‘Taboo Yardies’ director wants conversation on homosexuality

by Geisha Kowlessar from the Trinidad Guardian

At the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival to be held in September the documentary Taboo Yardies will be shown. Although it was filmed in Jamaica, director Selena Blake is confident it would send a clear message to citizens of T&T. Blake was one of the hundreds of delegates manning information booths yesterday at the Washington Convention Centre during the 19th International Aids Conference.


“The documentary deals with homophobia in Jamaica and will be shown on September 23,” said Blake. “The documentary is like a cookie-cutter in that you can use and relate it to Trinidad and all the other Caribbean countries, because homophobia is homophobia…it is intolerance towards that someone that’s different.”


She added that while there may be Trinidadians and Tobagonians who may not agree with the documentary, she hoped the majority would stand up and applaud her work. “I don’t have any preconceived notions. I know there are going to be people who would say, ‘I hate this film,’ but I hope the majority of them stand up and applaud and understand …but whatever I get, I welcome it, because it is about bringing awareness and having a conversation. Homosexuality is there, but nobody talks about it, and this does not mean it is going to go away, because it’s not.”


Blake added that many of the other themes could also be related to T&T, as the documentary seeks to capture a wide audience. “Because even though Trinidad is less intolerant than Jamaica, there is still a level of hostility towards the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community. It is a matter of educating people (to) understand we all have the right to exist on this planet, regardless of your sexual orientation, colour or religion,” Blake said.


Blake said the concept of Taboo Yardies gives a voice to those Jamaicans and by extension those in T&T who dare to speak up and out about the intolerance and violence towards LGBT people, particularly as they pertain to an individual’s human rights. In Jamaica as in T&T, Blake said, it was integral to find a “space where we respect each other.”


“We have to really think about…what if you were gay, black or white? How would you like to be treated? So it goes back to humans rights, racism and all of that. We really have to step back for a moment and ask ourselves if that was your child, or that was you, how you would like to be treated,” she added. Religion is also a key factor which has sparked heated debates on homosexuality, she said.


“We talk about religion and we base homosexuality as being an abomination, but at the end of the day God is love, and who gives you the right to judge? Who died and made you God?”



About Selena Blake

Selena Blake was born in Kingston, Jamaica. She grew up in Old Harbour, St Catherine, the youngest of six girls. In 1979, she migrated to New York with her mother, and finished her education there. Her first big break came as a model. Blake thereafter became interested in film, and had small roles in such films as Third Watch, Changing Lanes, and The Best Man.


“We hope Taboo Yardies becomes a vehicle that spurs an open an honest conversation that ultimately promotes respect and tolerance for all people regardless of sexual orientation,” Blake said.


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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