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.

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Club Heavens “The Rebirth”

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes she emerged on the night of February 11, 2012 LGBT history was made under new management, with new interior designs, new and some old staff members returning and certainly a new lease on life after closure for some time now due to a rapid decline in interest as other spots within Kingston and neighbouring parishes took center stage, other mitigating circumstances and a much younger and discriminating audience who also have an aptitude for mainstream entertainment offerings that also seem to appeal to LGBT senses but it was good if not refreshing to see the old haunt revived and kicking once again.

The north western Jamaica spot is up and running again and it’s hoped that it will remain open with steady loyal patronage for years to come.

The name supposedly came about as at that time the issues with stop murder music, the repetitive homophobic incidents and the missing entertainment spots around the conceptualizers wanted to find and run an outlet for release so the term Heaven(s) was used to bring a kind of relief and happiness as was thought implied in the term as it related to a religious perspective to the spot.

(due to the limited photo policy I cannot show you more than the basics)

The simple yet effective decor was a fierce start upon entering, new acoustics, lighting, security arrangements, fogging, VIP section and the free admission for opening night were part of the clever marketing ploy to re-introduce persons to the spot and open up another offerings to first timers, in fact it is to open on Sunday night as well with a $500 admission. Club Heavens which officially is now the longest running LGBT entertainment spot/club in local terms if one is counting we could assume some 7 years or more between the closings and reopenings.

It’s original conceptualizer the late Kirk Lester who was murdered in 2007 whose funeral made international news after the stoning incident that took place marring the final rights in Mandeville opened the spot in early 2000 and at that time there were few permanent spots for fun and socializing with peers. Individual party promoters were offering their own brand of private shingdigs while the defunct Entourage Nightclub was no more as we recall after its closure due to pressure from the surrounding business district and a series of sensationalized articles in the tabloids of the day on supposed happenings there then the awful murder of its proprietor and co founder of  a noted LGBT entity Brian Williamson in June 2004 a small attempt was made to revive the brand but was reprised for safety reasons and for memory of him.

At or around the original opening of Club Heavens as well we had lost two major disc jockeys on the circuit due to that infamous party DVD that made its way to the mainstream and was sold on the streets with the outcome being the jocks identified by their voices as they worked in the mainstream as well, then came the backlash which compromised their safety also resulting in a lull in offerings for some time out of fear of exposure hence the no cameras policies or limited photo/video capture that are instituted with some events to this day. So the market responded by attending this new spot in droves weekly which also catered to a wide cross section of the LGBTQIQ2S communities as well thought out themes were offered and well received at the time.

Club Heavens also had come to represent the tradition of drag entertainment and has hosted some noted internationally recognised divas including Harmonica Sunbeam and the legendary Michelle Ross and also our version of the Miss World pageant and Oscar typed award shows recognizing persons in LGBT entertainment locally. This was not lost at the Rebirth and old and new divas strutted their stuff on the stage with appropriate short sets this time around, Diva Nastacia Waugh legendary performances was welcomed as she lip synced to Whitney Houston’s “I Look To You” in the tribute segment and the fab one BeBe from western Jamaica proved that 6 inch pumps are a breeze for a tall lady. It was Nage Trendsett that dominated the performances however proving yet again the calibre of shows she has been serving since last year, she delivered a three song set including two tracks from Beyonce where she lip synced flawlessly with only a chair in the centre of the stage as a prop. Her ability to have her audience transfixed during multiple songs was proven yet again, no one moved and no one gawked and there was no heckling as often follow some other queens, her use of space to enhance her performance had not gone unnoticed and her eye contact with her loyal subjects was commendable, all the above are traits some performers need to tighten up on and hold patrons’ attention. Four major DJs served the beatz including yours truly and Dr B from western Jamaica was a toast for the kidz and of course DJ David with hot Peppa.

A packed house rocked as persons from just by the look of it all walks of life were present and the mingling was good to see, also what was evident were the rural faces some of whom have not been seen in ages proving that the club has the pull to cover the tiles. Influentials could be seen darting about and other party promoters were present too to show their support, I know the late Kirk Lester would have liked that real unity as some persons from that era reminisced on his impact on the club’s development. Persons recalled his own antics darting about the floor seeing to the smooth running of the activities especially the bar sales and his own brand of drag often taking the stage himself with that infamous Tina Turner wig and gesticulating to his favourite Diana Ross song “The Best Years of my Life”

Also not to be outdone in as far as reminiscing goes was Mr. Gareth Henry who took over management after Kirk’s departure from us and carried it until he moved to that infamous villa on the north coast where the old party DVD was shot of a previous private LGBT event, scenes of which are still on Youtube and the subsequent threats on his life from a public incident he was involved in at a pharmacy that caused him to seek asylum elsewhere among other things. I will not mention too much of the ugly history of the club during the tumultuous period of its immediate past manager but it is water under the bridge as she too was in attendance to shake a leg.

The brand also changed hands with the likes of former Crisis Interventions Officer from the J, Miss Artis who now resides elsewhere, the property’s owner at one point, a former promoter from western Jamaica and of course legendary Macey Antibellum Grey before its rebirth in 2012.

The shenanigans of the hypermasculine brothers (thugs/heaviots) are not to be left out of this summary as they too made their presence felt at the spot which has usually attracted them in better numbers than elsewhere. International vogue queens were also present a few of which made the trip to Jamaica just for the reopening/reunion as described by the masters of ceremonies during the drag show presentation.

here is more in audio:

Club Heavens The Rebirth 12.02.12

There were just two dark spots in the scheme of things, the alcohol inventory had ran out and there was a small skirmish after the proceedings ended on the outside with minor injuries but overall the rebirth was flawless. I guess some things won’t change so easily eh?

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It has indeed fulfilled its mandate in a sense and so appropriately named as the spot for some time also doubled as a spot for church services for the Sunshine Cathedral Jamaica services in some instances, offering an LGBT version of heaven on earth through Jesus Christ, literally after a busy club night sections are cordoned off, janitorial staff go into action, chairs are erected a podium placed and covered with the banner and other paraphernalia, a large Bible is laid, a chalice brought out, tambourines, wine and communion wafers are placed when needed, candle sticks and the collection plate. As one lead pastor from the mother church in Florida puts it “it was church from a box.” From LGBT entertainment including raunchy teasing strip shows to spirit filled services attracting two different audiences, talk about functionality.

Let us hope they grow from strength to strength and continue this long held tradition of offering a wide array of entertainment for us.

Peace and tolerance

H

LGBT History Month: Claude McKay (1890-1948): A Brief Biography

 

    

Claude McKay (1890-1948): A Brief Biography

thanks to A Student Project by Jillian Flynn             Claude McKay was born on September 15, 1890 into a large family.  His born name was Festus Claudius.  His father Thomas Francis, and his mother Hannah Ann Elizabeth Edwards had married in 1870.  Hannah gave birth to eleven children, eight lived into adulthood.  Claude was the youngest of his siblings and grew to be the favorite of his mother.  Both of Claude’s parents had experienced slavery but they still were able to maintain a comfortable household for their children. 

            Claude grew up in the mountainous area in Jamaica called Sunnyville.  He describes these surroundings in My Green Hills of Jamaica (1979) later on in life. His parents were community leaders and were known as kind and generous people.  His mother’s nickname was “Mother Mac” because she helped young women around her who had gotten pregnant out of wedlock, even though it was against her morals.  His father was the senior deacon at the church they attended.  When he was about four years of age, Claude started to attend the school at Mt. Zion at the church he attended.  After attending school here for a couple of years, Claude went with his eldest brother Uriah to be taught.  Uriah had become a teacher and was thought to be well enough educated to teach his younger brother.  This was around the time when Claude would have been between the ages of seven to nine years in age.

            Claude loved living with his brother and his wife and learned many things from his brother.  He soon began to think of reading as a form of playing.  While living with his brother he decided he would become a free thinker like his brother and to learn from experiences.  Claude’s first attempt at poetry writing was at the age of ten when he wrote for one of his school functions.  When he was fourteen he returned home to his parents.  In 1906 at the age of sixteen, he went to Kingston to study a trade that could help him get a job.  In 1907 an earthquake hit Kingston and he narrowly escaped injury when the walls of his room collapsed in on him.  The school had been reduced to a pile of ruins and he was again forced to go back home.  When he returned home he became an apprentice to a tradesman of sorts by the name of “Old Brenga.”  He was his apprentice from 1907 to 1909.  While working for Mr. Brenga he met a white man by the name of Walter Jekyll.  This man would inspire him over the next five years to become “a creative, productive, and recognized poet.” (Cooper 22)

            In 1909 Claude’s mother began to suffer from dropsy so Claude went back home to be with her and to care for her until her death on December 19 of that same year.  After her death he went back to Kingston to be by his mentor’s side.  Walter Jekyll inspired him to write in his native tongue, which seemed vulgar to Claude because of the way it sounded when spoken.  While he was in Kingston he joined the constabulatory in June of 1911, but didn’t even serve a year of his five-year term.  Walter Jekyll had helped to get him out of his term so that he could concentrate on his writing.

            In 1912 he wrote two volumes of poetry, which were Songs of Jamaica (1912) that contained fifty poems, and Constab Ballads (1912) that contained twenty-eight poems.  During this time he also published poems in the two major newspapers of the island: Daily Gleaner and Jamaica Times.  He had moved back to his hometown of Sunnyville while writing these poems and had taken up farming for several months where he found it wasn’t what suited him.  He came to Charleston, South Carolina in the summer of 1912 to attend Tuskegee College at the age of twenty-two to study agriculture.  Only staying for a short while, he soon transferred to Kansas State College in Manhattan, Kansas.  He remained here for almost two years under the guardianship of Walter Jekyll who was also his means of support.  While at Kansas State the only two subjects that he excelled in were zoology and advanced grammar.  Later on in his life he would publish an article inMcClure’s Magazine that Kansas had bored him. 

            In 1914 Walter Jekyll is thought to have sent Claude a few thousand dollars as a gift so that it would be possible for him to plan a marriage to his sweetheart Eulalie Imelda Lewars.  When he received this sum of money, he left Kansas to go to New York to arrange for his wedding to take place.  When he arrived in New York, he invested most of his money into becoming a restauranteur.  On July 30, 1914 he was married to his bride to be in Jersey City, New Jersey. He was twenty-three years old at this time and she was just a little bit younger.  After only a few months his restaurant proved to be a failure.  Six months into the New York lifestyle, Eulalie left Claude to go back home to Jamaica.  After leaving him she gave birth to their only son Rhue Hope McKay, whom Claude never saw. Later on his wife would try to reunite with her husband, but Claude had dismissed their relationship, and thought of it as a thing of the past.

            After his marriage was dissolved he went on to have a love life with partners of both sexes.  By the year 1915 he had given up the idea of going back to school and started living a rebels way of life, doing things by trial and error to find which direction he should go in life.  He didn’t go back to Jamaica during this time because of his pride and he took on several odd jobs to earn a living.  He was involved in the literary rebellion in America at this time.  The time period between 1914-1919 was a time for him to gather information for his future novels and poems.  His experiences that he had while at the jobs he acquired helped him to gather the information for many of his future works.  In October of 1917 Seven Arts Magazine published two of his sonnets: “Invocation” and “The Harlem Dancer.”  He used the pseudonym Eli Edwards, after his mother’s maiden name.  This publication was the last of this magazine due to some antiwar essays of Randolph Bourne’s that had been published in it.

            In 1917 he took a job as a dining-car waiter on the Pennsylvania Railroad, and his experiences can be seen in his novel Home to Harlem (1928). Throughout his duration as a waiter on the railway, Harlem remained his home base.  He also experimented with cocaine and opium, which is also observed in one of the scenes from Home to Harlem (1928).  In September 1918, Pearson’s Magazine published five poems and a short autobiographical statement from McKay. Claude left the railroad company sometime in 1919 and took on a factory job for a brief time in New York.  In April of this year, The Liberator printed his poem “The Dominant White.”  His friend from The Liberator, Max Eastman who was also the publisher, now took the place of Walter Jekyll in his life.  In July, The Liberatorprinted seven more poems by McKay that were about war and mob violence.  This appearance in the magazine was the beginning of his life as a professional writer.

            Claude McKay left for England in the early fall of 1919 and ended up staying for over a year and a half.  While he lived in England he went to a club called the International Socialist Club where he learned a lot about the socialist theory.  He also met his future wife, Francine Budgen, at an International Socialist Club that he attended.  In mid-September, the Workers Dreadnought reprinted a column of McKay’s poems from The Liberator’s July issue.  This would help him get recognized in England as a writer.  In January 1920, the Dreadnought published two more of his poems along with other articles that followed in the months of January, February, and April. Around this time McKay found communism to be to which he could have faith in and could also devote himself to. April would bring the meeting of Sylvia Pankhurst who played a major part in social justice for women.  He was a member of Pankhurst’s communist sect and saw the realities of international communist politics.  These meetings would lead him to doubt in the communist ideas.  In June the summer issue of Cambridge Magazine published twenty-three sonnets and other short lyrics of McKay’s.  McKay had become a part of The Workers Dreadnoughts staff, and worked with them from July through November.  During this time he wrote twenty-four articles, poems, and reviews in addition to his editorial duties.  He also attended the Communist Unity Conferences on July 31 and August 1. 

            At the end of 1920 he left England and came back to New York.  He arrived in New York in the winter of 1921 and worked with The Liberator, sharing editorial duties with Floyd Dell and Robert Minos from February until 1922.  Around September 20 he left for Russia and stayed there from 1922 until 1923.  He went there as a communist representative and was appointed the first black American delegate in congress.  He went to Berlin in the summer of 1923.  Crisis published his account of his trip to Russia.  Two publications were made, one in December of 1923 and the other in January of 1924 detailing his account of Russia.  There was also a short article that followed these publications in September.  While in Russia two works that he had written were translated into Russian: Sudom Lincha that consisted of three stories, and the treatise Negry v America (Bloom 110).  He left Berlin in October and went to Paris where he found out that he had contracted syphilis while in Berlin.  He was hospitalized and was released in good health in November 1923.  He was part of the expatriate scene while he stayed in Paris.  In December he came down with a serious case of influenza while posing nude in some art studios.  His stay in Paris lasted from late August 1923 until January 1924. Crisis published another article about Claude in April 1924.

            McKay became infuriated with Alain Locke when he published one of his poems with a changed title.  The Survey Graphic published McKay’s poem as “White Houses” instead of “The White House.”  In the spring of 1926 he landed a job working in a movie studio for Rex Ingrams.  He summarized novels that seemed like good material for conversation in motion pictures.  He was also a dancer in The Garden of Allah.  While working for Rex, he spent a lot of time in Nice associating with people, but was met with a lot of criticism about his race from many of the crewmembers.  His novel Home to Harlem (1928) was completed by the end of May 1926 but wasn’t published until 1928.  During this period of his life a man by the name of Aspenwall Bradley handled his business affairs.  In 1929 Banjo was published.  Banana Bottom in 1933 was dedicated to his earliest mentor, Walter Jekyll.

            In 1934 he returned to the United States where he spends many months in a welfare camp at Camp Greycourt, New York.  In 1935 he publishes the essay “Harlem Runs Wild.”  By 1939 he had held a job with the Federal Writers Project of the Works Progress Administration.  In this year he loses that job.  He suffers a stroke while working at a federal shipbuilding yard in 1943 and decided to move to Chicago.  By this time he has met Ellen Tarry, a Roman Catholic writer and has been very interested in the religion.  He is baptized into the Roman Catholic faith on October 11, 1944.  In 1948 he died in Chicago.  He was buried in New York after a funeral service was held in Harlem. Claude McKay was a man who believed that blacks should have an alliance with the whites, but to also have self-confidence and faith in one another (Cooper 323).  Throughout his career as a writer he always struggled to make ends meet, and was always met with someone willing to help.  Claude McKay has left his mark as one of the major artists in poetry, of the Harlem Renaissance.  After his death, Selected Poems of Claude McKay (1953) was published, along with an essay in Phylon entitled “Boyhood in Jamaica.”

Works Cited

Bloom, Harold. Black American Poets and Dramatists of the Harlem Renaissance. pp. 110-128. New York: Chelsea House Publishers. 1995.

Cooper, Wayne F. Claude McKay Rebel Sojourner in the Harlem Renaissance. New York: Schocken Books. 1987.

Giles, James R. Claude McKay. Boston: G.K. Hall & Co. 1976.


LGBT History Month: Allies – Posthumous Recognition ’11 Part 1

In remembering some of the Allies of the community and outside the community as well folks we lost in this year and times before, here are two individuals who were fearless in their own right and contributed much over time in their various forms. Unfortunately one Paul Bailey was murdered earlier this year in St. Ann under strange circumstances and the case is yet to be properly solved as a trial has commenced with the suspects, he will be remembered for his ability to galvanize the members of the MSM communities outside of Kingston for advocacy and HIV/AIDS work especially on behalf of a functioning Jamaica AIDS Support at the time. He was also a party promoter occasionally as he would host events at his homes or at selected venues in that part of the country. His surprise death has still a chilling effect on some who were close to him who were not expecting this shocking news. On the  night April 15th the news quickly made the rounds in the community as it became apparent, he was said to have had multiple stab wounds also, last reported as seven and his throat slashed. The North Coast Times as strange circumstances at the time but it was surmised as a meeting gone bad with himself and a possible hookup.

Rest In Peace Paul as in your own way you have served us well.

 

In loving memory of my dear beloved friend & brother, who departed this world a decade ago today. Donald, when u left we lost an angel, you were the most genuine, honest, loving, caring being I’d ever known, and im honoured to have been able to call u my friend. You always made us laugh, miss that goofy infectous laugh of yours, id give anything to hear u laugh just one more time. Your candle burnt out way too soon, but your memories never will. Love and miss you loads D, RIP my friend. As penned by a close friend of his.

DONALD STANFORD THOMPSON
Sunrise 17/10/72 – Sunset 13/04/01

Party promoter, a willing helper to those in trouble, he assisted greatly at a moment’s notice sometimes those who were homeless or displaced in the early nineties long before a JFLAG or other such organizations were formed to deal with the issues. He was also an avid experimenter of cross dressing and dabbled in the art form for a while before his death on Good Friday morning of Aprl 2001. He suffered greatly at the hands of complications due to HIV/AIDS long before the new generations of anti retro-viral therapy and was an integral part of my own legal troubles and displacement in 1996 when he offered help and a roof as I sorted out my life then, he would often attend my court dates in the early parts of my time in Kingston and introduced me to Brian Williamson formally as a DJ as then I was spinning in the mainstream.  Many other persons gay and non gay can attest to Donald’s hand in their lives though seemingly small but important when one reflects on the deeds of kindness.

 

Micheal Melbourne, long time friend, ally to the community, philanthropist, art dealer, club owner/manager and an activist in his own right, was taken from us in October 14 2001 to be precise brutally by assailants in his home. He was known as the bubbly manager of the then Entourage LGBT nightclub in Kingston as owned and operated by late activist Brian Williamson who was also  murdered in 2004, a fate that seems to follow open hearted persons in the community and it begs the question were they duped into scenarios and towards persons with ulterior motives that lead to their own demise?

Michael was also known for his contributions financially and otherwise to non governmental organizations and was very active during the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Jamaica.

Remembering, if only briefly contributions from unsung individuals.

http://soundcloud.com/glbtqja5/lgbt-hist

here is an older audio post LGBT History Month Jamaica I had put together on some of the happenings gone by, if you know of any important dates I might have overlooked please email: lgbtevent@gmail.com

Peace and tolerance

H

LGBT History Month: Gay Freedom Movement archives properly re-posited overseas

The first post in the LGBT History month series going on its third year since I started blogging looks at the Gay Freedom Movement archives, this is the first local LGBT advocacy organization formed in 1974 by a group of Jamaicans including a Jesuit priest however its face and voice was its out and proud at the time General Secretary Larry Chang who left the archives in the care of Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays JFLAG, if it were not for some noise making from my part at my time at the J and that of others who were shown the badly damaged pieces in some instances they would have withered away.

Thankfully there were retrieved and sent to Mr. Chang who now resides in the United States. Below please see Larry Chang’s speech at the Caribbean Region of the International Resource Network (IRN) laucnh of the archives. The Caribbean IRN was established in 2009 as a network for activists, scholars, artists, writers, and other individuals and organizations who do research and community work on issues related to diverse genders and sexualities in the Caribbean. One of our major goals has been to build a digital collection and help regional organizations and individuals preserve the histories/herstories of activism around issues affecting sexual minorities, it is only with regret that the delicate pieces and documents could not have been stored locally and respected for their true value that it had to take this evasive action to avoid them being lost forever.

Genesis of the Jamaica Gay Freedom Movement Archive

Larry Chang

Even at the time, I was fully cognizant of a responsibility to posterity to leave a paper trail. After all, we were creating history by being the first gay rights organization, as far as we knew, in the Caribbean.

As general secretary and editor of our newsletter, Jamaica Gaily News (JGN), the onus was on me to sort, file, and secure the archiving of our correspondence and publishing output. Duly labeled and boxed, these remained intact and in reasonable condition well past the demise of the Gay Freedom Movement. The materials survived the handover to my successor, St. Hope Thomas, who meticulously pasted instructions on the top of the box that they should revert to me in case of his death. When that did eventuate, his family duly complied with his wishes. In 1999, I left Kingston, passing the archives on to the Jamaican Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals, and Gays (J-FLAG), which shared office space with an AIDS nonprofit organization. I included my personal collection of a complete set of JGN issues for safekeeping. Big mistake.

The first inkling I had of anything amiss was from e-mail messages I got, in succession, from Emily Paul and Anthony Hron, both Peace Corps volunteers with J-FLAG. They were concerned that the archives were not secured, casually placed in a room with a roof that leaked and that was subject to infestation. Tropical moisture and insects are no respecter of the written word. I contacted everyone I could think of who could possibly do anything to rectify the situation but it seemed no one could take any initiative. When Emily returned to the United States she arranged for the Tretter Collection of the University of Minnesota, which specializes in LGBT material, to receive the collection. Many e-mails flew back and forth but no one could come to a decision. The J-FLAG officers’ attention was understandably focused elsewhere, since their own survival and security as an organization was under constant threat. What’s a few boxes of old papers?

I felt powerless and helpless, unable to do anything to mitigate what I envisaged to be an impending great loss. Had I been on spot, I would have gone and rescued the papers myself. But there was nothing I could do from a thousand miles away, and without any encouraging or supportive response, much less consensus. The saddest part was the seeming lack of appreciation or understanding of what was at stake.

In 2003, I saw Gareth Henry, then co-chair of J-FLAG, at the premiere of Songs of Freedom in New York. [1] I spoke to him about retrieving my copies of JGN. He promised to look into it when he went back to Kingston. I never heard anything from him and the next thing I knew he had applied for asylum in Canada. Two years later, I discussed the matter with Thomas Glave, who offered to investigate on one his trips to Jamaica. I asked him to retrieve at least my personal set of JGN copies. During the course of several trips, many e-mails, and through direct contact with several people, it transpired that the newsletters could not be found. There was, however, a box of papers. We felt that it was imperative to secure whatever was left.

Wanting to be preemptive but not autocratic, we widened the conversation to include many more concerned parties to agonize over ownership, copyright, logistics, and procedure. At some stage of the discussion, Howard Fulton and Dane Lewis of J-FLAG; Julius Powell; Natalie Bennett; Stephen Fullwood of the Schomburg Center; Jonathan Ned Katz of OutHistory.org; and Rosamond King, Angelique Nixon, and Vidyaratha Kissoon of Caribbean IRN have been involved.

At every step of the way, Thomas Glave was instrumental as facilitator, go-between, and interlocutor, and ultimately as courier—he physically retrieved the material and brought it to New York in a suitcase. The material was then lodged with Jonathan Katz, who began digitizing but found it more than he bargained for; only a few documents made it to OutHistory.org. Eventually the Caribbean IRN saved the day by teaming with Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) to digitize the collection and make it available online. This is a major accomplishment, launched with appropriate gravitas at Brooklyn College in June 2011. A huge debt of gratitude is due to all involved.

The next stage will be to resume the conversation about ownership and custody of the collection. The Schomburg Center may still be interested, but now that the physical integrity of the archives is not at risk, perhaps we can take a more studied approach and explore other options. One thing that is underscored is the critical importance of securing our collective intellectual property so we can shape our own history and write our own stories. It will be imperative, then, to overcome the cavalier attitude toward documentation and preservation that seems to typify Caribbean response. Who writes the history determines the agenda.

Cultural theorist Stuart Hall notes, “Silencing as well as remembering, identity is always a question of producing in the future an account of the past.”[2] Sexual minorities have for too long been silenced, written out of history. It is time that we find our voice, write our stories, and determine our place in that history. The process of reclamation has already begun, with Patricia Powell’s reference to Gaily News and its personals column in A Small Gathering of Bones, and through Kanika Batra’s scholarly treatment published in Small Axe.[3] The great pity, and great credit to Batra, is that to access the material she had to go to the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Archives, which inherited the collection from the defunct Body Politic, with which JGN had an exchange subscription. The other option I am told would have been the COK Archives in Amsterdam, but I have not been able to confirm this. The bottom line is that this material should be available to Jamaicans, in Jamaica.

My hope is that successive poets, writers, and painters will find in the archives the references and inspiration to launch their own visions and flights of the imagination to enlarge and embellish our ongoing stories. From a practical point of view, scholar Natalie Bennett is of the opinion that “current activists in JA could learn a lot from the strategies . . . used more than two decades ago.”[4] Would that the other box is found, placed in the capable hands of Caribbean IRN to be digitized and preserved. These are our stories.

Last word from Stuart Hall:

No cultural identity is produced out of thin air. It is produced out of those historical experiences, those cultural traditions, those lost and marginal languages, those marginalized experiences, those peoples and histories which remain unwritten. Those are the specific roots of identity. On the other hand, identity itself is not the rediscovery of them, but what they as cultural resources allow a people to produce. Identity is not in the past to be found, but in the future to be constructed.[5]

Larry Chang is an environmental designer, publisher, life counselor, and founder of EcolocityDC, which seeks to address environmental, economic, and social sustainability issues. He has been introducing the Transition model to the Washington DC region, with a particular focus on urban sustainability through farming and intentional community development. He was a co-founder of the Gay Freedom Movement of Jamaica; the general secretary, editor, and publisher of Jamaica Gaily News; and a co-founder of J-FLAG.


[1] Songs of Freedom is a Phillip Pike documentary on Jamaican LGBTs.

[2] Stuart Hall, “Negotiating Caribbean Identities,” in Gregory Castle, ed., Postcolonial Discourses: An Anthology (Oxford: Blackwell, 2001), 283.

[3] Patricia Powell, A Small Gathering of Bones, with an introduction by Thomas Glave (Boston: Beacon, 2003); originally published by Heinemann Educational Publishers in 1994. Kanika Batra, “‘Our Own Gayful Rest’: A Postcolonial Archive,” Small Axe, no. 31 (March 2010): 46–59.

[4] Personal correspondence with author, 13 August 2009.

[5] Hall, “Negotiating Caribbean Identities,” 291.

Bruce Golding on “Is Jamaica Homophobic?” (Repost)

FOR THE READER WHO REQUESTED MY TWO CENTS ON THIS

Is Jamaica Homophobic? (transcript)

Originally published on BigThink.com

Video also available via the link above

Question:

Why are homosexual acts illegal in Jamaica?

Bruce Golding: It is rooted in a number of things. Firstly, we are a predominately a Christian country and a fervently Christian country. It may not be reflected entirely in terms of how we live sometimes, but we are passionately committed to certain basic Christian principles, which […] homosexuality.

But we have become quite tolerant. We are tolerant provided that homosexual lifestyle does not invade our space. And what do I mean by that? Persons who wish, because of their own inclination, to live in a homosexual relationship, do so in Jamaica and there are many such persons in Jamaica. The society in Jamaica in general do not want to be… do not want it to be flaunted.

They don’t want it to be sort of thrown into the face, because there are some real fears.

There are some real fears.

The basic unit of a society is a family, and there is a passionate concern in Jamaica about protecting the integrity of the family.

And it is felt that encouragement or recognition of the appropriateness of the homosexual lifestyle is going to undermine the effectiveness of that family unit and, in that process, undermine the basic fabric of a society.

But I think much of what has been carried in the international media in terms of homophobia in Jamaica is grossly exaggerated. Homosexuals in Jamaica, they live and they enjoy their relationship.

They are intermingled with heterosexuals, they have normal relations with heterosexuals, but they do have their private relationships.

And so long is that is so, I don’t believe that the people in Jamaica are going to be particularly perturbed.

What is illegal in Jamaica is buggery, which is in fact making homosexual acts illegal. There have been very, very few prosecutions; very, very few. And in most instances, there are prosecutions because there is a complaint by a victim. So that it’s not the flashpoint issue that many people in the international media claim that it is.

Recorded on September 25, 2010
Interviewed by David Hirschman

ENDS

The Prime Minister is right when he says that homosexuality is not illegal but Buggery is but this business of persons flaunting is what the hell is that?

As for buggery prosecutions there are indeed few prosecutions as it relates to consenting adults it’s mostly same sex paedophiles that go to full trials as nationally paedophilia is loathed by both same gender loving persons and the mainstream alike but the fallout that comes with such a charge hanging over a consenting couple who were barged in by cops after nosy neighbours call the police or persons caught in public the more egregious charge of buggery is applied instead of gross indecency until it can be proven via a doctor’s report where certain things must be found to be present on either the perpetrator and or the “victim” or passive partner. For example spermatozoa cells which are present in all normally sexually active males are the main items listed on the report and if a condom was present spermicides etc must be present in or on the passive partner. With DNA testing now in vogue other things such as skin cells maybe considered and used by ones own private investigator if one can afford it while the examination of the doctor is being done. The difficulty is that the consenting adults caught in the act or charged with buggery are left displaced, ostracized from their family and so called friends and have to rebuild their lives piece by piece often times without real support from anyone or the advocacy structure which woefully lacks pyscho-social interventions or counseling resident services.

If we are such a predominantly christian principles how comes we have such a high crime rates?

Does he think that homosexual lifestyle as he puts it means effeminate or masculine behaviours coming from the opposite gender of the individual expressing same?

How dare he says that most of what is carried by the international media is over exaggerated when the evidence on the ground

Where does Mr. Golding get the notion that same gender loving people somehow are going to destroy the family unit or structure when we have strong evidence overseas where gay couples raise either adopted or fostered children or surrogate birthed children from a sperm donor usually one half of a two male relationship or sperm from a gay donor or sperm bank for two female relationships. The children do not turn out “damaged” as the fear is planted by the anti gay lobby when they refuse to accept the evidence right before our eyes. In fact there maybe ways to have same sex couples produce offspring as I had posted on Gay Jamaica Watch – (pic taken from post)

Sexual Reproduction for Same Sex Couples?

Gay Couple

Clearly the fear of the unknown and the playing to the gallery is what is of importance here to win votes and stay popular as the politics of the day demands. Politicians fear touching this subject directly or seeming to be remotely tolerant as persons may view it as supporting “nastiness”

PM Golding seen here gesticulating in a documentary called “Taboo Yardies” where he said among other things “…… I have challenged the gay community to explain, when they insist that we must change our laws to recognize and accept homosexual relations as a normal thing and we must do it because people should be free to choose, that’s the philosophical argument ….” 

Peace and tolerance.

H

The K12 threat came and went …was it real or used as a diversion to more pressing matters? (repost)

Originally posted on GLBTQJA Blogger

From as early as August 14th to the 15th messages such as those below were circulated all over the internet but mostly on Facebook via various groups with a frenzy being kicked up and almost a state of panic which was unbelievable as the very advocates themselves sounding afraid, then to think that a similar rumour several years ago sans the network pages and blackberry services for instant messages in late 1999 (purported JFLAG march) when angry persons mostly men bought out every machete and cutting or chopping implements they could find to wait for would marchers in Half Way Tree to chop them up. It became apparent as early as midday to some especially me that this K12 threat however was going nowhere. But take a look at some of the postings from the scouring advocates;

Circulated messages to include those from the illusive K12 group

“What is happening..? Me a see too much Battyman and Lezbian in a HWT and Barbican, how the fuck dem a move so daring!? Dem naw hide nuh more..man a look man and gal a suck out gal tongue In a public, the upcoming generation a see dem ting ya an a get confused! We need to take a stand..we need to start beat dem again and run the waste material dem. Bargain Mall has become the main hang out spot for them, we need to take that step in getting back our country.. send this BC and let us Unite!! On 19/8/11 K12 group will be beating all Homosexuals that visits the Bargain mall! We are taking back our country step by step! Play your part and Re-Broadcast to all “straight” contacts if u wish to participate contact the K12 unit at 372-0290.. –K12– –K12– –K12– –K12– Make K12 apart of your name if your against homosexuality.”“Our plan is to attack and beat any boy who dress,look fishy or we suspect or know seh a fish. Just by their action (walking,talking,movement)… Also we will be using the silver metal ring and black and colour hand band to identify the battyman and lesbian them”- Inside Source of K12 Group The group calling itself K-12 has begun attacking community members. We want to encourage persons who frequent the Half-Way-Tree area to beef up personal security. Be aware of your surroundings and those sharing the space with you. If you see anything please alert 119 or the nearest police stations HWT 926-8184-5 and New Kingston Police Post 926-3508People on the street are angered…bad…I dont think I have ever seen it like this…any feedback on the reports to the police…this fall out was anticipated…can you advise of the ‘plan’ (I think I asked this before) what do we tell ppl to do? (the advocates did not respond to this question)

a group calling itself K-12 has begun attacking community members. Members that frequent the Half-Way-Tree area and the Jamaica Aids support for Life Compound are urged to beef up personal security. Fem boys and butch lesbians seem to be especially vulnerable to attacks. if possible please utilize On Time or El-Shaddai taxi service until the threat level has receded.

ENDS

My comment at around midday on social network Facebook hinting to a lower threat level than banded about was greeted with cold water as well as it came apparent that this was no usual threat and I hinted it could be a hoax either by some weirdo who in the midst of a public debate on a the rejection of the JFLAG ad or someone else trying to divert the attention of the homeless MSM issue which just about made the news at the same time via a letter to the Gleaner editor complaining of their behaviour at a certain spot in Kingston much to the dismay of many and I fear until proven otherwise that some move was made to spread this as fast as possible as no member on the streets in particular knew of this K12 even as late as Friday night when myself and others walked the Bargain Mall where this doom was to have started and surrounding areas.
At one point a misguided individual clearly inexperienced referenced the injured man (photo to the right) as a victim from K12 where it turned out to be an incident that occured on the other end of the island totally unrelated to the K12 phenomenon, this of course was where some red flags started to go up for some persons. Why this rush to judgement without proper verification? meanwhile all of Friday night myself and others were on the lookout none the less for this K12 and we saw no suspicious moves to suggest the threat was real in the area named, the phone number listed rang on some attempts and went to voicemail at other times
some questions come to mind:
were we duped?
who did the duping?
were these K12 persons linked to a major university?
why was it that the only persons who knew of this were from the advocates on Facebook not on the ground?
are you surprised that such a major community threat did not reach the homeless men who sit openly in New Kingston despite their high visibility in the news?
was this used as a convenient distraction to over shadow the homeless MSM issue that the advocates feared would have led to an embarrasing situation as it has now become since today?
Bargain Mall in Half Way Tree where the beatings were to have commenced on August 18th
Speculation is rife but may soon die as the homeless issue has become centre stage now following the damning Jamaica Observer article finally bringing to public attention the rejection of the advocates in serving the most marginalized of the community.
here is an earlier audio commentry I did on the issue:
As the Jamaica Observer piece is digested and the focus now goes to that K12 remarks are now basically dead as very little if any references have been coming forth from the very persons who were frantically warning before. Very suspicious in the eyes of some including myself but I did not come up with this speculation on my own, the very persons who were in the Half Way Tree area and the homeless men some of whom I spoke to on Friday night after CVM TV interviewed some of them for a feature they are preparing.
Let us watch closely my friends meanwhile here is my account from walking the block on Bargain Mall and its surroundings:
Peace and tolerance
H

Remembering Brian Williamson (September 4 1945 – June 9, 2004)

a special post outside of the October History month but relevant non the less
the good days with his dog Tessa at home

 

Brian Williamson (September 4 1945 – June 9, 2004) was a Jamaican Gay rights activist and co-founder of the Jamaican Forum for Lesbians and Gays, J-Flag. He was known for personally housing and looking after gay people in Jamaica. A pleasant smile was what one would get upon entering his complex up until his death and he sought to it that homeless persons were assisted in what ever way he could, which may explain my push in this regard as my early exposure to that side of on the ground advocacy and his own struggle to convince others to include that part of crisis interventions into the mix.
He was murdered with a machete, suffering multiple stab wounds to neck and face.Williamson’s confessed murderer, Dwight Hayden, was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after fifteen years.
Other posts and articles on Brian:
Gleaner on Remembering Brian Williamson June 20, 2004
More related posts that named Brian: HERE
More from Gay Jamaica Watch: HERE
More from GLOBALGAYZ: HERE
Sadly missed

One of the founding members of JFLAG, Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals & Gays (worth repeating)

Owner of one of the most successful gay entertainment spots in Jamaica, The Entourage and a dedicated activist. One of the memorable moments in our GLBTQ history is an appearance on Jamaican television then known as (JBC) Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation coming out to the nation and by extension the world and putting a face to the gay community.
The VHS tapes should be available at JFLAG’s archives in Kingston, we hope they have been stored properly and not left to go the route of the Gay Freedom Movement (GFM) archives that subsequently what was left of those were retrieved by it’s founder Larry Chang and archived overseas were not in good condition due to poor handling and storage, sad as Jamaica should have been the repository for such important materials. We must preserve our past a people who do not know or respect their past cannot plan for the future.
A pity as he must be turning in his grave now to see how we are at odds over what is to be done for the movement in totality of the LGBTQI communities instead we are left with a joke of an advocacy with criticisms of dissenting voices described as “bickering” as if the establishment are infallible when the engagement of everyone for or against should be the thrust forward in dealing with not just the repulsion of the buggery law while affixing HIV/AIDS issues which seems to be the main focus while the urgently required social interventions for certain sections of the community to uplift and rebuild their lives. Sadly it seems more about selfaggrandizement coupled with an elitist agenda with a general intolerance for views outside the system. The ordinary LGBTQI body politic seems relegated to just followers with selected individuals given a platform. The loss of a former volunteer and contracted individual earlier this year via a gruesome murder with not so much as some formal recognition for however small his contribution was glaring to say the least.
All this was not the original plan when The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays was first formed and launched albeit that from the get go if I am to go from memory the signs of the aforementioned opposition to certain types of intervention ideas were knocking at the door but were not as pronounced as today.
Let us however move towards working together for the greater good of those down trodden and or displaced with a sense of hopelessness, rest assured the criticisms will not and cannot be stopped as it is by picking the meat from same and having real forumatic activities that the solutions will come.
Love always
Peace

Steve Harvey Remembered (Repost & Updated)

Today is the fifth anniversary of the tragic passing of Steve Lenford Harvey aka “big nose” only few of us got away with calling him that. Here is an update of a post that has been carried on GLBTQJA Blogger edition and Gay Jamaica Watch for October LGBT History Month several years in succession.

Please let us reflect on this and other senseless killings of persons in Jamaica in particular despite sexual orientation as we need to stop this bloodletting.

Peace

Steve Lenford Harvey
Promoted to glory
30th November 2005

On the evening of November 30, 2005, at approximately 1:00am, Harvey and his roommates were robbed at gunpoint in their home, his roommates were bound, and Harvey was abducted. A gunman reportedly yelled “We hear that you are gay” to the trio. Harvey’s body was found two hours later, early the next morning, a few miles in the hills overlooking Kingston, with gunshot wounds in his head and back.
Steve Harvey’s killing has resulted in a far-reaching public outcry against the government of Jamaica, which has been accused of ignoring violence against homosexuals.
Several organizations, including the United Nations have demanded a thorough investigation of the homicide.
In March 2006, four people were charged with the killing.
It was in that same year he was selected as LACCASO‘s (Latin America and Caribbean Council of AIDS Service Organizations) project coordinator for Jamaica and was about to launch into bigger an better things.
A Life cut short.
His work with the MSM population was EXEMPLARY (yet to be duplicated)
The pic depicting a happier moment of him, “BIG NOSE” as some would tease him, he never liked it lol.
He lived for politics and current affairs, always debating with someone about his favourite political party and if he never agreed with you his face made it very clear lol.
We Miss You Boi!!!
(original photos from archives)
Here are newer photos from Jamaica AIDS Support for Life archives.
Peace and tolerance.
H
NB:

JFLAG – Gays Reaffirm Jamaica’s History is anchored in tolerance

 

Friday October 29th by the Police Officer’s Club The J had a quiet protest which was originally scheduled for heroes day weekend but was postponed due to unforeseen circumstances. Personally I have taken a decision after much contemplation not to take part in these public agitations AT THIS TIME given the sensitivities of my work on the ground and contacts etc, as a blogger and grassroots person I operate along very fragile lines.

Well it is refreshing to see these long awaited public outcries about our problems, sad that we didn’t do it when I was there but let us watch and see the impact if any these will have noting that this is the fifth such public protest in one year a historical feat thus this post will also be included in the LGBT History category. Respects to Mr. Maurice Tomlinson for pushing this as it seems he is the one really getting the work done by putting his career, life and reputation on the line.

The media however has barely recognized the previous agitations thus the real impact is not really seen or can be measured but the radio ads are currently being run.

Here is the Press Release from JFLAG along with the photo above of the placard bearing supporters.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

GAYS REAFFIRM JAMAICA’S HISTORY IS ANCHORED IN TOLERANCE

Kingston — October 29, 2010
In recognition of Heritage Month and the struggles of our forebears, supporters of J-FLAG stood
along Hope Road, south of Jamaica House, this morning Friday, October 29, to remind Jamaicans that tolerance has been a hallmark of Jamaican society and that tolerance for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered Jamaicans is a fundamental part of our diversity. This is articulated in our motto ‘Out of Many, One People’.

Under the theme ‘Tolerance is Our Heritage’ participants stood for 30 minutes starting at 8:00
a.m. clad in the Jamaica national colours and carried placards some of which read ‘Out of Many,
One People,’ ‘Human Rights for All,’ ‘Equal Rights and Justice’, ‘Teach Us True Respect for All.’
In addressing the gathering, Chairman of J-FLAG Gary Mullings reiterated that “as a people,
Jamaicans have a heritage of struggling for our rights.

Through the examples of our national heroes, whose dedication, service and sacrifice in shaping this nation we commemorate this Heritage month, we remember our fight for emancipation, workers rights and independence.”

The message of tolerance needs to be emphasized, as far too many cases of human rights
violations are still being reported to us at J-FLAG, a clear indication that there is a challenge
regarding the respect of the rights of LGBT Jamaicans.

Maurice Tomlinson of AIDS Free World clarified his organisation’s participation by stating that
“intolerance of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons only serves to drive the HIV
epidemic underground”. He encouraged the nation to “Follow the lead of our heroes who fought
for the rights and dignity of all Jamaicans”.

Christine Smith, Chairperson of the all women group “Women For Women”, said that WFW’s involvement in this initiative was to remind Jamaicans that they can tolerate diversity and respect the rights of all Jamaicans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

J-FLAG and its supporters will continue to mount advocacy initiatives aimed at securing the
human rights of LGBT members.

~30~

Contact: Dane Lewis -Executive Director

Peace and tolerance

H