From the pen of one of our homeless brothers ……..

Some background to the homeless issue
As we continue to highlight a dark chapter in our LGBT history that on the face of it some would rather kept hushed this matter of homelessness among our same gender loving males and teens has created deeper rifts between supporters of the established LGBT organizations Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays its parent Jamaica AIDS Support (for Life) and others in the trenches both NGOs were set up originally to deal with and included in their mission aspects of front-line activism for seriously marginalized individuals or groups, sadly the systems have seriously fallen down in that department with a glaring absence of psycho social interventions and at least a resident social worker to deal with the psychological and behavioural problems that has beleaguered the aforementioned NGOs from the men but what does one expect if there are no behaviour change mechanisms in place?
J-FLAG, among other things:1. provides support in the event of a crisis or impending crisis; emergency housing assistance, counselling and assistance with medical bills2. does significant personal development and community building in the gay community;3. offers counseling and referral services to gay people and their families;

4. has consultations and collaborations with noted local and international figures and human rights/health/political interest groups, in the process of working for constitutional and other legislative changes;

5. has made written submissions to the Joint Select Committee of the Houses of Parliament for the inclusion of “Sexual Orientation” as a basis on which the Constitution of Jamaica prohibits discrimination;

6. has provided documentation for asylum cases based on sexual discrimination and violence in Canada, Great Britain and the United States;

7. maintains a library and archive of resource for academic research

According to their website:J-FLAG’s mission is to work towards a Jamaican society in which the Human Rights and Equality of Lesbians, All-Sexuals, and Gays are guaranteed. To foster the acceptance and enrichment of the lives of same-gender-loving persons who have been, and continue to be, an integral part of society. J-FLAG holds the vision to move forward in a spirit of oneness, love, dignity and respect towards the establishment of a Jamaica, and world, devoid of prejudice, injustice, discrimination and oppression. And, furthermore, to ensure the human rights of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays, as set out in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
This vexed issue of homelessness which has driven an even sharper wedge between present and former advocates close to the populations has been of concern for some including yours truly who saw the trouble of the rapid growth of the group some two and half years ago with the outright closure of a pilot Safe House homeless project in 2010 due to “bad behaviour” as the given reason, remember all this with the long standing absence of sustained resident social services towards the population and the subsequent displacement from a gay party DVD that ended up on our streets for sale thus exposing persons to violence many fled their homes to other parts of the island and finally landing in Kingston adding to the already displaced .
August 23 and 24 has gone down in history as the second civil disobedience action by this group (this time they had no allies) (the first being in January 2010) and was spontaneous which leaves us to ask what are the NGOs whose remit this population falls under are doing? given the ban is still in effect and no public utterances on the matter since the damning Jamaica Observer article some say deliberately as the focus is transfixed on the rejected tolerance campaign advert concerned persons have lashed out at the ineptitude of the advocacy groups towards this population in particular and the insular way business is conducted. In the midst of all this was a protest in western Jamaica as seen below by the groups combined and joined by AIDSFREEWORLD who sometimes seem to be the public relations arm for JFLAG:
Please also see:

Hypocrisy, Continued damage control via stands or a genuine call for inclusiveness in western Jamaica?

 The dark side to the homeless issue ………….

Maurice Tomlinson (right), legal adviser, Marginalised AIDS-Free World Group, Jamaica AIDS Support for Life, and Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays representatives staging a peaceful stand in front of the Hilton Rose Hall Resort in Montego Bay during the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training Network, Caribbean Cytometry & Analytical Society (CCAS), Centers for Disease Control Third Joint Meeting and Eighth CCAS HIV/AIDS Workshop last Wednesday morning. -  Photo by Janet Silvera
To ban the men is one thing which has caused strong reactions in opposition to the decision from some quarters but  then to turn and protest “exclusion” from  a conference on HIV in Montego Bay (photo above) using of all things “homelessness” which was never used as a reason for previous protests and stands before when they knew all along they were not apart of that conference, the timing of this is most inopportune and hypocritical and smacks of an unethical culture that seems to permeates the groups as more and more strange posturings have been brought to bear. At the very top of this post is a scanned hand written summary of how one of the homeless men felt entitled “Homeless Homosexuals” as penned on Tuesday August 31, 2011, barring the slight grammatical errors it is clear this nineteen year old man is not off with his expression and given the right assistance can assimilate into society to make something of himself:
Our brother wrote (abbreviated and errors corrected):
“It’s difficult being homeless and a homosexual in Jamaica an anti gay country first you have to be dealing with homelessness and its hardship then secondly being a homosexual people look down on you for being gay and to top that homeless being gay and on the streets means you have to keep an open eye out for the police, straight men, cocaine addicts. We are all Jamaican citizens that are entitled to our rights like everyone else but yet society looks down on us, sometimes we are attacked by men and when we go to the police to seek rescue we are then beaten again and sometimes shunned. It’s hard to know you can’t even run to the police for safety when that’s what they are there for “To Serve, To Protect, To Reassure” is their motto and we get the opposite, even they themselves beat and assault us at times and there is no one to say stop and show some sympathy. We are not having sex in the public and whatsoever we do in private is our business.  

We are living in a civilised world and should be treated civilised. At times we behave boisterously and indecent because because of things happening but the citizens say we are good for nothing and should be got rid of. Being in the streets require street behaviour to survive sometimes we use the boisterous behaviour as protection and to let our voices be heard, I think that the Prime Minister needs to do something about homosexuals being mistreated in the country as is we are alienated. We as gay people aren’t the ones bringing in the guns and cocaine in the country and we are not the ones forming the garrisons. We are amicable people and it’s full time society looks at us for what we are. 

The Prime Minister needs to decriminalize the country by dismantling the garrisons so that we can go home back to our family and friends and feel more comforted and love. The Prime Minster accepts dons and garrisons but not us and it’s sad. Lots of us on the streets are educated,  creative and talented it’s just the helping hand we need to become someone meaningful to society and show that we are human beings and we can be successful and contribute to society in a positive way. My message to country is to stop and listen we have issues that need to be dealt with.”
audio commentary on homelessness
the homelessness saga part II
Other commentary about the homelessness
Other commentary about the homelessness
Monitoring the K12 matter and the threat to the community
I hope who has ears to hear let them hear or who have eyes to see let them see.
Peace and tolerance

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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