The last time we looked at this it was on Gay Jamaica Watch in December of 2012 where the group then had hosted a treat during the Christmas holidays for a select few.
The interfaith group who had expressed some interest earlier last year in assisting three of the young men after a series of incidents involving them and others in several forced evictions similar to those of their Kingston counterparts with the local authorities moving the men from all points they occupy and obstruct have vowed to continue while resources last. However in St Catherine it was residents who made those decisions with some disastrous consequences such as the reported chase and attempted flogging of a group who illegally occupied an empty house in the Sydenham area and men supposedly ran them out of town and boarded up the structure after the owners residing overseas were informed of the squatting activities by the men.
The numbers of men now reached by the group has changed since that last post on Gay Jamaica Watch and there has also been some disagreement between the group’s leaders as to whether to keep the outreach as is or to also include some sort of reparative therapy as well in order to win the men over to Christ as it were.
The interfaith team at the time consisted of pentecostal, Seventh Day Adventists, A church of God leadress and others numbering eight in total had approached the situation as aforementioned by providing short term odd jobs for the three young men they had identified to work with at first when the Syndenham incident occurred they thought the men were just homeless generally not ascertaining that there was more to their situation that the typical displaced youth on the street would have experienced. Then the real conditions became known to the group who were already assisting other dislocated populations as well, the stories however were flying out of the men as two members of the interfaith team took particular interest in the men after listening intently over time according to two of the men who related their encounter. Now the group has shrunk to 6 as two persons departed being the Seventh Day and another person as they felt they were supporting a sin despite also aiding the men’s welfare.
Temporary jobs ……………..
The men have been afforded temporary jobs and their numbers have also seen some changes, two of the original three have left for jobs elsewhere while four more persons have since been aided in some way by the mixed church group what seems apparent from day one was that there was some covertness about the operation as if not to allow their respective central leadership to become too aware of this unique outreach arrangement as I have not heard of a similar type in other parishes as yet. My concerns however are still there for the more effeminate members of the displaced in St Catherine as there seems to be some reluctance to reach out to them more so than their hypermasculine counterparts. The weed whacking activity continues as the interfaith team had acquired a new and a second hand machine but with the low rainfall, the frugality of persons spending on getting lawns manicured the incomes stream has slowed greatly. One of the men has become a mobile barber of sorts literally walking from door to door in residential areas offering his trim and shave services with repaired equipment but he has been improving with time I was told.
The old idea of affording the men items so they could sell in the main town’s environs has been shelved as funds have dwindled and the police crackdown on street vending is a cause for concern coupled with what is alleged to be a resurgence of extortion type activities with vendors as well as they have to pay some sort of fee, what this fee is for is unclear at the moment. The men are allowed to use a space in a church yard and there are prayer meetings and other group discourse carried out as well, I am told by the same man I met also that the group seems to try to steer clear of the homosexual bit with them, he says he is not sure as maybe it is because of their masculine nature that they do not rebuke them or visit the matter all that much, the two original persons however who departed the group would hint to homosexuality being an abomination and the whole Leviticusal bit.
While this group is being assisted the numbers of unemployed or unemployable gay/bi youth who have been evicted is growing as three more persons have since been added according to one of the men I ran into in Spanish Town recently, one of those newcomers is a high school student and is now having difficulty attending classes. Speaking of classes there is some hint as well of some assistance in getting the men to attend evening classes in the Spanish Town area as those abound and there is talk of some financial assistance in that regard as well.
Given the opposite stance taken by other church groups and leaders such as a recent seminar (photo of ad above) that used very old US NARTH studies to dishonestly justify and present homosexuality as some deviant activity and openly suggesting a cure it is good to see some other religious folks taking a more mature and sensible approach thus far to those who are different, I hope this lasts as long as it can and that the men make good use of this outreach, I am just concerned about the “queenz” in the lot though don’t they need to be reached too? I guess it’s going to take some more prodding and education on effeminacy in men to move in that direction.
Peace and tolerance
UPDATE March 2014: