Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship’s continued fear mongering on Christian persecution post buggery law amendment & re-socialization

Battle Lines Javed Jaghai versus the state & the Jamaica Buggery Law
Shirley RIchards of LCF fame

Past and present Presidents of the anti gay, anti abortion Christian group the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship, LCF Shirley Richards and Helen C. Nicholson continued to express fears that gay marriage and social re-engineering will be the norm in Jamaica if the buggery law is repealed as per the legal challenge launched by Javed Jaghai on June 25, 2013 and which has been put off until October 4, 2013 as several religious groups including the LCF, Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society, JCHS, Other church groups, Love March and Marcus Garvey Political Party have joined the suit. In as far as the challenge is concerned which is outside of the now promised buggery review by the current government at a date to be announced is not to make buggery law disappear but to test the constitutionality of the law on the backdrop of Mr Jaghai’s personal issues as stated in his affidavit (he is rewrite same for the October mention date in the case management stage) where he says he was evicted by his landlord as they wanted to attempt some reparative therapy efforts due to his public utterances on homosexuality. Unfortunately the poor communication by the group Mr Jaghai is associated with namely JFLAG in sensitizing not only the public but the LGBT community in understanding the call for the amendment to the law is a major flaw; the fact that the church groups still interpret the struggle as a call for a full repeal when the thrust by their words is an amendment to include a definition of rape under for non-consensual buggery and privacy for adults; buggery will remain for persons not considered adults and who are abused.

On a discussion program on Love 101FM hosted by Blossom White on July 7, 2013 it sounded like a cataclysmic doom heading towards Jamaica that gay marriage will be made legal; fear that children will be taught all kinds of inappropriate materials in the eyes of the church; other kinds of rights outside of normal life will be forced on the nation; the church’s opposition will be criminalized as hate speech (poor anecdotal references made); anti gay speech will be criminalized; religious freedoms will be curtailed; churches will be forced to perform gay marriages and other so called societal ills. Speaking of societal ills the introduction to the program suggested that they were looking at a post examination of the Love March’s heroes circle protest and the Montego Bay’s ministers’ fraternal corresponding Montego Bay march against supposed ills yet homosexuality was eventually the only theme discussed for the twenty five plus minutes of air time. Such is the dishonesty that presents itself sometimes when these matters are presented by the church, the strength that is found to deal with homosexuality yet the other so called ills get very little or no such fervent attention. Namely the thousands of missing children, the obvious corruption in high places, the high crime wave, the poor political leadership, the creation of outcasts and maintaining the clear distance via stigma and hypocrisy. The misleading emphasis on the legalization of homosexuality is also another piece of  deceptive alarmist speech used to bolster the anti gay position when we know fully well that homosexuality is NOT illegal in Jamaica and buggery does not only apply to gay and bisexual men who practice penile penetrative anal sex but also heterosexual couples as well.

The discussion opened with among other things this from the host “Why does the church target homosexuality not wanting it to be legalized in Jamaica?”…………….. “Would the flood gates be opened for judgement or more judgement upon the land and what can the church do to hinder anything from changing?” clear fear mongering being set as the stage for the discussion then came the marriage redefinition fear soon afterwards where the sections of the marriage act were quoted when no such agitation for same sex marriage rights have been made in Jamaica just yet but if we were to follow Blossom White in her opening it was a done deal as she likened a group in favour of same sex marriage was taking the matter of legalizing homosexuality to the supreme court. In fact the word redefinition appeared some five times in the exchange and re-socialization or re-engineering also made several appearances which had me wondering are these persons for real? What was even more bizarre in all this is the defection if you will of Helen Nicholson who years ago had a more tolerant stance on homosexuality and the related matters yet she has been pulled into this so much so to become the President of the LCF. The host and guests claim that the business of buggery is a legal, moral, social and political issues and that religious voices will be silenced eventually by law where programs such as the one having the discussion will have to sanitize its format in order to avoid legal punishment.

References were made to the United States DOMA, Defence of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 strike downs in recent times and that the local legal challenges are in tandem with other efforts including that of the Organization of American States recently concluded meeting where certain calls were made to enact some sort of sanctions for what is considered homophobic language or actions by persons. Helen Nicholson said “To The extent that they are rallying their troops the church must be very alert and recognise that their voices must not be silenced and drowned out by those who would be vocal and step forward to challenge a change.” Mrs Shirley Richards meantime continued that the church is going to court to apparently avert what has happened in other countries (albeit that those countries have different social issue that attend) she referenced a preacher who was arrested in England for so called homophobic language yet she did not offer specifics of the case and the continued generalizations is what is usually used to justify their anti gay position. Sadly the followership glibly buys into the mess and hangs on to every word these persons say.  She continued that marriage is under threat; threats to freedom of conscience; freedom of religion and freedom of expression, yet she forgot to take note it seems that the aforementioned marches were done unimpeded and that her appearance and that of her compatriots at a recent University debate on the church being an obstacle to rights was also unimpeded and her voice was not drowned or muzzled as would happen in such events hosted by their groups. She said that societies that allowed homosexual rights have seen religious freedoms curtailed, she said the buggery law is the most effective strategic barrier to the re-socialization of society a point she also made on CVM TV’s Direct program on June 26, 2013 she said such re-socialization is in favour of the “homosexual lifestyle” she continued that if that barrier is pulled then everything else in the form of agendas will come flowing in, her fear is that what happens in other countries where rights clash such as religious liberty where I do not see such curtailment happening yet she claims pastors have gotten into trouble and a teacher was dismissed for saying homosexuality is a sin again with no specifics.

The dishonest perception being banded about that somehow the repeal or decriminalization of buggery in Jamaica is also going to automatically cause Christian persecution is so farfetched and ludicrous and is a false dichotomy that it boggles the mind as to whether the voices which are heard by far are really up on the issues of sexuality, gender and rights. The Johns couple was referred to who were a Jamaican couple who foster kids in the UK but were unaware of the change in the law and not endorsing gay relationships as a form of family unit were blocked by the state from re-entering the foster care system. No one asked them to accept homosexuality but just to also include as the teaching materials the various forms of the family unit and they refused fearing damage to the children.

Miss Nicholson said that the law is always legislating morality but the question is whose morality as there is no such thing as a moral law. She referred the Ireland case and the repeal of buggery there yet the country did not sink into doom she claims that those were different days and the agenda has changed. She sounded as if she was counting her words for such a lawyer and a former radio show host and television news presenter and the egging or prodding whispers in the background by Mrs Shirley Richards were audibly clear that she was being told what to say, Miss Nicholson however continued that there is a more liberal approach by the gay lobby which was not part of the agenda before and a schism between our local position and our laws versus the treatise we are party to internationally she says the more Jamaica owns the process is the more controlled it will be and if we allow others to come in (suggesting the long held belief of foreign imposition of homosexuality) and fund our education programs etc then he who pays the piper calls the tune. The gratuitous tolerance line came through as per usual that they did not want homosexuals to be hurt or victimized but they seem blindly unaware of the fact their anti gay positions and dishonesties help to fuel the very victimization and stigma towards LGBT people.

Shirley Richards continued “Pull that law and the re-engineering of society will occur ………………….. My concern is for the children, what will they learn as appropriate and normal behaviour?” obviously she is not aware of the changes in sexuality and that teaching children about homosexuality does not make them so. The host Blossom White came with an alarmist posture said an unnamed country where she was had early childhood education institutions doing what amounted to guided imagery and cross dressing exercises on given days for students so that they were made to understand some of the gender issues, yet Miss White chose strong language such as indoctrinate added to that Miss Nicholson suggested that the word or language or re-engineering is “gender” clearly the ladies on this show are very ignorant to the issues attendant to transgenderism and other variants that have been always around but more closely researched and monitored by the scientific communities.

So hundreds of thousands of Jamaicans in earshot of this radio program went away with a one sided approach to this business of homosexuality and the continued fear mongering that the gay lobby is all somehow this godless anti Christ set up devised to persecute Christians. I am left dazed sometimes when I see this kind of rhetoric and why aren’t the gay Christian communities and tolerant Christians generally not speaking up more? I am not even going to mention JFLAG here as their poor leadership on public discourse is plain to see. How can this jittery position be countered?

Peace and tolerance

H

Betty Ann Blaine’s arrant nonsense request of Peter King Tapes

When I saw this today in the Jamaica Observer the fumes were visible emanating from my ears, how can a children’s advocate be so dumb to make such a call even if the allegations of homo-paedohile acts on supposed tapes previously owned by the murdered Ambassador Peter King and also the Russian ambassador as well on the same night at the former’s home?

Hear the Children Cry wants Peter King’s tapes released

Miss Blaine via the Observer postulated:

CHILDREN advocacy group Hear the Children Cry has called for the release of the tapes that were found at the home of slain Ambassador Peter King, seven years ago, which purportedly contained images of children being buggered.

Convenor of Hear the Children Cry Betty-Ann Blaine told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that at the time of the ambassador’s death in March 2006, 258 tapes were confiscated and the organisation was reliably informed that children were on those tapes.

“To this date, we have not been able to see those tapes, so here is the call we are making, reveal before repeal. Let us see those tapes,” Blaine said.

Blaine, who is also the founder of New Nation Coalition, was speaking to the Observer at yesterday’s eastern leg of Mercy Cry, an initiative which saw Christians from different denominations gathering at National Heroes Circles in Kingston to pray for the nation’s leaders and to ask for God’s intervention in the many problems facing the nation such as homosexuality and buggery.

“We want to see those tapes and I believe that we have a right to see those tapes if children are on those tapes and until we can see those tapes and understand what is happening with the buggery of our children, we will not support any amendment to the buggery law,” Blaine said.

She also expressed concerns about the challenge to the constitution of the buggery law and the amendment or repeal of the buggery law, given the fact that the buggery of children has increased exponentially especially over the last year.

“The statistics are that 74 per cent of our children have been buggered over the previous year,” Blaine argued.

Jamaica, she said, should not “touch the buggery law” at this time, as the degree of buggery in the island is unknown.

“We have an idea about our children but we know that buggery extends to young people and others,” she said. “How can we be looking to amend or repeal the law when we don’t know the extent of buggery in Jamaica?”

 ENDS

I another post I lamented that tapes surrounding his murder case and allegations of popular persons on those tapes in same sex orgies would come back someday soon somewhere in the anti gay agitation and now here we are again. Some talk show hosts have taken that call and attached a homo-paedophile construct to that implying that men of upstanding status are sodomizing boys in their homes. While there may be paedophiles in our society overall to use this old case to further push the anti gay agenda while erroneously conflating same gender sex with abuse. Jerry Small of Newstalk 93FM is one such talk show host who has repeated this construct and also added the murdered Russian Ambassador who was also at the scene that night he concludes a cover up was done to hide the men’s secret activities. I am not surprised that the Peter King matter would have returned as a basis to substantiate the homo-negative position. He accuses the Russian diplomatic core of covering this death as the men were abusing boys at the Jamaican ambassador’s home and thus the reason why he was murdered. Where is the evidence for such allegations and why if one is opposed to homosexuality and indeed buggery would one want to see two or more men engaged in sex acts?

There are enough sex and adult video stores around that are now carrying gay adult video so they can go and buy them. Furthermore if the court despite conjecture and rumour in the public domain of supposed tapes did not see it fit to find and have such tapes brought into evidence then who is to find and release these tapes and to what end?

Murdered Ambassador Peter King

The case as I remember it had adults and the accused was sentenced and is serving time, during the court case the gay panic defence was used to justify the reason for the accused actions (as typical in cases as this) and the testimony and evidence presented did not suggest or prove that young boys were at the home at that time or any time or any other homo-paedophile activity. Furthermore persons I am familiar with who would congregate at the avenue sometimes such as displaced or homeless MSM have said the late Ambassador King was very strict when it came to boys around him and was a disciplinarian yet aspersions are cast on a dead man with very little way to prove or disprove them.

We do not know if any such sex tapes exist and if (a big if) he was involved in any such activity with under aged persons which I doubt I condemn it but the man is dead what would that serve now; bearing in mind laws already exist to protect children and the remedies exists to see them through any such despicable acts done to them if true. One thing we must always remember abuse is abuse despite the gender of the offender, their sexual orientation is immaterial as sexual attraction to children is a diagnosable disorder with the necessary pharmacological and psychological courses of attractions to address paedophilia however homosexuality cannot be addressed in a similar fashion.

Meanwhile to further show the level of homophobia these pretentious puritans have here is an exchange between a Jamaican gay blogger that he shared along with Miss Blaine

Betty Convo part 1 Betty Convo part 2

follow that story HERE

All kinds of suppositions and speculations have festered over the years since his passing to suggest celebrities, politicians and now young boys have been seen on what is dubbed “tapes” as he was accused or recording activities in his home at the time. For the short time I knew him he seemed a disciplinarian and a no nonsense man although one cannot swear for anyone but if such evidence was there it would have come out long ago. But to use mere speculation and supposition to demand tapes of activities that Miss Blaine does not subscribe to borders on a voyeuristic deviance and grasping at straws to support their crumbling position. When a twenty plus year old male witness testified in the case back in 2009 he had convenient amnesia as when asked about himself being video taped in King’s house he could not recall.

In giving evidence in chief  another witness said that about 10 p.m. on March 19, 2006, he saw the accused Sheldon Pusey at King’s house. He said King introduced Pusey to him and Pusey said his name was “Douglas”. (familiarity) despite the gay panic defence was used to suggest King inappropriately came on to him, then if he knew that King was gay what the HELL was he doing at the man’s house in the first place?

He continues that Pusey was wearing only a pair of underpants and a pair of socks while King was wearing a pair of boxer shorts. The witness said he went to bed downstairs and did not wake up until the next morning when the police came to the premises and “hauled” him out of the room. He said it was at that time he discovered that King was dead.

A medical doctor testified that about 5 p.m. on March 19, 2006, he and a friend went to King’s house. He said he knew King for 25 years and while he was there, Pusey came to the house and King introduced Pusey to him as Sheldon. He said he spoke to Pusey briefly.

The doctor said Pusey was sitting by the computer. Pusey’s hands were on his (Pusey’s) thighs. “I remember his nails were glossy, it was something that jumped out at you. I remember asking him how his nails were so glossy, how he came to get them like that. I recall him saying it was banana stain he used on his nails to get them so shiny.” He said when he and his friend left King’s house at minutes to 8 p.m. on March 19, 2006, Pusey was still sitting by the computer.

also see from Feb 2009 Crown rests case in Peter King trial

UPDATE JUNE 26, 2013

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UPDATE JUNE 28, 2013

JFLAG comes with a late statement after all this time the woman has been at it and it is now when she is so louder than ever they finally come with a knee jerk response, pardon my unease with their performance but sheesh:

Peace and tolerance

H

Barbers clash due to suspected gay client

Confirmed: A barber shop in East Kingston nearing Rockfort was the scene of a clash between two male barbers in late May 2013 following a long standing feud based on an allegation that one barber had too many suspected gay male clients and the other involved taking major exception. According to my sources one of which is also a barber in a nearby rival shop tension had been building for some time between the two male barbers and despite the repeated interventions of the only female barber as well as the female facialist and manicurist for the men to calm down and proceed with business never minding the perceived sexuality of the clients things went downhill none the less. This is not the first time I have seen this play out in the industry as a popular shop in the Half Way Tree area just across the court house had a similar major incident in 2011 where another male barber was forced to relocate to his own shop eventually as he was monitored closely by the other chair renters in the large shop and his clients were carefully scrutinised for any deviations they thought were out of place. A major argument erupted between them as another barber in confidence informed the man of the situation and discourse happening unknowingly of him and his “battyman clients” the suspected barber confronted his accuser and the relationship soured so much so that his client count dropped drastically as persons stayed away and others defected to other chair holders in the establishment.

A formal complaint was filed to the owner of the shop who at first ignored the agitation and warned the men to get along but the persistent homo-negative barber threatened to leave and expose the man and the shop as a place sympathetic to homosexuals and with supposed fear of a wounded reputation of his business with such a competitive industry with so many other shops nearby he was asked to quietly make his exit and so he did, thankfully they did him a favour as he now owns and operates his own shop with tweezing, wash and dry and other male grooming services far better that the original location with a growing client list.  Indeed the grooming and beauty industries were once the more tolerant professions for LGBT people to morph into and not be bothered via phobic outbreaks but it seems over time there has been a change in the culture towards barbers and indeed their clients as persons are scrutinized far more these days for any stereotypical male homosexual traits despite the metro-sexual aesthetics acceptances in Jamaican culture overall with individuality becoming far more commonplace. In fact it was once surmised that some barbers get into the business so as to make themselves available or close to other men easily but there has also been a trend as of recent years where all female shops are popping up and offering services with advertisements and marketing strategies that suggest certain personal services must not be done by men playing on the homophobic psyche I suppose. These services include tweezing, facials and close shaving along with buffering and skin treatment application. Some more uptown professional shops offer these and in fact the aforementioned shop in Half Way Tree my former personal barber does so despite the stereotype. I guess due to his maturity and his wife’s regular stops at the shop the speculation dies so the other male barbers allow it to go by without any open criticisms but isn’t it about professionalism and service to the clients that is important here and not whether the client or indeed the barber is homosexual?

Some barbers refuse to offer personal male to male services

That barber at the Half Way Tree shop to this day still offers those services complete with hot towelling and detailed tweezing as he spends a lot of time on his clients, my regular visits then when I resided in Kingston in any given session would run for over an hour sometimes as he checks and rechecks my face, neck , nape and hair, he also offers the occasional shampooing service as well, albeit that he is somewhat opposed to homosexuality as he has publicly made his feelings known but professionally has no qualms working in such personal closeness with male clients. His waiting list at times would be long and reservations had to be made days in advance so as to secure a spot yet in that same shop the fallout between the other two barbers occurred. That is how it should be, true professionalism in as far as the more senior barber is concerned. In that same shop two male hair dressers and a tattoo artist (they also are criticised for harbouring gays generally speaking) have since joined the staff but no clashes have occurred.

In fact it was from that shop that this blog post was developed some time ago when the Buju Banton court case and perceived gay set up issue was popular:

The lower one goes down the totem pole however given our highly stratified society is the less these more personal male to male services are offered and are frowned upon by male barbers, some shops I have seen nowadays make sure they employ females to do tweezing and facials so as to avoid such close contact between male barbers with male clients and the perception of an all male establishment may turn off some clients being too close for comfort for some. With persons now visiting barbers less as some shave themselves in full bald, grow and corn row their own hair or via a friend, add hair pieces (including males) at hairdressers and twist or lock style their hair barbers are having some challenges earning a living added to that are the numerous shops popping up despite a government crackdown some time ago for tax collection of license fees and their observance of health guidelines in running those and related establishments competition is stiff. Mobile barbers or barbering door to door is rising as in my housing scheme there are two such persons who walk with their equipment and offer services. One has gotten some attention from other same gender loving men around as he is well kept and is approachable and I am told he also offers facial and personal grooming services in your home while maintaining a professional distance I have not engaged them as yet.

Several years ago a popular community barber who resided in the Waterhouse area and who also offered a mobile grooming service where he would visit clients at their offices or homes was forcibly evicted from his rented flat as threats came that he was gay due to his mode of dress and style and his clientage, he also lived alone at the time, a major line item when profiling men to be gay as if a man especially in certain communities does not have a female companion then he is guilty even without any confirmation as to why. He ended up having to start from scratch as his equipment was stolen at the area shop where he worked and he was told bluntly not to be seen in the area. Female barbers have not escaped this as I am intimate with a case in Half Way Tree as well in a shop that is housed in the transportation centre where a female barber was constantly watched by the other male barbers coupled with their perception of her lesbian status professional jealousy also reared its ugly head as her large list of clientage did not sit well with her male counterparts so much so that attempts were made to sully her reputation to them in a bid to win their patronage and label her as a lesbian so she should not be handling them. She did eventually resign after a fight with one of the barbers then. She now resides overseas on asylum after a separate shooting incident involving her, her daughter and her brother as the adults were accused of being gay and told to leave the community at the time.

The East Kingston matter in question pertinent to this entry has been building for some time as according to reports from the very first day the client sat in the chair of this barber he was profiled by the other offending barber so much so that snide remarks would be passed whilst the client sat waiting his turn or even in the chair with some tacit support from the head barber or manager of the establishment. I can also imagine that with the rise in visibility of LGBT issues in recent months with a tolerance ad trial, major discussion and magazine shows carrying issues on homosexuality and the religious right movement’s public agitation and mobilization there is bound to be some fallout or spike in homo-negative instances and incidents. Short spats would ensue in the absence of the profiled client as the barber repeatedly defended his paying customer after all he wanted his continued patronage and the client for the most part did not care what the other barbers thought of him.

It was not until when the barber was also accused of being gay and that maybe himself and the man were involved sexually that things took a turn for the worse, tense standoffs, alternating work shifts were introduced and meetings with the boss were employed to quell the situation but those were not to help any, the final showdown occurred on May 18 during a busy period when the offending barber made comments and reported throw an item unto the counter-top of the docile barber. He retaliated and blows were rained with the female workers screaming to stop and supporting staff and clients on either side cheering or trying to stop the clash. It was clear to everyone that the name of the docile barber had been sullied as the supporters of the offending barber repeated the allegations and it was like a Matlock court cross-examination session asking if they were true, the accused barber denied them. The matter has since cooled but he is now thinking of relocating to another shop to avoid this and even his own family members were said to have visited the shop and warned the offending barber though no major threats were issued.

It is just beyond me sometimes why we allow questions and negative perceptions of another’s’ sexual orientation to cloud up professionalism overall and especially in the grooming industry where it was not so much a concern as far as I can remember. Hope this one works out and does not end up with any serious outcomes or loss of life for that matter as these days one can expect anything.

Peace and tolerance

H

Buggery, Bigotry And Buffoonery

As the war of words heat up in print between straight-allied activists, religious intolerant groups and the LGBT lobby and several legal challenges hanging in the balance I think we need to tread very careful and try not to get lost in the sea of charges and counter charges. Today’s piece however in the Gleaner by Attorney Gordon Robinson however is a good one:

Gordon Robinson, Contributor to the Gleaner wrote:

Bigotry is as bigotry does.It’s usually dressed up in many disguises, usually religious, but bigotry always exposes itself by the lengths to which it’ll go to fashion fallacious arguments to create an illusion of truth protecting its unreasonable beliefs from plain sight.

The worst form of bigotry is the self-righteous kind where the Bible is blamed for man’s inhumanity to man. “Is not me say so,” preaches Pastor doing his best Shaggy impression, “It’s in the Bible!”

As one bogus excuse for entrenching bigotry as national policy is debunked, another is trotted out. Humans, looking as earnest as chemistry professors in nightclubs while feigning sincere attempts to grasp non-existent complexities as they explain why other humans shouldn’t be treated equally, never tire of producing nonsensical arguments in support of their fatally flawed hypothesis.

Because, make no mistake about it, any hypothesis that a baby born who, when grown, is attracted differently from another baby born and grown on the same planet is somehow inherently evil (or requires ‘cure’) is a fallacious hypothesis.

What follows from this simple premise is that any argument put forward by those seeking to perpetuate such a bigoted view is easily exposed as nonsense. It matters not the form bigotry might, from time to time, take, whether segregation, apartheid, religious intolerance, racism, slavery, or homophobia. Bigotry is as bigotry does.

Sometimes, persons trying to expose the fallacy in a shiny new argument become entangled in the need to be politically correct or maybe is himself/herself conflicted, hence trying to argue from textbook theory instead of inalienable truth. The inalienable truth, which is self-evident, is that all humans are created equal. However, no two persons have the same DNA. All of us have always been, and will always be, Differently Natural Animals, yet we’re all equal in the sight of God.

These things don’t confuse children. In their innocence, children play with any other child. It’s only when a supervising adult says, “Don’t play with that little boy. He likes to put on girl’s clothes. He’s queer” that the child, conditioned to obey, shies away.

Q: What is segregation?

Little Girl: I don’t know what seggeration is.

Q: What is bigotry?

Little Girl: I don’t know what bigory is.

Q: What does hatred mean?

Little Girl: I don’t know what that is.

Q: What is prejudice?

Little Girl: Umm, I think it’s when somebody’s sick.

Recently, I’ve noted the religious righteous have launched a new offensive against homosexuals. It’s as if an executive council of the forces of bigotry held emergency meetings after receiving cell phone calls from today’s Paul Revere, “The homos are coming! The homos are coming!” – from which fresh arguments were fashioned to defeat annoying activists expecting gays to be treated as humans (OMG!). Then foot soldiers are deployed to spread the word.

Previously, the favourite argument of lobbyists for bigotry as government policy was, “Where will it end? If ‘unnatural’ sex acts are to be tolerated, man should be able to have sex with his dog. Or cat. Or donkey. Where do we draw the line?” This is, of course, crude fearmongering disguised as argument.

What exactly is ‘natural’?

Buzzwords like ‘unnatural’ deliberately conjure up disgusting mind pictures designed to regurgitate your lunch. Especially in an undereducated nation, this word will scare plenty people. But, first, what exactly is ‘natural’? What’s natural for the goose can be awkward for the gander. My dictionary defines ‘natural’ as ‘existing in nature; not made or caused by humans’, which, if I took ye Olde Testament literally, makes ALL sex unnatural.

Bigotry needs fear to feed its irrationality, hence the inclusion of fearsome buzzwords and the persistent use of inappropriate analogies rather than addressing the actual situation bigotry wants to condemn.

Logic’s reply excludes all emotive words. It’s that the world needs more, love not less. Anything done between consenting adults in the name of love is between them and their God and none of the State’s business. It’s all about consent. So, the reason why the State justifiably steps in when a man is caught raping a donkey is because the poor donkey can’t consent. Like all bad analogies, bigotry’s use of the donkey parable is irrelevant to the real issue.

That argument having flopped, the forces of bigotry have regrouped; a new argument has been developed; and is being broadcast islandwide. It begins on cue, “Where will it end?” Bigotry continues, “If anything between consenting adults is okay, what if a father and his adult daughter have consensual sex? What about that?”

This inane argument has been the subject of an insidious campaign of brainwashing by immersion from all angles, including by educated panellists on a popular TV show. That show’s token liberal fumbled the ball while she stammered her way to an equally silly response about ill-advised genetics. Genetics, schmenetics! Don’t let bigotry’s smoke and mirrors confuse you. It’s all about consent.

Consensual sex between a father and his adult daughter is an oxymoron of cataclysmic proportions. Both in law and common sense, ‘consent’ can’t be present if it’s the result of undue influence. A parent has complete and authoritative influence over his children from birth, and each child places total trust in that parent’s guidance. Sex with one’s daughter is inherently sex obtained by an abuse of that trust (undue influence) and so can’t be consensual, properly so called, regardless of the daughter’s current age.

As bastions of prejudice are crumbling worldwide, it seems local bigotry’s desperation has pushed it to the use of whatever argument necessary, no matter how patently flawed, to ensure only one type of love is tolerated in Jamaica. Woe betide your love should it not conform to Bigotry’s notion of ‘natural’ love.

It matters not how skilled or qualified you are. It matters not how caring and loving an individual you are. If you dare to love a member of your own gender, you must be shunned, hated, and punished. Every possible obstacle must find itself in your ambitions’ path, your hopes, your dreams, your love, even your very life. To bigotry, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as passing judgement on a fellow life traveller less righteous than him/her.

Lord, we don’t need another mountain,

There are mountains and hillsides enough to climb.

There are oceans and rivers enough to cross

Enough to last until the end of time.

At this time of national crisis, our economy is being squeezed to death, our children are undereducated, our health services are chaotic, bus fare hikes are about to cripple the poor, yet the number one issue churches can find to throw their coordinated strength against is the perpetuation of hatred against gays. Right now, as Peter Phillips correctly said, we need all hands on deck. That’s ALL hands, whether left- or right-handed, gay or straight.

What the world needs now is love, sweet love.

It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.

What the world needs now is love, sweet love.

No, not just for some but for everyone.

 

Instead of calling for unity against economic crisis; or unity against the violent, frightening crime, Jamaica’s chauffeur to the most wanted, Reverend Al, has a more important national focus. He wrote:

“We declare that we’ll mobilise and resist any attempt to tamper with the Constitution as it relates to buggery. Our present Charter of Rights sufficiently covers and protects the rights of all citizens.”

Al, the Constitution doesn’t ‘relate’ to buggery. Your Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship made sure of that. Talk about fleeing when nobody pursueth! He removed all pretence at political neutrality when, in his most arrogant tone, he said:

“We will not support any politician or political party that seeks to promote and foist on our nation, in any shape or form, the gay-rights agenda, which is alien to our culture as a people.”

POLITICAL THREAT

Rev Al Unplugged produces a partisan political threat to destroy any government who even debates treating gays as equal under the law. Al believes the “gay-rights agenda” is “foreign” to our culture. Al, why’re you so afraid? Since gays have proliferated in Jamaica since forever (including in the Church), and since Jamaican gays most definitely want ‘gay rights’ (all they really want is human rights), here’s the bad news, Al. Gay rights is about as foreign to Jamaica as priests inappropriately fondling young boys or pastors knocking up church sisters. Al saved the best for last:

“We respect the right of privacy and freedom of personal choices. We believe and demand that Government and the courts bear in mind and uphold the Constitution of our nation and the will of the majority of our citizens.”

Why does Al DEMAND the courts uphold the Constitution? Is he saying they’ve been derelict in that duty? Maybe he believes that’s why the courts convicted him of a gun-related offence. His stated respect for privacy, coming immediately after his lurid threat to withdraw “support” from any government considering allowing gays their privacy, rings as hollow as a Loretta Lynn’s birthplace.

Q: What is segregation?

Little Girl: I don’t know what seggeration is.

Q: What is bigotry?

Little Girl: I don’t know what bigory is.

Q: What does hatred mean?

Little Girl: I don’t know what that is.

Q: What is prejudice?

Little Girl: Umm, I think it’s when somebody’s sick.”

Legendary song-writing duo, Hal David (lyrics) and Burt Bacharach (music), wrote ‘What The World Needs Now is Love’ in 1965. Dionne Warwick turned it down (although she subsequently covered it in 1966), so it was first recorded by Jackie DeShannon. In 1971, in the aftermath of America’s notorious political assassinations, disc jockey Tom Clay created a superb remix which pulled together elements of the Bacharach/David song and 1968’s Abraham Martin and John (written by Dick Holler and first recorded by rock ‘n’ roll star Dion).

The musical collage featured a question-and-answer session with a little girl for whom these concepts of hate were truly foreign. Tom Clay’s remix became a smash hit. Readers could revisit it in these times when purveyors of hatred threaten to tear us apart and destroy any hope of a successful Jamaican vision.

Peace and love.

Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.

 

Also see:

The False Dichotomy of the religious right on the ………

Espeut, West says “Homophobia” was invented to abuse Christians as hate speech

‘Gays Made, Not Born’ – On the Confused State of the Religious Mind

Some religious right lies about the lgbt community…

Don’t Shield Gays From Criticism

Marauding homosexuals and J-FLAG (Observer Editorial) ……………………

The Jamaica Observer made their position clear on the issue of the displaced and homeless MSM in the New Kingston area who have been getting themselves embroiled in all kinds of activities where the good now suffers for the bad. Originally published February 21, 2013 the piece is quite poignant on the abandonment of the men by the relevant agencies, the population’s behaviour and more, it is a pity that after four years of the closure of the Safe House Pilot project this very month to be precise we are still reaping the worldwind for not addressing homelessness when matters were less problematic and persons like myself at the local level after thousands of hours of work, consultations and brainstorming suggested the shelter idea to the then  powers that be which led to the pilot project then.

Here are the original posts I did on the ultimatum and the closure of the then residential facility in 2009/10:

Homeless MSM to feel the pinch as JASL issues ultimatum

The Homeless Project, the meeting and more

The Quietus ……… The Safe House Project Closes

Now This from the Observer………………………

THE Jamaican nation continues to struggle with the delicate issue of how to treat those of our citizens who are homosexuals.

In fact, the problem has been seriously exacerbated by the emergence of a growing band of homosexual men, largely operating in New Kingston, who have demonstrated a willingness to attack other citizens and to carry out criminal acts.

With the situation getting out of hand, the lobby group, Jamaican Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays, (J-FLAG) has been forced to distance itself from the homosexuals they are calling “homeless gays”, declaring: “We want to make it absolutely clear that, while J-FLAG advocates for the rights of all Jamaicans, and, in particular, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, J-FLAG does not condone any form of misconduct, violent or criminal behaviour.

“In addition, while these individuals may be members of the LGBT community, J-FLAG cannot be held culpable for their actions and behaviour,” the lobby group said in a January 2013 press statement.

In its infancy, J-FLAG became known for its public statements condemning ‘homophobic’ Jamaicans and its tendency to blame every killing of a homosexual on ‘homophobia’, no matter how clear it was that the incident was a domestic one involving gay lovers. Our police force and our national image overseas suffered terribly because of this practice.

Jamaicans who were incensed by these false accusations would have found the January statement a welcome departure, in that it acknowledged that not everyone who shunned a gay man, was doing so because of his homosexuality.

Said the group: “J-FLAG, as communicated to the police on many occasions, is fully supportive of their efforts to resolve the issues created by homeless gay men. J-FLAG agrees it is necessary to apprehend and incarcerate persons who commit crimes, and understands the necessity of mitigating the impact of lawlessness on business people, residents, employees, and commuters. J-FLAG does not in any way consider the police undertaking their duties as homophobic or being anti-gay…”

We suspect that a statement of this nature could only have come after much angst and desperation on the part of J-FLAG which admitted that it had made several attempts to intervene, but had been unsuccessful in its bid to rein in the culprits, some of whom are involved in frequent internal fights as well as criminal offences such as robbery.

“J-FLAG has met and collaborated with a broad range of stakeholders, including the police, the member of parliament for the constituency, the mayor, the Ministry of Health, the councillor, the Child Development Agency, church leaders, and representatives of the business community, but the outcomes have not been significant enough to address the behavioural issues from which these issues stem,” the organisation said.

J-FLAG, we believe, cannot like Pontius Pilate, wash its hands of the problem and must continue its efforts at intervention on behalf of that section of its constituency.

We hasten to say, however, that this is not just a problem for J-FLAG. These are Jamaican citizens who must be treated as all other Jamaicans. They are entitled to protection under law. Many of them have been cast out of their homes and communities and are living on the streets of Kingston. They are in urgent need of rehabilitative care, education and medical attention.

The society ignores them at its own peril.

Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Marauding-homosexuals-and-J-FLAG_13683576#ixzz2LwB9fcUW

Safe house logo

My response comes via an edited podcast from a blog talk radio entry I did on February 23, 2012 sad the men continue to struggle after so many years of the dubious closure of the Safe House Project in 2009 originally designed to handle the problem when the men were much more docile than now. The previous post entered on December 21, 2012 dealt with the impatience of some of the men who were awaiting the promise of a shelter from JFLAG announced early as October 2012 yet no shelter is yet to come. See previous entries from Gay Jamaica Watch and GLBTQJA below:

Stoning Incident at Jamaica AIDS Support for Life’s Offices

The Continued wordwind from not addressing homelessness (when the men were more docile)

Homeless Men make news again (for all the wrong reasons part 1)

Interfaith group treated homeless MSM in St Catherine

also see newcasts/video on the issue

Some of us are still hopeful despite the foolishness that has obtained over the years and are also investigating what other solutions we can do without these so called responsible organizations who clearly by their foot dragging and negligence are not directly interested in doing the social justice work required for this marginalized group of persons. Simple community assisted living though laudable is not enough and can in no way address the ever increasing challenges and anti-social chaos that require serious psycho-social interventions that we alone can give and the financial situations for many private individuals cannot sustain such shelter assistance for any extended periods.

Peace and tolerance

H

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.

The Jamaican Government schizophrenic on human rights ?

N1258318-page-001 N1258318-page-002

Here is an excerpt of what our government refused to support: (CLICK IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD THE PDF)

Sixty-seventh session
Third Committee
Agenda item 69 (b) – Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island: draft resolution Extra judicial, summary or arbitrary executions

The General Assembly, Recalling the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

1 which guarantees the right to life, liberty and security of person, the relevant provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

2 and other relevant human rights conventions, Reaffirming the mandate of the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, as set out in Council resolution 17/5 of 16 June 2011,

3 Welcoming the universal ratification of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August  1949,

4 which alongside human rights law provide an important framework of accountability in relation to extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions during armed conflict, Mindful of all its resolutions on the subject of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and the resolutions of the Commission on Human Rights and of the Human Rights Council on the subject,

__________________
1 Resolution 217 A (III).
2 See resolution 2200 A (XXI), annex.
3 See Official Records of the General Assembly, Sixty-sixth Session, Supplement No. 53 (A/66/53),
chap. III, sect. A.
4 United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 75, Nos. 970-973.

The recent surprise discovery by some human rights groups and activists that the Jamaica government via its foreign affairs ministry voted yes to change a specific resolution that offered protection from discrimination and state sanctioned killings based on said sexual orientation is now gaining some traction and has evoked mostly negative responses depending on how one looks at how the discussions have been framed. This is the same country that led the struggle along with others under the leadership of Prime Minister Hugh Shearer Internationally on Human Rights and we have subsequently ratified treatises, voted positively on other matters including very public international affairs.

The widely held believe of the “promise” for some persons or the proposal made by Prime Minister Simpson Miller to review the buggery law with a conscience vote the mechanism however has not been outlines fully, this garnered international recognition from other leaders and which ultimately led to the Time Magazine awarding her one of the most 100 influential persons in the world award thus making us look progressive but now?

CLICK FOR HOMEPAGE

One of her ministers has a set of questions to answer such as why was the vote done so as to avoid offering specific protection from discrimination due to sexual orientation? that Ministry has been mum since the news broke and the Ministry’s representatives declined a radio interview on the matter. They need to be reminded that they are servants of the people, this reminds me so much of the gymnastics during the Sexual Offences Bill debate and the Charter of Rights over its ten plus year period it stayed on the parliament agenda with the subsequent repeated interference by religious right groups such as the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship who used legal manoeuvrings to move words such as “sex” suggesting it would have opened doors for homosexual rights agenda and gay marriage agitation by the gay lobby. We see them now acting up aided and abetted by foreign zealots and well funded too spending thousands on ads and other activity when the poor need help.

reminder of the PNP when A. J Nicholson was the opposition spokesman on justice: Opposition sides with Govt on No to same sex marriage 

The bigger picture is the protection of the least amongst us and ALL persons should have protection under the state, the Jamaica government denied offering protection to such a group being us homosexuals all because the language is specific to the type of discrimination. Isn’t it A. J. Nicholson the Minister now of Foreign Affairs, the same A. J. who was very vocal in the aforementioned Sexual Offences Bill/Charter of Rights slammed the suggested and attempted repeal of buggery, parliamentary submission by JFLAG everytime there was a hint in the language that seems in the eyes of some to offer a perceived loophole to other “rights” that we do not deserve they act most times covertly to trash the clauses or sentences revealing such.

We have a culture we know of extreme homophobia and homo-negativity we also have a culture that would extract a significant political rice were any government were to be seen voting to protect supposed “deviants”  it is either we agree as a nation via our governments that human rights are inalienable to all persons of the citizenry including those who visit on our shores or we say no are not going to extend human rights because of some political issue. To be denied the protection simply because of behaviour patterns while ignoring consent and privacy is just plain wrong, a wrong that has been carried on for generations but the emotions run high and cloud the level headed discourse that is required on this issue for us to get to a pluralistic society. We are the same society that has no problem suggesting taking matters to the international commission on human rights for example or the Privy Council or the suggested Caribbean Court of Justice that of the face of it is about to be foisted on us whether we like it or not. Strange when the death penalty was prescribed by local courts and upheld via the PC our government cries fowl and hold prisoners for over five years on death row all because it wants to look good internationally then the PC rules that those accused cannot be hanged who are held over the five year period (after exhausting the necessary appeals)  the complain that we are being dictated to when it was OUR OWN Jamaican law that are used by the PC to adjudicate matters presented to it by Jamaicans litigants who use that avenue.

We cannot have it both ways, either we are for rights or against, when the political pundits sought the job of leadership is was to do just that, LEAD, it’s not going to be easy and there are some unpopular decisions that maybe taken for the greater good of society, leaders must rise to the occasion  that is their mettle and when it is tested it must be found to have been vigilant, strong and forthright in defending human rights.

Beyond the Headlines host Dionne Jackson Miller had Arlene Harrison Henry of The Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights on Human Rights Day discussing the the removal of language in the form of sexual orientation on the Summary Executions UN Resolution – On November 21, 2012, Jamaica voted against resolution A/C.3/67/L.36 at the United Nations condemning extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions which urges States “to investigate promptly and thoroughly all killings, including… all killings committed for any discriminatory reason, including sexual orientation.” Additionally, recent incidents of vigilante attacks on perceived gay persons continue to undermine the achievements and call into question the national commitment to equality for persons of diverse sexual orientation listen:

What we have here now is that we have failed that test for some of the vulnerable amongst us, myself included as a gay man and others in the society where we have copped out in the matter of sexual orientation. The government  is weak on the things that matter and the things that will last defining how the least amongst us will live onwards with protection specifically set out. Instead some persons want the language to say “any other reasons or groups therein”

When certain key words appear they run and scream that someone is imposing homosexuality or conditioning children as in the HFLE matter or when it comes to tolerance persons like Dr Wayne West equate it to supporting fisting and felching practices that are in the extreme and done overseas but unethical pinned on us to bolster his anti gay agenda.

Here are some more reactions from the talk show circuit giving us some insight as to how the public is seeing this and believe me the views are so skewed out there.:

Nationwide’s Ron Mason with caller on Buggery & the UN sexual orientation res

Nationwide’s Ron Mason – caller suggests clinic for gays

Nationwide Radio’s Ron Mason w/caller on Gay parenting/UN Yes vote ..

Much to ponder on as a nation

Peace and tolerance

H

What are Human Rights

In light of the recent physical attack of the University of Technology male student who was alleged caught in a compromising position with another male who escaped his attackers and the subsequent security punches I thought I’d post this article by Atty-at-law Nicholas Manley for our review on Human Rights. See the video compilation below of the mobbing and abuse by the security guards after, take note that these are students.

What are Human Rights?

By definition human rights are our inalienable fundamental rights. Inalienable means that which cannot be taken away. So our human rights are bestowed upon us from the moment we are born and, thus we are all entitled to these rights. Because we are entitled to our human rights and they cannot and should not be taken away from us, we as a people must strive to protect them, government should protect them and breaches of our rights should be highlighted and addressed appropriately.

Human rights are the same for everyone irrespective of colour, class or creed, and are applicable at both the national and international level. In Jamaica, our human rights are enshrined in and protected by our Constitution. Internationally, there have been numerous laws and treaties enacted specifically for the protection of human rights.

Milestone document

Most notably of these is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This declaration is seen as a milestone document in the history of human rights. It was proclaimed by the United Nations, in 1948, as a common standard of achievements for all nations, and sets out the fundamental human rights to be universally recognised and protected.

The Declaration sets out the following rights:

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude.

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Equality before the law

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Everyone has the right to freedom of movement

Everyone has the right to a nationality.

(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.

(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.

(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government;

Everyone has the right to education.

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

ENDS

Additional materials

Earl Moxam’s RJR discussion on the issue recently:

My two cents as the dust settles (part one)

and a clip from Jerry Small show on NEWSTALK 93FM as the airwaves continue to heat up with the issue.

Urgent need to discuss Sex & sexuality nationally part 2

In part one on sister blog Gay Jamaica Watch I looked at the fiasco that was the Home and family life education manual and the uproar over one page of a volumous curriculum designed among other things to address sex and sexuality education in schools. Noting that all most of us older persons have been taught reproductive education i.e sperms and eggs make babies, puberty and the pubic hair bit and boys having wet dreams while girls see their periods and even that under the guise of “guidance counseling” had a hard time in getting to the openness where it is now given the sanitization that has occurred over and over again.

Many schools have been run and founded by churches with teachers of a certain ilk so the fear of teaching the “real things” is evident over time, in fact the very paranoia now over this curriculum and the screaming from sections of the public is a reflection of the lack of understanding SEX & SEXUALITY.

also hear my latest audio post/podcast:

Now comes this rubbish in my view of two persons being made scape goats for the Minister of Education’s ineptitude in leading the change that is required in the system to revolutionize the levels of understanding of SEX & SEXUALITY.

Have a read of the article in the Gleaner published on October 28 2012, what is the fear and who has an agenda? obviously the minister is conflicted and is pandering to the religious right also being a man of the cloth himself, what about separation of church and state?

Of course the goodly JFLAG is missing in all this discourse, so much for limpwristedness.

Two In Hot Water Over Sex Text

thwaites-file-640x425

 

Education minister claims personal agenda led to controversial sections in school book

Edmund Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter

DISCIPLINARY ACTION is now hanging over the head of a public servant who Education Minister Ronald Thwaites claims had an “agenda” in crafting the controversial sex-education text which was recently withdrawn from high schools.

At least 1,368 copies of the 6,000 health and family life education (HFLE) text, deemed by some to be very offensive, were pulled by the ministry after national uproar over the material that was intended for students between grades seven and nine.

One person who allegedly authored “inappropriate” elements of text has parted company with the education ministry.

But that is not the end of the matter.

“It appears that there were two persons, at least, involved in the process who had a particular agenda in respect of this particular subset of the curriculum and they were able to embed it in the curriculum, and there was not sufficient review to extirpate it before publication,” Thwaites said last week in response to questions posed by Opposition spokesperson on education Marisa Dalrymple Philibert.

“As far as those who, investigation so far determined, played an untoward part in the writing of this (HFLE), one such person is no longer in the service of the ministry and the other person will be subject to the appropriate disciplinary action that the public service provides,” the education minister told fellow legislators.

Intense debate played out on the airwaves and in letters to newspaper editors, in September, about a section of the text which posed questions on sexual behaviour and commentary on heterosexuality and homosexuality.

Angry parents at the time demanded to know who approved the text, despite its withdrawal.

Responding to similar concerns from Dalrymple Philibert, who is the member of parliament for South Trelawny and the Opposition spokesperson on education, Thwaites said an investigation conducted by his ministry revealed that the curriculum was introduced into schools when it was given to teachers who were trained to use it in August 2011.

formal process bypassed

He said copies were distributed to schools before they were withdrawn.

Thwaites made it clear that the formal process of the ministry to approve curriculum was bypassed.

He said then Chief Education Officer Grace McLean did not know of the inappropriate curriculum.

“No Minister of Education of whatever political stripe would have knowingly allowed material as obnoxious as that contained in the HFLE curriculum to have been published,” Thwaites declared.

He also informed the House that the ministry had issued warnings when similar material found its way into the schools in the past.

“It was a clear intention of some who have very laudable views in other respects, but also have very clear predispositions regarding sexual conduct and how children are to be introduced to (it) who got away on this one.

“The important thing now is that we make it quite clear to this Parliament, to those who serve as administrators and public officials and to the nation as a whole, that the primary responsibility for introducing young children to sexual knowledge and responsibility lies with the parents,” the education minister stressed.

Setting the record straight in relation to the ministry’s position on sex and family life education, Thwaites added: “The principles that must be at all times respected is that the Ministry of Education promotes sexually responsible behaviour in the context of faithful union between a man and woman while offering respect and compassion to those who adopt a different lifestyle.”

ENDS

In continuing …………………..

Also see: New sex education manual in two months and Defending Family Life Curriculum

The public uproar over the health and family life education (HFLE) curriculum has done a grave disservice to a programme that addresses many of the social ills plaguing Jamaican youth. As an HIV and health educator, this is quite disconcerting to me.

The HFLE curriculum is not a textbook to be used by students, but a curriculum guide for use by teachers. The activities and resources which have been the media’s focus are not mandatory. Teachers have the power to choose which parts to use as they make their lesson plans.

Denigrating the curriculum as a ‘gay book’ or ‘sex text’ misses the fact that it is a holistic life skills programme, covering self and interpersonal relationships; sexuality and sexual health; appropriate eating and fitness, and managing the environment.

Within each theme, the life skills are broken down into major subcategories of social, cognitive and coping life skills, including decision making; problem solving; effective communication; empathy; coping with stress; coping with emotions; healthy self-management and conflict resolution.

BEHAVIOURAL MODIFICATION

Teaching life skills in this way has been shown to delay the onset of drug use; prevent high-risk sexual behaviour; facilitate anger management and conflict resolution; improve academic performance and promote positive social adjustment. In fact, the curriculum already includes behaviour-modification strategies to deal with anger management, which the minister of education now proposes to introduce in schools.

The specific sections which have been highlighted by the media have also been taken out of context. The personal risk assessment that asks questions about sexual behaviour is for private use by students to help them calculate their personal risk. The information is not returned to the teacher. The purpose of the exercise is to build the students’ critical thinking, decision making and healthy self-management and refusal skills.

The guided imagery activity which asks students to imagine they are the only heterosexuals in a world of homosexuals is not intended to ‘make students homosexual’ but to build empathy and self-awareness skills. It is meant to address intolerance and its consequences, including bullying and abuse of students because of sexual orientation.

UNDERSTANDABLE DISCOMFORT

The public’s discomfort with some of these matters is understandable. However, we cannot ignore the reality our children face and refuse to give them tools to handle their sexuality and sexual health.

The reality is that young people are sexually active, but they do not understand their HIV risk. The mean age of sexual initiation in Jamaica is 14 years old (12 for boys, 15 for girls). Seven per cent of all reported AIDS cases in Jamaica have been adolescents and young adults between 15 and 24.

The Knowledge Attitudes Perception Behaviour (KAPB) study of 2008 indicated there was a 100 per cent increase in the rate of sexually transmitted infections among adolescent girls from 2004. Transactional sex and casual sex are also common among adolescent among males and females.

The same KAPB study indicated that males in the 15-24 age group reported having an average of six sexual partners, and females of the same age group, three sexual partners. Additionally, behavioural studies indicate that one in every three gay men was HIV-positive, and a significant number of this cohort was between the ages of 15 and 24. However, only 38 per cent of young adults between 15 and 24 per cent can correctly identify the modes of preventing HIV transmission.

Since the procurement rules have been breached as it were are we to throw out the baby with the bathwater? the Observer also carried a story on the issue: They had a gay agenda

The Process for Approval of Curricula

a) The policy directorate grants approval for the development/revision of a curriculum in response to societal needs and/or new policy direction.

b) The draft curriculum is developed by the process owner along with selected technical experts internally and externally of the Ministry of Education through consultation with stakeholders (civic groups, teachers, principals, students, parents, and others).

c) The curriculum is piloted for feedback and adjustments

d) The first draft of the curriculum is submitted to the Core Curriculum Unit for review.

e) The Core Curriculum Unit reviews the curriculum and makes recommendation for approval of the final draft document to the Chief Education Officer through the Deputy Chief Education Officer, Curriculum and Support Services.

f) The Deputy Chief Education Officer, Curriculum and Support Services recommends the approval of the final draft curriculum to the Chief Education Officer.

g) The Chief Education Officer with support from the technical team representing the process owners presents the final draft document to the Executive Management Meeting, chaired by the Permanent Secretary and the Senior Policy Making Group, chaired by the Honourable Minister of Education.

h) The Minister of Education gives final approval of the draft curriculum and the policy unit documents the approval.

i) The process owners with the responsibility for the draft curriculum receives approval from the Chief Education Officer to implement the new curriculum in schools.

j) The process is documented every step of the way, the record is kept on an official file for future reference.

Meanwhile the

Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society (JCHS) is among a number of faith-based organisations that have expressed grave concern over the controversial Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) curriculum, and has called for a full disclosure of the source of its contents.

The group along with the Jamaica Association of Evangelicals, Faith Temple Gospel Assembly, the Issachar Foundation, Christian Brethren Assemblies, Jamaica Lawyers Christian Fellowship, Christian Life Fellowship, Bethany Fellowship, Swallowfield Chapel, and Mona Heights Chapel have expressed their displeasure with the curriculum. READ MORE HERE

The Safe House Project background from the conceptualizer …………………

In recent times we have seen all kinds of stuff happening with the homeless men both older and newer generations and the referred to Safe House Pilot Project in some of my posts and podcasts, here the former Executive Director of Jamaica AIDS Support for Life at the time when it was conceptualized has penned a post from her new blog on the issue where she explains in some detail how and why the project came to be.

some background since August of this year as carried on CVM TV

some Abbreviations

JASL – Jamaica AIDS Support for Life

JFLAG – Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays

AMFAR – The American Foundation for AIDS Research

Here is the post from The Queens Yellow Brick Road

The pilot homeless shelter housed at apt 3, 4 Upper Musgrave Road (I wish I remember the dates, I am getting old will ask the gay community historian Howie Fiehdior, to back me up on the details of time etc) was expected to continue for 6 months, and funded by various donors, AMFAR, MOH, TIDES. I did not receive specific funding for the homeless shelter but rather looked at the existing funding we had in house and how I could use the funding and activities there in to support the pilot. No one would fund a shelter as there was no precedence, this was the first of its kind and there was no evidence that it would survive.

The dates as she asked for were the ultimatum issued to the Safe House residents on December 30, 2009 and the closure on February 6, 2010 or thereabout, See more

The Quietus ……… The Safe House Project Closes

The Ultimatum on December 30, 2009

What was the thought and motivation behind doing the pilot:

The fact is, due to the high levels of homophobia in Jamaica, homelessness is almost always an eventuality for gay youth from as early as 11 years old. The situation affects both lesbians and gay men, however, due to the heavy resistance to homosexuality among men, they usually face the immediate physical issues and most visibly, ending up on the street. For the forgotten voice of Lesbians, homophobia is no less real, rather as always women suffer in silence, with homophobia being experienced in the form of rapes, forced relationship arrangements and in situations of homelessness, they usually end up at a female friends house or a male friends’ with whom they would usually have to engage in sex.
For me, there can really be no effective work aimed at truly finding the solutions to the core vulnerabilities both to HIV and LGBT issues, until we went right to the nucleus of it, and the nucleus is homelessness.

Process:

I spent a lot of time understanding the community, my working hours went straight up into midnight, at detriment of both my relationship and health, however to serve a community, you have to understand them and their issues. Homeless and sex working MSM would come by JASL and nights and we would just talk randomly, about their childhood, experiences on the street, many a times I was exposed to information that had me cringe, but I knew I could not do that openly and if I did, I would have to be quick to explain that I am in shock, so as to prevent them from feeling uncomfortable about sharing.

3 focus group sessions were convened with the guys, transcribed by another JASL staff member with the objective of collecting info about their experiences on their family life prior to being homeless; their experiences on the street; where they would like to see themselves in the future; what kind of solution they think would be best. The homeless guys were used to get participants to the programme, and they did this willingly. We offered shower and clothing and sometimes food.
Miraculously, the landlord at Upper Musgrave had a vacancy, a 3 bedroom space that is now JFLAG’s office, I spoke to her about the pilot programme and she was willing to rent it for $40,000 per month. AMFARs project had money for grants to gay people to support rental for 1st month, I decided to use that money to support the rental for the project for the 6 months. Giving a gay man who became homeless the first month’s rent is a real waste of time and unsustainable joke use of resources, usually, they are unemployed and can’t afford to pay rent; they lie through their teeth to get the funds; the reasons for them being homeless was not investigated.
At the time I was going ahead with the plan, I heard no vocal oppositions, now I look back at it, everyone went quiet, perhaps because i was so enthused about it, I never appropriately interpreted this quiet lack of active involvement in the process. I started on a rampage begging and partnership seeking: Food for the poor and Red Cross from beds and food; Ministry of Health for counseling services and medical care; and the community for every thing and buy-in.

The end product was a project officially and initially housing I believe 12 persons including one woman, who was picked up off the street by a concerned citizen with very advanced case of AIDS and at the point of dying. I remember her with a huge smile on my face, as although I know the policy was not to house people at the office, I hid Candy at JASL and within 3 days of interacting with people, eating, smiling and being hugged despite her sores, one could hardly believe she was the same person, almost dead, that was brought in just days ago. Our tenancy began, we had mattresses to put on the floors and beds, a doctor was in place, and they were all screened. I want to make it clear that HIV + status was not a requirement for entry to the programme but over 90% of the participants to the programme were HIV + and with some with more than one opportunistic infection, their health situation was traumatic for both the doctor and I, almost all were put on ARV and other treatment immediately, and with of course as much privacy as we could manage, with the nurse keeping and administering the medication. Many were at different stages of denial, as well as displaying mental and psychological issues, our counselors were Sharlene Jarrett from the National Programme and the late and amazing Howard Daley. Mrs. Jarrett was employed to the National HIV Programme as Monitoring and Evaluation specialist but also did counseling, she agreed to do it free of charge. Howard Daley was one of the brave 5 that started JASL in the first place and it was an honour to meet someone like him, his fees were supported by AMFAR, and he conducted the group counseling sessions.

Remedial classes were supported through the Global Fund project, and provided tutoring in Spanish, Mathematics, English and Computing, all delivered by LGBT teachers. I included Spanish as learning a second language would also expose them to another culture, many had only dreamt of cultures outside of Jamaica, and learning Spanish was one other attempt to distract them from Jamaican culture and plant hope-seeds that situations can be different.

They all had strong interests in performing arts and an LGBT dancer was also brought in to do tutoring under another dream project of mine, I was hoping to develop and demonstrate using the Pilot Project was Phoenix Rise, a LGBT performing arts and behaviour change programme. Of course there were behavioural issues, arguments and verbal fights, the behaviour change process had just begun, giving someone food, clothing and shelter does not immediately convert them to angels, when they have had to develop demons to address the harshness of their realities. Respectful dialogue was the method I used to address issues, they are used to the language of aggression, they have no respect for life or anything, speaking aggressively to them would only cause an even bigger flair up in an effort to protect themselves, and it worked each time, there was a rules list and sanctions for repeat offenders. Other gay men who had experienced homelessness, rallied around the project, providing support such as food, aiding in quelling issues, not sure how but if there were any issues, they were first on scene.
Let me be clear, whilst the shelter was the first attempt at providing/testing a structured solution to homelessness, the community has itself been dealing with its own homelessness issues on smaller scales. There were interesting family models created that I did not see anywhere else in my research on homelessness, Gareth, Macy, Spencer and a whole lot others were already housing and caring for gay men. This is the model that ultimately I was working on providing a justification for supporting. In behaviour change and social development, we cannot avoid looking at the natural solutions that are developing in response to our problems, these must be understood and supported with structure and technical help. The gay mommys and daddys needed parental training, support group sessions, and a small financial contribution to support them in being the solution they already were to homelessness. This model would solve a few issues, not least of which is the cost and unsustainability of providing a one shelter for homelessness: the families already existed and had food, clothing, bedding etc set up to support the homeless. Providing a place for board, showers and sleep is not what this community needs to solve homelessness and the desperation of it, what is needed is a re-entry into a FAMILY, who cared about who they are and what they do, who held them accountable and who loved them.
When I was asked to pull the programme before its maturity period, I was devastated and heart broken. I resigned from my post as Executive Director, knowing the core vulnerabilities of our work, I could not continue ignoring and working like I didn’t see them, it would be labouring in vain, attending meetings in luxurious hotels, traveling to exotic places and coming home to cut my eyes at the core nucleus of HIV and LGBT issues, I personally could not live with myself. I had to take a very long break, having suffered a nervous breakdown, being suicidal and having been diagnosed with severe depression, I was mentally unstable for about 2 years after the experience as I learnt the hard way, that not everything is always as it seems.