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

Advertisements

Homeless impatient with agencies over slow progress of promised shelter

December 19th saw two Christmas treats hosted for sections of the Kingston homeless, displaced and dislocated men who have sex with men grouping the main one was executed by a young turk with his new Yardieboiz Foundation and a hastily joined Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays, JFLAG after he floated his idea to do so in what was to have been some appeasing to settle the very tense relationship between the men and the agency coupled with the battyman entitlement phenomenon that has plagued such agencies and that of Jamaica AIDS Support for Life’s property for years where such persons with that agenda who enter therein those properties feel they must be treated with urgency and they being the community male gay and bisexuals make demands or even break the guidelines set as to how to access such properties, a fact that has also plagued the men for years leading to the seeming non interest by the agencies in addressing the social justice matters chief among them welfare and psycho-social concerns.

With the recent public spectacle yet again via television of the member of parliament having to remove the men from another section of New Kingston with state resources, upset residents spoke their minds, on the same clips and the men also were given their chance to explain themselves in a sense in at least one report via Television Jamaica, TVJ this was of course not after two heated exchanges and almost violent attack allegedly by a few of the men towards the person in the form of the female reporter one Miss Darah Smith of TVJ who threatened to report the matter to the police I was able to confirm.

see: Kingston Homeless MSM Evicted (yet again) with the video

She carried out her duties anyway as a journalist and filed her report which was carried on December 6 and posted as an entry on my sister blog GLBTQJA on blogger that was recently opened. This is the side of the matter that has irked many thus the homeless MSM have lost support over the years due to outburst such as those described with many community and others persons saying they do not deserve any assistance. Many influentials have given up as they cannot cope and do not have the expertise to engage the behavioural problems, numbness to authority and discipline. Yet agencies gave media interviews giving the impression that they are doing work with the men, who can forget the television Jamaica, TVJ ones especially with fortunately a member of parliament, a police Superintendent and a reformed New Kingston Civic Association who before were very homophobic but now open for dialogue and with all those positive variables in place to make the process and dialogues far more lucrative for all involved we were told that a shelter was in the making so much so that a town hall meeting was held though sparsely attended by the LGBT community on November 7, members of the community consisting of other stakeholders and even the men themselves  (maybe reflecting how persons feel towards the men and their issues) where a shelter structure and indeed a space was supposedly identified to be opened on December 1. The promised documents of the assessments in response to a set of questions I posed on the types of interventions to be used are yet to come to hand.

As it turns out the identified space was not confirmed and the negotiations fell through between JFLAG and the lawyers for the property with zoning and other challenges presenting themselves so the idea was scrapped thus leaving the men out of luck, some of whom we do not know maybe engaged in this new pilot project which is to last for three months, we can conclude the announcement of the shelter was premature.  The previous Safe House Pilot that was closed is basically to be reopened in other words, a project if allowed to have continued back then in 2009/10 when it was dubiously closed would have taught us many things including the behavioural challenges those of us knew of for years and the previously mentioned battyman entitlement phenomenon as well. A recent stoning incident at JASL’s offices with some of the men clashing with staff who would occasionally use their offices to fetch water is one such reminder of that problem, a fight between a alleged staff member of JFLAG and one of the leading homeless men after the World AIDS Day function at JASL is also another reminded of how this thing can get out of hand but how one engages such a problematic population is also a factor in all this, as far as I am concerned and indeed some others that’s a major part of the problem but the agencies feel justified in putting their foot down as it were without addressing that fact. The men in particular who are the instigators of these repeated tense moments between the agencies are themselves previous residents of the aforementioned defunct shelter and to this day they are upset that they were made displaced by the very agencies that were to assist even as a shelter was in full flight, the newcomers are made aware of this history so some of them join the throng or are made to do so based on the group dynamics that exist, for the most part I am in support of that in principle, how that anger is expressed is another matter altogether but the agencies and personalities seem to miss the bigger picture in all this.

The fact that the JFLAG office now sits where the shelter once stood is a constant reminder to them in their eyes that they are more of an inconvenience than a concern for the agency as they feel they were moved to be replaced by their office which now by the way has reinstituted the apartheid like security system with a canine team hence the previous unruly, indiscipline and uncouth response the agencies get, this is something I have been at pains to try to point out via previous entries but no one listens or pays attention to that, homelessness does not command sound bites or grabs international headlines as is customary for some narcissistic advocates who feed off a gullible community for the fame and glory so who cares about some dutty battyman? The men hardly visit the property with the regularity as before since the guards are in place but with an ever angry landlord and uncomfortable tenants breathing down the necks of the agencies what are they to do it is being asked by observers?

The men are now nomads again as the Kingston & St Andrew Cooperation allegedly has warned them not to occupy anymore vacant lots or spaces or they will be removed, this is while internal conflicts abound in the group as the dynamics play out with those who are the agitators now getting flack from others who say they are the fault why the agencies ignore them in the first place. This problem is a growing one as well hence the fights as described by residents on the video newsclip separate and apart from the aggressive behaviours that are used as a defensive strategy or as a means of protection, problem is when to turn it on or off as it seems the aggression also occurs when they get to the properties and agencies to access treatment care and support as it were but none of which are forthcoming in any meaningful manner. The more docile homeless/displaced community members are assisted somewhat, a few have been integrated into other shelters of course provided they curtail certain things such as effeminate aesthetics and so on while maintaining their jobs (for those still employed), a few have ruined such opportunities by exposing themselves again due to “bad behaviour” others have been given temporary shelter with friends but that too has its share of challenges as allegations pilferage and deep mistrust have all but made that kind of assistance a rare opportunity and when that does not spoil it then homo-negativity or homophobia does as was evident in an arson in November at a popular drag queen’s home who offered some assistance to some of the young men. Persons like myself who have space to assist are sceptical to do so and also the financial resources are just not there, a point I raised in a question at that town hall meeting where I asked if JFLAG would consider as a part of its crisis intervention program (I had proposed this before while working there) that they offer psycho social interventions for the individual housed in private spaces made available by willing LGBTians and also financial input via stipends to offset costs during the stay, only displaced persons would qualify who have displaced the diligences to adjust in such an environment etc. A more structured space would be needed for homeless persons who have been so for extended periods.

We are now being told that a pilot is to be tried yet again for January for three months via a brief exchange I had with JFLAG’s Executive Director Mr Dane Lewis on the weekend where he claims they cannot find a physical space to carry out the project. It is sad that all of these issues over the years since the closure of the last pilot could have been avoided including the murders of several of the men be they homophobic caused or in-ter/tra community related, the crisis communication by the agencies which has been poor overall needs to address that so the public has a clearer understanding and not left cynical about what happens to LGBT victims of such crimes as caused by us in lover’s quarrels.

Which leads me to the title of this entry, after spending almost all night on the road window shopping and hanging out with friends I came across some of the men in parts of Half Way Tree and New Kingston and then in Spanish Town as I made my way home and believe me a few of the men are furious about many things (which from my experience can spread quite easily). Some have expressed that they do not want to hear from JFLAG anymore, others refused to attend the treat that was planned by the agency or that they were not invited, others say if a shelter opened they may go but not cooperate, some say they just want a job to move on with their lives. One set in Spanish Town say they feel invisible as no one from the agency has bothered to pay them any attention as Kingston gets the interest and they do not intend to journey there as they get some help from the “bosses” in the area they are in via odd jobs and other activities. The men who were burnt out nearing Sydenham some time ago are elsewhere now.

Some of the men expressed a growing concern by those of whom who have seen it before in the form on HIV prevention messaging fatigue where the men feel they are diseased persons (not directly said but implied) as when they do see anyone from the agencies (numbering some five or more) it is condoms, testing (some being paid a $1000 stipend to do so) and safer sex messaging that comes and basically nothing more, they feel as if all they are are worthless, oversexed gays in the eyes of the agencies and they want more attention than that. Ironically this is not coming from older MSM who are more than exposed to this and some peer educator training or repeated interventions but younger males who say they prefer such matters be discussed in a office or clinical settings (again not their exact words but implied) and more personal matters be addressed when the outreach officers come to visit, this maybe evidenced in how comfortable the men were to tell their stories and to simply talk as long as someone would listen intently that is as they also raised mistrust issues as well. Some of the very outreach personnel from the agencies were deemed untrustworthy with information hence the men just tacitly engage them, take the condoms and be very abrupt for example.

Talk therapy is something I had long suggested from my days at JFLAG as it is an effective tool in crisis interventions to assist persons in releasing some of those tensions and anxieties following an attack or homo/lesbo/bi/transphobic episode. All some of the youngsters need is to talk including the violent ones but the space and times are also crucial. The one or two persons who carry out the outreach for JFLAG is certainly not enough whilst the organization as far as I am concerned is far too top heavy.

Meanwhile the chases, abuse and attacks continue as only two weeks ago the men had to flee a section of New Kingston where they had started to congregate but with the media attention, the effeminate posturing publicly and other matters they are all too easily identified these days so anywhere they go they are picked on by a homophobic public who view them via stereotypical lenses.  The beating if an alleged gay man downtown some three weeks ago is no consolation and the other rumoured matters with their counterparts in rural Jamaica, especially western Jamaica where I and others are kept apace as to some of the happenings there especially due to the crackdown of the police on the lotto scamming which has its share of gay/bi players as well.

Did the parties involved in forming the previous Safe House waist our time?

Safe house logo

A shelter pilot project is a start but as I have said and will always say all of this could have been avoided, the Gay Lesbian and Bisexual Community, GLABCOM Committee(s) of JASL on which I sat with others concerned for several dispensations, the former Executive Director who spear headed that Safe House Pilot and the volunteers then now feel we all waisted our time, hundreds of man hours consulting , making suggestions and concerns some of which expressed on paper locked away in a filing cabinet somewhere to arrive at the shelter being closed and watching the lives of the then populations with new ones added almost daily just relegated to being the least amongst us yet we are told no resources are available yet JFLAG has two Program Managers and both put together cannot seem to make one to come up with a sensible response to this longstanding issue? A pilot for the purposes to show the funders is one thing and that can only be temporary but why not a properly prepared grant proposal with the stakeholders including those from the previous dispensations who are still interested in engaging to join in also will it be just a shelter to only provide a roof and a meal or a full transitional living facility complete with the relevant psycho social staffing to deal with the stabilization and behaviour modification (with diligence building and social skills building) activities?

Lord knows I would hate to see all those challenges on the road now be imported into a space that would just be a ticking timebomb waiting to explode with possibly disastrous consequences.

Check out the homeless msm tab for all the entries before on this matter and also see the 2009 and the ultimatum given by Jamaica AIDS Support at the time despite the fact it was not really their purview to intervene on welfare or social justice issues when HIV?AIDS is their mandate following the explosion of the homeless populations since 2007 but if the board of  JASL at the time were concerned about the matter they should have not allowed the shelter to open in the first place and impress upon or collaborate with JFLAG to roll out the project instead of shutting down a project in full flight all because of “rowdy behaviour” so much for priorities. Weren’t they reading the reports submitted by the then Executive Director to know of the project in the first place? Yet she was forced to resign it seems from a board that never met with regularity but found it necessary to act with most members present on that faithful January 26, 2010 to put the nail in her coffin as it were. See the older post from 2010 where the men took action to get the board’s attention: CLICK HERE 

and: The Quietus ……… The Safe House Project Closes (February 6. 2010)

see all 54 posts from Gay Jamaica Watch: CLICK HERE

see all 29 posts from GLBTQ Jamaica: CLICK HERE

If persons on the board including its experienced Chair knew of the problems regarding the men beforehand, msm group dynamics and or behavioural challenges from service users would have caused security issues why sanction the opening of the pilot in the first place or at least on the property? Open it offsite then! But to close it in full flight is what has ticked me off ever since.

All of this could have been avoided with proper foresight and planning, lives could have been saved I dare say (the murders over the three plus years), and the agencies now would not have to reach for the very pilot shelter structure response idea they refused in the first place,  some it seems though the newer populations like their predecessors would have gone underground and remained out of sight so out of mind, introverted if your will due to the national psyche towards homosexuality, homo-negativity and effeminacy the opposite unexpectedly occurred the men are extroverted thus leading to unneeded attention to themselves, the repeated reminders to society though ethically problematic that effeminate men are here and other matters taking us to where we are today.

Coincidentally vulnerable populations was a matter of discourse on radio last evening with the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition, CVC on Nationwide News with Cliff Hughes,  where men who have sex with men were identified among others as those who need help and social justice as it were, the former Chairman of Jamaica AIDS Support for Life board at the time of the Safe House Pilot project’s closure Mr Ian McKnight appeared on Nationwide Radio in a brief interview which irked some of the community members who heard it while labelling him a hypocrite. The interview spoke to some law firm advocates in New York affording equal access to justice in the Dominican Republic and Haiti where groups like the CVC intend to expand their coverage, as for support services the firm City of University New York Law School created a model called the incubus of justice that apparently prepares new lawyers to work in charity typed environments while earning at the same time, it also gives practical experiences in such environments in a post graduate type training as well.

As for the CVC the Chair in the form of Mr McKnight said among other things that “……here in Jamaica we work through several of our member organizations with the vulnerable populations ….. we have long said that part of the great block where HIV interventions are concerned where human rights are denied left right and centre for these populations, it is fashionable and alright for people to be turned away from a clinic because you look a certain way or your believed to participate in a particular activity …………. these are issues we have been pounding at for many years not only in Jamaica but the region ……..”

Speaking in such flowery terms about vulnerable groups and giving a feeling of cooperation and cohesiveness when the opposite is the reality was expressed by some after hearing it. I did not hear the interview live myself but I was sent excerpts of it via email from a reader who recorded it using his phone and who himself was livid at the presentation given the context of the homeless/displaced and other issues.  The CVC and indeed JFLAG were silent publicly for the most part in 2009 between the ultimatum given by JASL to the men and the subsequent implosion/closure of the Safe House Pilot with the very same “vulnerable populations” in the form of dislocated/homeless msm (though rowdy as described by the aforementioned agencies) made re-displaced or homeless barring any stabilization work with such expertise resided in the very organizations at the time. Mr McKnight was vocal however via the Jamaica Observer in 2011 after the second civil disobedience action the some of the homeless men took which made news where he passed the responsibility for providing shelter for homeless msm to government.  We all know full well that that is an ideal but the realities say otherwise to include possible austerity measures and cutting in government spending.

What was also raised by the clip sender was the silence from the CVC/JASL/JFLAG regarding HIV treatment failure within the MSM community and recent troubling deaths of long timers and the results of the last MSM HIV survey which seemed to be held tightly to the chest of those in the know for all intents and purposes we know is higher than the 32.7% since the last one in 2007.

HIV prevention seems to be the be all and end all and no real emphasis placed on the psycho sexual/social, self efficacious work and fulsome community development then it is no wonder why as aforementioned some of the men feel so fatigued by the repeated safer sex interventions which seem to bog down the other personal goals and objectives the men may have and want to share but either do not have the space nor the requisite personnel to do same.

What about persons living their truths?

Real social justice please!!!!!!!!

For the sake of the least amongst us, tolerance is more than expecting John Public to be comfortable with homosexuality it also means lifting those within our ranks to some semblance of normalcy and recognizing them.

Of note other non LGBTQian homeless and displaced populations especially young makes I have since gathered are also watching this development closely as they are wondering when their turns will come and if they can possible enter the facility if and when it opens, this came to light via a discussion with a nurse in at another shelter faculty who has expressed some concern regarding homeless msm. The cross socialization of the groups has been happening by virtue of the category they fall in there is some tolerance happening, the previous rifts for example between the Half Way Tree heterosexual homeless males (windshield wipers and car washers) has died down somewhat as they share of the spoils from car washing and snack sales that some of both groups are involved in at street dances and parties. The gelling factor in other words seems to be the cooperation for economic reasons between the groups.

Peace and tolerance

H

podcast: Homeless impatient with agencies over slow progress for promised shelter

additional reading:
Challenges for homo/bisexual males continue for December 2012

From the pen of one of our homeless brothers

Some concerns from Western Jamaica on homelessness.

Another geographic change blow dealt to the cruising community

Cruising is nothing new. It’s been going on for hundreds of years, and its history is a part of the history of our cities and public spaces. As cities grew and populations became more anonymous, new opportunities for chance encounters arose, for straight and queer people alike, and the figure of the stranger took on an erotic allure. Parks have always been places where strangers meet for overlapping and divergent reasons. By day, children play, families picnic, tourists take respite, neighbours walk their dogs, joggers jog. By night, teenagers hop fences to snog, hookers and rent boys ply their trade, lovers admire the moon, addicts shoot up, and gay men fuck, jerk and suck

These encounters are embedded in our cultural history. Thanks to Mark Turner for reminding us of that, it’s a worldwide phenomenon.

So valued are these outdoor spaces and the need for pleasure that the slightest adjustment, aesthetically or otherwise shakes up the mind of the experienced cruiser, imagine my surprise when I got a frantic call from a member of that active community expressing shock, some outrage and near rage that his stomping ground has been bulldozed, the cruising community in 2010 had a tumultuous year with spot after spot being literally changed or totally annihilated right before their eyes with some fallout in the process some of which I dare say look rather psychologically troubling as persons seem to just be lost or in some sort of shock knowing they cannot act out their fetishes or desires in these former active open year concealed to the public spaces. The death of one of their members also sent shock waves for months as many of the men refused from visiting the areas namely in West Kingston and onwards. Multiple near misses by inexperienced newcomers were also a cause for concern for some of the more elder statesmen.

see:  Some cruising challenges ………. and The Cruising community’s dilemma ….. also:  Outdoor sex and the issues to being caught and: Cruising community challenges continue …………

Of course as the previous administration, the JLP were the representatives for that area it was not surprising to see infrastructure development taking place after decades of neglect. It is safe to name the spots now seeing they are now defunct, the old railway station and its environs was one spot for decades used by generations of cruisers young and old alike, thugs and effeminates alike, gay and bi-curious alike including gay for pay or trade members as well. These members are not exposed to the rest of the LGBT community and subsequent advocacies that exist and most are not keen to come forward to present their grouses except to persons they feel won’t humiliate them due to their tastes in sexual contact outdoors preferably.

The frantic caller this morning was a long time friend and he insisted I came to Kingston for him to show me the new look of the wooded area now turned a backhoe and dumper truck parking spot as renovations continue in that part of town by the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation, KSAC and with the former active mayor of Kingston Desmond McKenzie crossing over to representational politics and winning the sure JLP seat in the constituency there is bound to be far more adjustments to the area knowing his style. We met in Kingston early this morning along with another younger thug he introduced me to, he again expressed his frustrations of the missing spot as he did on the phone prior to my arrival. We walked to the section leisurely and as was told to me the spot was indeed gone but the reaction of the gentleman is still puzzling to me, it’s a public space, there is bound to be changes in the long run so why this attachment to it along with the need for cruising in that specific area could affect someone so much? There must be an explanation for this. The other spots across town have also been disappearing fast and with no serious LGBT spots available with dark rooms etc for this kind of intense sexual release what are cruisers both active or secretive ones to do?

When the thug friend of the troubled cruiser suggested renting an overnight room for pleasure he expressed the refusal of many of the cheaper priced motels do not allow same sexed guests so easily these days and the more affluent hotels who do not question guest’s gender before booking are too expensive, typical four star Kingston hotel room is at $8000/night average he also made a very important acknowledgement to the whole world of cruising where he said it takes away from the thrill when one rents a room for sex, there is no excitement knowing you may be caught but gets away with it anyway.

There has been an ongoing discussion with some influentials to provide some more sexually charged entertainment to offset some of the wants of some of these brothers whether they will absorb these proposed offerings is another matter seeing that the erotic elements maybe missing and that thrill factor our brother alluded to, plus they may not have the money in all cases to pay the admission fees.

Repeating a section of a previous post – Some sort of intervention is needed I feel but if we can’t even get any honest moves to deal with issues directly infront of our eyes especially with the least amongst us that being the homeless msms then how are we going to deal with a population that is for the most part clandestine even to the rest of the LGBT community’s eyes. My few interactions with these men has also revealed that these aren’t the typically profiled brothers but are men who sometimes are bisexual or have the occasional female partner or that male from the lower economic strata who uses the Kingston proper region to earn a living near the market district but are same gender loving or willing to practice some sort of sexual contact with other men. Stealth is a crucial tool in this game as these brothers are mostly very masculine and it may not be known how they are in their natural state in a few instances.

Keep a cruising carefully brothers.

Peace and tolerance

H

Gay cruiser suffers broken arm after tussle

As we continue to look at homophobic incidents covering the LGBT spectrum with particular interest in the active gay cruising communities this time a more masculine brother had an altercation some two weeks ago in downtown Kingston after he was accused of being a battyman by a group of thugs who wash cars on an open lot. The victim in this case is a known cruiser to the community and has been doing this kind of expression for some time, he is also personally known to me. My concerns became apparent recently when at a party where he attended his left arm was in a sling and was bandaged at some points with plaster of paris over the fingers. I inquired as to what had happened and he proceeded to explain.

I took his word for it and have no reason to doubt him, he said that one of the men had recalled an older altercation some years ago when a section of downtown in the west Kingston region was an active hunting ground for hook ups and partnered masturbation sessions for a quick release. He was apparently caught while trying to get the attention of a man who was urinating by a post just infront the active spot. The man who caught him at the time recognized him as he passed by raised an alarm at the time but he made good his escape the man turned out to be one of the washers who saw him and made the alarm as he walked passed them on that faithful afternoon around 2pm they launched their attack inflicting some blows but due to his physical built he was able to manoeuvre around them, being four men with one joining later in the struggle however it was when he was tripped he said that he landed on his arm with all the weight of his own body plus two others almost in a football/rugby typed tackle also landed on him that caused his arm to break, he said they inflicted blows then but he fought out of  it and rose again to take them on. It was an unsuspecting taxi driver who came by apparently to have his car washed that caused a distraction so he could move away slowly from the scene, the thugs pointed him out to the taxi driver as a battyman but in disbelief probably due to the masculine presentation of our victim here he didn’t buy the story and concluded it may have been something else. Thankfully it ended as it did and he says he won’t be taking the matter to the police when I asked him.

Maybe if it weren’t for the previous incident that long time ago this would not have happened I am assuming and he would have been assumed straight as our profiling standards and as was proven by the reaction of the taxi driver, another clear indication yet that effeminate behaviour in public by men is the main marker used to determine a gay person and subsequent phobic responses.

The active cruising community has been having serious fallouts as of late especially since the Tivoli Incursion and a section of town that was a long time pick up and make out spot I might dare say has been transformed into a parking lot and with the rolling out of the trains in recent months that section has also been physically changed leading to the men having to find other spots. It seems however there are psychological issues associated with these radical changes as their behaviour patterns seem to be causing some unneeded attention.

See this previous post: Lewd conduct Some Cruising Challenges ……….

Sadly this part of the MSM population that also includes homeless brothers and commercial sex workers does not get the scrutiny they deserve as there are no sustained outreach programs for them save and except if they are in trouble and call JFLAG they maybe get some assistance if it falls on the right ears or if some others like myself who understand the street in a small way other than that they are out in the cold. It was also some weeks ago than an exhibitionist was chased by a mob for openly masturbating in public (after a downpour) allegedly whilst staring at a man urinating at a light post in Kingston. Certainly we all want to get release of have our kicks but to go to such lengths to get them requires some more in-depth psychological analysis perhaps to help us understand the reasons for a need for outdoor sexual activity, this is in no way to suggest the men are mentally challenged or have any such issues.

Sadly too they do not probably get to read blogs such as this or access to online LGBT discourse as this hence highlighting them.

The discussion goes on.

Peace and tolerance

H