Jamaica should refuse British aid – Families Against State Terrorism convener ………………

The convenor of the lobby group Families Against State Terrorism, Yvonne McCalla Sobers, said Jamaica should refuse UK aid if the Government is as concerned about legalising homosexuality as it claims.

British prime minister, David Cameron has threatened to withhold British aid from several Commonwealth countries with anti-gay legislation.

Cameron made the comment at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Perth, Australia.

Last night, the justice minister Delroy Chuck said he could not comment on the issue because he had not seen the report.

However, successive governments have indicated that Jamaica will keep the buggery law.

Last night the convenor of FAST, Yvonne McCalla Sobers, said it was time for the Jamaican Government to respect the rights of all it citizens.

Human rights reform in the Commonwealth was one issue that leaders failed to agree on at the Commonwealth summit.

Ending bans on homosexuality was one of the recommendations of an internal report into the future relevance of the Commonwealth.

Miss Sobers among other things said:

“It might have been possible that some of those monies may have been earned by people who are gay, who to tell? perhaps we really ought not to take it if we are so concerned, on the other hand do we really need to be so involved with what happens in the bedrooms of consenting adults that it interfers with our ability to help our budget along?

The people of this country can make that choice if they care so much about a law that cannot be enforced therefore is really useless.”

She was speaking recently at a press briefing along side Lord Anthony Gifford to launch an action to challenge the law overseas via the Inter American Commission for Human Rights. Can it be that they have deliberately decided not to send anyone since the issue of homosexuality will be discussed? If so that’s very cowardly.

MINISTER of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Dr Kenneth Baugh says that Jamaica “will not suffer any detriment by virtue of its absence” from the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting now on in Perth, Australia.

Baugh, responding to concerns raised by the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) on Wednesday, in a statement later that day said Jamaica’s non-representation resulted from the resignation of Bruce Golding as prime minister. Golding resigned on Sunday, hours before Andrew Holness was sworn in as the country’s ninth prime minister.

He said that it was the intention of the former prime minister to lead the delegation to the meeting and arrangements were made to facilitate the participation of the Jamaican delegation.

“The resignation of the former prime minister and hence all Cabinet ministers, inclusive of the minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade, would be at around the same time as the meeting and consequently no one would be qualified to participate at that time. The proposed date of appointment of the new prime minister and Cabinet therefore precluded arrangements being made for participation by Jamaica at that level,” Baugh explained

According to Baugh, consideration was given for the permanent secretary in his ministry representing Jamaica, but the nature of the meeting would not allow her participation in the plenary or caucuses of the Heads’ meeting.

He said a letter of apology and regrets were written to the Australian government and the Secretary General of the Commonwealth and that the Caricom Secretariat “was communicated with to convey Jamaica’s concerns about issues on the agenda, especially migration and development, which were proposed by Jamaica”.

Meanwhile Justice Minister Delroy Chuck said that any such legislative change must be driven by the public interest, “It is a matter that parliament should have the opportunity to debate, looking at the pros and cons just like the capital punishment individual parliamentarians can take a position as to whether or not it should be changed that is it should be repealed or modified as the case maybe,” he continued ” I am not too sure that the homophobia is caused from the laws, these laws have been in existence from time in memorial I think it is fear to say that um Jamaicans do not consider homosexual behaviour to be acceptable the question is whether these views can be changed over a period of time.”

The timing of all this to me is foolhardy as clearly we were not watching the political landscape on a larger scale albeit the snap resignation and unusually smooth transition of the Jamaica Labour Party’e leadership came as a ball from left field. Challenges like this usually take inordinate length of time to process and argue so we may be looking at another three to four years. If we were interested we should have launched this from way back in the Not in my cabinet rant from the previous Prime Minister Bruce Golding. I find it also very interesting that yet again no full consultation was done with the ordinary folk of the LGBT body politic and there seems to be a not a care in the world attitude about those most exposed or susceptible to homophobic violence on the ground or are they the bait to be used as martyrs involuntarily so as to make subjects for the cases to be presented? The constant lack of engagement with the general population is glaring yet still with decisions made for us by the advocates and for us to endorse them without dissent. Is it convenient not to help the most at risk MSMs in particular whilst spending millions on this action so as to present an image of doom for that group in presentations?

One wonders what have we here, when no frontline work is being done to address the homeless matter that is pressing while all eyes are transfixed on the search for superstardom supposedly at the expense of a few dutty battyman.

And to think all the other non gay allies have joined the throng while they are far removed from the real advocacy issues that attend to displaced or homeless persons.

Does anyone notice that The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays is silent on this matter/action???

Incestuous mess.

Peace and tolerance



Breast Cancer Month: A Jamaican Lesbian’s survival story …………….

(WARNING – some photos contained may be unsettling)

On the evening of October 19, 2011 at the Couture Oasis’s Open Mic Open Soul Wednesday night discussions series we were asked to invoke the presence of a Jamaican same gender loving breast cancer survivor who from the moment she opened her presentation had all wondering if she was really going through this struggle and complications with this awful disease. The picture of doom and gloom mixed with uncertainty and doubt as often marketed with cancer victims of all sorts was clearly missing from this vibrant soul. Her resilience had audience members in awe and deep appreciation and other stories from the transfixed persons came flying out as well at some points leaving many in the small air conditioned room teary eyed.

“Judy” as I shall call her for purposes of this post is in her late twenties or early thirties from as early as 2010 said she started to notice strange things happening with her right breast and especially at or around the nipple. There were leakages at some points with what appeared to be water and blood as the residue from it and this she thought was maybe she had scratched her nipple area. After seeing this for some time she decided to have a check up done but doing the tests including a mammogram nothing was found , she had repeated tests over time but still there was neither any lumps or any blots on her X-Ray results to indicate there was trouble or via self examination the few times she attempted them. It was not until a new doctor she consulted went further than just the breast itself and focused also by her underarm to her lymph-nodes and realised that her nodes had overgrown onto her breast tissue, it was then she was finally diagnosed on November 26, 2010 after repeated calls from the doctor’s office up to her due checkup date that she had Breast carcinoma, For solid tumors, stages I-IV are actually defined in terms of a more detailed staging system called the “TNM” system.

N classifies the amount of regional lymph node involvement. It is important to understand that only the lymph nodes draining the area of the primary tumor are considered in this classification. Involvement of distant lymph nodes is considered to be metastatic disease. The definition of just which lymph nodes are regional depends on the type of cancer. N0 means no lymph node involvement while N4 means extensive involvement. In general more extensive involvement means some combination of more nodes involved, greater enlargement of the involved nodes, and more distant (But still regional) node involvement. M: Metastasis M is either M0 if there are no metastases or M1 if there are metastases.

As with the other system, the exact definitions for T and N are different for each different kind of cancer. As you can see, the TNM system is more precise than the I through IV system and certainly has a lot more categories. The two systems are actually related. The I through IV groupings are actually defined using the TNM system. For example, stage II non-small cell lung cancer means a T1 or T2 primary tumor with N1 lymph node involvement, and no metastases (M0).  She was kind to provide me with some photos of the courses of treatment she underwent. (photos published with permission)

short time after surgery and stitching

 Herceptin treatment course

day 1 of draining

 day 2 of draining to remove excess liquid around the area

She took it in strides much to the surprise of her family, close friends and then partner while they in turn had great difficulty emotionally in dealing with the news, many were surprised how she was calm and in control which in the long run made the road to recovery easier for all in knowledge of her illness and drew on her strength. Her mother and father in particular were deeply affected by the news according to her. Surgery was the next move and in preparation for that she dove into attending as much entertainment gigs as possible just weeks before going under the knife then came the faithful day of December 9, 2010 where she underwent her single mastectomy and a new set of problems presented themselves almost from the get go post the breast removal, the LMA – Laryngeal mask airway was apparently absent during the session so she was not fully drained the remaining tissue area where the breast was before leaving the hospital, as in most surgeries of this nature there is the issue of liquid gathering around the area where the tissues were and she had to make repetitive visits to do the drainage procedures with some side effects such as numbness, pain from where the needles were implanted and some lethargy but the nurses and medical team again expressed surprise and some elation at how she took it, she was even considered as a model patient to others who were also doing their own courses of treatment. In April 1, 2011 she commenced chemotherapy as of course one of the first things to go was her hair but one wouldn’t recognize that it was the fault of cancer or chemo but more just her natural style. Her personality superceeds all other underlined issues  thus helping her to cope. At this point economic factors to navigate the sessions presented themselves as she required 17 injected doses of a particular treatment known as Herceptin HER2 test to determine if your cancer is HER2-positive before taking Herceptin, as benefit has only been shown in patients whose tumors are HER2-positive and there was some concern about other side effects such as the hardening of her veins and repetitive phlebotomy exercises leaving her skin marked and difficult to find new areas to puncture. Worsening of low white blood cell counts to serious and life-threatening levels and associated fever were higher in patients taking Herceptin in combination with chemotherapy when compared with those who received chemotherapy alone. The likelihood that a patient will die from infection was similar among patients who received Herceptin and those who did not.  Herceptin treatment can also result in heart problems, including those without symptoms (such as reduced heart function) and those with symptoms (such as congestive heart failure). The risk and seriousness of these heart problems were highest in people who received both Herceptin and a certain type of chemotherapy (anthracycline). Because she was diagnosed with a form of Metastatic Breast Cancer here are some quick facts about the drug/treatment/side effects.

Metastatic Breast Cancer

Herceptin has 2 approved uses in metastatic breast cancer:

  • Herceptin in combination with the chemotherapy drug Taxol® (paclitaxel) is approved for the first line treatment of Human Epidermal growth factor Receptor 2-positive (HER2+) metastatic breast cancer
  • Herceptin alone is approved for the treatment of HER2+ breast cancer in patients who have received one or more chemotherapy courses for metastatic disease

Taxol is a registered trademark of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company.

Some Infusion Reactions include

  • Some patients have had serious infusion reactions and lung problems; infusion reactions leading to death have been reported
  • Symptoms usually happen during or within 24 hours of taking Herceptin
  • Your infusion should be temporarily stopped if you experience shortness of breath or very low blood pressure
  • Your doctor should monitor you until these symptoms completely go away
  • Your doctor may have you completely stop Herceptin treatment if you have:
    • A severe allergic reaction
    • Swelling
    • Lung problems
    • Swelling of the lungs
    • Severe shortness of breath
  • Infusion reaction symptoms consist of:
  • Fever and chills
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Pain (in some cases at tumor sites)
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Very low blood pressure
  • Rash
  • Lack of energy and strength

One other issue she faced was her own constant movements during some of her sessions as this can auger negatively for any patient and can lead to punctured or damaged skin that may itch or get infected if not properly monitored. She now does her Herceptin treatment every three weeks and has subsidized the costs through insurance and other state healthcare benefits under the National Health Fund and some help from Jamaica Reach to Recovery. Treatment can run in the millions literally locally as her initial run was budgeted for over $2M. Her type of cancer as you may have gleaned is rare as her family history does not have many persons who have or had the disease, she was alone on this front. Four other members of the audience expressed their own stories of losing loved ones and are presently under pain from some sort of cancer, but mostly that of the breast, clearly there are issues of closure for some persons with cancer of any sort. Judy’s case however is a testament to survival and proof that strong will and determination can help to overcome the odds, her sister who was present in the discussion paid testament to that as she said she sometimes draws strength from Judy even though it is Judy who is ailing and she still wonders how does she do it?. Applause rang from the audience and commendations as to how she dealt with the whole ordeal and for openly sharing the information the audience ended the session which was followed by the floor opened to poetry.

God Bless Judy.

Peace and tolerance


Former British colonies to consider axing gay laws ……. please vote on the commonwealth reform petition

 Meanwhile take action by voting and sharing on Take Action’s site, here is an excerpt of the letter to your respective political leaders:


 Your Excellency, HIV remains a serious public health crisis for the Commonwealth, which comprises 30% of the world’s population but over 60% of all people living with HIV. In many Commonwealth countries an effective public health response to HIV is hindered by laws which criminalise and target groups who are particularly vulnerable to HIV. In many Commonwealth countries, populations of sex workers, injecting drug users and men who have sex with men and transgender communities have much higher HIV prevalence rates than the general population. People among these communities face significant barriers in accessing HIV programs which arise from discriminatory laws and policies and by laws that criminalise homosexuality; sexual transmission of/exposure to HIV; drug use; and commercial sex work. Women and girls are also highly vulnerable to HIV because of entrenched gender inequalities. Law reform to address the property and inheritance rights of women and girls and to strengthen violence protections can help to reduce HIV vulnerability. These laws must be reformed if the most at-risk populations are to be reached and HIV prevalence in Commonwealth countries reduced. The next meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) takes place in Perth, Western Australia on 28-30 October 2011.



CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Leaders of former British Empire countries that continue to outlaw homosexuality will be asked next week to reverse their bans in a bid to reduce their disproportionately high HIV infection rates, an official said Tuesday.

Leaders of 53 countries will meet in the western Australian city of Perth for three days in the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

The meeting’s agenda will include a recommendation to legalise homosexuality, said Michael Kirby, Australia’s representative in the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group.

Of those countries attending, 42 still outlaw homosexuality, including Malaysia, which is prosecuting its opposition leader, and many African and Caribbean countries. Host Australia and Britain itself long ago repealed their own bans on gay sex.

Kirby, an openly gay retired High Court judge, blamed the British influence on former colonies for high rates of HIV-AIDS. Most of these countries outlaw homosexual practices, which the rival French Empire legalised in 1791.

“It’s a very special British problem, and the problem is it makes it very difficult to get messages about HIV out,” Kirby told Australian Broadcasting Corp radio.

“You need to remove the criminal laws. That is what the Eminent Persons Group is suggesting at the … meeting next week,” he added.

The Malaysia-chaired 11-member advisory group was established at the last summit in 2009 to make recommendations to reform the Commonwealth’s institutions. The representatives express personal views that do not necessarily reflect the views of any government.

Malaysia’s law banning sodomy is the basis for prosecuting opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of sodomising a 26-year-old male former aide. He denies the charge.

Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations executive director Rob Lake said the Commonwealth forum represents 30 per cent of the world’s population but more than 60 per cent of HIV-AIDS cases.

He said there is evidence in Africa and elsewhere that laws against homosexuality drive gay men underground and out of reach of sexual health campaigns.

“They create a stigmatising environment in which gay men hide what they do and who they are so they don’t access diagnosis for HIV, treatment or preventative measures” such as condoms, Lake said.

The Australian government forced the repeal of the last state laws against gay sex in 1997.

All countries represented at next week’s forum are former British colonies except for Mozambique and Rwanda.

Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Former-British-colonies-to-consider-axing-gay-laws#ixzz1bFLQzjQu

LGBT History Month: Claude McKay (1890-1948): A Brief Biography



Claude McKay (1890-1948): A Brief Biography

thanks to A Student Project by Jillian Flynn             Claude McKay was born on September 15, 1890 into a large family.  His born name was Festus Claudius.  His father Thomas Francis, and his mother Hannah Ann Elizabeth Edwards had married in 1870.  Hannah gave birth to eleven children, eight lived into adulthood.  Claude was the youngest of his siblings and grew to be the favorite of his mother.  Both of Claude’s parents had experienced slavery but they still were able to maintain a comfortable household for their children. 

            Claude grew up in the mountainous area in Jamaica called Sunnyville.  He describes these surroundings in My Green Hills of Jamaica (1979) later on in life. His parents were community leaders and were known as kind and generous people.  His mother’s nickname was “Mother Mac” because she helped young women around her who had gotten pregnant out of wedlock, even though it was against her morals.  His father was the senior deacon at the church they attended.  When he was about four years of age, Claude started to attend the school at Mt. Zion at the church he attended.  After attending school here for a couple of years, Claude went with his eldest brother Uriah to be taught.  Uriah had become a teacher and was thought to be well enough educated to teach his younger brother.  This was around the time when Claude would have been between the ages of seven to nine years in age.

            Claude loved living with his brother and his wife and learned many things from his brother.  He soon began to think of reading as a form of playing.  While living with his brother he decided he would become a free thinker like his brother and to learn from experiences.  Claude’s first attempt at poetry writing was at the age of ten when he wrote for one of his school functions.  When he was fourteen he returned home to his parents.  In 1906 at the age of sixteen, he went to Kingston to study a trade that could help him get a job.  In 1907 an earthquake hit Kingston and he narrowly escaped injury when the walls of his room collapsed in on him.  The school had been reduced to a pile of ruins and he was again forced to go back home.  When he returned home he became an apprentice to a tradesman of sorts by the name of “Old Brenga.”  He was his apprentice from 1907 to 1909.  While working for Mr. Brenga he met a white man by the name of Walter Jekyll.  This man would inspire him over the next five years to become “a creative, productive, and recognized poet.” (Cooper 22)

            In 1909 Claude’s mother began to suffer from dropsy so Claude went back home to be with her and to care for her until her death on December 19 of that same year.  After her death he went back to Kingston to be by his mentor’s side.  Walter Jekyll inspired him to write in his native tongue, which seemed vulgar to Claude because of the way it sounded when spoken.  While he was in Kingston he joined the constabulatory in June of 1911, but didn’t even serve a year of his five-year term.  Walter Jekyll had helped to get him out of his term so that he could concentrate on his writing.

            In 1912 he wrote two volumes of poetry, which were Songs of Jamaica (1912) that contained fifty poems, and Constab Ballads (1912) that contained twenty-eight poems.  During this time he also published poems in the two major newspapers of the island: Daily Gleaner and Jamaica Times.  He had moved back to his hometown of Sunnyville while writing these poems and had taken up farming for several months where he found it wasn’t what suited him.  He came to Charleston, South Carolina in the summer of 1912 to attend Tuskegee College at the age of twenty-two to study agriculture.  Only staying for a short while, he soon transferred to Kansas State College in Manhattan, Kansas.  He remained here for almost two years under the guardianship of Walter Jekyll who was also his means of support.  While at Kansas State the only two subjects that he excelled in were zoology and advanced grammar.  Later on in his life he would publish an article inMcClure’s Magazine that Kansas had bored him. 

            In 1914 Walter Jekyll is thought to have sent Claude a few thousand dollars as a gift so that it would be possible for him to plan a marriage to his sweetheart Eulalie Imelda Lewars.  When he received this sum of money, he left Kansas to go to New York to arrange for his wedding to take place.  When he arrived in New York, he invested most of his money into becoming a restauranteur.  On July 30, 1914 he was married to his bride to be in Jersey City, New Jersey. He was twenty-three years old at this time and she was just a little bit younger.  After only a few months his restaurant proved to be a failure.  Six months into the New York lifestyle, Eulalie left Claude to go back home to Jamaica.  After leaving him she gave birth to their only son Rhue Hope McKay, whom Claude never saw. Later on his wife would try to reunite with her husband, but Claude had dismissed their relationship, and thought of it as a thing of the past.

            After his marriage was dissolved he went on to have a love life with partners of both sexes.  By the year 1915 he had given up the idea of going back to school and started living a rebels way of life, doing things by trial and error to find which direction he should go in life.  He didn’t go back to Jamaica during this time because of his pride and he took on several odd jobs to earn a living.  He was involved in the literary rebellion in America at this time.  The time period between 1914-1919 was a time for him to gather information for his future novels and poems.  His experiences that he had while at the jobs he acquired helped him to gather the information for many of his future works.  In October of 1917 Seven Arts Magazine published two of his sonnets: “Invocation” and “The Harlem Dancer.”  He used the pseudonym Eli Edwards, after his mother’s maiden name.  This publication was the last of this magazine due to some antiwar essays of Randolph Bourne’s that had been published in it.

            In 1917 he took a job as a dining-car waiter on the Pennsylvania Railroad, and his experiences can be seen in his novel Home to Harlem (1928). Throughout his duration as a waiter on the railway, Harlem remained his home base.  He also experimented with cocaine and opium, which is also observed in one of the scenes from Home to Harlem (1928).  In September 1918, Pearson’s Magazine published five poems and a short autobiographical statement from McKay. Claude left the railroad company sometime in 1919 and took on a factory job for a brief time in New York.  In April of this year, The Liberator printed his poem “The Dominant White.”  His friend from The Liberator, Max Eastman who was also the publisher, now took the place of Walter Jekyll in his life.  In July, The Liberatorprinted seven more poems by McKay that were about war and mob violence.  This appearance in the magazine was the beginning of his life as a professional writer.

            Claude McKay left for England in the early fall of 1919 and ended up staying for over a year and a half.  While he lived in England he went to a club called the International Socialist Club where he learned a lot about the socialist theory.  He also met his future wife, Francine Budgen, at an International Socialist Club that he attended.  In mid-September, the Workers Dreadnought reprinted a column of McKay’s poems from The Liberator’s July issue.  This would help him get recognized in England as a writer.  In January 1920, the Dreadnought published two more of his poems along with other articles that followed in the months of January, February, and April. Around this time McKay found communism to be to which he could have faith in and could also devote himself to. April would bring the meeting of Sylvia Pankhurst who played a major part in social justice for women.  He was a member of Pankhurst’s communist sect and saw the realities of international communist politics.  These meetings would lead him to doubt in the communist ideas.  In June the summer issue of Cambridge Magazine published twenty-three sonnets and other short lyrics of McKay’s.  McKay had become a part of The Workers Dreadnoughts staff, and worked with them from July through November.  During this time he wrote twenty-four articles, poems, and reviews in addition to his editorial duties.  He also attended the Communist Unity Conferences on July 31 and August 1. 

            At the end of 1920 he left England and came back to New York.  He arrived in New York in the winter of 1921 and worked with The Liberator, sharing editorial duties with Floyd Dell and Robert Minos from February until 1922.  Around September 20 he left for Russia and stayed there from 1922 until 1923.  He went there as a communist representative and was appointed the first black American delegate in congress.  He went to Berlin in the summer of 1923.  Crisis published his account of his trip to Russia.  Two publications were made, one in December of 1923 and the other in January of 1924 detailing his account of Russia.  There was also a short article that followed these publications in September.  While in Russia two works that he had written were translated into Russian: Sudom Lincha that consisted of three stories, and the treatise Negry v America (Bloom 110).  He left Berlin in October and went to Paris where he found out that he had contracted syphilis while in Berlin.  He was hospitalized and was released in good health in November 1923.  He was part of the expatriate scene while he stayed in Paris.  In December he came down with a serious case of influenza while posing nude in some art studios.  His stay in Paris lasted from late August 1923 until January 1924. Crisis published another article about Claude in April 1924.

            McKay became infuriated with Alain Locke when he published one of his poems with a changed title.  The Survey Graphic published McKay’s poem as “White Houses” instead of “The White House.”  In the spring of 1926 he landed a job working in a movie studio for Rex Ingrams.  He summarized novels that seemed like good material for conversation in motion pictures.  He was also a dancer in The Garden of Allah.  While working for Rex, he spent a lot of time in Nice associating with people, but was met with a lot of criticism about his race from many of the crewmembers.  His novel Home to Harlem (1928) was completed by the end of May 1926 but wasn’t published until 1928.  During this period of his life a man by the name of Aspenwall Bradley handled his business affairs.  In 1929 Banjo was published.  Banana Bottom in 1933 was dedicated to his earliest mentor, Walter Jekyll.

            In 1934 he returned to the United States where he spends many months in a welfare camp at Camp Greycourt, New York.  In 1935 he publishes the essay “Harlem Runs Wild.”  By 1939 he had held a job with the Federal Writers Project of the Works Progress Administration.  In this year he loses that job.  He suffers a stroke while working at a federal shipbuilding yard in 1943 and decided to move to Chicago.  By this time he has met Ellen Tarry, a Roman Catholic writer and has been very interested in the religion.  He is baptized into the Roman Catholic faith on October 11, 1944.  In 1948 he died in Chicago.  He was buried in New York after a funeral service was held in Harlem. Claude McKay was a man who believed that blacks should have an alliance with the whites, but to also have self-confidence and faith in one another (Cooper 323).  Throughout his career as a writer he always struggled to make ends meet, and was always met with someone willing to help.  Claude McKay has left his mark as one of the major artists in poetry, of the Harlem Renaissance.  After his death, Selected Poems of Claude McKay (1953) was published, along with an essay in Phylon entitled “Boyhood in Jamaica.”

Works Cited

Bloom, Harold. Black American Poets and Dramatists of the Harlem Renaissance. pp. 110-128. New York: Chelsea House Publishers. 1995.

Cooper, Wayne F. Claude McKay Rebel Sojourner in the Harlem Renaissance. New York: Schocken Books. 1987.

Giles, James R. Claude McKay. Boston: G.K. Hall & Co. 1976.

“Tell Me Pastor” on a 16yo “Caged Lesbian”



So another letter another day, see it call it expose it, wherever it is friends and this letter looks suspicious in another round of cracks of the whip in the anti LGBT arsenal, why would a 16 year old write a letter to a pastor outlining her lesbian or what seems more to be bisexual tendencies knowing fully well the answer that would come from that fraternity? and to think that naturally her mother would not approve of visitors (if they do exist) or even allow adults to come to their home and not scrutinize or interrogate at best these adults to interact in the home? Sounds far fetched to me.

No sensible parent in today’s caustic homophobic and lesbophobic Jamaica would allow that unless it is under duress as in some inner city communities where it is customary that so called “area leaders” or dons in the mainstream make advances to young girls and teenagers in the hebephelic sense for sexual favours with very little resistance from their parents or guardians. They can try to move out of the community but have to do so discreetly or it could mean trouble or death in some instance as these demands must be met. Or as is practiced in the informal transportation system on the coaster buses of school girls and older men involved in sexual activity sometimes for materialistic reasons such as a Blackberry or basic as lunch money for school, some teens are not angels but a letter to a pastor about lesbian life? this doesn’t add up.

Have a read of the piece and see if it adds up for you, I know we have been seeing previous stories and adding them but I think it is important we track and document them as the more we have is the better we can prove the successive publications and prove the trends over the years, after all we ought to have been properly tracking the previous hard copy editions as well before the advent on the online versions and those were in some instances more scaving than these later versions.

His response however this time seems a little bit more sensible than some previous ones in relation to same sex issues, he was careful it seems not to castigate her for being a lesbian or throwing the leviticusal paragraphs at her but one wonders had it been a man the subject if he would have been given the lesser wrath just the same as we know male homosexuality is frowned upon far more than same gender loving women are.

The story read:


Caged lesbian

Dear Pastor,

I am 16 and writing to tell you about a problem I am having with my mother. She doesn’t want me to speak to any man or woman. If a man or a woman comes to look for me, she says we are in a relationship. I am tired of hearing that.

I haven’t been to school since the new term because I am looking about my glasses. Because my mathematics teacher didn’t see me at school, he came to look for me to see if I was OK. When my teacher left, my mother said we were together. She doesn’t have any sense.

Pastor, I am a lesbian and I love being one. I love my life so I am living it. I also love my mother and my relatives, but I don’t want them to rule my life.

Please, tell me what you think about this.

A., St Andrew

 Pastor’s response

Dear A.,

Your mother has come to realise that you are having relations with persons of your own sex. You claim you are a lesbian, that is why when girls come to see you your mother is not happy to see them.

You should have more respect for your mother. You claim she doesn’t have any sense. I am sure you are wrong. Part of the problems you are having is that you are rude and out of order. I am sure that if you change your attitude towards your mother, you would both live harmoniously.

You are only 16 and have a lot to learn. You need guidance. I encourage you to go to church and take the minister of your church, or his wife, in confidence and ask them to help you.



My two cents continued:

Hinting however to reparative therapy at the end of the response is not surprising as he is also a Psychologist but seems not to adhere to the DSM Diagnostic Statistical Manual which is the Bible for all properly trained and practicing persons in that field which clearly advocates that homosexuality is not a mental disorder. He has recommended this to other lesbians or so called subjects who have written to him. Maybe a pastor should not take on psychology as well for a profession as clearly there are serious conflicts of interests here.

Peace and tolerance


3 more brothers displaced teetering on homelessness ………..

Originally posted on sister blog GLBTQJA on Blogger as three displaced brothers teetering on homelessness, the fire victim has since landed a job for now and is adjusting the other two gentlemen are still on the periphery.  My concerns are still there and is bothersome indeed.

So in the aftermath of the homeless MSMs second civil disobedience on August 23 and 24, 2011 at the locations of the two oldest organizations that serve or are supposed to serve this grouping who by the way now are equipped with a canine security team on the property to supposedly stop the “savages” from entering the plantation in an almost apartheid type of elitism right before our eyes news comes of more men who have sex with men who are struggling with finding a stable roof and income after falling on difficult times. Also of interest is the security detail that is on call 24 hours a day as well is still in place. The three new displacement cases are not all homophobic in origin but still makes us question who or why are we seeing so many new cases with the existing homeless populations some of whom are banned still from Jamaica AIDS Support for Life and JFLAG offices as no formal release has come to suggest same has been lifted. 

Permit me to just briefly touch on the circumstances that prevail with each case whilst thanking the persons who responded to taking them into their homes (in the case of those who were fortunate) and that audio post (see top of blog a soundcloud embedded link) where I asked if persons would do same? One brother lost his job and fell on hard times as his home on the other end of the island where he resided was destroyed by fire earlier this year he has been struggling ever since to recoup his losses and find employment. Thankfully he has been given a short stay at a friend’s house in Kingston while he actively seeks employment, we only hope he doesn’t jeopardize that kindness as we have seen in previous cases with other brothers who land in the same predicament. He had made contact with the J on the issue but has not received any positive word on any interventions yet. A special thanks to the member of the Underlined Response who also provided some temporary shelter as he was limited so to do but the young man was grateful just the same as he was able to rest and at least temporarily ease his mind. Since the original post on GLBTQJA on Blogger he has removed from that temporary stay to a flat and a new job after much toil and some assistance from friends including myself which is good news.

 Brother number two also has lost his job but has not been so lucky in getting a short stay at best as he has been bouncing here and there in the public domain. He too also has been having some difficulty securing a steady income and a roof since he had to leave the last place he rented among other things, these circumstances also are echoed in the case of the third person from this post. Both men are struggling but some of us who are concerned are limited or restricted and either do not have the accommodation to temporarily assist or are too scared to do so after being bitten with bad experiences before in the name of assistance. The former is my reason as I have moved from my old address in Kingston where I have helped persons before by providing overnight stays and a shower and so on where I could, unfortunately the landlord wanted the place for his family or so he said at the time. 

Many of the other youngings from the older population of homeless persons (some from as far back as 2009) who were involved in that infamous civil disobedience actions against the Jamaica AIDS Support and JFLAG have been getting by but just that and with the position of the Crisis Intervention Officer has been made vacant as she has left for Amsterdam under what some say is the regular use of the underground railroad system to seek asylum there maybe further ignoring or aloofness by JFLAG towards the men. New kid on the block the Underlined Response has been trying with a short term tin drive for canned items and clothing etc plus some fund raising from their recent Pride Fest event but that is far cry from what is really needed, whilst there has been complaints that the funds raised have not been handed over as yet, some of us do contribute money where possible. We need some sort of transitional housing interventions going. Again we have to bring to book the stewardship of the two aforementioned agencies that are the oldest in terms of formal outreach setups for same gender loving people yet as the oldest they have not been setting a proper example in this regard and towards this population when we knew from as early as 2007/8 of the increasing numbers of men who have sex with men tittering from displacement to homelessness and back again, especially from that private party DVD that went public and sold nationwide. After 13 years in existence being formed out of  JASL in December 1998 JFLAG was set up to not only deal with the buggery law and other legal matters with a hotline that has been defunct for more than ten years but also the frontline services that its parent could not do as it primary focus was HIV/AIDS in the mainstream but not limited to that. Bear in mind that Jamaica AIDS Support for Life JASL was founded mostly by gay men in the heyday of the AIDS epidemic in 1991, seven years later came JFLAG out of GLABCOM (Gay Lesbian Bisexual Community) which was an interface activity for Jamaica AIDS Support for Life’s targeted interventions strategy but with no real advocacy autonomy at the time to act as it was purely centered around HIV issues but the other problems were encroaching hence the other J’s formation.

If this is all we have to show from our once highly respected, trusted and vigilant advocacy structures after so many years then we are going nowhere it seems, are they suffering from burn out? but we need to do our own bit in our various quarters and build if ever so slowly, we cannot continue in this modern day and age with no radical front-line support services inclusive of psycho social interventions chief among them a resident social worker and psychologists to guide these men to the road to recovery.

Other suggestions from my standpoint include:

  • Help out where you can
  • Tell someone who you think that can assist
  • Talk to someone who falls in this category, sometimes a kind word does wonders
  • Contact new movements such as the Underlined Response theunderlinedresponse@gmail.com
  • Make contact here via lgbtevent@gmail.com
  • Start a donations drive or donate where possible to reputable persons and the UR
  • Donate via the Paypal buttons on this blog or on Gay Jamaica Watch 

We are going to have to start dealing with these issues ourselves as clearly the representatives are not interested in helping lives interrupted.

here are some hard hitting commentary and older posts on the matter from my other blogs and here

more posts to review
From the pen of one of our homeless brothers ……..

Also see other related posts

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

Settle the Score on CVM TV’s Live @ 7 (26.08.11)…the JFLAG ad campaign

Attempted censorship from the advocates towards views on the JFLAG Ad campaign??

Peace and tolerance


Minister of Justice will have last say on Cuban same-sex marriage …… but

A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann. Thanks to the Cuban connection for this press release that preceeded the transgender wedding that took place in 2011 and the events that caused it to occur. Remembering earlier this year we had seen news that gay marriage may have been legal by July but the marriages highlighted here weren’t really gay marriages weren’t they? seeing both events had persons undergoing sex reassignment surgeries to then marry.

see: Cuba may have gay marriage legal by July on Gay Jamaica Watch
The decision to green-light same-sex unions “is up to the Minister of Justice”, according to Mariela Castro Espín, director of the National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX).

“We’ll keep fighting to get an answer soon”, the sexologist said during the celebrations for the 10th anniversary of the TransCuba Group.

Legalization of same-sex marriage is one of the reforms CENESEX has been striving to include in Cuba’s new Family Code since 2007.

The issue came to the fore again recently when former CENESEX staff member Wendy Iriepa, a transgender woman who had a sex-change operation in 2007, married a gay man who is against the Center’s activity.

Iriepa quit her job as health assistant on July 7, citing “differences” with Mariela Castro regarding her new fiancé. She had decided to undergo sex-reassignment surgery a year before the Cuban Ministry of Public Health passed Resolution 126 declaring such service legal and free of charge. In early 2011, she got a whole new set of identity documents.

“I always thought the wedding of a transsexual these days would give us all an opportunity to celebrate TransCuba’s achievement together, but Wendy took that right away from us. I hope Cuban society understands that not all transgender people are the same,” Marifí Herández Lugo remarked.

CENESEX Director Castro Espín, in turn, admitted to be “very happy that she can get married with a man who seems to be the love of her life, even if he’s not exactly the straight man she expected to find. We wish her all the best, because we have worked very hard for our women’s happiness.”

In response to journalists who asked about the likely politicization of a wedding where the dissident blogger Yoani Sánchez and her husband acted at witnesses, the sexologist pointed out: “The U.S. government provides funds for LGBT groups opposed to what we do at CENESEX and smear campaigns against Cuba, and some people fall for it. They just don’t like CENESEX’s success”.

Since 1988, as a result of the Center’s efforts, 16 genital modification operations have been conducted and 3 sets of completely new IDs have been issued, out of 31 requests Cuban transsexuals have submitted to the National Commission for Transgender People’s Affairs.

The first wedding of a Cuban transsexual took place in the late 1980s, after doctors in the Island performed a successful operation on Mavi Susset or Mabi Suse, who has been married twice since then. This without any media coverage as it is understood at the time until a documentary was done on her and transgenderism in Cuba called in the wrong body – here is an excerpt of the piece

CENESEX has championed a widespread campaign to raise political awareness of, and gain respect for, people’s free sexual orientation and gender identity.

Scripps Research scientists reveal surprising picture of how powerful antibody neutralizes HIV

PGT 128

Caption: This is the PGT 128 antibody in action.

Credit: Image courtesy of the Wilson lab, The Scripps Research Institute

Usage Restrictions: None

LA JOLLA, CA, October 13, 2011 – Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute have uncovered the surprising details of how a powerful anti-HIV antibody grabs hold of the virus. The findings, published in Science Express on October 13, 2011, highlight a major vulnerability of HIV and suggest a new target for vaccine development.

“What’s unexpected and unique about this antibody is that it not only attaches to the sugar coating of the virus but also reaches through to grab part of the virus’s envelope protein,” said the report’s co-senior author Dennis Burton, a professor at The Scripps Research Institute and scientific director of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative’s (IAVI) Neutralizing Antibody Center, based on the Scripps Research La Jolla campus.

“We can now start to think about constructing mimics of these viral structures to use in candidate vaccines,” said co-senior author Ian Wilson, who is Hansen Professor of Structural Biology and member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at Scripps Research.

Other institutions in the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, and the Netherlands contributed to the research as part of an ongoing global HIV vaccine development effort.

Getting a Better Grip on HIV

Researchers from the current team recently isolated the new antibody and 16 others from the blood of HIV-infected volunteers, in work they reported online in the journal Nature on August 17, 2011. Since the 1990s, Burton, Wilson, and other researchers have been searching for such “broadly neutralizing” antibodies against HIV—antibodies that work against many of the various strains of the fast-mutating virus—and by now have found more than a dozen. PGT 128, the antibody described in the new report, can neutralize about 70 percent of globally circulating HIV strains by blocking their ability to infect cells. It also can do so much more potently—in other words, in smaller concentrations of antibody molecules—than any previously reported broadly neutralizing anti-HIV antibody.

The new report illuminates why PGT 128 is so effective at neutralizing HIV. Using the Wilson lab’s expertise in X-ray crystallography, Robert Pejchal, a research associate in the Wilson lab, determined the structure of PGT 128 joined to its binding site on molecular mockups of the virus, designed in part by Robyn Stanfield and Pejchal in the Wilson group and Bill Schief, now an IAVI principal scientist and associate professor at Scripps Research, and his group. With these structural data, and by experimentally mutating and altering the viral target site, they could see that PGT 128 works in part by binding to glycans on the viral surface.

Thickets of these sugars normally surround HIV’s envelope protein, gp120, largely shielding it from attack by the immune system. Nevertheless, PGT 128 manages to bind to two closely spaced glycans, and at the same time reaches through the rest of the “glycan shield” to take hold of a small part of structure on gp120 known as the V3 loop. This penetration of the glycan shield by PGT 128 was also visualized by electron microscopy with a trimeric form of the gp120/gp41 envelope protein of HIV-1 by Reza Kayat and Andrew Ward of Scripps Research; this revealed that the PGT 128 epitope appears to be readily accessible on the virus.

“Both of these glycans appear in most HIV strains, which helps explain why PGT 128 is so broadly neutralizing,” said Katie J. Doores, a research associate in the Burton lab who was one of the report’s lead authors. PGT 128 also engages V3 by its backbone structure, which doesn’t vary as much as other parts of the virus because it is required for infection.

PGT 128’s extreme potency is harder to explain. The antibody binds to gp120 in a way that presumably disrupts its ability to lock onto human cells and infect them. Yet it doesn’t bind to gp120 many times more tightly than other anti-HIV antibodies. The team’s analysis hints that PGT 128 may be extraordinarily potent because it also binds two separate gp120 molecules, thus tying up not one but two cell-infecting structures. Other mechanisms may also be at work.

Toward an AIDS Vaccine

Researchers hope to use the knowledge of these antibodies’ binding sites on HIV to develop vaccines that stimulate a long-term—perhaps lifetime—protective antibody response against those same vulnerable sites.

“We’ll probably need multiple targets on the virus for a successful vaccine, but certainly PGT 128 shows us a very good target,” said Burton.

Intriguingly, the basic motif of PGT 128’s target may mark a general vulnerability for HIV. “Other research is also starting to suggest that you can grab onto two glycans and a beta strand and get very potent and broad neutralizing antibodies against HIV,” Wilson said.




In addition to Pejchal, Doores, and Khayat, Laura M. Walker of Scripps Research and Po-Ssu Huang of University of Washington at Seattle were co-first authors of the study, “A potent and broad neutralizing antibody recognizes and penetrates the HIV glycan shield.” Along with Wilson, Burton, and Ward, additional contributors were Sheng-Kai Wang, Chi-Huey Wong, Robyn L. Stanfield, Jean-Philippe Julien, Alejandra Ramos, Ryan McBride, and James C. Paulson of Scripps Research, and Pascal Poignard, and William R. Schief of Scripps Research, IAVI and University of Washington at Seattle; Max Crispin and Christopher N. Scanlan of the University of Oxford; Rafael Depetris and John P. Moore of Weill Medical College of Cornell University; Umesh Katpally, Andre Marozsan, Albert Cupo, and William C. Olson of Progenics Pharmaceuticals; Sebastien Maloveste of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health; Yan Liu and Ten Feizi of Imperial College, London; Yukishige Ito of the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute in Japan; and Cassandra Ogohara of University of Washington at Seattle.

The research was supported by the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the UK Research Councils, the Ragon Institute, and other organizations.

Contact: Mika Ono
Scripps Research Institute

Paul Canning on: Why is Coca-Cola Sponsoring ‘Murder Music’?

A protest against Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of a ‘murder music’ festival in Jamaica has hit a dead end as the company has stopped negotiations with activists.

The group AIDS-Free World, as well as the veteran Jamaican activist Maurice Tomlinson, have been talking to them since ‘murder music’ was performed during the four day Coke Zero Live concert in Montego Bay, Jamaica in late April 2011.

‘Murder music’ promotes violence against LGBT people through its lyrics. It primarily comes from certain dancehall and reggae artists such as Buju Banton, Bounty Killer, Sizzla and Capleton. There has been a campaign against it since the 1990s, which has won important victories.

At the Coke Zero Live event, Sizzla performed the notorious hate anthem ‘Boom Bye Bye‘ which literally calls for the murder of homosexuals (Here is the video; Sizzla performance begins at 13.55). Sizzla is unable to find performance venues in either the UK or USA because of his reputation. In 2004, he was among a group of artists who were being investigated by Scotland Yard for allegedly inciting murder of homosexuals through their lyrics.

Tomlinson says that there is at least one documented instance in Jamaica where ‘Boom Bye Bye’ was directly linked to the murder of a gay man.

AIDS-Free World has now written to Steve Bucherati, Coca-Cola’s Chief Diversity Officer, accusing them of engaging in a “protracted but unproductive written and phone communication.”

“It is inconceivable to us that you have utterly failed to respond to our efforts to focus your attention on Coca-Cola’s indefensible sponsorship decision,” they write.

“Our patience has run out.”

Bucherati had claimed, says Tomlinson, that the company’s local staff were are not aware of Sizzla’s global reputation for inciting the torture and execution of homosexuals. He also claimed to have submitted a letter of apology to regional Jamaican newspapers, which was never published.

Bucherati, says Tomlinson, promised to submit an article to all Jamaican newspapers once the sponsorship policy review was completed, apologizing for the Sizzla concert and announcing a new corporate policy.

“The Coca-Cola Company’s sponsorship of any murder music is inexplicable. Your subsequent failure to act immediately to ensure that Coca-Cola disavowed the sort of public frenzy of homophobia whipped up by Sizzla cannot be excused,” they say.

“Months ago, you assured us that Coca-Cola had suspended all concert sponsorships in Jamaica, and had in fact undertaken a worldwide review of its sponsorship policies in all of its global markets so as to avoid another incident like the Sizzla debacle. However, you failed to commit to a timeline for this alleged sponsorship policy review, and gave us no way to gauge the review’s progress, if any has been made.”

Coca-Cola, says the letter, “has the resources and capacity to initiate and complete projects with great speed, provided that it considers them important.”

In September, Coca Cola’s CEO, Muhtar Kentwas honored at the Clinton Global Initiative for being among the first to join the 10-year-old Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS (now known as GBC Health).

Says AIDS-Free World:

“Coca -Cola hasn’t just fallen short of the voluntary corporate social responsibility ideals to which the company has committed itself under the UN Global Compact; Coca-Cola’s actions have affirmatively produced damage … Until Coca-Cola takes the lead in denouncing homophobia, and takes decisive and public action in remedy, the public will be left with the impression that The Coca-Cola Company endorses violence, human rights violations, and homophobia.”

This is what Coca-Cola is being asked to do:

1. Publish a full-page advertisement in the Sunday edition of the three major Jamaican newspapers (the Jamaica Gleaner, the Jamaica Observer and the Sunday Herald) as well as a full-page advertisement in the Western Mirror denouncing Sizzla’s homophobic performance and expressing support for sexual diversity;

2. Issue a formal statement explaining that it will no longer sponsor artists who are known to have performed and refuse to apologize for homophobic songs;

3. Include a clause in all future sponsorship agreements prohibiting homophobic speech or actions against performers, and in the event of a breach, specifying sanctions, including a termination of the sponsorship arrangement; and

4. Sponsor a concert in Jamaica devoted entirely to artists who have not engaged in homophobic slurs, and that specific condition would be the centerpiece of the advertising for the concert.
Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/why-is-coca-cola-sponsoring-murder-music.html#ixzz1afh5PVIB

UPDATE October 17 – directly on this blog this apology came from a representative:

This is Carlos from Coca-Cola. We, too, were deeply disappointed that a program intended to celebrate the heritage of Jamaica included an unacceptable performance that in no way represents the views or values of the Coca-Cola system.

Diversity is one of our key values, and we do not tolerate discrimination of any kind, including discrimination based on sexual orientation.

As a result of this regrettable incident by one artist, we are reassessing and strengthening our efforts to ensure that events we sponsor are not used as platforms for espousing hatred and discrimination. We are continuing to work with the advocacy groups that brought this situation to our attention.

We apologize to all who were offended by this performance, and we we want to ensure that our views on this incident are clear.

Carlos Diaz
Coca-Cola Caribbean

Update October 19 – the same representative wrote the Gleaner’s editor

Coke Sorry For Anti-Gay Lyrics


In response to complaints about the performance of anti-gay lyrics at the Coke Zero ‘Live on the Waterfront’ music event held in April, I would like to express our disappointment that a programme intended to celebrate the heritage of Jamaica included an unacceptable performance that in no way represents the views or values of the Coca-Cola system.

Diversity is one of our key values, and we do not tolerate discrimination of any kind, including discrimination based on sexual orientation.

As a result of this regrettable incident, we are reassessing and strengthening our efforts to ensure that events we sponsor are not used as platforms for espousing hatred and discrimination.

We are continuing to work with the advocacy groups that brought this situation to our attention. We apologise to all who were offended by this performance.


Coca-Cola Franchise

Operations Director – South