JFLAG’s needs to accept some responsibility for the Trafalgar Murders ….. homelessness not properly addressed

Calls on the PM to act despite her seemingly tolerant stance especially in today’s economic reality with austerity and political careers on the line are certainly going to be ignored, sorry but that is the reality in my view well crafted press releases and letters to the editor as the one in today’s Jamaica Observer without any serious interventions in the very community it says it represents is so evidencial of the lack of interest in addressing lgbt homelessness and displacement overall over the 14 year plus life of the J. Where are the residential/rehabilitation typed facilities for the homeless and displaced sections of the lgbt population that are urgently needed, why did we have to wait till a murder makes mainstream news to finally hear from JFLAG on such issues?  In as far as a timeline we saw this matter of homelessness during my more active times on the streets especially in the younger msm populations explode in 2007 and after due to a party dvd that went public thus exposing many persons who had to flee their communities to Kingston predominantly as the event took place in St Ann at the time, two persons were said to have lost their lives soon after due to the exposure.

The very title of the press release and subsequent letter GAYS SADDENED BY RECENT MURDERS, CALL ON PRIME MINISTER TO ACT suggests a kind of aloofness as if JFLAG is not a homosexual representative group, after all the use of the word “Gays” usually connotates a kind of contempt from homophobes or persons on some anti gay agenda or separatism, why use that in addressing this emotive matter? the section that described the group as “these people” is a bit troubling to me. No political party is going to take on that right now as was hinted to by a member of parliament (see PNP’s Damion Crawford says it’s highly unlikely buggery review will happen …….. it’s not important now he concludes) as far as I am concerned we will have to address our issues ourselves for now with all the access to resources we have especially in the programmatic arenas and again I ask where are the behaviour change experts in the field?

Police investigators at the crime scene on Trafalgar Road in St Andrew the morning of June 13th. – Norman Grindley

All this madness happening in pride month makes me wonder what is there to be proud of at this juncture of our history?

Here is the Observer letter that was published today:

Gays call on PM to listen to their cries

Dear Editor,

The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community is deeply saddened and concerned by the recent murders of gay men within the last three months. We, the community and allies, send our condolences to the loved ones, friends and families of these people.

We are concerned about the high levels of crime and violence across Jamaica. We condemn these and other grotesque murders of people, which continue to threaten peace, citizen security and justice in Jamaica.

Members of the LGBT community have reported to J-FLAG that eight gay men have been murdered within the last three months bringing to the fore the reality that despite progress towards greater tolerance, the LGBT community continues to be at great risk of violence.

Among the most recent attacks against the gay community was the savage killing of two young men. The men were apparently brutally murdered with blunt instruments in the vicinity of the intersection of Trafalgar Road and Lady Musgrave Road. People who are homeless frequented this area. Among them are young gay men who have been made homeless because of the continued intolerance of homosexuality in Jamaica.

While the motive for these latest senseless killings remains unclear, we expect that the government and police will thoroughly investigate all crimes, thereby mitigating their impact on all Jamaicans, regardless of socio-economic status, disability, health status, sexual orientation or gender identity. We stand ready to partner with the police to bring justice and respect to those whose right to life has been violated.

We also ask the Jamaican public and media to allow the police to conduct their investigations and resist the urge to judge the victims or the motive of their deaths. Let us instead recognise the inherent dignity of every person and respect that should be accorded to every living being while demanding the same justice for these men that we all deserve.

We call on the prime minister and the ministers of national security and labour and social security to listen to the cries and needs of members of our community who continue to be subjected to discrimination and violence, have nowhere to live and no food to eat because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

As we work collectively towards achieving Vision 2030, we invite all Jamaicans to embrace our common humanity and demonstrate respect for the lives of all people as we help make Jamaica, the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.

Dane Lewis

 

Executive Director, J-FLAG

 

PO Box 1152

 

Kingston 8

 

admin@jflag.org

ENDS

I hope that this murder is NOT paraded as a homophobic murder by the establishment as it is not as the alleged killer is also a member of the community. Intra and Inter community reasons are said to be the cause here with homelessness playing a major role.

Albeit the closure of the Safe House Pilot Project which was set up by a previous Executive Director of JFLAG’s parent Jamaica AIDS Support for Life, JASL still has a bad taste in many person’s mouths including the very men at the time who were made homeless again for reasons among which was the so called bad behaviour of the very men who were housed therein in 2010. JFLAG during the tumultuous time said or did nothing to stop the subtle eviction as one would have expected from any independent non aligned advocacy structure would have done on behalf of its representative groups that is claims to speak for. Fast forward to June 13 and all the mess and fallouts and even other deaths not so reported by the mainstream press in between as these two victims have recieved, it took this for JFLAG to finally talk about homelessness? while pretending to be so concerned about the group when bloggers, other activists, influentials and even other NGOs have been questioning over the years since the closure of the Safe House Project aforementioned where is the group during the struggles of the men to survive on their own despite their “bad behaviour?” especially the fact that the men were not far away from the offices of the organization whilst attacks, chases and beatings persisted with very little concern shown.

Let us also not forget: Rowdy gays banned by J-FLAG, JASL ………

Yes there is some truth that the men do call unto themselves uneeded heat as they can be loud and extraverted especially the effeminate members of the population which has led to some homo-negative press and homophobic violence but aren’t the two organizations above equipped with qualified behaviour change experts who ought to have at least understood anticedences when it comes to “bad behaviour hence leading to proper interventions?”

Why did we have to wait until two young promising lives are snuffed out before we see some media shenanigans from JFLAG? these two brothers were younger members of the displaced community who were alleged to be involved in commercial sex work as well. It smacks of a kind of opportunistic activity here by the J to use this issue as it has with other media episodes on LGBT life to present itself as concerned when the realities clearly indicate otherwise.

Why are most things just a press release or a set of letters to the editors and very little grass roots work to address inter and intra community issues?

Let us not forget the politics surrounding the two organizations named and the interior set up, it is important to note that they are all interlinked hence the description coined by some as the incestuous mess, could this be another reason why we can’t see any proper interventions to address homelessness separate and apart from the seemingly manufactured excuse that both groups do not have the resources to do that kind of work not to mention the apologists who are quick on the draw since these two murders and some question of accountability being brought into the subsequent discourse on social media and on the party scenes.

The other issue as well that the J has been getting some flack whether it knows it or not is the matter of gay for pay as alleged in another gruesome murder of a community member just a day before the Trafalgar matter where some have been asking where is the presence on the ground in knowing community members and or at least the cruising communities so as to identify and if not have preemptive workshops on how to negotiate sex with the hypermasculine DL segment of the MSM populations. Certainly JFLAG and other representative groups need to step up their game this is not the late nineties when the community was gullible and hid behind the body as it spoke on our behalf supposedly, things and times have changed drastically some for the better some for the worse and the representation needs to change with it while becoming really effective and not just a press release factory in what some say is a kind of intellectual duplicity.

JFLAG (and its affiliate Jamaica AIDS Support for LIFE) needs to accept some responsibility in the Trafalgar murders, simply put it has failed miserably in addressing homelessness and displacement especially in the last two plus years since the closure of the pilot Safe House Project, it kept disturbingly quiet when the ultimatum was issued and project was closed and the first of two civil disobedience actions by the men although it was clear the men in the shelter at the time would have been made homeless yet again coupled with new additions as more young msms become displaced hence homeless afterwards due to forced evictions and homophobia, not to mention the use of the very space that was the shelter to become the J’s present office. It cannot function independently of JASL or even the sister group Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition as the principals of these two groups have some connection to the J in some instances showing clear conflict of interest so matters that are deemed not important in their eyes at the time just simply do not get attended to, a fact known to many who have gone through the systems. The belief or perception also that the “bad behaving men” are somehow unworthy of any serious support is tacitly supported by the J it seems as they are silent as per usual on matters of homelessness except one sluggish radio interview in 2011 in radio Jamaica’s Beyond The Headlines where the group’s Executive Director then alongside the current ED of Jamaica AIDS Support for Life tried to paint a picture as if they tried other programs such as a gardening project to which the men barely responded, this suggests to me a mindset that the men must accept any little thing that is handed to them no matter how insignificant or paltry it may seem but the question comes again where are the behaviour change experts who know that this population needs more than just a handout or patchwork half house typed facilities without the proper basic psycho social support?

To suggest that it cares about the plight of persons despite socio economic status smacks on a kind of hypocrisy that exists overall in the LGBT community, we know fully well the elitism and classism that runs counter to all that is to be wholesome and these factors even affect how business is done, the vast majority of activists in its midst have never been exposed to the real life issues surrounding stigma and especially displacement/homelessness so they do not exert any willingness to engage such populations, as one community member said it recently near the murder site educated upper middle income folks speaking on behalf of ordinary people …………. this suggests a disconnect in my view, a problem that must be addressed if there is to be any movement in real grassroots work amongst the least of us.

Many persons including myself would love to support any properly thought through and laid out programs to address homelessness in particular but given just some of the challenges as hinted to above how can we get there without some serious paradigm shifts happening? ……………… while our brothers (and sisters as the case maybe) languish and suffer sometimes in silence, if this matter did not get the media spotlight we probably would not have heard a thing from the J, apart from the 8 persons tragically taken from us since this year some of which have made mainstream news there were two other murders in the New Kingston area as well at the other base where substance abusers and homeless persons also use, this was confirmed just days before the Trafalgar matter made news but was not highlighted in the press.

see more on that HERE: Homeless population continues to spiral ….. and Murder, Homelessness and fallouts …………….

Other community influentials have become weary as well due to all the issues surrounding the men over the years so they too have contributed to the aloofness towards to populations, the scholarship program started by some have since wained and the feeding programs have died in the water, the recent Green Gables troubles with the subsequent mobbing in front of the popular theatre and the added Chicken n Things incident has not helped any. The murder also of one of the private donors towards some support for those who want to return to some sort of schooling has greatly affected what little avenue was available to assist if not one member of the group.

So much to ponder on regarding our homeless populations and where to go, the ethical and moral considerations are not too far behind, if we are to be credible with all the letters, thesis, scholarships and impressionable radio interviews will all be for naught if we do not treat with balance the real marginalized amongst us, how can we ask for tolerance from the mainstream when we are so contemptuous of our lesser populations, we already have enough on our plates from the anti gay establishments then this towards our own?

here is a synopsis in audio:

Peace and tolerance

H

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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.

2 thoughts on “JFLAG’s needs to accept some responsibility for the Trafalgar Murders ….. homelessness not properly addressed”

  1. Profound and yet disturbing I have always have reservation about JFLAG how can you closed the drop in centre and then used it for a posh JASL office? Mafia ruling with a iron fist is what they are, they have way too much power and no accountability They travel to exotic places stayed in fancy Hotels at the expense of donated funds and are comfortable within themselves while MSM are displaced and homeless and as a result murdered by the way side while they sit in their high back chairs and do nothing of uttermost importance for those MSM who are less off.

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