggers Pink Report whose on again off again relationship with and defense of criticisms towards JFLAG has made them unpredictable and inconsistent with their real positions on lgbt issues and advocacy although the last few posts calling the J to book on their handling of the Charter of Rights added to the lack of forumatic activity to guide the lgbt body politic was refreshing.
Speaking of forumatic activity that was precisely the issue in the long run when the young in age and in the job Programs Manager made a short well worded presentation on what the J does and the Charter of Rights etc. It soon became clear he wasn’t going to have an easy ride for the rest of the discussion as members of the audience excluding myself at first were uncomfortable with the tone the conversation was taking, the premise as he (we will call him J for purposes of this post) he mentioned that JFLAG was about lobbying for the lgbt community to among other things remove the Buggery Law however when he was challenged if the organization sought to canvass the community on what our thoughts are? He attempted to repeat the position when the contradictions and rebuttals became more pronounced from an uncomfortable audience, the points were made one by one to include that of the host and Manager of the Couture and myself in reminding the J that they cannot be prescriptive when seeking represent a body of people as complex as ours.
Last nights short exchange proved yet again that the culture within the JFLAG entity is still corporatist, elitist and unengaging as on the face of it they seem to accord to themselves the role of masters of all things lgbt and other ideas cannot work.
When are we going to have real engaging advocacy that is not hold up on intellectual masturbation and programmatic fluff?
When are we going to have real exchanges that produce results instead of everyone trying to compete with everyone else?
Indeed JFLAG the more things change the more they stay the same, I was particularly pleased that persons who were not so exposed to advocacy were vigilant during the exercise and asked very relevant questions especially pertaining to the Buggery Law. Also of great interest were the points argued by the two heterosexual males present who agreed that even if the Buggery Law was passed anytime soon they fear there may be a fall out with disastrous results. A point of contention for me is why are we waisting time pushing for the Buggery Law’s removal when homosexuality itself is not illegal in Jamaica and most cases of Buggery that go to full trial are ones of same-sex paedophilia which is shunned by the most Jamaicans but consenting adult men are grouped in the disgust unfortunately.
Representative J from the J reiterated the position of consenting adults and the law should be out of person’s bedrooms, which to me was just a convenient answer to get away from the probing he was subjected to.
To The Executive Director of the J Dane Lewis, why did you leave poor Representative J to face the music? knowing fully well the audience consisted of erudite minds with serious concerns about JFLAG’s tenure these many a year, don’t send or leave someone inexperienced to do a mammoth job because you wanted to avoid the cross examination.
The kind of exclusivity and elitist approach is in and of itself an egregious form of discrimination committed on sections of the very people the J says it represents not to mention the other phobias by default committed due to the invisibility supported by them (bisexuality and transgendered) and we can again possibly conclude that the movement is more about Press, PR and making the right gestures to look good to the outside world and selected friends here but screw everyone else. Jobs for life at the expense of an ever more widening marginalized people?
Tolerance or Acquiescence? an embarrassing question we have to ask of the advocates.
They have alot of work to do to convince a more cynical lgbt community in becoming a part of their idea of change. On one hand it was not surprising but on the other one always gives the benefit of the doubt and hopes that good sense will finally come to the entity after all it’s all of us who will benefit in the end.
Their very own mission towards forumatic activity to education speaks for itself:
Our Education Programme strives to disseminate information regarding J-FLAG’s existence and purpose, and issues affecting sexual minorities and their impact on society at large. We also attempt to promote self-awareness and self-empowerment within our community. We use a variety of formats to achieve these goals including;
- Various publications such as informational brochures; SOH!, our quarterly newsletter; our website; editorial letters; and press releases
- Email announcements and updates to local and international organisations
- Interviews in newspaper, radio and television media
- Discussions on our Hotline and chat room
- Presentations to target groups
- Face-to-face discussion forums on special topics
- Display booths at public events
- Research assistance through our library and media watch archive
The rest of the evening went well as the matter of whether one can make someone gay or “bruk’ them was examined in layman’s terms we arrived at the conclusion among others that sexual acts alone even if they are same gendered doesn’t prove or show sexual orientation.
Peace and tolerance