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 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.

Facebook fallouts continue …..

This is not the first time I have done posts on navigating Facebook and privacy but on my sister blogs, maybe the reading is a turnoff for some, however I will do it non the less and other bloggers have promised to do so as well as for this post a 19 year old man from St Catherine is now wondering where is he going to stay as he has been bouncing from here and there. The problem of Facebook navigation is becoming an issue again it seems even in the face of some information sharing by other bloggers and on a previous post on Gay Jamaica Watch albeit that was more about hookups with newly added friends for sexual contact or so reports still abound about disastrous consequences.

Adding non gay friends without the necessary settings in place to avoid too much scrutiny which was what led to this new case that was brought to my attention by a concerned community member who could not assist. The family of the young man has been unkind to him ever since a female with prying eyes was added to his friends list only for her to scrutinize photos and other content while noticing that his materials were liked by mostly males. So evasive was her review that she found it necessary to contact the young man’s mother complaining that he was gay and as it turned out his siblings also already had their suspicions which were bourn  out in the family discussion on the matter before his mother issued the ultimatum for him to leave the home while threatening to throw out his belongings as well. If not for the assistance of another female community member for overnight shelter he would have been homeless instantly.

He has since been assisted by others but only just as resources which is a challenge in these situations always run out after a time. He sounded upbeat when last I heard his voice and was preparing to relocate to Kingston. Such is the trouble younger MSMs go through with profiling and “nuff” neighbours who just feel persons must reach their idea of sexuality. His brother also proceeded to reign blows on the man as he left the home with threats for him not to return.

There have been other similar stories of LGBTians in Jamaica who have not checked their personal settings on their Facebook profiles leaving them open to unneeded scrutiny or the occasional family home browsing in the absence of the account holder as passwords are saved automatically which allows other users to sign in and pry private information.

The victim here and others like him have been assisted with some information to check his privacy settings and make use of the options there or batch his acquaintances versus his long term friends so as to hide or avoid prying into materials one may not necessarily want to share with non gay friends as in this case.  One of the challenges is that Facebook often changes their global settings or add new features which may sometimes adjust ones global settings so one has to be vigilant and recheck your profile every now and again to be on the safe side, as I always say “Be Vigilant Be Safe” on my blogs we can’t take for granted exposure especially if one is not ready to be out or outed.

This older post on my sister blog Gay Jamaica Watch speaks to one being outed by family members after his page was perused by a prying sibling.

see: Facebook & unintentional outings to family members ……..

some profile setting suggestions:

Here is another post from Gay Jamaica Watch warning about fake pics and profiles with ulterior motives as well:

CLICK: Warning!: Fake Facebook pics and hookup dangers

As always be vigilant and be safe and share the information on privacy settings for your profile or experiment and see if the adjustments suits you, it won’t hurt.

also see: Insensitive Parents and Displaced MSMs Part III from November 2011

Peace and tolerance

H

St Thomas men relocate with police protection after they’re forced to move .

 

As members of the LGBT displaced and homeless communities continue to spiral and meet homo-negative with homophobic abuses/issues in Kingston mostly here comes some positive news of sorts to a case that has come to light and was hinted to in a previous audio post I did over the last two weeks in eastern Jamaica namely St Thomas where a brethren had tried to accommodate two displaced MSMs while they were seeking employment via sending out resumes. The man who had assisted another former member of the displaced community  and was asked by the same man to assist two others who he deemed not trouble makers related the issues to me. Thanks to him for sharing this as well.

The men who had been temporarily housed at the home of the St Thomas man for two weeks had settled in and remained low as per instruction of the man (from now on called the household head) offering temporary shelter.

However neighbours had become nosy and suspicious according to the man as he had been noticing persons passing more often than usual even as the men stayed in and use the internet and other diversionary entertainment such as cable TV to occupy their free time.

First signs of trouble came as one evening one of the men who travelled home from Kingston stopped at a nearby shop to purchase items when he noticed persons were making comments subjected with homosexual references, the man upon reaching home complained to the head of the household and he in turn reportedly asked the men to avoid using the town centre when travelling but come home directly. The helpful man had not had any run ins before with other community members and when I pressed to find out if any of the men he was assisting may have been the cause of the unneeded attention he said no or he would have evicted them as soon as he saw any signs of that as he was protective of his space while concerned about assisting those who may need it and show some sort of desire to improve themselves. Other one off skirmishes occurred with passers-by and persons farming on a plot of land some distance behind the home.

Days after however one of the men was taking a shower and singing when he reportedly heard movements outside the house and nearing the bathroom window, he looked out and saw 3 persons as if they were trying to pry into the home, the other two men were away at the time. He hailed the persons in the yard in a bid to let them know he saw them and they ran through the nearby bushes, bearing in mind neighbours are not nearby.

That afternoon the other men arrived and the lone man who saw the intruders alerted the household head, he said he became suspicious and nervous at the same time and decided to alert other friends while deciding whether to move from the area. The very afternoon being July 4th the three individuals returned with a small crowd introducing themselves as “concerned neighbours” introducing themselves and asking if the men lived alone etc? The household head who by this time was angry at the intrusion had a heated discussion with the prying concerned persons it was at this exchange the persons expressed that they knew the men were gay and that they should leave as soon as possible as they do not want any gays (battyman, fish) around.

The shouting match lasted for about more than half a hour and the ultimatum was issued repeatedly according to the man as I spoke to him, the men left the same night via a friend who came and picked them up and they slept elsewhere for the night. The house was under lock and key for several days and the landlord who was notified asked his tenant to stay low for a while and see if they persons would calm down. The men decided to move so as to avoid any unneeded violence and abuse so on July 11 they returned for the items and furniture, their first attempts to pack the items were interrupted by passers-by who snickered and later apparently returned with others some of whom were recognised at the set of “concerned neighbours” who lambasted the men with some of the usual anti gay rhetoric. The police were summoned and they already knew of the issue as the men had made a stop by the precinct without filing a report but alerted the cops. They did come and kept a safe distance between the jeering residents and the hastily packing men who moved items to the waiting truck, the driver of the truck was said to have made a comment that if he knew that was the situation he would not have taken the contract to move the men but since he was there they should hurry, the other side men were said to be snickering.

That they did and left with the persons described as “concerned neighbours” literally applauding as they drove away, the landlord was said to have expressed disappointment in the incident and the loss of a good tenant, the man was hailed as a reliable tenant and well paying one as well.

The household head is now at a friend’s home, the two others he was trying to assist are now re-displaced but some inquiries are being done to see how they can be accommodated. Meanwhile in Kingston two separate stabbings incidents took place in the business district both linked to homelessness and homophobic abuse. Another displaced man was run over deliberately on Knutsford Boulevard almost two weeks ago after dancing to music audible from  the street emanating from a popular nightclub which did not sit kindly to the men’s outward effeminate displays.

The recent murders as well is still fresh in the minds of some and all the other ones we might be aware of and those we may never hear of as well, the downtown populations as well have been going through stuff as well.

Meanwhile here is an audio post on recent killings and so on:

Big Lies, Crisis Archiving & More MSM Homlessness Issues 12.07.12

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the Observer letter that was published today:

Gays call on PM to listen to their cries

Dear Editor,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dane Lewis

 

Executive Director, J-FLAG

 

PO Box 1152

 

Kingston 8

 

admin@jflag.org

ENDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

here is a synopsis in audio:

Peace and tolerance

H

Thugs attack male AIDS patient …… accuses him of being gay …………..

Never thought we would see this in the age of so much social marketing on HIV/AIDS in Jamaica by the Ministry of Health and other non governmental organizations stigmatization leading to ostracism here yet again and to add insult to injury the alleged culprits are persons said to be employed at the very clinic where he seeks medical attention plus he was accused of being gay. Well I hope he takes up the route of reporting this to the National AIDS Committee and have their investigative team step on this with urgency.

That alleged employee of the clinic needs an intervention as well as the entire community requires an intense and sustained community outreach program and interventions to curb that mix up and the obvious conflation that HIV/AIDS is a gay disease yet still thus instilling fear and dread.

At least the Star News is less sensational this time around and some thought was put into preparing this article:

Andre Williams, STAR Writer wrote:

A man who has been living with AIDS was recently beaten and chased from a Kingston community by residents who insisted they didn’t want him there.

THE WEEKEND STAR understands that 42-year-old Mario Watsonwas recently assaulted by thugs from the Swallowfield community and told he should leave and never return.

Watson told our news team, “I rented a small room from a landlord that resides in the community and have been residing there for about four months … I was warned by the landlord not to tell people I had the virus and I made sure not to disobey.”

Watson, who says he contracted the virus after having unprotected sex with an exotic dancer in Montego Bay, told THE WEEKEND STAR that his ‘secret’ was made public in the community by a female security guard.

The guard, he said, is employed at a hospital where he went for treatment and also resides in the community.

He explained, “I went to the ……. hospital to get treatment and assistance and that’s where I saw the lady working as a security guard at the entrance… . She didn’t know where I was from until she saw me again in her community.”

He continued, “One day I was walking pass and saw her and a friend sitting and overheard her saying…”dah man deh a b…yman and him have AIDS” and her friend laughed.”

THE WEEKEND STAR was told that since that outburst, thugs in the community started to antagonise Watson.

Two weeks ago Watson, who insist he isn’t a homosexual, said that he was on his way home when he was attacked after being shown a gun a few days before by some thugs.

He recalls, “I was walking and someone said ‘Hey Yankee’ (Watson has a foreign accent) and the next thing I felt was a burning sensation at the back of my head… Blood followed after and I ran to the station with my bloodstained shirt and made a report and a receipt was issued.”

Watson said despite his protest, he was driven around the community in a police vehicle in an attempt to find his attackers however it was not fruitful.

The following day he said he noticed that his wall had been spray painted with the words; “We kill informer a Swallowfield aka ‘killingfield’…HIV b…yman don’t bow”.

Later in the day Watson alleges, a ‘tall man’ who saw him said, “Don’t mek we see you tomorrow in Swallowfield”.

He said he went back to the police and made them aware of the threats.

Watson later alleges that when he went back home it was ransacked, his laptop gone, cell phone was missing , bed was turned over and his pet fish left for dead after the tank was turned over.

An officer at the Stadium police confirmed that two reports were made by Watson and they are still investigating. The officer said that they have a medical report from KPH outlining the injuries to Watson.

Checks made with the Jamaica Aids Support revealed that no report of this matter was made to them.

A representative expressed to our news team, “We have no knowledge of this matter, however the normal procedure would be for us to investigate first, find out if there is a community based group that deals with anything social whether it is a social club or youth club and then offer counselling…We wouldn’t just go in like that.”

Watson said after the advice of his pastor he has since left the community and is relocating to somewhere he can have peace and quiet.

Name Changed

Brother pleads with UK Government to halt lesbian sister’s deportation …………..

According to the voice in the UK a Jamaican woman is to face deportation but she is a member of the same gender loving community women seem to have had issues in gaining asylum overall although we cannot judge so easily as each case has to be taken on its own merit but seeing that men who have sex with men are more vulnerable to homophobic violence in Jamaica they have far more cases pending, successful and deportations than the women do.

However as I have tried to point out before there has been a sharp increase in lesbophobic violence to include the previously thought African phenomenon of corrective rape, forced evictions and displacements.

Have a read of the item from the Voice first excerpted below:

‘My Sister Will Be Killed If She Is Sent Back To Jamaica’

A WEST YORKSHIRE man says his lesbian sister will be killed if she is sent back to Jamaica and is urging immigration officials to reconsider a decision to deport her.

Home

Nestfield Lopez, 24, from Leeds, told The Voice that homophobia in the Caribbean country is rife and claims that his sibling will be targeted because of her sexuality.

He said: ”We all know what Jamaicans think of gays.”

“We’ve got terrorists here that are making suicide bombs. They’ve been in prison, they come out and they can’t deport them because of human rights. What about her human rights? That’s the frustrating thing about it,” he continued.

His sister, 22-year-old, Coletane Lopez, was detained by the UK Border Agency on March 20 after her human rights application was denied.

Acting on legal advice, she had gone to Lunar House in Croydon, Surrey, where immigration claims are processed, to seek asylum for protection, but was handcuffed and transferred to Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre in Bedfordshire, where she is currently awaiting deportation.

Mr Lopez, who was unaware that his sister was gay until last December, has begun a petition to stop the process but claims her health is deteriorating day by day.

“We had a visit with her and she’s lost loads of weight. She hasn’t been eating.

She’s been worried. At one point she wanted to commit suicide. She said I’m going to kill myself because if I get sent home, I’m going to get killed anyway.”

Her deportation has been placed in the fast track system, which means she can be removed from the country within four to seven days of her case being decided.

The siblings first came to the UK with their family in 2000. Last year their parents were removed and sent back to Jamaica, but Mr Lopez, who is married with two young children, has been granted the right to remain because his partner is a British national.

Mr Lopez says that his sister will have nowhere to go if she is returned to Jamaica because even his parents refuse to accept his sister because of her sexuality.

He said: “Every time I speak to my dad, we have an argument. He says, ‘have you not thrown her out yet? Don’t give her any money and don’t look after her. You should choke her and kill her’. That’s what he’s saying to me. I’m like, ‘that’s your daughter!’ But he says, ‘Oh no. I don’t have no daughter anymore. That’s what I have to deal with!”

The Voice contacted the UK Border Agency for their response. A spokesperson said: “We do not routinely comment on individual cases.”

ENDS

In continuing on the issue of displacements for SGL women due to lesbophobia women by virtue of being more social creatures in the Jamaican context easily find informal hosting services within the community or with family members as some cases have shown as lesbianism is tolerated locally than male homosexuality. Sadly in this case as excerpted above shows there maybe a serious cause for concerns and as I said above each case has to be taken on its own merit but we must also remember the reputation Jamaica on a whole has in places like the United Kingdom where we have flouted rules, committed crimes and so on.

Our cases are treated with far more scrutiny based on my limited experience with the border agency in times gone by but how do we assist persons who legitimately need to leave the island due to threats against their person?

We have seen successful cases on the other hand such as a sister who was bipolar some years ago who was brutally raped several times over by thugs (including a cousin allegedly) in her inner city community with what seemed to be tacit support from other thugs in the area at the time, she was successful however in gaining asylum in the UK in 2010, another sister who was threatened with arson of her flat in another area due to her butch mystique as it were as she wore masculine clothes and was clearly a gender non conformist given the scheme of things.

And as for advocacy for same gender loving women in Jamaica well that is much to be desired with groups such as JFLAG and a smaller outfit known as Women for Women (WFW) but since male homosexuality and the attendant issues are engaged far more with a view to repealing the buggery law which is understandable women’s issues get glossed over even in the face of the aforementioned increases in violence and stigma to sgl women especially the members or self identified butches who are seen as a threat to men in Jamaica as they are accused of taking away women from over machismo worshipping men.

We hope there is a follow up on this story so we can know the outcome of this case and how the sister is fearing out.

Additional reading from a previous post on sister blog GLBTQJA on Blogger:
Jamaica lesbians suffer from under-reported violence but whose fault is that ???

here are two pieces of audio commentary I had done in 2011 also expressing concerns about the inequality in the handling of same gender loving women’s issues versus msms and the murder of two lesbians late last year as well:

Lesbian issues left out of the Jamaican advocacy thrust until now? 

plus

2 SGL WOMEN LOST, CORRECTIVE RAPE & VIRTUAL SILENCE FROM THE MALE DOMINATED ADVOCACY STRUCTURE

Peace and tolerance

H

More Homo Negative News: Gay Tenants anger neighbours ………….

Following on the recent problems at the new Mass Camp venue and the current carnival/soca season with supposed unruly gay men allegedly gyrating on each other in public and dancing the latest feminine dancehall moves has come news of cohabitation issues which after some research has included members of the displaced populations that I have repeatedly on this blog and others expressed concerns about, the fallout has become public yet again.

Also see from GLBTQJA on Blogger:  Homo-negativity in public: So called Unruly gays chased from party (as captioned in the cartoon)

First take a look at the comprehensive report by the Star News (far more detailed and seemingly well written than previous gay themed entries from the tabloid) as published March 22, 2012:

A group of tenants who reside at an apartment complex in upper St Andrew are hoping to be rescued from the presence of a group of homosexual occupants who they say are menacing.

“Everybody in yah a complain,” an exasperated tenant explained to THE STAR.

The residents, who were evidently frustrated, told our news team that they have reached boiling point, and can no longer live among the six effeminate males who they say reside in an apartment which is designated to accommodate only two persons.

Furthermore, the tenant’s point of the number of occupants living in an apartment at any given time limited to two persons was substantiated by a clause in a document which illustrates the rules of living in the apartment complex, titled , The Rules of the Proprietors’ Strata Plan.

THE STAR was issued a copy of the document which outlined in Clause No. Nine that studio apartments are not to be occupied by more than two persons on a permanent basis.

Meanwhile, tenants say they want something to be done immediately because they can no longer stomach the distasteful activities of the six.

“Dem(JPS) cut off them light and NWC cut off dem water so a inna the washroom them a bathe and a carry back water to dem apartment,” one resident explained.

He added how upset he is with the practice of his neighbours using the washroom as a makeshift bathroom because it is a central point for laundry for all occupants of the apartment.

” From dem start bathe in deh … nobody no go back in deh go wash cause we no know weh dem have ” he added.

Additionally, THE STAR was told that the men walk about throughout the apartment dressed in female underwear having no consideration for others who may find the sight disturbing.

contraband

Furthermore, the tenants allege that the six are also frequent smokers of marijuana and continue to use the contraband even though it is a health hazard to non-smokers.

“Is just ganja dem smoke, ganja, ganja, ganja and we can’t take it,” another annoyed resident outlined.

Interestingly, the document also clearly states in Clause No. Three that the apartment is to be used for residential purposes only and should not be used for any purpose which may be illegal or injurious to the reputation of the complex.

The residents told THE STAR that they have written several letters documenting their concerns to the landlady but nothing has been done to date to address the matter even though Clause No. 18 supports their right to illustrate their grouses.

The clause reads, landlords to whom malpractice’s of tenants are reported by management are expected to take disciplinary action, including dismissal of the tenants if the offence warrants this.

All attempts to contact the landlady proved futile.

Meanwhile, THE STAR sought legal advice from attorney-at-law Marjorie Shaw about the actions, if any, that could be taken by the tenants against their neighbours.

Shaw explained that under the Rent Restriction Act, the annoyed occupants could not take action without the cooperation of the landlady.

“In order for the landlord to remove the tenants,they would have to issue them with a notice to quit the property, and issue them one month’s rental notice,” she said. Nonetheless, she outlined that the distraught tenants would have to seek abatement by putting forward a claim of nuisance before the court. “It will fall upon the occupants of the apartment to get relief on a basis of nuisance,” she said.

ENDS

There is some truth to this one this time around as some of the occupants of the apartment as indicated in my introduction were aligned to and were a part of the displaced and homeless msm communities who have since found some hosting assistance from friends, this set of problems could very well be attributed to the disturbing and continued lack of concern for solutions by the lgbt advocacy structures around this section of our population. This is not the first time we have had incidents and newspaper/tabloid reports of behavioural issues by msms in residential areas leading to fallout. Just some months ago we saw the public detention on television on men in a St Catherine scheme and another incident just under a month now in the Syndenham area where some men who shared a house and who also hosted friends were forcibly evicted by the owner and other neighbours as complaints came of noise, ganja smoking and what was described other anti social behaviour.

Certainly we have to take a serious look at this recurring decimal especially when it involves more street savy members of our community who are used to a certain modus operandi versus those who host them at rented flats and houses, the combination is not working out well in our favour in the long run as it gives license I believe to anti gay action, homo-negativity and subsequently homophobia. Also the problem of profiling is well established here just by the report, how do we know that all the alleged gays are indeed gay, we have had instances where heterosexual friends or even family members also share living space with gay persons and are quite tolerant but they get grouped as gay when trouble hits. The issue of other tenants refusing to use the wash-room albeit if the allegations are true that the men use the area as a make shift bathroom suggesting the men have HIV hence the scorn element comes in.

Talk on the street is the men should be evicted as they are nasty and the usual anti gay sentiments, here is another example of where we need to improve living conditions for lgbt people and execising proper restraint or decorum in order to exist peacefully. Sometimes we make it bad for ourselves too I must admit. Some influentials are trying to see what they can do with regards to this situation.

Peace and tolerance

H

International Sex Workers Rights Day ……………

Today is such a day and is marked worldwide by conferences, sessions, some public education activity to sensitize persons as to the need to view this part of our community as human beings as well not to be ostracised and scorned as we are good at doing. The term sex worker rights encompasses a variety of aims being pursued globally by individuals and organizations that specifically involve the human and labor rights of sex workers.

The goals of these movements are extremely diverse, but generally aim to destigmatize sex work and ensure fair treatment before legal and cultural forces on a local and international level for all persons employed in the Sex industry. In most countries, even those where sex work is legal, sex workers of all kinds are stigmatized and marginalized, which can prevent them from seeking legal redress for discrimination. Not to be confused with the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers which is observed annually on 17 December by Sex workers, their advocates, friends, families and allies.

First celebrated in 2003, the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers is the brainchild of Dr. Annie Sprinkle and the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA (SWOP-USA), an American Sex Worker’s Rights organization.

Originally conceived as a memorial and vigil for the victims of the Green River Killer in Seattle Washington, it has evolved into an annual international event. The day calls attention to AIDS, hate crimes committed against sex workers all over the globe as well as the need to remove the stigma and discrimination that is perpetuated by custom and prohibitionist laws that has made violence against sex-workers acceptable.

The red umbrella has become an important symbol for Sex Workers Rights and it is increasingly being used on December 17: “First adopted by Venetian sex workers for an anti-violence march in 2002, red umbrellas have come to symbolize resistance against discrimination for sex workers worldwide.”

Sex Workers Association of Jamaica the Kingston Chapter has been doing ground work in bringing the issues to public attention, in 2010 PANOS released a report on CSW: ORAL TESTIMONIES OF JAMAICAN SEX WORKERS

The lure of easy money, peer pressure, economic difficulties and lack of education and training seem to be the factors which prompted most of the interviewees to begin sex work. Boy Blue regards his entry into the industry as responding to a higher calling although he hints that none of his previous jobs was as lucrative as sex work. A few of the oral testimonies reveal that early sexual abuse combined with economic hardship helped drive some young women into sex work,

The sex workers have had mixed experiences regarding working conditions
in the sex industry. Some of the women lived on the same premises where they worked. Most have worked in bad conditions as well as in good places where they were satisfied with the treatment they received. Violence is mentioned as a constant threat to sex workers and some shared their experiences of this. They also speak of exploitation at the hands of both club bosses and clients, and of some employers who keep strict control over their actions. Some sex workers feel the police make no effort to protect them as citizens or to respond seriously to any complaints they make.Boy Blue’s oral testimony is in stark contrast to those of the female sex
workers. He sees himself as the star of his own show. He says he negotiates what he does and where. He travels as he likes, chooses what acts he will perform and most importantly enjoys the sexual intercourse (unlike most female sex workers interviewed who said they were careful to separate business from pleasure).

In as far as LGBT persons are concerned especially homeless Men who have sex with men (MSM) this issue of commercial sex or transactional sex in Kingston mostly but also seen in St Catherine, Clarendon, St Ann and Montego Bay is worrying as many of the brothers mostly have been thrown out of their homes and communities have had to resort to sex work to survive along with other illegal activity including the illegal lotto scam allegedly. With the treatment meted out to this group of persons by the LGBT community itself through rigid stigmatization and discrimination, classism and literal scorn and outright overlooking by the advocacy groups with no serious intentions for street based interventions thus far one wonders where and when will this group get the attention they desire urgently? As someone who was temporarily displaced in 1996 through to early 1998 by virtue of my public case and family ostracism sans the existence of any advocates at the time I now all too well the struggles to find bread and temptations to engage in sex work with the ugly sides of such activity all too real with the loss of friends or police interventions/harassment on those who were caught in the act leading to all other kinds of problems that bedevil them for years on end in a few cases.

The civil disobedience some homeless men had to resort to against the advocacy structures albeit their own behaviour was not squeaky clean is not to be forgotten in August 2011 which came from some of the men who were displaced by the advocacy structures themselves after the closure of a shelter project due to so called bad behaviour bearing in mind no proper psycho social support mechanisms, tweaking of the original project or keeping the facility open were entertained or kept in place and no attempt was made to correct it instead the men were put to pasture. The we wonder why members of the population resort to commercial sex work? while putting their very lives at risk. Since 2012 alone several instances of chases, attempted beatings/mobbings and more join the homeless as they find themselves put out of their family homes, influentials in the community have limited resources to assist and can only do so much. As for the buggery law that too has caused some problems in proper outreach for msms involved in commercial sex work, we are told for example government through the Ministry of Health cannot be seen directly engaging msms since buggery is illegal and or the misconception especially overseas that homosexuality is illegal when it is not.

also see from sister blog Gay Jamaica Watch: Rowdy gays banned by J-FLAG, JASL ………. (Jamaica Observer)

Damage Control from the establishment on the Homeless MSM issue:

Doing ‘business’ in New Kingston … Jamaica Observer on MSM Homelessness ….. JFLAG should be ashamed

I implore persons to seriously consider this section of the community who have been overlooked for decades as funds are spent on HIV/AIDS interventions supposedly to include this group without any rehabilitation effort or psycho social support yet we have ended up with an infection rate of over 31% as the new study conducted last year seems over the original 31% rates in 2007. Homeless MSMs and CSWs are only good for statistical dartboarding more so than helping these persons to improve their living situations it seems.

Peace and tolerance

H

Minister confirms UK will redirect aid, not cut it, for human rights violations

Andrew Mitchell said the policy had been wrongly reported as a threat to cut aid

UK/commonwealth Aid Matter & The New Developments, no aid cuts but redirecting, ethical problems on our part – 22.11.11(my audio commentary)

According to the Pink News UK

Andrew Mitchell (photo) said the policy had been wrongly reported as a threat to cut aid

The government has confirmed plans to redirect aid away from overseas governments who fail to recognise human rights, but has said it will still ensure aid reaches those in need.

Some African states reacted angrily to Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell’s comments that aid would be redirected away from governments to other bodies, believing that overall aid would be cut unless anti-gay laws were repealed.

In October, he said: “Taking money away from Governments does not mean you do not support that country. You find other mechanisms for trying to help the poorest with food, education and health care as well as building up business structures.”

Several Commonwealth governments condemned the action as an attempt to influence domestic policy and introduce gay rights against countries’ wishes.

Mitchell made the statement to a meeting at which Peter Tatchell, the Kaleidoscope Trust, Stonewall, Justice for Gay Africans and the International HIV/AIDS Alliance were present.

He said the government’s position had been wrongly reported as a threat to cut aid or to single out LGBT rights as a condition for aid.

The Kaleidoscope Trust had presented the minister with reports byAfrican social activists and the Coalition Against Homophobia in Ghana, both of which pointed to fears of a ‘backlash’ against LGBT people.

Lance Price, Director of the Kaleidoscope Trust, said: “Andrew Mitchell clearly understands the importance of setting LGBT rights into a wider context and of avoiding any risk of harm to those that British policy is designed to help.

“We are fortunate to have a government that takes these issues seriously and is prepared to speak out when necessary.

“We look forward to working with ministers to help ensure that the views of LGBT people in countries that receive UK aid are properly taken into account and that the consequences and potential benefits of policy changes are effectively explained.”

Peter Tatchell said: “The commitment of the UK government to global human rights, including LGBTI rights, is welcome and commendable. I am pleased to hear that no cuts in aid are planned.

“Although human rights abuses are unacceptable and violate international humanitarian law, any reduction in aid would penalise the poorest, most vulnerable people in developing countries. Many are dependent on aid for basic needs like food, clean water, health care and education. They should not be made to suffer because of human rights abuses by their governments.

“I look forward to Andrew Mitchell and David Cameron making high profile public statements in the coming weeks to refute the misreporting of government aid policy and to counteract the negative anti-LGBTI backlash that this misreporting has generated in some African countries.

“Perceptions are important. It is very damaging to LGBTI communities in developing countries if cuts in vital aid are associated with LGBTI people and western demands for LGBTI equality. This inflames homophobia.”

15 African states in the Commonwealth criminalize homosexual acts, with many more in Asia, Oceania and the Americas also treating them as illegal.

ENDS

When this thing first broke I was very clear that we needed clarification on this both from the threat being an actual threat to begin with and if we were included in the list of commonwealth countries as I figured it had more to do with African states and if we actually benefited from such aid, some say we do other say we don’t, the Minister of National Security Dwight Nelson had said we do get a small tranche used to rehabilitation work in some prisons and deportee assistance upon their return to Jamaica, now with this news breaking I have serious issues with our advocacy structure who seemed to have gone on a frolic of their own to have unethically used the supposed threat by David Cameron to push our need for buggery decriminalization as it coincided with the commonwealth heads of government summit and the UN human rights review for us, this is not the way to do business as it will auger us no good in the end.

Now that we have the smoke cleared several questions come to mind:

1) were we too quick to jump the gun locally?

2) were our advocates using the original report as a tag along to unethically promote decriminalization of buggery on a false footing?

3) why didn’t JFLAG, Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays and the other groups check to make sure we were in the batch of nations where aid could have been redirected or perceived cut as before now?

4) where would all this have gone if we knew it as redirected and not cut?

5) why has it taken so long for the Brits to clarify this?

6) are the British now backpedaling too seeing the furor the whole thing has caused?

Speaking to Sky News in October, Mr Mitchell said: “We have been very clear on this – where we think Governments do not have respect for human rights, it will have a big effect on the way we carry out this funding. Taking money away from Governments does not mean you do not support that country. You find other mechanisms for trying to help the poorest with food, education and health care as well as building up business structures..

“It is not about taking money away from countries but finding other mechanisms to help them. We take a very clear line. In a number of countries in Africa that discrimination against homosexuality has concerned us. In Malawi when they kicked out the British High Commissioner we looked at the whole nature of that relationship.

“We were aware there had been some expenditure by the President. We were aware there had been some lack of human rights – the intention to criminalize lesbianism – all took a part in my decision to stop funding the government centrally.

“What we don’t want to do is take money away from very, very poor Malawians who England, and particularly Scotland have a strong relationship with.”

Clearly they were targeting African countries more so than the Caribbean.

Although the debate is on in earnest the advocates should never have in effect mislead the nation and should have sought to clarify the position before diving head on with coalition teams at that participating knowing or unknowingly. How can we have any moral authority to ask the nation for any dialogue or present our arguments on the strength of a farce in a sense to bolster our call for the buggery law to be removed?

True representation must be above board and must be untestable ethically speaking and have some moral soundness, we need to get our act together, after all our detractors will judge us on that as they do already condemn us because of our “nastiness” we cannot go making demands and calls for acceptance on shaky ground, we have done so only some months ago in August or at least some parts of the advocacy structure when after the damning Jamaica Observer article on the banning of gay homeless men from one of the chain of advocacy organization one of the associated groups launched a stand outside an AIDS conference happening in Montego Bay that weekend calling for inclusion in the event yet the very inclusion they were clamouring for was the very inclusion that same homeless men clamoured for at the gate of Jamaica AIDS Support for Life on August 23 and 24 on the two days of shame of the second such civil disobedience action taken in history, the first took place February 2010 after the closure of the Safe House project and forced resignation of a supportive Executive Director who had started the pilot project.

Too many double standards? or are the British now backpedaling too seeing the furor the whole thing has caused?

The whole thing now looks very untidy from all standpoints and parties involved as well. 

Suffice it to say some will say cutting aid versus redirecting it is the same but let us remember aid comes in many forms and tranches.

Think on these things

also see:
Hypocrisy, Continued damage control via stands or a genuine call for inclusiveness in western Jamaica?

 On Stands and Inclusiveness 28.08.11

and

Also see:
Should Jamaica repeal its buggery law to maintain British aid? ……. from Gay Jamaica Watch on a poll on the Gleaner’s “Have Your Say Blog”

Peace and tolerance

H