Gay & Bisexual Intimate Partner Violence, Homophobic Incidents & Crisis Communication

Crisis communications

Crisis communication is not intended to answer all questions or fill all needs it is just a basic outline of options you might consider if and when you are in the midst of a crisis and need help.

Crisis is any situation that threatens the integrity or reputation of your company or NGO, usually brought on by adverse or negative media attention. These situations can be any kind of legal dispute, and misrepresentations that could be attributed to your company. It can also be a situation where in the eyes of the media or general public your company did not react to one of the above situations in the appropriate manner. This definition is not all encompassing but rather is designed to give you an idea for the types of situations where you may need to follow a plan.

For purposes of this post the omission of same gender loving women in large part is not intentional or meant to exclude them but as there are hardly any documented records of such instances but more so on the side of MSM in my archives, men who have sex with men in the broader context. Exploitative same sex relational matters do often result in some injury from an unconfirmed standpoint when the grapevine system gets wind of them but when jealousy is the reason those conflicts tend not to often lead to a murder, it seems that there has been a preoccupation with more powerful or middle class victims whose cases are used to legitimize homophobia as if only such persons suffer same.  A discussion of sorts has carried on in response to a Gleaner letter some days ago where the writer implored LGBT persons to report incidents to predominantly JFLAG while trying to differentiate intimate partner violence from genuine homophobic cases.

There is more than enough evidence to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt homophobia in Jamaica

Here is the letter firstly: Gays Should Report Violent Encounters

THE EDITOR, Sir:

One of the more unnoticed effects of living in a heteronormative society is the lack of information on, and services for, victims and perpetrators of violence in gay relationships.

This issue is almost as taboo in the (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) LGBT community as homosexuality is in the wider society. There are already so many negative stigmas attached to gay couples that no one wants to publicly voice that there are instances of violence in many gay relationships.

In the same way that men and women abuse each other in heterosexual relationships, they abuse each other in gay relationships, too. Such violence has come to be known as intimate partner violence (IPV) and is defined as physical, sexual or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse.

Due to the nature of gay relationships, especially in Jamaica, many victims and perpetrators of such violence are reluctant to seek help or report incidents of violence in their relationships to the police. IPV can have devastating effects on LGBT people who are already prone to other types of violence at the hands of homophobic people, especially in conservative societies. Many are also reluctant to speak out about it because of the lack of shelters for victims, the general negative sentiment towards gay people, and for some, the fear of being ‘outed’ as gay.

counselling

While this fear is understandable, it is important that victims report incidents of violence, and that perpetrators seek help through counselling to reduce and eliminate IPV. I am encouraging all LGBT people to report all incidents of violence, whether as a result of bullying or IPV, to the police as well as to Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG). And I want to use this opportunity to reiterate that J-FLAG does not condone any type of violence against any person regardless of their sexual identity.

The LGBT community and allies need to be a support system for those in need – both victims and perpetrators – and encourage people to speak out against all types of violence, both in and out of relationships.

P. ANDREW, pgjen_13@hotmail.com, St James

Sadly it seems as implied in this letter a fall in reporting from persons affected by homophobic violence or is JFLAG now finally trying to get its act together when it comes to proper data collection and archiving with evidence of same. I have been openly critical of the incident reporting mechanism they had when I went there as Admin Finance Officer doubling as Crisis Intervention and the poor record keeping of files and incomplete reports of some serious incidents at times, I had to do some major overhauling of the forms and files at the time, examples include persons with injuries yet no photos, police station reports (even rejected visits or cop service number and times) or supporting pictures or documents such as receipts from clinics or prescriptions for injury treatment or dressing and drugs added to the file to make it substantive, the follow up visits that the form calls for at the end before the file is closed or handed over to the relevant person is often blank for many cases. This poor recording keeping or data collection has had and seems to continue to have a serious dent on the all important crisis communication when it comes to public advocacy.

Crisis communication is such as important piece for Jamaica LGBTQ advocacy and more details of cases (barring names or use of pseudonyms) must be brought forward. Nearly 80% of the clients I interviewed who came into the JFLAG office to file reports the session(s) were recorded on audio, unfortunately those were lost as my successor I gathered did not monitor the files and the systems crashed with the files lost forever, so much for simple good administration.

The cynicism and disbelief from anti gay groups, religious fanatics and even legislators is clear over the years with support from media, public commentators and even the police high command dismissing prominent cases as lovers’ quarrels and these major cases are used to justify dismissing any others that have a homosexual involved while not taking into account every case on its own merit. The deceptive use of non homophobic cases by some LGBT lobbyists over the life of the struggle has not helped any either as it only seeks to reinforce the resolve by anti gay voices as we are viewed as liars when such public agitation takes place. Uncompleted court cases for example that of the John Terry matter from 2009 though the stalling at the preliminary hearing level has already revealed some familiarity with the accused and the deceased despite a note was left suggesting death for homosexuals, alleged used condoms were also said to have been found in the home, whether they have evidence of the persons therein is still unclear. The Dean Moriah matter as well sadly who was murdered earlier this year yet long before the investigations were completed some overseas based advocates rushed to judgement and paraded the matter as a homophobic incident even as the trial creeps in our court system, by the time the police high command responded the blanket dismissal of homophobic killings was the subtext of the response hence implying dishonesty by LGBT advocates and a feeling that Jamaica has been falsely labelled as homophobic.

see: September 18 for Dean Moriah Matter 

The mistrust of local advocates I fear still seems to exist in some 7 reports I have received by phone, social media and through other groups when persons are asked to engage JFLAG for example persons simply refuse and even go as far as to label the group as classist and not interested in assisting certain types of persons or feeling that their matter won’t be dealt with as they think it should. This mistrust challenge has been a concern from long before my time at the entity as while there I had a serious task gaining the trust of persons to release their inhibitions and make their reports, this leads to gross under-reporting. This is where our same gender loving sisters come in where there is a feeling that JFLAG is only for males and hence many women who are the subject of abuse, violence (corrective rape) and increasing forced evictions do not come forward.

Exploitative same sex relations as hinted above are also of significant import as men who do not identify as “gay” in the Jamaican context as “bad man” feel threatened in some way as the description (fear of feminization of any sort) for some and power differentials that obtain in this unions of sorts played out in violence for purposes of control. A constant in most of the cases over the years is the class issues right before us, there is usually a middle to high income or relatively comfortable gay man who ends up being the deceased versus a hyper-masculine type from the lower socio economic classes who often do not take any personal items of the victim after the fact and sometimes ends up using the gay panic defence strategy to suggest some sort of implied sodomatical attack to justify the self defence response to kill the person. These same hyper-masculine types have a real fear of exposure in their own class or community so the relations with other more powerful or resourced men is crucial which is also pegged on the belief gay men are more resourced and will pay for such sexual relations.

There maybe is some truth to that as to maintain stealth/secrecy some exchange may occur but the misogynistic view pegged to masculinity by Jamaican standards men do not want to feel subservient to another or in a weakened position so when something changes in that union riddled with a constant power struggle (the so called monied or resourced gay man controlling the union or sex versus the masculine prowess of the hyper-masculine brother maintaining his ground) leads to some violence as the lower resourced man responds the way he knows how that is violence as we are well taught in Jamaica so to do. Any form of disrespect is often met with a violent reaction and seeing that gay men aren’t seen as real men by general social standards the aggressor feels justified in carrying out the attack even using homophobic slurs in doing so despite the intimate familiarity between the parties. These types of cases have factored in the public domain more so than others especially owing to the fact that the victims are prominent citizens or foreigners such as UK Consul John Terry or local Ambassador Peter King, Julius Nelson (son of oppositions spokesman on National Security Dwight Nelson),

Philanthropist, community legend and party promoter Michael Melbourne victim of a trick by a hyper-masculine type
Philanthropist, community legend and party promoter Michael Melbourne victim of a trick by a hyper-masculine type

Micheal Melbourne (community influential) murdered at his apartment on Worthington Avenue or Brian Williamson whose killer “Wingee” was a part of the MSM population who also died in his own apartment. The Brian Williamson case though the motive turned out not to be a homophobic one directly the response from the public is where the evidence is strong of the homo-negative feelings that run in the Jamaican psyche, persons literally rejoiced the morning outside the building as the undertakers and police cordoned off the area to collect the body and process the crime scene. Most of those cases above have remained in the public domain for so long while not having direct homophobic causations that they inform how members of the public judge new cases as non homophobic matters.

“Steve” Lenford Harvey matter just ended with sentencing shortly but the motive is still a bit unclear as robbery seems as the original causation but upon discovery of photos on a laptop it morphed into something else with an added homophobic feature. Also see: 2 Found Guilty Of The Murder Of AIDS Activist, Steve Harvey, Sentencing September 26

Gully Queen
Transgender murder victim “Gully Queen” whose case was labelled as a homophobic case …. misdirected homophobia towards a gender non-conformist should be the correct sub-text in describing this one I suggest

also see: Female cisgender imperative thwarted: 17 year old pre-op transgender woman murdered

The Dwayne Jones murder mistmatch in its reporting has not helped either as (s)he was a transwoman but mistakenly took for a gay man crossed dressed in  a public space with a deceptive motive to trick straight males at an outdoor entertainment event in a rural district. Some activists said he was gay and used that to justify the public advocacy while others said the correct gender identity which confused some folks so some Jamaicans and public commentators simply dismissed the whole as a another gay deception with a satisfactory outcome believe or not.  The outrage that was to have been displayed was not evident except by sections of the LGBT populations.  A recent television special one year since the murder shows up the carelessness frankly of Gully Queen herself and friends that faithful night but who is going to say it openly? that in a sense she gave her own life away in a sense as they clearly thought they understood how to “pass” in public which clearly they didn’t.  See that documentary HERE …….. Host Dionne Jackson Miller takes a look at the issues of the murder of Dwayne Jones aka Gully Queen one year ago and some other related issues to do with homelessness, displacements and forced evictions of LGBT youths with guests, issues to do with passing in public, honesty & integrity about one’s real gender scream for attention in this presentation which warrants better programs from LGBTQ advocacies & interventions specific to transgender individuals navigating public life in Jamaica as misdirected homophobic violence can lead to more incidents such as the tragic murder of Gully Queen,

Other genuine cases also having persons of lesser ilk have not been put to good use to prove the active homophobia in Jamaica when it occurs in more meaningful ways, the cross dresser beating in Trelawny have been overplayed that it has no impact anymore in a sense, the JFLAG listing of cases it did some years ago only show numbers, no outcomes in terms of which were solved. There are several other cases that can be made to help the public to differentiate genuine crimes with a homophobic motive versus crimes of passion as the others are called by detractors.  Cases such as the Manchester mobbing in January 2008 comes to mind complete with photos I took of the victim when I took the report, the lesbian picketing matter in St Catherine some years ago also has photos, the stabbing incident of a transman in Half Way Tree in full view of persons is also another with strong evidence. He now resides in Canada.

LGBT History - Hated to Death Report 2004, Human Rights Watch
Now deceased man who was chopped in Trelawney in November 2002 and featured in the Human Rights Watch Report “Hated To Death” 2004

There are several points reports can be made:

The Police in some instances do take reports the problem is there are still old feelings of hate and stereotyping in the force that needs removing.

Aphrodite’s P.R.I.D.E Jamaica catering to lesbian, transgender and bisexual persons but does engage MSM via crisis intervention and has aided persons in resolving matters.

GLBTQ Jamaica of which this blog is apart continues to receive, engage persons and make referrals to those who make reports or know of incidents for the past 7 years via yours truly, Tel: 1-876-813-4942

I still recommend JFLAG despite their issues.

Quality Citizenship Jamaica, QCJ which is a lesbian, bisexual women entity more so for advocacy but they do some crisis intervention.

Peace and tolerance

also see more crisis communication related posts from sister blogs:  So Dean Moriah’s murder was NOT a homophobic killing ……. ethical issues in advocacy arise yet again

Gay Lobby May Have Lost Potential Allies (Gleaner Letter) Indeed

NO GAY RAGE – Homosexuals Are Not Targeted For Violent Crime, Say Experts

Gleaner claims new backlash towards the gay lobby due to MSM homelessness in Kingston

Jamaica Observer deliberately aiding the further discrediting of the remaining LGBTQ credibility in public advocacy……

Police crack College of Agriculture, Science and Education lecturer murder

Betty Ann Blaine on the big gay lie ..

Betty Ann Blaine on Poverty, children and the Buggery Law …. and that awful confusion of homosexuality with pedophilia 

Questions on murder/buggery case in court

The failure to address or tweak the crisis communication aspect of public advocacy is what has slowed our progress greatly in public advocacy that could have been made.

H

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Young MSM/Transgender want to be treated as citizens not potential HIV/AIDS victims

More and more I seem to be coming across young gay, transgender and bisexual youth who feel weary it seems from the over supply of pinch leave an inch condoms, pamphlets and paraphernalia on safer sex and AIDS and other related materials as multiple agencies jostle to reach what has basically become the same cohort on the face of it of males for the most part in the quest for HIV prevention but where are the more meaningful outreach and interventions for holistic development and nurture?

Some in the know may say that funding is hardly available for those kinds of developmental work (which maybe true in a sense but still sounds more like an apology for slackness and maintaining the old status quo) and indeed the more cynical would go as far as to say it is not the agencies involved best interest to do or offer such meaningful interventions as that will diminish their cohort of potential service users and thus nothing to report hence no need to prepare programs only to seek future funds, after all agencies exist to supposedly help but how many persons are actually being helped or impressive success stories to prove same while old narratives are still being used to suggest that gay/bi men do not have access to safer sex implements which is a lie.

CVM Newscast of the Cargill Avenue eviction where the truckmen/movers found and commented on the condoms they found
CVM Newscast of the Cargill Avenue eviction where the truckmen/movers found and commented on the condoms they found

also see: Homeless MSM/Trans youth draw attention in New Kingston

Homeless MSM having their version of fun recently by the infamous Gully nearing  the Island Car Rentals office
Homeless MSM having their version of fun recently by the infamous Gully nearing the Island Car Rentals office
From the Millsborough Avenue embarrasing eviction of some of the homeless MSM/Trans persons last year, condom wrapper is clearly visible
From the Millsborough Avenue embarrassing eviction of some of the homeless MSM/Trans persons last year, condom wrapper is clearly visible
More condom wrappers indicating that the men are only seen as HIV Prevention targets, what about other developmental work?
More condom wrappers indicating that the men are only seen as HIV Prevention targets, what about other developmental work?

The complaints and reports still come almost on a monthly basis these days of some homo-negative outcome somewhere on the island and the phone calls of requests for money or some form of assistance are growing in frequency too as economic issues abound. There agencies that run and managed by powerful gay persons who have the clout to solves this long standing matter of displacements seeing we have both hard and anecdotal evidence that tells us in no uncertain terms that those are visible consequences of stigma, homophobia and homo-negativity.

Take for example this flashback: UNIMPRESSED WITH THE CVM TV SHOW ON MSM HOMELESSNESS

The September 6th 2012 appearance of representatives from The National Council of Drug Abuse and AIDSFREEWORLD’s Maurice Tomlinson to address the recent public eviction of homeless MSM from Cargill Avenue was at best damage control to another embarrassment regarding the poor response from the relevant LGBT agencies. JFLAG WAS NOT PRESENT AT THIS CVM TV LIVE @ SEVEN Program The attempt to use old programmatic language by Maurice Tomlinson to suggest MSM have no access to condoms while the CVM newscast itself showed the movers holding the condoms in their hands they found on the site and saying the men were practising safer sex should be instructive to ALL in view.

Young gay men as indicated above are also becoming weary of the way they are viewed despite the aforementioned concerns in a group session over the past week some young men some of whom were teetering on homelessness were invited to a meeting called by a community influential who is concerned about the numbers of them on the streets mostly from Kingston, Portmore and Spanish Town (excluding the five who are helped by a church/LGBTQ group in an ongoing weed whacking project) where they aired some issues they had it was instructive that some of them had a barrage of condoms on their person and laughed at the exposure of them as they accidentally fell from a bag of one of the attendees. He joked “All dem do a full mi up wid boots” (all they do is full me up with condoms) “boots” is the colloquial expression for condoms but something happened after the initial laughter died down as it seems the realization that they were having trouble finding permanent shelter or other crisis issues ongoing were real and that “boots” cannot be a solution whenever they are met by the various outreach teams as part of the HIV prevention strategy. The homeless men for example who have been making the news in New Kingston have been receiving food items once a week but is that enough? They too have had loads of condoms thrown at them as we have seen repeatedly on the television newscasts and other videos covering them. What about the deeper issues and personal concerns they have. The men in the meeting of which I was present were asked to fill out a random list of what they require and their lists read as a call for items and things you and I may have probably not considered important as we enjoy those amenities or interactions on a daily basis and indeed take them for granted. The simple lament by the boots carrying man screams far more than just the obvious since they fell in such a great numbers, one could easily count thirty or so. The conversation continued after the list creation exercise and what came out was a stunner to me despite my knowledge of how some persons feel about the whole scenario as older displaced men in time have echoed a similar sentiment with some level of frustration.

The ideal scenario would be a meeting place for group session and support meetings

Steady supply of food cooked or uncooked

Shelter and some sort of transitional living program towards independence

Educational or skills building opportunities

Guidance on developing and executing life plans through self efficacious activity not just limited to HIV prevention

Exploring the arts and possible skills linked to cross dressing aesthetics and affinity to cosmetics (drag culture, forced feminization and female cisgenderistic presentations for male to female transgender persons in the group)

But by the sound of the lament and the subsequent tete a tete the men are not satisfied; theirs is a perception that more privileged homosexuals control tons of money in funding and that the money is being spent on non essential things such as court cases, fat cat salaries and perks while persons who are on the lower socio totem pole are just relegated to being “victims” or service users and nothing more, doomed to get HIV (if they do not have it already) or waiting to die. Such were the tones in the ensuing discourse. Recent history has unfortunately given some credence to these perceptions as feelings of abandonment of the aforementioned homeless men in New Kingston still linger from the repeated news headlines, shenanigans and police interventions of that population and believe me word travels whenever there is any such occurrences. The men in the long and short of it want to be seen as human beings that deserve respect as one older person claims that there is favouritism as well in how interventions are carried out by some agencies and their representatives. Why are some powerful advocates and personalities in HIV/MSM prevention in particular refusing to go this route of real life changing intervention rollouts is still not clear to some, the departure of a Board Chair of Jamaica AIDS Support for Life also has not gone down so comfortably with myself and others as her stance on homelessness was supportive for the most part despite the run-ins with the men and the stoning incidents on their former offices at Upper Musgrave Avenue yet by the soundings out there one particular former chair but who still sits on the bench has been haggling against any such proactive moves to address homelessness which does not surprise me as he was the chair when the Safe House Pilot was closed with no psycho-social interventions allowed to stop the “bad behaviour” that was used a justification to take such final actions on a needed project.

My part in the whole affair however was to offer some encouragement to the lads in the scheme of things especially owing to the fact that one of the men’s friends was hospitalised recently for a brief illness but how can words heal when the real life toughness abounds and affect their present reality? Then we turn around and wonder why the anti social behaviours are happening when it is obviously clear to those looking that such are only means to an end to forget if only for a fleeting moment the worries of the hour. It is also interesting that as a group the men are indeed “rowdy” (word used by voices in the gay lobby to describe them also “maladjusted miscreants” showing the elitist side to this) but as individuals is it amazing what comes flying out of them in a one on one session discussing real life matters yet they are for all intents and purposes made to become martyrs in a sense for a cause that they might not have subscribed to in ordinary circumstances when asked to do so. Leaving them out in the cold for so long seems unethical on the face of it then allowing the numbers to reach levels where they can be used and paraded as “concerned” advocates make themselves look good in coming to their rescue. We are not fooled by the deception but let us see how long the using will take place and if really any proper productive end will come of the recently announced shelter idea, yet another one.

Some indigenous groups such as the aforementioned St Catherine weed whacking project group, Colour Pink (aligned to the aforementioned JASL) and Aphrodite’s PRIDE Jamaica of which I am performing Outreach and Facilitation duties for their Enterprise Training Project for more stable formerly displaced MSM/Trans and Lesbian individuals are addressing in their own way psycho-social issues and other concerns such as jobs and education development but we know where some of the blame of all this lies at the feet of these same agencies who only do enough to look as if they are addressing some issues but not with a view to adequately address what they take on only for the interventions to last out for experts have jobs it seems. Others seem more interested in media whoring possibly to satisfy a narcissistic complex at the expense of the least amongst us and then we wonder why we are here with an exploding displaced and homeless grouping and advocacy in limbo in the face of steady HIV/AIDS infection rates in the MSM cohort.

The APJ training for example we stay far away as a possible from an over preponderance of HIV messaging and instead go for positive reinforcement in terms of identity, coming out and so on.

Some things to think about but who is brave enough to say it openly when their snouts are in the troughs?

Integrity in advocacy anyone?

Peace and tolerance

H