Leading voice on Cancer in the same gender loving community passes

Sadly on May 13 sister Rowena who spoke openly of her struggles with breast cancer passed in a medical institution after a brief struggle with treatment via chemotherapy, you may remember or have seen the post on this blog on her courses and the photos she provided while raising the awareness of breast cancer in the lesbian community.

In June 2011 she had granted permission for the photos and her story to be carried exclusive on GLBTQ Jamaica, here is an excerpt:

(WARNING – some photos contained may be unsettling)

On the evening of October 19, 2011 at the Couture Oasis’s Open Mic Open Soul Wednesday night discussions series we were asked to invoke the presence of a Jamaican same gender loving breast cancer survivor who from the moment she opened her presentation had all wondering if she was really going through this struggle and complications with this awful disease. The picture of doom and gloom mixed with uncertainty and doubt as often marketed with cancer victims of all sorts was clearly missing from this vibrant soul. Her resilience had audience members in awe and deep appreciation and other stories from the transfixed persons came flying out as well at some points leaving many in the small air conditioned room teary eyed.

row cancer2
Breast after the surgery

Day 2 of draining

Day  1 of draining

“Judy” as I shall call her for purposes of this post is in her late twenties or early thirties from as early as 2010 said she started to notice strange things happening with her right breast and especially at or around the nipple. There were leakages at some points with what appeared to be water and blood as the residue from it and this she thought was maybe she had scratched her nipple area. After seeing this for some time she decided to have a check up done but doing the tests including a mammogram nothing was found , she had repeated tests over time but still there was neither any lumps or any blots on her X-Ray results to indicate there was trouble or via self examination the few times she attempted them. It was not until a new doctor she consulted went further than just the breast itself and focused also by her underarm to her lymph-nodes and realised that her nodes had overgrown onto her breast tissue, it was then she was finally diagnosed on November 26, 2010 after repeated calls from the doctor’s office up to her due checkup date that she had Breast carcinoma, For solid tumors, stages I-IV are actually defined in terms of a more detailed staging system called the “TNM” system.

N classifies the amount of regional lymph node involvement. It is important to understand that only the lymph nodes draining the area of the primary tumor are considered in this classification. Involvement of distant lymph nodes is considered to be metastatic disease. The definition of just which lymph nodes are regional depends on the type of cancer. N0 means no lymph node involvement while N4 means extensive involvement. In general more extensive involvement means some combination of more nodes involved, greater enlargement of the involved nodes, and more distant (But still regional) node involvement. M: Metastasis M is either M0 if there are no metastases or M1 if there are metastases.

As with the other system, the exact definitions for T and N are different for each different kind of cancer. As you can see, the TNM system is more precise than the I through IV system and certainly has a lot more categories. The two systems are actually related. The I through IV groupings are actually defined using the TNM system. For example, stage II non-small cell lung cancer means a T1 or T2 primary tumor with N1 lymph node involvement, and no metastases (M0).  She was kind to provide me with some photos of the courses of treatment she underwent. (photos published with permission)

One other issue she faced was her own constant movements during some of her sessions as this can auger negatively for any patient and can lead to punctured or damaged skin that may itch or get infected if not properly monitored. She now does her Herceptin treatment every three weeks and has subsidized the costs through insurance and other state healthcare benefits under the National Health Fund and some help from Jamaica Reach to Recovery. Treatment can run in the millions literally locally as her initial run was budgeted for over $2M. Her type of cancer as you may have gleaned is rare as her family history does not have many persons who have or had the disease, she was alone on this front. Four other members of the audience expressed their own stories of losing loved ones and are presently under pain from some sort of cancer, but mostly that of the breast, clearly there are issues of closure for some persons with cancer of any sort. Judy’s case however is a testament to survival and proof that strong will and determination can help to overcome the odds, her sister who was present in the discussion paid testament to that as she said she sometimes draws strength from Judy even though it is Judy who is ailing and she still wonders how does she do it?. Applause rang from the audience and commendations as to how she dealt with the whole ordeal and for openly sharing the information the audience ended the session which was followed by the floor opened to poetry.

See the previous post HERE

Rest in Peace Rowena, her service is slated for June 7th.

Peace and tolerance

H

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Putting LGBT on Caribbean Sexual Violence Agenda

The exclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) persons in the discussion and planning to address sexual violence, was brought into focus by United and Strong as the organization added its voice to a regional workshop staged in Saint Lucia by the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA).

The Caribbean Regional Gender Workshop on Sexual Violence in the Caribbean, Status and Needs Including in Humanitarian Situations, saw thirty-four government and NGO representatives from twelve countries attending. The three-day workshop reviewed a strategy, initiated by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to reduce gender-based sexual violence and provide a framework for action and guidance in regional and in-country gender-related activities.

The three-day workshop heard country and NGO reports that detailed actions by national institutions and civil society organizations to address and prevent gender-based violence. Among the presentations however only Belize, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago included LGBT persons in national plans to combat sexual violence.

“I believe it is important to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons in programs dealing with gender-based and sexual violence” states Edma Pierre, who represented U&S along with Media Consultant Maria Fontenelle. She adds, “The fact that they are also victims is often ignored and they are treated with a lack of sensitivity within the system.”

United and Strong representatives took the opportunity to highlight the risks inherent in not considering LGBT when designing responses to sexual violence, particularly in disaster and humanitarian situations. They stressed that LGBT should be given consideration across the board from the design of training; selection of staff; services provided for at risk persons; how these services are advertised; the structure of facilities, including toilets; the policies that govern safe spaces for victims of abuse and the legal challenges that can affect all of these.

The legal barrier of the Buggery law was stated as one of the chief reasons that reports from Saint Lucia did not mention LGBT in plans to reduce gender-based sexual violence and in-country gender-related activities. The meeting included representatives from PROSAF, the Massade Boys Training Centre, Voluntary Women, Saint Lucia Planned Parenthood Association, Women’s Shelter, Saint Lucia Crisis Centre, Saint Lucia CARIMAN, Gender Relations, CAFRA Saint Lucia, Family Court and Human Services.

Representatives of PROSAF, the Women’s Shelter, Gender Relations, Family Court and Human Services took the opportunity to stress that their doors were open to every victim of sexual violence. However it was recognised that reluctance to openly identify as LGBT due to fears of stigma, and the reluctance on the part of men generally, and gay men in particular, to admit to being sexually violated was a deterrent in acquiring data that would support the need for inclusion of LGBT in national planning.

Funding was also touted as a constraint. “What is being done sometimes is limited by our resources both at the international level and at the national level”, notes UNFPA gender specialist Jewell Quallo Rosberg. She states however that there is determination to tackle the wide-ranging issue of gender-based violence, “by uniting and using all our resources, not just financial but community resources, and focussing on prevention rather than trying to address the problem after it happens.”

By the conclusion of the conference, at least one country rep, Elaine Henry-McQueen of Grenada, undertook to push for the consideration of the needs of LGBT in national policy planning. Saint Lucia based government and civil society representatives also committed to continue to work in partnership going forward. There was general-consensus among regional partners to advocate for greater collaboration between the community and government to address sexual and gender-based violence as highlighted during the workshop.

– END –

U&S’ Edma Pierre (seated – first left) and Maria Fontenelle (standing – far right), with participants at Caribbean Regional Gender Workshop on Sexual Violence in the Caribbean

Education Ministry says it will take on coercion in schools …

The Gleaner carried this story on April 10th following on the accusations of older lesbian students supposedly abusing younger girls, interestingly the ministry jumps quickly to address this issue but the problem in co-ed schools remains any by extension the mainstream on buses and taxis where inappropriate behaviour and sexual realtions with older men and school girls goes on with limited monitoring it looks on the surface.

Let us see where this takes us, one hopes we do not hear or see in the correcting of the issue of abuse that what may remotely look as reparative therapy towards the same sex attracted students and that the measures only address the allegations of abuse and not sexual orientation

Have a read of the article and see what you make of it.

Jamaica Gleaner Company

Ready To Take On School Sex – Thwaites Vows To Tackle Inappropriate Behaviour At All-Girls’ Institutions

Ronald Thwaites

Nadisha Hunter, Staff Reporter

A Ministry of Education report on investigations into allegations of forced sexual activities at some local girls’ schools is expected to be ready this week. Education Minister Ronald Thwaites, told The Gleaner yesterday that the ministry had conducted the investigation into the matter and was awaiting the results.

Thwaites said that, based on the outcome, the ministry would intervene to put an end to any such activity at the schools.

Early last month it was revealed that authorities at a prominent Corporate Area all-girls high school were struggling to deal with several alleged sexual attacks on young girls by older students.

School authorities had summoned parents to an emergency meeting as more and more young girls began reporting horror stories of cases where they were forced to perform sexual acts with older girls at the institution.

The Gleaner understood that some girls in the upper school regularly sought to recruit the young girls from the first and second forms.

Thwaites declared he was ready to take the appropriate action to rid the education system of the behaviour.

“The ministry must do two things; one, it must articulate very clearly the inappropriateness of any kind of sexual pressure in schools and, second, it must get the school community, which includes parents, teachers, all workers and the students themselves, to avoid any instance of this kind of pressure,” the minister stressed.

Thwaites said training for both teachers and parents was essential in order to better the system.

“This is where I think continuing professional development of our teachers is very important so that they know the signs, that they don’t over exaggerate and that they are adept at counselling young children and adults.

“This is also to emphasise the importance of vigorous parenting programmes so that parents can become active collaborators and fully informed persons who can assist their children in going through the sometimes turbulent years of growing up,” he added.

Principals concerned

The problem of sexual attacks had attracted the attention of the Jamaica Association of Principals of Secondary Schools (JAPSS) and Children’s Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison.

JAPSS President Sharon Reid, had admitted this was a problem in some schools and that the matter would be a major item of discussion at a retreat scheduled for next month under the theme ‘Facing Challenges of Leadership Together’.

Gordon Harrison had said there needed to be a public-education campaign to sensitise the offenders about the breaches they have committed.

nadisha.hunter@gleanerjm.com

Lesbianism in Schools talk continues …….

So recently two main articles have appeared in the Gleaner firstly since the original lesbian coercers issue raised its head again, here is a caption on Dr Heather Little White’s take on the issue albeit here article was only available in hard copy in the Outlook Magazine on March 25 entitled: Lesbianism among schoolgirls ..

She wrote in part: RECENT REPORTS of aggressive lesbian students terrorising younger girls in some Corporate Area high schools have shocked parents and school officials. One may ask why parents and school officials should be distraught when the provision of sexuality education is limited in the home and school. Sex education for girls tends to warn mainly against pregnancy and to a lesser extent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and often ignores the wider issues such as same-sex relationships, incest, sexual slavery, child prostitution and gender identity, among others. 

THE LESBIAN TERM 

The term ‘lesbian’ dates back to ancient Greece through a tragic story of an early Greek female poet Sappho who supervised a school for girls on the island of Lesbos in 600 BC. Sappho fell in love with one of the girls who did not respond to her romantic advances. Sappho took the rejection badly and drowned herself at sea.Sappho’s legacy was a rich collection of love poems written to women as well as men, thus making her an early example of bisexuality. The term lesbian evolved in reference to the island of Lesbos where Sappho was born. It has been suggested that Sappho’s relationships did not include any overt sexual relations and that female homosexuality was common on the island of Lesbos.

CONTINUE HERE 

Now in Sundays Edition of the same paper comes another article using the same photo of the women that is seen in the scanned caption above in a piece entitiled: “Sexual-Bullying Policy Needed In Schools” disturbingly the caption someone at the Gleaner decided to use under the photo was “Children in schools are being bullied for their homosexual orientation, as depicted in this photograph of a lesbian couple.” The article also seeks to evoke reparative therapy as well as a way to treat or in effect punish the so called perpetrators or coercers while unethically making the link to the widely held belive that homosexuals try to homosexualize others so to speak.

The article reads: 

JUST WHEN one thought all the factors negatively affecting and impacting Jamaica’s education system have been analysed, another form of impediment has reared its ugly head, that of sexual bullying. Sexual bullying involves comments, jokes, actions, or attention that is intended to hurt, offend, or intimidate another person. It is more common than we think, and it affects pupils in both single-sex high schools and co-educational high schools alike.

As with any form of bullying, the perpetrator seeks out that individual who is considered the weakest among the pack. Sexually bullying is no different. This form of harassment is usually seen more often in high schools as against primary schools. The focus of sexual bullying is on body parts, as well as the victim’s appearance and or perceived sexual orientation. Boys can harass members of the opposite sex as well as members of their same sex. Girls can harass members of their same sex and even members of the opposite sex, although I suspect the later is not as common as the others in our society. Adults can sexually harass children also.

Sexual orientation has to do with whom one mostly finds sexually and romantically attractive. A girl who gets crushes or who is sexually attracted to a member of the same sex may consider herself lesbian.

As a society, we have always operated in a hypocritical and paradoxical nature regarding sexual orientation. We have always viewed lesbians more favourably than gays, despite the fact that Jamaica is seen and considered by the outside world as a highly homophobic society.

As a nation we have failed our young people in terms of providing good role models. Our parenting skills leave much to be desired. A significant number of our children live in dysfunctional family units. Single-family female-headed households are now the norm. This, in itself, is the genesis of most of the problems/issues affecting the Jamaican family today. A working single female cannot adequately supervise her children, especially if she does not have the financial resources to employ a helper to assist her. The breakdown of the concept of the extended family is quickly disappearing from the Jamaican family. Many fathers’ names do not appear on the birth certificate of their children. The absence of our fathers in the rearing of our children, especially our boys, continue to add stress to the family structure. Our children no longer attend Sunday and or Sabbath schools. The moral teachings the church provides is, therefore, absent. The teaching of religious education as subject is quickly dying; this was also another avenue for moral teachings in our schools. Sunday is now a day for horse racing and other forms of entertainment. Additionally, our crude and sexually-laced popular culture, namely dancehall music, also adds to the destruction path we are on.

abandonment of values

Our proximity to North America and the influx and influence of subscriber television (cable television) are all factors which have greatly contributed to the abandonment of old values and good family life practices to that of new questionable values. As we become more sophisticated and modern, pornography has become more rampant in the society. Sexting” is now the norm rather than the exception for many teenagers. This is one way in which gossip, and sexually laced comments may be spread to destroy people’s self-esteem and character, especially in a relatively small space such of that of a school.

Therefore, we should not be surprised that our children are now experimenting with sexual diversity in this digital era we now live in. Children receive formal and informal messages about their gender identity from a multitude of sources. Some of which are families, peers, communities and, of course, the media. Your gender identity is who you feel as if you are on the inside (male, female, both, neither, flexible) While your gender expression has to do with how your act on the outside, that is, how you walk, talk, sit, dress and so on. Both gender identity and gender expression impact whether one sees him/herself as more masculine than feminine or vice versa. This always impacts how other individuals see and respond to you.

We can almost be sure that the problem highlighted at the specific Corporate Area all-girls school is not unique to that institution. All our educational institutions, co-educational and same-sex, are dealing with similar issues.

What can and should be done? The first line of defence against sexually bullying is the Ministry of Education, and as such, the Ministry of Education needs to take the lead in setting policies to address the issue of sexual bullying. A sexual-harassment policy or a bullying policy should be put in place to clearly inform all stakeholders that this type of behaviour is unacceptable. This policy should also outline the sanctions and penalties that will be applied if anyone decides to go ahead and bully another person. Clearly, we need to address the wider issue which presents itself. The wider issue here is our unwillingness to have a mature and frank discussion with all stakeholders regarding sexual orientation as a human-rights issue. By now, we should realise that by by ignoring or wishing the problem to go away has not worked and will not work.

therapy to change

Clearly, these students are in need of much therapy and counselling. Many experts believe one can change one’s sexual orientation through therapy. Our guidance counsellors are well-trained professionals and, therefore, their services should be made available to those troubled students as well as their parents. The perpetrators of the lesbian attacks should be asked to withdraw from school until they have sought counselling. By allowing them to remain at the school, we are sending the wrong message, not only to the victims of their attack, but the wider school community.

Counselling should also be provided to the victims of such sexual attacks. Maybe a change of school would also be in the best interest of those students. To remain at the school may only serve as a reminder of the horrible and horrific ordeal they experienced.

Additionally, administrators must be more vigilant in terms of what takes place at their school. After all these incidents occurred at the school. Measures must be put in place to have some sort of supervision and monitoring of what takes place on school grounds, regardless of the time of the day.

We should also encourage our children to speak out whenever they have been abused and or threatened.

Schools could and should create bathroom messages that emphasise that no one has the right to abuse and or invade another person space, this by itself will not prevent some students, so a list of teachers to contact would have be most useful also.

The Ministry of Education could also have workshops for teachers to remind and expose them to the rights of children. By so doing, teachers will be better able to assist wherever the need presents itself. We could and should incorporate all the agencies of the state that work with children, as well, in this fight.

preventative measures

It is quite possible the events of recent times can serve to strengthen our Parent Teachers Associations (PTAs) and provide avenues for them to find creative measures to improve the security of schools in which they operate, such as investing in high-tech security measures. Maybe more PTAs could install surveillance cameras at central points to ensure that their children, especially those in the lower grades, are adequately supervised after hours. Maybe they could employ additional security guards to bolster the existing security; this may just serve as a deterrent to the predators. The truth is these older girls have become predators.

Our schools should be a safe place for teaching and learning. No one should be bullied, preyed upon, whether sexually and or physically. Our schools must reclaim what they once were; a clean and protected environment for all to fully maximise their potential.

Wayne Campbell is an educator and gender-rights advocate waykam@yahoo.com. Send comments to columns@gleanerjm.com.

ENDS

I tend to agree with the first comment made on the newspaper’s site which read as follows:

It’s as if this article was written to create more confusion and to further cloud readers’ judgement. 

The caption on the picture says “Children in school are being bullied for their sexual orientation, as depicted in this photo of a lesbian couple”. Now, it really says a lot about the quality of the newstaff at this newspaper that a person can look at a picture of two hands entwined and SEE children being bullied.Then, a so-called “gender-rights advocate” can call for children to be sent to counseling so that their sexual orientation can be changed:Many experts believe one can change one’s sexual orientation through therapy. Our guidance counsellors are well-trained professionals and, therefore, their services should be made available to those troubled students as well as their parents. The perpetrators of the lesbian attacks should be asked to withdraw from school until they have sought counselling” Apparently those “well-trained” counselors were not doing their jobs properly to have let these “troubled” students get to the point of harassing their fellow students.

Something really has got to be done about how much prejudice and selective misreading of research is allowed to pass for informed critique in this newspaper. 

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

Alleged Lesbian Coercers in school – Should Get Proper Help – Expert ………

In a follow up to an explosive story being pushed as if the teenaged same sex active females are predators by a previous Gleaner story at a prominent high school has come a response by the paper quoting some suggestions by experts on how to handle the perceived problem, what is instructive is the seeming panic and paranoia setting in yet when initiation and perceived abuses happens in coed institutions and in full view of the public as we see everyday the experts, school and principal bodies and administrations were quiet all these years as they continued but as soon as the “homosexual problem’ turns up everyone cries wolf.

What hypocrisy, one wonders if it weren’t a prominent high school we would be having this fear masked as concern? look through the smoke people and decide for yourselves. Isolated incidents should not be presented as a wide practice by same gender loving people.

Here is the article from today’s Gleaner:

Girls Should Get Proper Help – Expert

Nadisha Hunter, Gleaner Staff Reporter

At least one expert is advising that professional help should be given to the younger girls who were victims of sexual attacks by their older schoolmates at some schools as the issue could have a major psychological impact on the students’ lives.

Psychologist Dr Karen Richards told The Gleaner yesterday that action should also be taken against the perpetrators highlighted last week at an all-girls school in the Corporate Area, as the attacks should not be taken lightly.

“Counselling and some form of professional intervention should be made available should the child be willing to engage. The parents may need some input, helping them to know how best to deal with it and the individual child might need some support,” Richard said.

“We can’t excuse these practices as just kids together establishing their boundaries, having fun. No, these are assaults and these are things that you could never do in a workplace, you could never do out there on the streets without finding yourself in trouble with the law and the law therefore must reflect that to these children,” she argued.

Rite of passage

In explaining the behaviour of the students involved in the act, Richards said the youths are at an age where there is often a rite of passage.

“The students use the activity to prove themselves as worthy by submitting the most to this abuse. It is really a rite of passage to belong to the group. You have got to suffer and those in the group determine what kind of suffering those out of the group must go through in order to be a part of the group,” she said.

Richards said she has had cases where children have been sexually assaulted by older children but the cases had to be examined carefully as oftentimes the perpetrators have themselves been victims of sexual abuse.

In the meantime, the Paediatric Association of Jamaica said assistance must be provided for the students involved because, as adolescents make the often difficult transition into adulthood, they have many developmental issues to face, one of which is developing their sexual identity and learning how to have age-appropriate relationships.

Experimental behaviours

“During middle adolescence (approximately 14-16 years of age) in particular, many adolescents as they try to understand themselves, may become involved in experimental behaviours with either the opposite or the same sex.

“During this time, adolescents can benefit tremendously from the presence of understanding adults who can appropriately guide them as they make choices, and help them to learn from their decisions,” the association said.

The group recommended the creation of an open forum to foster useful discussion and solutions for the students.

“This may benefit adolescents who find themselves uncertain with respect to their sexuality and earnestly seeking some kind of guidance in what can be a really difficult time,” the group added.

The association said it was the responsibility of the state, school and parent-teachers association when they accept the care of the children to provide a safe environment.

“This would allow our children to mature, and achieve their full potential to the benefit of themselves, their families and the nation. The vulnerable must be protected and the perpetrators counselled and healed,” the group added.

nadisha.hunter@gleanerjm.com

ENDS

I am pleased however someone mentioned the experimental stage and rites of passage as I hinted to in layman’s terms in my previous posts since the story broke both HERE and on my sister blog GLBTQ Jamaica on Blogger, see
Principal Association to address “lesbian issue” in prominent high school.

In talks with a qualified psychologist in the community yesterday she suggested that she was concerned the girls were being placed in a light of being predators she also said ”  ……if you’re trying to fuel and poison the environment against lesbians, then suggesting that they’re abnormal, freakish and need to be punished via the law or even kicked out of school is the way to go.”

She proposed that  what needs to happen “is a very frank conversation with girls about their sexualities. Children are not taught about why coercion and violence is not ok in the first place. They learn that it is thru how they see adults interacting. So there’s no reason for most to see that “holding someone down” is not fun and games, but violence. They also don’t know how to respect and protect themselves at the same time. 

So when a topic is made taboo, it means that the obnoxious kids get even more power from rebelling and from making everyone afraid. 

I think the situation is somewhat exaggerated but also complicated. I suspect that some of the girls are afraid of “lesbians” because of what they hear around them. And some of the girls who are not lesbians but who are harassing the others are just bullies. The way people tell stories is very confused and you have to ask the right questions to get at what really happened. For the principals to call in the authorities shows how stupid and prejudiced they are; they want to punish the girls for being “out of order” ie. homoreotic behaviour. Look how long it takes for any principal to act on the boys feeling up and being inappropriate with girls!!!

It’s just amazing to me how students AND staff at a school can be so clueless about adolescent development and how to solve conflicts. Tells me that the content of education is definitely lacking all around.”

A similar suggestion I had questioned in my blogger post linked above.  I think this issue and sexuality in general needs to be looked at squarely at the Ministry of Education policy level devoid of panic and fear but while cognisant of the possibility of sexual abuse indeed.

 Children’s advocate Diane Gordon Harrison

Meanwhile the Office of the Children’s Advocate OCA in a release said they have grave concerns about younger girls being preyed upon by older ones, the prevalence of homosexuality has serious implications, they continued that while the newspaper article spoke to the problem in all girls schools it is concerned about anecdotal mention of homosexual activity in all boys schools such sexual behaviours exposes children to serious implications which they may not be aware of, the Children’s advocate Diane Gordon Harrison says there needs to be a public education campaign to sensitize children to these risks, there are legal implications and consequences that can flow when students engage other students in sexual activity.

They also are recommending an open discussion on sexual activity in schools by stakeholders and some form of policy imperative to follow.

Way back in 2006 allegations were that adult lesbians were visiting schools and at that time the JFLAG representative was reported to have said that no disciplinary action should be taken against the gay girls. “They should counsel them if this is what they are, but advise them that certain things are prohibited.”

However, the JFLAG repre-sentative condemned the actions of lesbians who are allegedly visiting the campuses and openly displaying their orientation.

“No one should do that. You can’t stay on the premises and do that. I don’t agree with older women going onto the campus to entice girls to do whatever with them.”

However, she said that if that is being allowed to happen on campus, school security is not performing up to par.

She disclosed that her organisation approached several schools “to give information and seminars, but they wouldn’t have it.” She believes that if permission were granted to stage the seminars, the girls would be better able to deal with the uncomfortable situation.

see: Lesbians in schools – Growing number of homosexuals in Corporate Area all girls’ high schools  

and also see High school girls gone gay!   

also see a previous post on Homosexuality in schools in St Lucia where a similar set or circumstances presented themselves with lesbian activity in a high school and how mature the response was: Homosexuality in schools in St. Lucia

Peace and tolerance

H

Lesbians & Learning – Situtational Homosexuality at a Kgn All Girls School ?

The following article appeared in the Gleaner originally entitled:

Lesbians And Learning – Younger Students Under Siege At Corporate Area All-Girls School

But is this a case of experimentation or situational homosexuality as occurs in spaces where same sexed persons co-exist for extended periods? Have a read of the article first then see my comments below –

Authorities at a prominent Corporate Area all-girls high school are reportedly struggling to deal with several sexual attacks on young girls by older students.

School authorities on Wednesday summoned parents to an emergency meeting as more and more young girls started reporting horror stories of cases where they were forced to perform sexual acts with the older girls.

The Gleaner understands that some girls in the upper school usually endeavour to recruit the young girls from the first and second forms.

A parent who attended the meeting told The Gleaner that a plethora of issues were discussed.

“They called the emergency meeting yesterday (Wednesday) to address the behavioural patterns of students in the school,” the parent said.

Circulating porn

The parent added that they were told the children were “circulating pornography and a lot of things”.

The parent also said the acting principal and the teachers were very frustrated with what was happening at the school.

“Lesbianism is so rampant at the school in the bathrooms. I’m very, very concerned,” the worried parent said.

A senior student, who spoke with The Gleaner, revealed that the pornography being circulated was that of a grade-10 student performing oral sex on an adult male.

The student, who reportedly recorded the sex act, sent it to her peers via Bluetooth.

The student said the lesbianism problem at the school was getting out of control with increasingly more public displays of affection, even in front of faculty members.

“The lesbians are just getting prime. They don’t really care,” the student said.

The student explained that a recent decision to move the grade-seven girls from a block that was in proximity to the grade-11 block was spawned by the fact that the upper-school girls were preying on the lower-school girls.

“When they are ready, they lock up the seven-grade bathroom and you can’t get in. When you open the door, it is fifth-form girls in there,” she said.

The senior student said some of the girls openly admit that they are lesbians and others say they are bisexual.

Use of force

Another student explained that some fifth-form students use force to sexually molest some first-formers and the situation is now of major concern at the institution.

“The older girls are having sex with the younger girls by force. It is not the first time it is happening. The lesbians them a go on bad,” she said.

A parent who said she was aware of the situation was quick to point out that the parents need to play their part.

“The practice is getting out of control but instead of labelling the students, persons should instead try to assist. The situation is a crisis at the school but it is really a testing of faith,” one parent said.

“We have to try to guide them at home. They can change, they just need our guidance,” she added.

The Gleaner spoke with a group of girls yesterday who appeared to be on lunch break. They too confirmed the reports of lesbianism at the institution.

Some of the girls said it was something that has been going on at the school for a long time.

“I know about it. I am not sure of the details but it is not something new. It has been going on for a long time and the girls are not giving it up,” one of the girls said.

Students scared

However, some students said they did not know about the activity while others seemed too scared to talk to the media as they would neither confirm nor deny the reports.

A parent said: “Come this morning, the solution was that they would take away all the BlackBerry phones because that is what they have been using to circulate the pornography.”

She added: “One parent said her daughter saw two girls making out in the bathroom.”

The parent also disclosed that the acting principal said the school could not take action against the girls’ activities without concrete evidence.

She said the acting principal gave a toll-free number for students and parents to call with information without revealing their identities.

“Really and truly, I don’t want my daughter to get lost in the system,” the parent said.

When The Gleaner contacted the acting principal for an official response, she declined to comment, claiming she was unaware of such a situation and that the meeting held on Wednesday was just a regular parent-teacher association meeting. It had been reported last year that lesbianism was a growing challenge in the education system, especially at some all-girls institutions.President of the Jamaica Association of Guidance Counsellors in Education, Dr Grace Kelly, had said the matter was significant and called for attention.

ENDS

But some more questions come to mind for me as previous media reports similar in nature without any follow up always leave me puzzled

The Star News also carried a VERY similar story in October 2011 posted HERE on GLBTQ Jamaica

Are these females in an experimental stage of their sexual development, thus practicing same sex activity?
Were the first formers actually sexually assaulted and were they taken to a doctor for an examination or the police?
Are the schools’ guidance counselling systems providing the wrong kind of counselling to the so called victims when they maybe lesbians indeed?
Are the schools’ overlooking the sexual orientation issues of the girls involved?
Are female teachers also guilty of forced initiation to female students in some single sexed institutions as well as we have seen in heterosexual scenarios where male students make moves on female students?
Are the alleged older fondlers actually lesbians or are they just exercising psychological  intimidation over the younger students while using fondling as an embarrassing ploy?
If this turns out to be true do instances like this weaken the case for tolerance and make the perception of the “homosexual lifestyle” as predatory more cemented in the minds of detractors?
Should sexual orientation be looked at seriously by the Ministry of Education and the Guidance Counseling bodies in as far as dealing with lgbt teens, early initiation and peer pressure for sexual activity? 
Could the females described here be actually transmen (FTM – female to male preoperative transgender) acting out or mimicking the societal masculine roles as done by men locally to “hunt” young teens and beautiful women?
But with an education system devoid of really engaging sexuality and same sex issues squarely will we ever get the right answers outside of this and having to rely on a newspaper’s story? Is there a thin line between experimentation and predatory behaviour here?
It was earlier last year that the Observer published an article by Janice Budd claiming lesbian gangs were terrorizing schools  in May of this year there was some panic created as well by the Jamaica Association of Guidance Counselors in Education (JAGE) when its President Dr. Grace Kelly created a stir by making several comments on the issue, among other things a Gleaner story byNadisha Hunter summed it up – “There is a challenge in the schools and the guidance association is aware of it,” she said.”What we continue to do is to provide counselling and support for these children, and to ensure that we provide them access to proper information, and through the guidance and counselling sessions, the students are given an opportunity to understand and appreciate their sexuality,” Dr Kelly added.She noted that while it has not reached the stage where any matter had to be referred to a psychiatrist or psychologist, she was aware that cases have been referred to other persons in the education setting because of the nature. Also See: Sex therapist Dr Sidney McGill says “Lesbianism is on the rise in Jamaica & world-wide with even young girls in co-ed schools preferring other girls” from my sister blog GLBTQ Jamaica on blogger.
A talk show host suggested that parents of the aggrieved students sue the school for endangering the morals of children as the school is negligent in allowing this issue to happen although he (Ronald Mason of Nationwide News) also suggested students should be given condoms as their actions cannot be managed on a 24hr basis so they should be afforded the protection needed so as to avoid contracting STIs and HIV.
Issues such as this JFLAG also need to wake up from slumber and deal with as same gender loving female activity perceived or not are grossly overlooked for years by the NGO and with calls from the former President of the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship President to have lesbian sex criminalised as well one wonders when are they going to wake up?
Update 11.03.12 – Now a press release from the J 11.03.12 entitled: J-FLAG CONDEMNS SEXUAL COERCION AND CALLS ON SCHOOLS ADMINISTRATORS TO DIALOGUE, this response to me shows the the lack of forward thinking and understanding of initiation, situational homosexuality and experimentation issues. Then again SGL women’s issues were never something they have dealt with effectively.
Peace and tolerance
H

Dr. Orville Taylor on “The Gays Already Won”

The following is an “In Focus” contributed piece to the Gleaner by talk show host and UWI lecturer Dr Orville Taylor

Hello, JFJ! The Gays Already Won

I am not a betting man, but I am willing to bet my bottom dollar that my friend Damion Crawford will be flabbergasted to know that Parliament that he has now joined has already done what he thinks it won’t. Never mind the Jamaicans For Justice (JFJ) activists who are still so deafened by their own clarion that they don’t recognise what is in front of them. Well, let me release the puss from the bag right now. Parliament has already agreed to decriminalise buggery.

At a recent event, Crawford, speaking with his usual youthful candour, suggested that despite the statistical likelihood that Parliament, based on a normal distribution, should have gay parliamentarians, it would not anytime soon move to legalise homosexual behaviour. Carefully toeing the line given that his locks are not simply fashion and Rastafari ‘fire bun’ on that ‘livity’ from Sodom and Gomorrah, he made it clear that there are many other things to preoccupy ourselves about than other persons’ sexuality. Good answer.

Let’s make it clear, however, that there is a difference between decriminalising and endorsing it. Decriminalisation would merely mean that consenting adults, Adam and Steve, can do whatever they please behind doors. It absolutely doesn’t mean that they can parade on the beach naked or have the homosexual equivalent of sex outdoors. There is an ‘L’ of a difference between pubic and public.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding, in 2008, made the bold statement on BBC that he would not have known homosexuals in his Cabinet, with the now-famous “not in my Cabinet” comment. His Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has not wavered. Since he stepped away from the party, stalwart Member of Parliament (MP) Daryl Vaz more than hinted that he was not in support of having practising gays in his party or government. Furthermore, flash-in-the-pan Prime Minister Andrew Holness did nothing to demonstrate a movement away from the Golding doctrine.

pinocchio test failed

However, we must be mindful that much of what the JLP’s officers have spoken about has failed the Pinocchio test. Indeed, the same party hired a law firm which acts on behalf of governments and denied the existence and usage of an American aircraft, even though it was in plain sight, and then did an about-face within 24 hours, to the chagrin of former Security Minister Dwight Nelson.

In 2009, MP Ernest Smith blurted out in Parliament, “I am very concerned that homosexuals in Jamaica have become so brazen, they’ve formed themselves into organisations and are abusive, violent and … [what the] Ministry of National Security must look into is why is it that so many homosexuals are licensed firearm holders?”

Yet, just weeks later, he was defending a client charged with buggery and managed to secure for him a non-custodial sentence. But then again, he already has a lengthy proboscis like the puppet boy. Thus, like his client, honesty and truth also escaped without being made to spend a night in in the ‘Jail P’.

On the other hand, perhaps demonstrating why the seven-day rule is now being enforced, then leader of the Opposition, People’s National Party (PNP) President Portia Simpson Miller, unequivocally said she would appoint persons on the basis of ability, even if they were gay. Furthermore, while declaring that she had no interest in the bedrooms of her ministers, she felt that the buggery laws should be reviewed. Nevertheless, she would leave it up to Parliament to make the vote.

The $222-million question is: who will bell the cat? Crawford doesn’t think any one of the 63, including himself, would be so bold as to bring the motion to Parliament. And PNP officers and Portiapologists tried to make the case that she did not say she would change the law.

Nonsense! Having declared that she would appoint gays to her Cabinet, she already has implied that she believes that the behaviour should no longer be criminal, given that no person who is guilty of a felony can sit in Parliament. Therefore, the only way she could honestly appoint a known gay to her Cabinet is if she is committed to change the law.

But guess what? She doesn’t have to.

Eleven months ago, Parliament unanimously agreed on the Charter of Rights which now replaces Chapter III of the Constitution. All 51 persons present in Parliament in April 2011, including the vociferous Vaz, who shouted “unity is strength”, voted to insert the charter. Previously, under Section 24, there was freedom from discrimination on a number of grounds, such as: “respective descriptions by race, place of origin, political opinions, colour or creed … “.

Sex not included

Notice! Sex is not one of the characteristics which protected a person against discriminatory treatment. And by sex is meant the physical characteristics that distinguish between males and females, not behaviour, and certainly not the choice of partner.

Feminists might have had issues with this exclusion, but there were a number of positive biases towards women. These included the burden of maintenance and primary custody of children, and in the workplace, a protective law, still on the books today, which prevents women from being subject to the hazards of working at night. Incredibly, the prime minister is working illegally under the Women (Employment of) Act of 1956, which outlaws women working more than 10 hours in any one day.

Now, the Charter of Rights, in Section 13 (3) (i), guarantees the right to freedom from discrimination on the grounds of “being male or female“, and Section 13 (2) (b) states, “Parliament shall pass no law and no organ of the State shall take any action which abrogates, abridges or infringes those rights.

Committees comprising some of the most brilliant legal minds, K.D. Knight, Delroy Chuck, Ronnie Thwaites, Ossie Harding, A.J. Nicholson and Dorothy Lightbourne, as well as non-lawyers, began the work in 1999 which led to the final charter being passed.

Now the cover is blown. Buggery, which is ‘anuphile’ penile penetration, is addressed by Section 76 of the Offences against the Person Act, which is still on the books. It states, “Whosoever shall be convicted of the abominable crime of buggery, committed either with mankind or with any animal, shall be liable to be imprisoned … .” Thus, only men can be ‘buggers’, although women, men and even animals can be ‘buggees’. Furthermore, nothing criminalises female-to-female sexual contact.

unconstitutional

So, since only male homosexuality is criminal, Section 76 is unconstitutional and, if taken to court, will be struck out. Maybe my non-legal mind might have misunderstood the lessons I learned from my law lecturer in Cave Hill, but did I notice something that the above-mentioned legal geniuses missed? No chance, I am not that brilliant. The gentlemen and ladies in Parliament and the Senate knew exactly what they were doing. A Parliament which housed other lawyers knew about the impact of constitutional changes and existing legislation. This is taught in the first year of the law programme.

So, dear readers, whatever might have been the religious orientation of the Parliament in 2011, they knew what they were doing but acted like Pontius Pilate. But, of course, the easy way is to allow someone from J-FLAG or JFJ to challenge the act as being contrary to the Constitution, which they might have already started

Thus, Damion may flash his locks in astonishment, but as Grammada used to say in her colourful Patois, “Di ass dun gaan choo di gate aready.”

Dr Orville Taylor is senior lecturer in sociology at the UWI and a radio talk-show host. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and tayloronblackline@hotmail.com

JFLAG wants PNP to discuss Buggery Law within 100 days of assuming office

Again the advocates Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays JFLAG sans consulting the community’s views on the Prime Minister designate to review the Buggery Law and heading to a conscience vote has caused some upset in sections of the community who are saying the J should keep quiet and wait, let Sista P as Mrs Simpson is affectionately called deal with other serious issues first such as the economy and jobs then on the other rights for gays etc. When the group is to speak it is silent, just in December the brutal murders of two lesbians and up until today not an official word or recognition of the lives lost on the backdrop of same gender loving women’s issues and the increasing abuses against them, a trend we have been seeing since 2007 with corrective rapes, attempted abductions, forced evictions and beatings of butch identified women.

please see: 2 SGL Women lost, corrective rape & virtual silence from the male dominated advocacy structure on those circumstances

Reports are already out there of an attempted beating of four men in the Half Way Tree area since the Peoples National Party PNP win as persons out there follow a strong rumour that the party was funded by gays and that gays voted the party back into power based on the buggery law review suggestion by Sista P.

Three of the men allegedly escaped but one was cornered and sustained minor cuts from his assailants which numbered some four, some of whom were sellers of pirated DVDs in the vicinity. Another report has come of a butch identified lesbian who has been asked to take cover from her rented flat in St. Catherine, it is reported that she got the warning from other men in the area who said to her to just be proactive and leave the house to avoid any serious attack on her person or her son who resides with her sometimes of his father who lives elsewhere.

Earlier today the Gleaner had carried a story highlighting the demand of sorts to the incoming government almost ignoring the objections from the religious right and the slow groundswell it seems on the face of it of opposition to the suggestion by Mrs Miller, many persons while agreeing with the voting out of the Jamaica Labour Party, JLP they are stating that they are not comfortable with the homosexual matter, persons misconstrue the call for the review of the Buggery Law as a repeal or freeing up of homosexuality in Jamaica. Others such as some religious leaders think the homosexual agenda is being foisted on the country as previous posts and newspaper articles have brought to bear.

Go Jamaica carried this:

J-FLAG wants PNP to prioritise buggery law review

The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays (JFLAG), says it is expecting the new Government to prioritize human rights issues.

In the December 20 leadership debate, PNP President, Portia Simpson Miller said her administration was committed to the protection of human rights.

Simpson Miller also said it was time for a review of the buggery law, saying she believed the issue should be put to a conscience vote in the parliament.

The executive director of J-FLAG, Dane Lewis, said the group expects the new government to stick to its commitments.

Some churches have rejected Simpson Miller’s suggestion for a review of the buggery law describing the proposal as the promotion of a homosexual agenda.

this clip also was apart of that report:

J-FLAG wants PNP to prioritise buggery law review

Dane Lewis Executive Director of the J told CVM TV that he expected the issues to begin to placed on the table within 100 days, “To be realistic we would imagine within the first 100 days the issue could be raised we can look at how to proceed,” Mr Lewis said while JFLAG is not expecting a conscience vote to repeal the buggery law within the first 100 days discussions are important as Jamaica has a 2012 deadline to meet according to the international covenant on human rights, “….one of the leading recommendations made in November last year was that Jamaica should report by 2012 on what concrete steps to removal of discriminatory laws,” Mr Lewis said.

According to Mr. Lewis JFLAG is willing to make small steps in acquiring legal recognition for homosexuals he says although gay marriage is legalized overseas JFLAG is not pursuing that as part of its lobby at this time, ” …gay marriage is certainly not an item on our agenda, we still have a large issue of discrimination …. people are being evicted from their homes, people are being physically abused because of their sexual orientation and we want to begin to address those issues.”

He acknowledges that the discussion of gay rights will be met with strong public opposition however he says as was demonstrated by Mrs Simpson Miller  we should be strident in dealing with issues impeding human rights, a solution to the issues concerning gay rights will help to deal with HIV/AIDS.

also see: Did the talk of buggery turn persons off from the polls?

Certainly this is not the end of the matter now that the goodly J has thrown down the gauntlet here to the incoming government but which I also agree with other persons in the community we need to lay low for a while and let the tempers ease nationally and the post-election euphoria, also let the party bring it on the agenda while talks proceed quietly behind closed doors. There is bound to be fallout of which there maybe not enough net systems to deal with the victims or involuntary martyrs who may have not subscribed to JFLAG’s agenda. The lack of proper consultation with the LGBT body politic before speaking to the media supposedly on our behalf cannot be the modus operandi anymore, there are serious repercussions we need to be cognizant of in these times. This top down approach needs to go!

We have a saying in Jamaica: ” ….. yuh hand inna lion mouth u tek time draw it out,” (your hand is in a lion’s mouth you take your time and pull it out) the J needs to shut up for now and keep in touch with the realities on the ground as suggested by persons who saw the news clip on TV and the Go Jamaica’s report.

Peace and tolerance

H

UPDATE JAN 12, 2012 – THE J RESPONDED 

J-FLAG DID NOT GIVE ULTIMATUM

J-FLAG

Kingston — January 12, 2012

The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) wishes to clarify that the organisation has NOTgiven the government an ultimatum.

On January 3, 2012, CVM TV contacted the organisation for a comment on its expectations of the new administration following the Peoples National Party’s (PNP) win in the General Elections. This was in the context of the bold pronouncements the Most Honourable Portia Simpson Miller had made during the leadership debate. NewsWatch reported, J-FLAG’s Executive Director, Dane Lewis as saying “To be realistic, I imagine within the first hundred days at least the issue could be raised, with a look at how to proceed.”

However, many have misinterpreted this statement of expectation as an ultimatum. Mr Lewis also highlighted that Jamaica is required by the end of 2012 to report to the UN Human Rights Committee reviewing Jamaica’s status under the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights “on what concrete steps it’s [Jamaica] making towards removal of discriminatory laws”. It is within this context that the comment was made.  J-FLAG wishes to reiterate that it has not issued an ultimatum but offered a comment on what could be done by the Government within the first hundred (100) days to demonstrate its recognition of the broad human rights concerns that affect all Jamaicans. This is a common strategy which has been used by many other organisations in civil society and private sector.

Like all Jamaicans, J-FLAG remains committed to the human social and economic development of Jamaica. In so doing, J-FLAG will continue to defend the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Jamaicans from discrimination, harassment and violence.

ENDS

………… mistakes such as granting a telephone interview (sans any consultations with the community I might add) to the media in a “hot environment” when homosexuality or related matters are in the public domain is a no no, all the J should have done was waited and not mention anything at all to do with any time line in any way, shape or form now for it to be misrepresented as an ultimatum. We have had previous misconceptions before of JFLAG’s position by media and one would have thought that as a former media participant himself the Executive Director of JFLAG Mr. Lewis would have known the ins and outs of local media with regards to hot button issues such as this. The San Francisco boycott some years ago and the suggested EGALE tourism boycott as well are prime examples of learning curves for the group and speaking just a little too much but when it’s time to speak there is silence. How many mistakes are there to be made before it is perfected? one never knows.

Internalized homophobia glaring since the elections …. a worrying trend

Internalized Homophobia is something that virtually all gays have to confront (or have yet to confront) in their lives.

The simple definition is that internalized homophobia refers to negative feelings that we have towards ourselves because of our homosexuality. The forms it may take can vary from outright shame, denial, or self-injury, to hating on other gay people and more unconscious behaviors as well.

Internalized homophobia happens for some of the same reasons that straight people are homophobic – namely ignorance, often because of religion and then of course, because of negative stereotypes and misinformation that we hear about in our families, schools, and society.

However, with gays, negative attitudes become “internalized” because we are the subject of these prejudices! Whether we realize it or not, we are affected and hurt by hate and discrimination. It’s never a conscious choice to have internalized homophobia, but it must be a conscious choice to change it.

Here is a general overview of the spectrum of behaviors that exhibit internalized homophobia. Everyone has a unique life history, personality, and set of circumstances that inform their place either on or totally off of this list!  :

1. Aggressive Denial. Some people feel so strongly that they should not be gay that they will repress their feelings and desires and speak out with some of the most hateful and homophobic language you will ever hear. You often see this happen with fundamentalist religious figures, like Ted Haggard. This never ends well. (Usually it ends with a gay sex scandal, talk show appearances and a lot more denial.) This is the worst kind of internalized homophobia because the hateful rhetoric and actions that these “aggressive deniers” exhibit really hurt other gay people and the movement.

2. Denial. Some people simply deny that they are gay, try to lead a straight life, may even get married and have a family. Many of these gay people in denial lead secret gay lives, or possibly worse, spend their lives feeling unfulfilled, lonely and unknown to everyone they love.

3. Closeted. A closeted person is someone who has gay relationships, but hides that fact from everyone that they know and love. In Beyond the Closet; The Transformation of Gay and Lesbian Life, being in the closet is described as a “life-shaping pattern of concealment.” Being closeted is linked with high-anxiety, low self-esteem, increased risk for suicide and general lack of fulfillment (though closeted people rarely admit to not being fulfilled while they’re in there, though they always remark about it when they finally come out!)

4. In the closet with the door open. Many people are only partially closeted. They have gay relationships, and don’t completely hide their sexuality, but they make a point to not talk about it with family, friends, co-workers or, if they are public figures, the media. Sometimes gay people do this for their own safety, for example, if they know they could face possible violence at work or lose their home if they are living with homophobic family members.

There can be a practical side to being careful with your disclosure. However, many gays have gay friends, gay friendly (or at least loving) parents and still they remain silent. Often they say things like “it’s not anybody’s business,” or “we don’t talk about those kinds of things,” when questioned. The root of this avoidance and secrecy is shame, fear to disappoint, fear to face actual homophobia from people or to not be accepted. This kind of internalized homophobia really encourages subtle and systemic discrimination in our society.

It makes a statement that even gay people believe that gays should be marginalized and gives straight people permission to ignore us. When we do not advocate for ourselves and others who need support, we are weak as a movement. Additionally, the people found in this part of the spectrum are often the most avid deniers of the existence of ‘internalized homophobia.’

5. Out, and generally fine with other gays, but really dislikes ‘dykes’ and ‘flamers’. Many gay people are out and open and educated and “perfectly wonderful” gays, except for the fact that they vocally dislike flamboyant gay people. If you are this person, there are a few things you should consider.

  • These outspoken, visible minorities (a.k.a. someone who does not or cannot pass as straight) have been on the forefront of the gay rights movement from the very beginning. They take the brunt of the homophobia, face the most violence, and through their differences have created greater visibility for LGBTQ people in the world. After all, if no one could see us, how could they know we existed?
  • Every group of people has extreme examples and stereotypes. We encounter straight people all the time who are so ridiculous, they could be cartoons. And yet, we accept these differences to be within the acceptable range of human weirdness and expression.
  • It is important to distinguish between a flamboyant person and an annoying person. The reason you dislike someone may have everything to do with the fact that they are irritating, and not as much to do with the fact that they are queer.
  • Some of the hate directed at extremely masculine lesbians or extremely feminine gay men, is actually a form of gender discrimination. We need to take into account that gender expression is something that happens in conjunction with sexuality. Many people with non-traditional expressions, are experiencing the brunt of internalized homophobia and transphobia, even if they’re not trans. Lots of straight people want to put sexuality in a box, but lots of straight and gay people want to put gender in a box. Gender, like sexuality, is a spectrum of expression.

Since the elections and the strong feelings on the issues especially since the wrench that was thrown in the mix of the review of the buggery law by the opposition People’s National Party, PNP in the leadership debate who have since won the poll on December 29th, the JLP who since the mention of the suggested buggery law review by the PNP leader and Prime Minister designate Portia Simpson Miller have employed  devious homophobic methods on the campaign trail to capture the Jamaican audience’s attention which seemed to have led to voter non interest and a low voter turn out with core party supporters returning the PNP to power while the undecided basically stayed home.

For purposes of this post let us exclude the outness of persons but zoom on on the community conflicts pre and post the election results, LGBT persons who openly supported the Jamaica Labour Party before the buggery law review suggestion have found themselves the object of serious scaving bordering on homophobic slurs and innuendos some with very threatening tones as if to suggest if those who support the JLP must be crazy and they can stay and be killed in the process by the systems. The social network spaces especially Facebook have become ablaze with persons trading insults and long argumentative threads with the very words used against LGBT people by homophobes also being employed to psychologically intimidate persons. The cynicism to those persons has remained high since the results and smacks on a kind of elitism that seemed to have been hidden but making its way to the fore as the opportune time presents itself.

The contemptuous tones are worrying to myself and a few others and speaks to the overall struggling health of our LGBT community, how can we ask the rest of the nation for tolerance when we can’t even tolerate each other with differing views? I firmly believe we have to get our act together and express opinions and thoughts without descending into the very bowels of nasty homophobia that we are all wanting to escape I hope from the religious right and sections of the mainstream. It is shocking this kind of intolerance so much so that persons find the time to carefully prepare several well worded posts and blackberry messages/broadcasts two or three times a day cursing swearing and aiming venomous putrid hate at other LGBT people just because they supported the JLP, I too have come in for some slight criticism which I welcomed but my critics and I argued the issues based on my open view of the situations in this election and then agreed to disagree but others have not been so lucky, trouble is the posts as mentioned are sometimes open and directed at unnamed persons but it is clear who the intended targets are, to even be so vaguely loose and contemptuous is also troubling and smacks on a kind of psychological manipulation to influence thoughts and professional hypocrisy. The IH does not only come from individual profiles but also several LGBT Facebook groups as well including several where members of the advocacy structure are a part of, these vitriolic exchanges go unchecked with these members obviously seeing them and no reprimand or call to a check on how we are treating each other.

Are we ready then to embrace rights and or privileges when we are at this stage of our community lacking moral fibre, scruples or just basic respect for each other? seeing that we can’t be out relatively speaking and the perils of homophobia is this the release mechanisms we resort to by castigating each other in anger?

Is it insecurity within oneself here that causes these outbursts even from persons who wouldn’t normally be involved in such activity? after all Jamaica politics usually brings out the animal in some persons.

Time will have to tell.

Peace and tolerance

H