June is Pride Month … but sadly last year’s post still seems befitting

Sadly not much has changed since last year’s entry on Pride Month on my sister blog GLBTQJA, yes we have seen some silent protests from a section of the advocacy arena and the letter writing campaign is still on which are geared to the anti gay establishment, there are some other changes in regards to homelessness and our transgender sister who was mentioned in the original piece but sorry to be the bearer of bad news many are just not feeling the overall community unity and sense of worth that is needed, there is a bright spot where a new forumatic area has been helping to air some of the inter and intra community issues and social networking sites have also been widely utilised, have a read of the post from last year and see if you agree, some slight editing has been done.

So June is PRIDE Month internationally as various parts of the world will celebrate publicly in most instances their respective LGBTQ events. With new territories adding their own voices in expressing pride in thermselves, Jamaica in times past has had our own set of private celebratory events, parties and lymes when the the days of JFLAG (Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays) were far more introspective in the community itself and using such activities as a part of the social support strategy to engage the community and develop an identity given the homophobia and violence meted out to persons accused of being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered as we have seen in recent times. Only some party promoters and bloggers like myself who will highlight or have events so themed in respect to the occasions still carry on, I hope that will change soon.

PRIDE presently is supposed to be a mostly American invention coming out of the Stonewall events in the late sixties, other jurisdictions have added their own historical experiences such as Brisbane, Russia, Canada and The UK. LGBT pride or gay pride is the concept that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people should be proud of their sexual orientation and gender identity. The movement has three main premises: that people should be proud of their sexual orientation and gender identity, that diversity is a gift, and that sexual orientation and gender identity are inherent and cannot be intentionally altered. The use of the abbreviated gay pride and pride have since become mainstream and shorthand expressions inclusive of all individuals in various LGBT communities.

The word pride is used in this case as an antonym for shame, which has been used to control and oppress LGBT persons throughout history. Pride in this sense is an affirmation of ones self and the community as a whole. The modern “pride” movement began after the “Stonewall riots” in 1969. Instead of backing down to unconstitutional raids by New York Police, gay people in local bars fought back. While it was a violent situation it also gave the underground community the first sense of communal pride in a very well publicized incident. From the yearly parade that commemorated the anniversary of the Stonewall riots began a national grassroots movement. Today many countries around the world celebrate LGBT pride. The pride movement has furthered the cause of gay rights by lobbying politicians, registering voters and increasing visibility to educate on issues important to LGBT communities. LGBT pride advocates work for equal “rights and benefits” for LGBT people.

Symbols of LGBT pride include the LGBT rainbow flag, butterfly, the Greek lambda symbol, and the pink as well as black triangles reclaimed from their past use.

Historical Background:
Advocates of gay pride have used history to point to oppression as well as differing levels of acceptance of homosexuality throughout history. The ancient Greeks did not conceive of sexual orientation as a social identifier, as Western societies have done for the past century. Greek society did not distinguish sexual desire or behavior by the gender of the participants, but by the extent to which such desire or behavior conformed to social norms. These norms were based on gender, age and social status. “Lesbian” derives from the name of the island of Lesbos,which was famous for the poet Sappho, who wrote love poetry to female lovers. Homosexuality in the ancient Roman Empire is considered to have been widespread but was tempered by the complex social systems of the society.

During Medieval times all forms of sexuality began to be repressed by the church as the message of heaven and hell gained popularity. As technology fell behind, simple luxuries such as clean running water and proper sewage became a thing of the past. This caused horrible conditions and disease. People began to believe that they were suffering from the wrath of God, blaming immorality. Any and all forms of homosexuality became not only shameful but punishable by death.

see also:
Homosexuality in ancient Greece
and Homosexuality in ancient Rome
Symbols of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Movements
The Catholic Church and Homosexuality
Pride celebrated worldwide

In 390, the first law banning same-sex love was enacted in Rome, making it punishable by death.

Pride! but the problems on the ground still are real …….
In our most recent history though, it is disheartening that many activities that were once expected to occur during this period have died or discontinued, there were film festivals, art auctions, other forms of entertainment and forums/workshops as well that were helpful to the community to realise who we are with ordinary LGBTQ persons participating. Sad that the only advocacy group once again has failed and continue to fail us as a GLBTQ community in this regard to fuse our resolve in ourselves as proud people despite the problems we face literally on a daily basis. The closure of the MSM housing project in 2010 for example under the watch and deafening silence from JFLAG is a further indication that we are representationless as a community as only certain issues seem to be of priority while others are cast aside for whatever reasons at the risk of violence due to displacement and even reported deaths since 2011. Recent attacks on a camera crew from Sweden who were interviewing MSMs in a volatile community suggest we have a far way to go. Yes we may be proud as individuals as we assert ourselves as a natural survival instinct mechanism but it is sad we can’t get the activities required on a larger scale to fuse the subgroups under the GLTBQ umbrella towards solving some of the inter-community issues that need urgent attention. Small cell groups however are doing what they can given their limited scope and resources available, many individuals would like to offer more but the present systems overlook or ignore such voices.

The important GLABCOM (Gay Lesbian Allsexual Community) meetings that were discontinued in Kingston in late 2008 has been meeting constant stalls in efforts by some to restart them. Frankly in my estimation there is nothing to be proud of in this vein presently given the set of circumstances that prevail. We have an advocacy system for the most part now being driven by funders who now basically dictate how those activities ought to operate as we have failed to properly carry out basic continuity of previous interventions, ideas and strategies that would have produced tangible results and a seemingly special club decides what happens on that level excluding dissenting voices like this one and others as was evidenced in the recent IDAHO event, the wider community was never made aware in a meaningful way of what IDAHO actually entails let alone a planned activity in Jamaica.

What is happening to our lesbian and bisexual women in terms of the corrective rape typed instances of violence meted out to them with very little assistance or concern from the advocacy quarters on these problem that has been on the increase since 2007 is worrying as well. Not even so much as public outcry on the matter to bring attention to it or some forumatic discourse on the issue at the community level.

The invisibility of the Transgender and bisexual communities are still a major concern for me, their issues need to be brought to the fore by main advocates and take a break from all this talk of repealing the buggery law.
Let us still celebrate PRIDE on an individual level non the less but we cannot and must not overlook these and other serious issues friends, I am sure there are many others you may know of as well in your own corners. See how best you can play however small a part in adding improvement of the lives of our brothers and sisters out there.

Peace, tolerance and PRIDE

H

Advertisements

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.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s