Category Archives: JFLAG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steady supply of food cooked or uncooked

Shelter and some sort of transitional living program towards independence

Educational or skills building opportunities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Integrity in advocacy anyone?

Peace and tolerance

H

Transgender Day of Rememberance 2013: Gully Queen, Barbie Love & Britney Boudashious gone too soon

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the venue of the gig where the attack took place
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empty room of Dwayne/Gully Queen at the captured house where she once lived with her friends

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Dwayne Jones (Gully Queen) in good times

As news spread of Gully Queen’s death it became apparent to me that another young transwoman had not been allowed the chance to fulfil her female cisgender imperative and was too inexperienced to realise that it was important to choose wisely who one shares certain information with.

Dwayne Jones was relentlessly teased in high school for being effeminate until he dropped out. His father not only kicked him out of the house at the age of 14 but also helped jeering neighbours push the youngster from the rough Jamaican slum where he grew up.

By age 16, the teenager was dead — beaten, stabbed, shot and run over by a car when he showed up at a street party dressed as a woman. His mistake: confiding to a friend that he was attending a “straight” party as a girl for the first time in his life.

“When I saw Dwayne’s body, I started shaking and crying,” said Khloe, one of three friends who shared a derelict house with the teenager in the hills above the north coast city of Montego Bay. Like many transgender and gay people in Jamaica, Khloe wouldn’t give a full name out of fear. Pity as well as homelessness which has been ignored for years in the LGBT advocacy structure featured most prominently in this case and to think after the furore and public cynicism the house where the guys remained was firebombed with very little proactive measures taken by JFLAG and the others handling the case file so more victims ended up being made instead of redress and closure. Thankfully no one was badly hurt after that ordeal but the aforementioned agencies failure over the years to properly provide programs and interventions for LGBT youth is telling and many incidents could have been avoided.

Even though some 300 people were at the dance party in the small riverside community of Irwin, police have yet to make a single arrest in Dwayne’s murder. Police say witnesses have said they couldn’t see the attackers’ faces.

Dwayne was the centre of attraction shortly after arriving in a taxi at 2 am with his two 23-year-old housemates, Khloe and Keke. Dwayne’s expert dance moves, long legs and high cheekbones quickly made him the one that the guys were trying to get next to.

Like many Jamaican homosexuals, Dwayne was careful about confiding in others about his sexual orientation. But when he saw a girl he had known from church, he told her he was attending the party in drag.

Minutes later, according to Khloe and Keke, the girl’s male friends gathered around Dwayne in the dimly-lit street asking: “Are you a woman or a man?” One man waved a lighter’s flame near Dwayne’s sneakers, asking whether a girl could have such big feet.

Then, his friends said, another man grabbed a lantern from an outdoor bar and walked over to Dwayne, shining the bright light over him from head to toe. “It’s a man,” he concluded, while the others hissed “batty boy” and other anti-gay epithets.

Khloe says she tried to steer him away from the crowd, whispering in Dwayne’s ear: “Walk with me, walk with me.” But Dwayne pulled away, loudly insisting to partygoers that he was a girl. When someone behind him snapped his bra strap, the teen panicked and raced down the street.

But he couldn’t run fast enough to escape the mob.

The teenager was viciously assaulted and apparently half-conscious for some two hours before another sustained attack finished him off, according to Khloe, who was also beaten and nearly raped. She hid in a nearby church and then the surrounding woods, unable to call for help because she didn’t have her mobile phone.

Dwayne’s father in the Montego Bay slum of North Gully didn’t want to talk about his son’s life or death. The teen’s family wouldn’t even claim the body, according to Dwayne’s friends.

They remembered him as a spirited boy with a contagious laugh who dreamt of becoming a performer like Lady Gaga. He was also a street-smart hustler who resorted to sleeping in the bushes or on beaches when he became homeless. He won a local dancing competition during his time on the streets and was affectionately nicknamed “Gully Queen.”

“He was the youngest of us but he was a diva,” Khloe said. “He was always very feisty and joking around.”

Inside their squatter house, Khloe and Keke said, they still talk to their dead friend.

“I’ll be cooking in the kitchen and I’ll say, ‘Dwayne, you hungry?’ or something like that,” said Keke while sitting on the old mattress in her bedroom, flinching as neighbourhood dogs barked outside. “We just miss him all the time. Sometimes I think I see him.”

But down the hall, Dwayne’s room is empty except for pink window curtains decorated with roses, his favourite flower

Dwayne Jones (Gully Queen) Last Appearance prior to his murder notice the reporter said he was gay hence the other issue with crisis reporting of LGBT matters and this has always affected the credibility of the lobby’s voice

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IgRDhESyc4

also this month we lost Britney Boudashious the reigning Miss LGBT World who was murdered in November, she was to hand over the crown at this year’s gala event but she did not make it, no clear motive has been established for her demise.

Britney’s Crowning in 2012
her glorious moment after such hard work and practice to get there

rest in peace daaaaahlin’

see more here on Gay Jamaica Watch

Barbie making front page news on the now defunct XNEWS

also see: Disturbed by Xnews Story on Drag Queen and Gay Cop or HERE

also flashback to: International Day of Transgender Remembrance 2011

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Good times at Diva Kerry’s Bday bash in 2011
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fierceness

then the other shocker in August as the popular socialite Barbie Love passed after a brief illness, you may remember her public appearances that were not so positive but she brought visibility to the cross dressing and transwoman communities in 2009 as photo shows below when the XNews published a sensationalistic article and the on Television where she was arrested after a cruising hookup went bad then public, subsequently she sealed her fame by granting an exclusive interview on Ragashanti live

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6oxzlXxBH4

see: Ragga Shanti Interviews Jamaican Drag Queen Part 1 & 2 !

To all three ladies REST IN PEACE and we will miss you.

Peace and tolerance

H

Gov’t Hush Hush On Gay Pressure …As Promoters Forced To Pull Queen Ifrica From Canada Show

Hasani Walters, Gleaner Writer

Queen Ifrica

Pressure from the Jamaica Association of Gays and Lesbians Abroad (JAGLA), a Canadian gay-rights group, has led to the removal of dancehall/reggae artiste Queen Ifrica from the roster of performers at the Rastafest International Reggae Concert which was held at Downsview Park, Canada, yesterday.

Early last week, a Facebook campaign was launched by the group in an effort to prevent Queen Ifrica from performing at the stage show.

“The campaign was started because we discovered that Queen Ifrica was slated to perform at an event called Rastafest in Toronto. Off the heels of her recent homophobic outburst (at the Grand Gala) days after the death of Dwayne Jones, our members felt disrespected that she would be allowed to perform in our country. It’s a gross double standard on her part, to even travel to Toronto, one of the most diverse countries in the world, to perform for money,” a representative from JAGLA told The Gleaner prior to the show.

Lobby pleased

In a press release to The Sunday Gleaner, the group expressed their support of the move by the promoters to withdraw the entertainer from the line-up.

“This is a welcomed move by the promoters. We have to send a clear message that persons who make comments that jeopardise the well-being of members of the LGBT community in Jamaica will not be welcomed in Canada. We hope that other homophobic persons will use this instance as a reminder that acts that incite hate will have negative consequences. We hope as well that the Government of Jamaica will move swiftly to put in place measures to protect members of the LGBT community,” the release stated.

Efforts to contact Queen Ifrica proved unsuccessful. However, in an earlier interview, when asked about her utterances at the Grand Gala, Queen Ifrica said that she had only expressed what she believed in.

“Like myself, I think they are exercising their right to speak for what they believe in. However, I think it is unfair for them to incriminate me when there is no incrimination there. I simply spoke for what I believed in. They should simply speak from what they believe in but not try to tarnish my character in the process,” she said.

The Government was also hush-hush on the matter, as efforts to get a comment from the Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna only returned an emailed response from Sasha-Gay Lewis, the senior communication officer at the Ministry of Youth and Culture, which read, “We have no comment.”

A statement by Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) stated that the group took “note of recent local and international developments subsequent to Queen Ifrica’s performance on August 6, 2013 at the Grand Gala”.

J-FLAG also acknowledged that less explicitly anti-gay music is being produced and broadcast in Jamaica. They believe, however, that dialogue is important in order for a greater understanding about the impact of anti-gay sentiments on the exclusion of and hostility towards LGBT people in Jamaica.

ENDS

also see: Queen Ifrica’s “Freedom of Speech” & advocacy found wanting it is indeed sad that yet again the guardians of the local struggle have become so impervious to the population that another group overseas has had to step in in frustration it seems on the face of it with JFLAG’s stewardship especially after the exclusion of the homeless men from the symposium on homelessness in Kingston on May 17th International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia since then many persons have been up in arms about that and have been very critical of the J’s overall advocacy some of whom were once staunch supporters. So pronounced is the discord that JFLAG own staff especially the Programs Manager have been removing themselves from engaging the community on a whole on social media. It is sad that this new group although with good intentions have left us with a black eye and another layer added to the struggle that of the lobby now stifling free speech. Persons overseas who have our interest at heart NEED to take the lead from persons on the ground as there are consequences for such agitations, indeed all public agitations have such and are to be expected but care must be taken and proper communications and strategising be done prior to execution.

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JFLAG’s initial reaction was what actually set the stage for this latest impasse for all intents and purposes their continued over intellectualized style of crisis communicating has landed us in drama again. The very first sentence in their press release labelled Queen Ifrica and Tony Rebel as vitriolic and carrying some anti gay animus; for God’s sake will the J just get direct with the cynical public that they want to convince so much so that Tony Rebel in that ill fated interview on Nationwide Radio where Mr Rebel humiliated the ED of JFLAG Dane Lewis as he asked Dane where did he Tony said any anti gay remarks that were suggesting violence and Mr Lewis could not then came the laughter and ridicule of the use of the words “vitriolic and anti gay animus” and he basically mopped up the floor with the press release and Dane fumble while cleverly forcing Mr Lewis to an apology, however Dane stopped short of a public apology and instead suggested they meet face to face but even that was met with laughter yet again as Mr Rebel suggested meeting in private may have some sexually suggestive undertones. It was that sequence of events it seems that have caused this new Canadian based group to be formed and acting on their own devoid of the real thrust that is the Stop Murder Music Campaign. Queen Ifrica and Tony Rebel are in my eyes second tier homo-negative reggae acts and not as vitriolic as labelled by JFLAG landing us with a backlash we may yet to recover from in years to come.

Peace and tolerance

H

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

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

Hear the Children Cry wants Peter King’s tapes released

Miss Blaine via the Observer postulated:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 ENDS

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

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

Murdered Ambassador Peter King

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

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

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

Betty Convo part 1 Betty Convo part 2

follow that story HERE

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE JUNE 26, 2013

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UPDATE JUNE 28, 2013

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

Peace and tolerance

H

Residents say gays take over Barbican house …………………

Just days after JFLAG is accused of excluding the homeless populations from a recent IDAHO symposium on homelessness and the subsequent fallout between advocates comes this news.

see more here for that: JFLAG excludes homeless MSM from IDAHO Symposium

Meanwhile RESIDENTS of Millsborough Avenue in St Andrew say their neighborhood has gone to the dogs.

The residents complain that a group of more than a dozen homeless gay men have taken over an unoccupied premises and have been behaving in a manner that churns their collective stomachs.

The house at Millsborough Avenue that has been occupied by a band of unruly gays. (PHOTO: GARFIELD ROBINSON)

“I was taking my grandchildren to school and I saw one of them bathing naked in the driveway using water from a bottle. They have taken over the house and are destroying our decent neighbourhood. I have my young grandchildren and this is not the environment I want them to be growing up in,” a female resident told the Jamaica Observer.

The residents say they have made reports to the Matilda’s Corner police, but no serious action has yet been taken to curtail the activities of the men who are now squatting in the upscale community.

They accuse the men of gyrating against each other in full view of the public and behaving boisterously when they are spoken to.

“The boys behave outlandish and flaunt their lifestyle in your face. This is a blotch on the face of what up to now was a decent community whose residents lead upstanding lives. We are not condemning anyone’s sexual preference, but why do they have to trample on our privacy and invade our space with their lifestyle,” one resident said.

The disgusted residents complain that at nights the activities at the premises take on a different shade and say the men are practising prostitution. The house in question is almost opposite the official residence of Cuban Ambassador Yuri Gala López.

“At nights when you pass, there are a lot of high-end vehicles parked on the road and inside the yard. The police need to find out who the owners of these high-end vehicles are, because some high-profile people from high society seem to be their patrons,” the resident complained.

In recent times, residents of the Golden Triangle in St Andrew have complained that homeless gay men occupied an empty premises on Lady Musgrave Road close to Vale Royal, the official residence of Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.

The men have since been removed by the police and security guards have been posted there to prevent them from returning.

At nights the commercial district of New Kingston is overrun with gay prostitutes who openly solicit customers and heckle those who voice their disgust at their presence.

The residents of Millsborough Avenue say they are now the ones behind the eighth ball.

“There is garbage strewn all about the yard and many times they get into fights with each other. This situation cannot continue and we are calling on the police to forcibly remove them from among our midst. They are always talking about gay rights, but do we have any rights to live without this evil? Where is J-Flag (The Jamaica Forum for Gays, Lesbians and All-sexuals) now? They should come out and condemn this dastardly, uncouth behaviour by these gays,” one man said.

A police officer at the Matilda’s Corner police station confirmed that reports have been made concerning the activities of the men.

Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Residents-say-gays-take-over-Barbican-house_14327913#ixzz2UVtj6JzG

and also see this letter in the Observer as well on homelessness and the feeling that JFLAG abandoned the men in New Kingston.

Dear Editor,

The Sunday Observer reported in yesterday edition that homeless gays have now taken over a residence on Millsborough Avene much to the dismay of neighbouring residents within this largely upscale community. These homeless gays once wrecked havoc in “the golden triangle” and parts of New Kingston for years with their boisterous, “out of control” behaviour.

Having been chased out of these areas by police, they’ve now relocated, moving on ‘up’ so to speak. Did we really expect them to just vanish?

The problem is complex. There are many marginalised persons, neglected and hated for whatever reasons. What you’re seeing here is the end result of hate, discrimination and uncaring attitudes which for years and decades pushed some to the outskirts and fringes of society. They are now reacting the only way they know how. Can we really blame these homeless youngsters who have nowhere to live, no support financially?

Is there a likelihood that they probably aren’t even squatting, but are being supported by someone who at least showed compassion by offering an empty house in Barbican?

Many of these youths had to flee their families, homes, communities, and at a very young age they were forced to fend for themselves, as grown adults do, even as they live in the wilderness out on the streets. Without social skills and education, they remain out of control as expected. No one cares; not Government, not people.

Many of these youths had to flee their families, homes, communities, and at a very young age they were forced to fend for themselves, as grown adults do, even as they live in the wilderness out on the streets. Without social skills and education, they remain out of control as expected. No one cares; not Government, not people.

Many of these youths have been subject to homophobic violence, attacks, and are now fighting back through anti-social behaviour — all learnt — not singularly, but collectively as a group. Isn’t this exactly the same treatment they got from mainstream heterosexual society which pushed them to the edge in the first place?

Even the police now seem helpless. Violence cannot be condoned, there is absolutely no excuse, but fighting hate and discrimination is another issue completely. Activist groups, like J-FLAG, have also abandoned them; they are out of control youth, and most likely these groups fear they may tarnish the little reputation and advances they’ve made, so far, in a society where culture and attitudes are still largely homophobic.

As a society, we cannot ignore homelessness forever, especially youth with years ahead of them. If we do, the results could be catastrophic. Unless we start caring, we will only get more of this. Authorities need to step in and help to find a a safe shelter for homeless youths; where rehabilitative services, counselling and education and health services, along with food, shelter, can be provided in order to get these youth back on right track.

Their sexuality ought to be really irrelevant, they are human beings first, they are Jamaicans first. We cannot treat the most vulnerable in society — children, elderly and poor and sick — without some basic level of compassion, it speak volumes about who we are as a people, and what our Government really represent.

We cannot ignore these problems forever as if we don’t care. I urge the Government to get involved, the church, lead by example. If not, this problem will only escalate significantly into other communities. Homelessness is not a joke, it also breeds violence, and other types of anti-social behaviour, which will only get worse.

Pete Delisser

pdelisser1988@yahoo.com

Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Youth-homelessness-is-no-joke_14345267#ixzz2UW0sWikB

additional here is my audio on the JFLAG exclusion of the homeless men on IDAHO on may 17th

UPDATE June 3, 2013

Unruly gays back with a vengeance 

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

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

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

Homeless MSM to feel the pinch as JASL issues ultimatum

The Homeless Project, the meeting and more

The Quietus ……… The Safe House Project Closes

Now This from the Observer………………………

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The society ignores them at its own peril.

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

Safe house logo

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

Stoning Incident at Jamaica AIDS Support for Life’s Offices

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

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

Interfaith group treated homeless MSM in St Catherine

also see newcasts/video on the issue

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

Peace and tolerance

H

Urgent need to discuss Sex & sexuality nationally part 2

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

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

also hear my latest audio post/podcast:

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

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

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

Two In Hot Water Over Sex Text

Thwaites

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

Edmund Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter

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

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

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

But that is not the end of the matter.

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

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

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

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

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

formal process bypassed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

In continuing …………………..

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

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

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

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

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

BEHAVIOURAL MODIFICATION

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

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

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

UNDERSTANDABLE DISCOMFORT

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

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

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

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

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

The Process for Approval of Curricula

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

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

c) The curriculum is piloted for feedback and adjustments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile the

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

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

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

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

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

some Abbreviations

JASL – Jamaica AIDS Support for Life

JFLAG – Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays

AMFAR - The American Foundation for AIDS Research

Here is the post from The Queens Yellow Brick Road

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

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

The Quietus ……… The Safe House Project Closes

The Ultimatum on December 30, 2009

What was the thought and motivation behind doing the pilot:

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

Process:

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

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

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

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

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

UNAIDS Director says the PNP offers hope for the repealing of the buggery law …… but some concerns exist

UNAIDS Regional Director of the support team in the Caribbean Dr Ernest Massiah says the return of the Peoples National Party PNP in Jamaica offers hope that the tide will turn where the repealing of the Buggery Law is concerned this he interprets as a pre-election commitment by the then opposition leader now ruling Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller to review the legislation which I still see as a suggestion by her in answering the question posed by Dionne Jackson Miller in the leadership debate in 2011 in the run up to the general election in December last. He spoke at one of the sessions at the AIDS 2012 conference in the US.

He also said the organization had received encouraging feedback from three unnamed Caribbean Prime Ministers in private discussions and that when the time is right Mrs Simpson may be named as one of the three then.

I and some others in the community are unclear as to Mrs Simpson Miller’s answer and her real position (see audio below) as at the leadership debate and subsequent followup comments by her along with press releases from the PNP itself denying it promised to repeal any buggery laws. Have I missed something?

also see my post on December 30, 2011:
PNP Wins …………….Hope for LGBT People ???

here is one of the press releases hinted to above where the PNP had denied allegations from the ruling party then turned opposition now the Jamaica Labour Party JLP as they lost the election:

NO REPEAL OF BUGGERY ACT, SAYS PNP

December 27, 2011: The People’s National Party (PNP) has labeled as deliberate mischief making by the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), suggestions that it supports a repealing of the Buggery Act. The PNP says that is not its position.
The PNP says the JLP has been circulating the false assertion about the Party’s position on the matter in a desperate bid to make the matter an issue of contention to gain political advantage.

PNP Campaign Director, Dr. Peter Phillips said at a press conference to wrap up the party’s campaign today that the PNP has no position to repeal the Buggery Act, and that the issue arose out of a question posed to party leader Portia Simpson Miller during the recent national debate with prime minister and JLP leader, Andrew Holness.

“This arose out of a question and there is no position taken by us of a repeal. We recognize that there are some persons, who for their own partisan political reasons, would wish to distort the Party’s position as it relates to the Buggery Act,” Dr. Phillips said.
He adds that the Party Leader has proposed a review of the Act, and not a repeal of it.
“During the review, every Member of Parliament will be required to bring to bear on the discussions, the views and the opinion of his or her constituents. At the end of the review, if a vote is to be taken, the vote will be a conscience vote, which means each Member of Parliament will vote according to the directive of his/ her constituents,” Dr. Phillips says.

This is in keeping with the position taken by the PNP President, who indicated at the national debate that the people of Jamaica should let their voices be heard on the matter through consultations spearheaded by Members of Parliament, so that a Parliamentary debate and vote on the issue would not be confined to the views of Parliamentarians alone, but rather, would be reflective of the views and will of the people in constituencies across the country.
Responding to questions posed by journalists about accusations leveled on the campaign trail by Daryl Vaz that the PNP had received funding from overseas-based gay rights groups, Phillips said such accusations were not true and a “total fabrication” as the party had in no way supported “any gay agenda”.

“This is a total fabrication of Mr. Vaz and his very active imagination and speaks to the desperation in that (the JLP’s) campaign,” said Phillips.
The PNP will end its election campaign today with a tour of western parishes and culminate with a meeting in the South West St. Andrew constituency of Party Leader, Portia Simpson Miller, followed by a gospel concert at the party’s 89 Old Hope Road headquarters.

Executive Director of JFLAG Dane Lewis at the time had said that the Prime Minister missed an opportunity to make a bold declaration on securing rights for all Jamaicans, he continued on a telephone interview that “We’re very encouraged by the bold statement from a Jamaican politician the opposition leader Miss Portia Simpson Miller, I am very disappointed that the Prime Minister with an opportunity to make as bold a statement chose the lower road. It is going to take a conscience vote it’s gonna take the leaders of this country to make some bold steps to recognise the rights of all Jamaicans.” He also said he trusts the sincerity of the opposition leader, he doesn’t think it’s a ploy to win the votes of the gay community days before an election.  He said too that it was not about threats on withholding aid by UK and US governments who have now tied aid to LGBT rights.

Here is the other press release that came on December 21st from the PNP denying they made any promises to repeal Buggery.

PNP HAS GIVEN NO COMMITMENT TO REPEALING THE BUGGERY ACT

Kingston, December 22, 2011: The People’s National Party notes that following Tuesday’s leadership debate, some persons have been suggesting that PNP President Portia Simpson Miller, has given a commitment to “repealing” the Buggery Act. The PNP uses this opportunity to state clearly that Mrs. Simpson Miller gave no such commitment.
The PNP President said it was time that the Act be “reviewed” and all members of the House of Representatives provided with an opportunity to vote on the matter based on their conscience.
It would be expected that in such a vote, Members of Parliament on both sides of the House, would take into consideration the views of their constituents.The PNP President remains committed to her pledge to make appointments to a Cabinet led by her on the basis of competence.

here is New Nation Coalition Founder Betty Ann Blaine questioning the PM’s on buggery earlier this year among other audio including my response as well:

Bear this in mind as well, after digging my archives I found the presentation by Mrs Simpson Miller in 2009 (poor audio though) where she sided wholeheartedly with the then Prime Minster Bruce Golding (his speech linked) on the banning of gay marriage, gay marriage rights by the way was never asked for by the LGBT advocacy structure at that time but it was dishonestly pushed on the agenda during the Charter of Rights debate then as a smoke screen to deny us recognition in the Charter. The clause that had discrimination as an infraction then was also removed from the draft prior to this speech after successful lobbying by none other than the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship with support from none other than reverend Al Miller.

She said on October 20th 2009 - Mr Speaker when we accepted the final report from the joint select committee that were looking at the bill we were completely satisfied with their recommendation of a provision to restrict marriage and like relationships to one man and one woman within Jamaica and that the provision should be specifically spelt out so that there could be no ambiguity ………. yes one man one woman (laughter in the house) and if you are Jamaican and go overseas the same applies ………..

Has Prime Minister Simpson Miller changed her mind or is evolving as President Obama did and is moving towards having the review done and will she get the need support as per conscience vote to make the repeal possible or at best decriminalization from her 59 members of parliament especially folks such as A.J. Nicholson and first time MP Lambert Brown who opposed condoms in prisons saying it was homosexuality being snuck through the back door? Mr. Brown said. “Those who are promoting condoms in prison are using the back door to promote homosexuality which is illegal.”

also see these two posts I had done where another first time MP poured cold water on the buggery review suggestion: PNP’s Damion Crawford on Homosexuality’s legality ………. and
PNP’s Damion Crawford says it’s highly unlikely buggery review will happen …….. it’s not important now he concludes

for your review here is the actual debate video below and her answer to Dionne Jackson Miller also click here to see her blog: http://newsandviewsbydjmillerja.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/jamaica-and-gays-are-we-homophobic-or-not

here is a follow up video from TVJ where Mrs Miller defended her answer in the debate and the JLP’s accusation of the PNP repealing buggery originally aired December 24, 2011:

Who will assist with any backlash that may occur (if any) especially on the ground in terms of violence and frontline activists not to mention persons perceived to be gay who may be targeted?  we must expect anything I say as previous experience has taught us such as the Canadian group EGALE tourism boycott suggestion which led to some resistance and incidents towards LGBT citizens and a spike in the numbers of homo negative episodes, I am not comforted by the revelation by UNAIDS this should have been kept close to their chests and proceed with the talks.

Time Magazine while naming her as one of the 100 most influential for 2011/2 said on their site: “………Portia is promoting full civil rights for gays and lesbians, a courageous move in a country with a violent history of homophobia”

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Just come clean and done nuh and mek we know what is what Portia. I do not see it as a commitment or a promise as others do but instead just her opinion at the time of being questioned and a good political tool at the time to win the election given the lethargy to politics after the drawn out JLP run with the Manatt Dudus commission of enquiry in particular.

Peace and tolerance

H

Dionne Jackson Miller on …………. Jamaica and Gays: Are We Homophobic or Not?

Seasoned Radio Jamaica talk show host of Beyond The Headlines tackles homophobia in her latest blog post.

It’s an old argument. Jamaica is homophobic. No! goes up the cry. Jamaicans are very tolerant of gays! So which is it?

homophobia

homophobia (Photo credit: the|G|™)

In 2004, international human rights group Human Rights Watch put out a report titledHated to Death:  Homophobia, Violence and Jamaica’s HIV/AIDS Epidemic.

http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/jamaica1104.pdf

The report’s summary began thus:

“On June 9, 2004, Brian Williamson, Jamaica’s leading gay rights activist, was murdered in his home, his body mutilated by multiple knife wounds.  Within an hour after his body was discovered, a Human Rights Watch researcher witnessed a crowd gathered outside the crime scene.  A smiling man called out, “Battyman [homosexual] he get killed!”

Many others celebrated Williamson’s murder, laughing and calling out, “let’s get them one at a time,” “that’s what you get for sin,” “let’s kill all of them.”  Some sang “boom bye bye,” a line from a popular Jamaican song about killing and burning gay men.

The report went on:

English: Human Rights Watch logo Русский: Лого...English: Human Rights Watch logo Русский: Логотип Хьюман Райтс Вотч (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Violent acts against men who have sex with men are commonplace in Jamaica.  Verbal and physical violence, ranging from beatings to brutal armed attacks to murder, are widespread.  For many, there is no sanctuary from such abuse.  Men who have sex with men and women who have sex with women reported being driven from their homes and their towns by neighbors who threatened to kill them if they remained, forcing them to abandon their possessions and leaving many homeless.

The testimony of Vincent G., twenty-two, is typical of the accounts documented by Human Rights Watch: “I don’t live anywhere now. . . . Some guys in the area threatened me.  ‘Battyman, you have to leave.  If you don’t leave, we’ll kill you.’”

Claims that members of the gay community are either at risk or have been victims of violence are often greeted with derision. The reports are often disbelieved. Activists are accused of lying. After all, the argument goes, we all know gays who live among us and nobody troubles them.

The trouble is, we Jamaicans don’t make it easy for ourselves. The condemnatory statements from human rights bodies are not pulled out of thin air. In 2007, Amnesty International, in condemning violence against gays in Jamaica referenced their statement as follows:

“On Sunday 8 April 2007, a crowd allegedly surrounded a church in Mandeville and hurled different objects through a window at the back of the church. The attacks were directed at persons in attendance of the funeral being held there, who the crowd believed to be homosexual.

On 2 April 2007, another crowd reportedly threw stones and bottles at a group of costumed men who were dancing in the carnival procession along Gloucester Avenue in Montego Bay. According to reports, the crowd was angered because the men were supposedly gyrating in a sexually suggestive manner and demanded that they leave the stage. According to eye-witnesses, the men were attacked, chased and beaten by the mob of around 30 or 40 people. At least one of them had to be hospitalized due to injuries.

These two incidents occurred only two months after a group of men were targeted in a similar manner in a pharmacy in Tropical Plaza, Half-Way Tree, in Kingston. A human rights defender told Amnesty International that a mob of at least 200 people had gathered outside the store, calling for the men to be beaten to death because they were homosexual.”

http://www.amnesty-caribbean.org/de/jm/news/AMR300042007.html

Jamaicans argue that these incidents are isolated.  But while the incidents of reported mob violence are not frequent, we need to understand how brutish and vicious we appear when images are broadcast of crowds baying for blood outside a building in which gays are holed up.

Just last week, CVM TV broadcast a story in which community members in Jones Town burst into a private dwelling because the occupants were suspected of being homosexuals. The suspicions allegedly confirmed, the crowd started to beat the men, and police had to rescue the occupants, incurring the wrath of the crowd. One man wanted to know why taxpayers’ money was being used to rescue gays.

I cannot find words to describe how backward this story makes us look. Go and try to convince a sceptic now that we are not homophobic!

So let’s acknowledge that violence against gays is real. We are not as uniformly tolerant as we would have the outside world believe. But neither have the gay activists done their cause any good by overstating the extent of the problem.  Gay-on-gay violence is also real.

Recently, the Jamaica Forum for Lesians Allsexuals and Gays (JFLAG) publicly condemned the killing of gay men. In a statement (re-tweeted by Amnesty Caribbean), they said:

“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. Persons 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.”

In an interview with me on my radio programme Beyond the Headlines a few days later, JFLAG spokesman Dane Lewis admitted that the organisation had jumped the gun, and that his later information was that the two men in question had been killed by members of the gay community. He said he withdrew that part of the statement and promised a corrected version. I haven’t seen that yet.

So which is it? Are we homophobic or are we tolerant of the gay lifestyle?

I submit that we are both. However, the incidents of violence and public hatred against gays are so embarrassing and so horrifying that nothing else matters. There is no room for any other depiction of our attitudes when the images seared into people’s minds are those of police having to be deployed to protect men from a bloodthirsty crowd. Given those graphic realities, our reputation as an extremely homophobic country will continue to dog us, protest as we might.

So when Prime Minister Simpson Miller courageously declared that sexual orientation would not affect how she chose her Cabinet, and that she would initiate a review of the buggery law, she should understand that outside Jamaica, gay activists saw her statement as a beacon of hope in a country of darkness, or near darkness. That was one of the reasons for her inclusion on that Time 100 List, misrepresented as her position was. 

The outside world sees us as homophobic and violent. We don’t see ourselves that way.

As always, the truth lies obscured, somewhere in the middle.

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