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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the Observer letter that was published today:

Gays call on PM to listen to their cries

Dear Editor,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dane Lewis

 

Executive Director, J-FLAG

 

PO Box 1152

 

Kingston 8

 

admin@jflag.org

ENDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

here is a synopsis in audio:

Peace and tolerance

H

Are SGL Men here lesbophobes continued ………..

In part one of this post/question that was asked on my sister blog GLBTQ Jamaica on blogger way back when I was apart of JFLAG, Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays in April 1 2009 I took a brief look at the issue at the time as same gender loving women who attended the then (GLABCOM) Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Community meetings though small in numbers complained bitterly of how over bearing the men were and that they were not able to speak openly, by extension the complaints also stretched to the party scenes and the general behaviour or gay men as well where they also had problems with men especially effeminate men using up the dancefloor space and not allowing others to enjoy their money as it were.

The matter was raised earlier this week by a female friend who saw the old post and wanted to discuss it some, she said that things have certainly changed as with the increased use of social networking (thank God) we are now able to understand the issues and thinking of the groups under the LGBTQI umbrella she continued that more and more lesbians in particular seem to like the effeminate component in gay men and seeing that the subject came up during a transgender discussion on cross dressing, tranvestic issues and how the males in particular presented themselves publicly in drag she said the community is getting more comfortable or tolerant with those issues.

She is right and I concur as we not have ways of discussing issues better outside of the advocacy structure devoid of over intellectualizing the issue thus talking over the heads of the not so bright members of the community hence leaving them out. What is also noticeably changing is the response from the butch community who once were very aloof towards effeminate men in particular (this is not to suggest it was a wide spread aloofness) but I think with the importation of the African-American swag culture that is also embraced by effeminate men in their daily public movements and with clothing becoming more unisexual (along with a national metro sexual craze on in earnest thanks to Vybz Kartel) these powerful aesthetic influences have helped to soften how the groups respond to each other.

It is now fashionable in a sense to see stereobutches for example with cross dressers at selected clubs and parties now as they break the gender norms that once were held in high regard. Same gender loving men especially those at the lower socio economic levels where most of the loudness and caustic comments sometime came from towards lesbians now are embracing and tolerant now probably now more than in recent history. The stinging use of words like “Manroyal” and likening butches to be too manlike or male have since died down on the face of it and in fact the more a butch in particular or a stud to a lesser extent presents as such is the more acceptable by the guys. Probably another influence is the more public scenes of transgender persons and the recognition and declaration of their orientation in the community publicly. The cross dressing phenomenon interwoven into the swagg culture as mentioned before is a major factor for me in this change, as this is probably a timely discussion …..

given that we are ending Pride month internationally. If this trend continues though it should auger well for the community in the long run, one particular space where same gender lovers, transgender and bisexuals are certainly getting some social release is at The Oasis Lounge in Kingston which is a membership social group but non members are welcomed to discuss issues on a Wednesday night or so. The troubling part of the inter community phobia though is the intense bi-phobia now along with bi-invisiblity from the national advocacy structure. Many same gender lovers have openly expressed their disgust at bisexuals with all kinds of stereotypes attached including their inability to be monogamous and their potential to carry disease and infections such as HIV. Serious work is needed there and I am doing my small part in trying to highlight those issues as best, I encourage you my readers to also try to sift through the issues while using your own experiences as a backdrop to finding solutions.

In a previous post on some of the concerns and discussions elsewhere I looked at how the issues were being looked at on the ground, although it may not be a reflection of the entire community clearly.

See : The Biphobia in the community (Gay, Lesbian) maybe higher than thought

here is an excerpt:

“As we continue to delve inwards to find out a little more of where we are unofficially of course we are learning more especially from a younger more vibrant LGBT body politic.

On the strength of a series of discussions on bisexuality and how persons felt during April and May of this year we saw the obvious signs that many same gender loving persons have a perception that somehow persons who are double gender lovers or bisexuals are untrustworthy, more risky in regards to sexually transmitted diseases with HIV/AIDS and may not be able to be monogamous. The opposite also is true for the bisexual representatives who have responded some in very tersely worded responses. The poll photographed above was floated on social networking site Facebook to get a further glimpse into what persons were thinking on the issue a large percentage the respondents saying yes to the question:
“Do you believe bisexuals should declare themselves so prior to entering a long term relationship?”
The other comments are not as kind and will not be posted here but suffice it to say we have to begin to address this issue I feel, if we as lgbt people are asking the mainstream to be tolerant of us then why aren’t we tolerant of a section of the community that has their own orientation issues to deal with, this is also sadly with the absence of the main advocates who are more interested in the Buggery Law than the inter community cohesiveness as well, biphobia by default as I have termed it.”
and Why Is There Biphobia in the Lesbian Community? as to some possible answers.
The answer therefore is a resounding NO given the pointers above, do you agree? (lgbtevent@gmail.com)
Peace and tolerance
H

June is Pride Month … but sadly last year’s post still seems befitting

Sadly not much has changed since last year’s entry on Pride Month on my sister blog GLBTQJA, yes we have seen some silent protests from a section of the advocacy arena and the letter writing campaign is still on which are geared to the anti gay establishment, there are some other changes in regards to homelessness and our transgender sister who was mentioned in the original piece but sorry to be the bearer of bad news many are just not feeling the overall community unity and sense of worth that is needed, there is a bright spot where a new forumatic area has been helping to air some of the inter and intra community issues and social networking sites have also been widely utilised, have a read of the post from last year and see if you agree, some slight editing has been done.

So June is PRIDE Month internationally as various parts of the world will celebrate publicly in most instances their respective LGBTQ events. With new territories adding their own voices in expressing pride in thermselves, Jamaica in times past has had our own set of private celebratory events, parties and lymes when the the days of JFLAG (Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays) were far more introspective in the community itself and using such activities as a part of the social support strategy to engage the community and develop an identity given the homophobia and violence meted out to persons accused of being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered as we have seen in recent times. Only some party promoters and bloggers like myself who will highlight or have events so themed in respect to the occasions still carry on, I hope that will change soon.

PRIDE presently is supposed to be a mostly American invention coming out of the Stonewall events in the late sixties, other jurisdictions have added their own historical experiences such as Brisbane, Russia, Canada and The UK. LGBT pride or gay pride is the concept that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people should be proud of their sexual orientation and gender identity. The movement has three main premises: that people should be proud of their sexual orientation and gender identity, that diversity is a gift, and that sexual orientation and gender identity are inherent and cannot be intentionally altered. The use of the abbreviated gay pride and pride have since become mainstream and shorthand expressions inclusive of all individuals in various LGBT communities.

The word pride is used in this case as an antonym for shame, which has been used to control and oppress LGBT persons throughout history. Pride in this sense is an affirmation of ones self and the community as a whole. The modern “pride” movement began after the “Stonewall riots” in 1969. Instead of backing down to unconstitutional raids by New York Police, gay people in local bars fought back. While it was a violent situation it also gave the underground community the first sense of communal pride in a very well publicized incident. From the yearly parade that commemorated the anniversary of the Stonewall riots began a national grassroots movement. Today many countries around the world celebrate LGBT pride. The pride movement has furthered the cause of gay rights by lobbying politicians, registering voters and increasing visibility to educate on issues important to LGBT communities. LGBT pride advocates work for equal “rights and benefits” for LGBT people.

Symbols of LGBT pride include the LGBT rainbow flag, butterfly, the Greek lambda symbol, and the pink as well as black triangles reclaimed from their past use.

Historical Background:
Advocates of gay pride have used history to point to oppression as well as differing levels of acceptance of homosexuality throughout history. The ancient Greeks did not conceive of sexual orientation as a social identifier, as Western societies have done for the past century. Greek society did not distinguish sexual desire or behavior by the gender of the participants, but by the extent to which such desire or behavior conformed to social norms. These norms were based on gender, age and social status. “Lesbian” derives from the name of the island of Lesbos,which was famous for the poet Sappho, who wrote love poetry to female lovers. Homosexuality in the ancient Roman Empire is considered to have been widespread but was tempered by the complex social systems of the society.

During Medieval times all forms of sexuality began to be repressed by the church as the message of heaven and hell gained popularity. As technology fell behind, simple luxuries such as clean running water and proper sewage became a thing of the past. This caused horrible conditions and disease. People began to believe that they were suffering from the wrath of God, blaming immorality. Any and all forms of homosexuality became not only shameful but punishable by death.

see also:
Homosexuality in ancient Greece
and Homosexuality in ancient Rome
Symbols of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Movements
The Catholic Church and Homosexuality
Pride celebrated worldwide

In 390, the first law banning same-sex love was enacted in Rome, making it punishable by death.

Pride! but the problems on the ground still are real …….
In our most recent history though, it is disheartening that many activities that were once expected to occur during this period have died or discontinued, there were film festivals, art auctions, other forms of entertainment and forums/workshops as well that were helpful to the community to realise who we are with ordinary LGBTQ persons participating. Sad that the only advocacy group once again has failed and continue to fail us as a GLBTQ community in this regard to fuse our resolve in ourselves as proud people despite the problems we face literally on a daily basis. The closure of the MSM housing project in 2010 for example under the watch and deafening silence from JFLAG is a further indication that we are representationless as a community as only certain issues seem to be of priority while others are cast aside for whatever reasons at the risk of violence due to displacement and even reported deaths since 2011. Recent attacks on a camera crew from Sweden who were interviewing MSMs in a volatile community suggest we have a far way to go. Yes we may be proud as individuals as we assert ourselves as a natural survival instinct mechanism but it is sad we can’t get the activities required on a larger scale to fuse the subgroups under the GLTBQ umbrella towards solving some of the inter-community issues that need urgent attention. Small cell groups however are doing what they can given their limited scope and resources available, many individuals would like to offer more but the present systems overlook or ignore such voices.

The important GLABCOM (Gay Lesbian Allsexual Community) meetings that were discontinued in Kingston in late 2008 has been meeting constant stalls in efforts by some to restart them. Frankly in my estimation there is nothing to be proud of in this vein presently given the set of circumstances that prevail. We have an advocacy system for the most part now being driven by funders who now basically dictate how those activities ought to operate as we have failed to properly carry out basic continuity of previous interventions, ideas and strategies that would have produced tangible results and a seemingly special club decides what happens on that level excluding dissenting voices like this one and others as was evidenced in the recent IDAHO event, the wider community was never made aware in a meaningful way of what IDAHO actually entails let alone a planned activity in Jamaica.

What is happening to our lesbian and bisexual women in terms of the corrective rape typed instances of violence meted out to them with very little assistance or concern from the advocacy quarters on these problem that has been on the increase since 2007 is worrying as well. Not even so much as public outcry on the matter to bring attention to it or some forumatic discourse on the issue at the community level.

The invisibility of the Transgender and bisexual communities are still a major concern for me, their issues need to be brought to the fore by main advocates and take a break from all this talk of repealing the buggery law.
Let us still celebrate PRIDE on an individual level non the less but we cannot and must not overlook these and other serious issues friends, I am sure there are many others you may know of as well in your own corners. See how best you can play however small a part in adding improvement of the lives of our brothers and sisters out there.

Peace, tolerance and PRIDE

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

LGBT History Month: Remembering Howard Daly & his contributions

The first post in the LGBT History series for 2010, A Posthumous recognition commemorating the life of Howard Daly the Rastafarian gentleman originally from Guyana who passed away on September 4th 2010 from Complications due to Colon cancer. In the photo above with murdered HIV/AIDS activist Steve Harvey who passed on November 30, 2005

see more on him HERE: LGBT History Month – Steve L Harvey Remembered

The multi-talented Howard Daly

published: Sunday | September 7, 2003 (The Gleaner)

Michael Reckord, Contributor

IT WAS with amazement and delight that, 22 years ago, the multi-talented Guyanese teacher and performer Howard Daly heard about Jamaica’s Cultural Training Centre (the CTC, now the Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts).

Four diploma-granting, tertiary level schools of dance, drama, music and art on one compound? Wow!

Daly vowed he would go to Jamaica and take classes in all four disciplines. Ambitious and with the confidence of youth (he was in his early 20s), Daly felt he had the capacity to absorb the training. After all, he had been involved in dance, drama and music for years.

At that time, he said in a recent interview, a typical weekday involved teaching music at a secondary school from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., conducting choir practice until 4:00 p.m., practising on the piano for 40 minutes, napping for exactly five, conducting classes with his dance group (The Swallows) from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., taking dance classes at the National School of Dance until eight and then dashing over to the Theatre Guild of Guyana.

There, for an hour or so, he would teach Movement for Actors, then take regular drama classes until 11:00 p.m. He

would be in bed by midnight and recuperating for a repetition of the activities on the following day.

CHILDHOOD MEMORIES

Daly – a choreographer, dancer, pianist/organist, singer, actor and, most recently, personal coach – started performing early. One of his childhood memories, he says, is of himself singing and dancing to an audience on the base of a vat (water tank) in his yard in Georgetown, Guyana.

He was then three years old and had not seen any stage productions. He would not see one until he was seven when, on a visit to New York City and the Radio City Music Hall in the United States (U.S.) one summer, he saw Icecapades.

His performances continued, however, and in fact grew into concerts involving others children when he and his family moved to Timehri. This district, in the ‘bush’ of British Guiana (as it was then), was a British army base.

The concerts were held, Daly said, “under someone’s house”, an allusion to the fact that many houses in the country stand on columns high off the ground. In Timehri, Daly first saw, and started learning from, dance magazines given to his mother by a British soldier at the base.

By the time he was 10, he had started seeing plays at the Theatre Guild, opposite which his grandparents in Georgetown lived. At 10 he started going to school in the capital city and joined the school choir. Chosen to sing in the British Guiana Music Festival he was a favourite to win, but never took part because he was taken by his parents to New York again.

DISTINCTION IN GRADE 1 EXAMS

He started taking music lessons, got a distinction in Grade 1 exams within four months and continued getting distinctions until he reached Grade 5 and had to change teachers. His new teacher taught him to play the organ, with the result that Daly is now the organist at his church, the Temple of Light Church of Religious Science in Kingston.

He also joined the school choir, started acting in school plays and, at 13, began dance classes in Indian Classical Dance with a well-known dance instructor, Philip McClintock who, though Black, had an Indian dance troupe.

About the time he left school, Daly joined the National School of Dance and the Theatre Guild of Guyana. Major plays he acted in with the latter, included Derek Walcott’s Dream on Monkey Mountain, Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire and Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.

His first job after leaving school was teaching music at North Georgetown Secondary School. There he developed a 70-piece school choir and led it into the annual Guyana Music Festival. Daly later took over the school’s dance group.

Dance, music and drama groups to which Daly had links gradually coalesced into a Theatre Guild group, and Daly became director of the Guild’s Dance Company. He held the post for three years, during which time he produced a number of shows.

With one of these he was able to start fulfilling his desire to see the world, performing with the company on Broadway in New York, in Los Angeles in the U.S. and Toronto and Ottawa in Canada. Travelling by bus, he says proudly, “We went through 25 states and three provinces.” He also made another tour of the USA with Chronicle, a Guyanese 42-piece steel orchestra.

In 1981 Daly enrolled at the Jamaica School of Dance. He left in 1985, without formally graduating and having only partially fulfilled his original dream. He did take drama and music electives at the relevant schools at the CTC, but had no classes at the School of Art.

REHEARSAL DIRECTOR

Since then he has joined the L’ACADCO dance company and been rehearsal director for the University Dance Society, working at the latter with Jackie Guy and Joseph Robinson. He has choreographed dances for both groups, as well as for two Father HoLung and Friends productions.

His performance tours continued. With L’ACADCO he went to Cuba five times, Mexico twice; Spain; Guantanamo Bay in Cuba (which he sees as an American base and not part of Cuba), London, England; Ghana; Holland; Japan and Lithuania. In the last named, he says, “We did 42 shows in two months.”

A co-founder of Jamaica AIDS Support (JAS), and a former director, he has used his dance and drama skills in classes and productions to educate viewers about HIV/AIDS. He has also used dance as therapy in his work at the University Hospital Detoxification Unit.

Daly, a deeply spiritual individual, now works mainly as a personal coach, helping his clients to maintain physical, mental and spiritual health. He is a regular solo performer, on the piano and as a singer, at his church.

Bisexuality Day, September 23 …. Happy Bi-Pride to you

Happy BI-PRIDE to all my Bisexual readers, supporters and their friends

Celebrate Bisexuality Day is observed on September 23 by members of the bisexual community and their supporters originally in the United States but has been extended worldwide.


This day is a call for bisexual, pansexual, friends and supporters to recognize and celebrate bisexuality, bisexual history, bisexual community and culture, and the bi/pansexual people in their lives.


First observed in 1999, Celebrate Bisexuality Day is the brainchild of three United Statesbisexualrightsactivists: Wendy Curry of Maine, Michael Page of Florida, and Gigi Raven Wilburof Texas.


Wilbur said,

Ever since the Stonewall rebellion, the gay and lesbian community has grown in strength and visibility. The bisexual community also has grown in strength but in many ways we are still invisible. I too have been conditioned by society to automatically label a couple walking hand in hand as either straight or gay, depending upon the perceived gender of each person.

 

 

This celebration of bisexuality in particular, as opposed to general LGBT events, was conceived as a response to the prejudice and marginalization of the bisexual persons by some in both thestraight and greater LGBT communities.

In its first year, an observance was held during the International Lesbian and Gay Association, which occurred during the week of the 23rd. While at first it only took hold in areas with an extremely strong bisexual presence, it is now celebrated worldwide.


It features event such as discussions, dinner parties and dances in Toronto and a large masquerade ball in Queensland, Australia. At Texas A&M University, the week featured discussion panels and question-and-answer sessions. Princeton University celebrates this day each year by throwing a party at its LGBT Center.

It has also been celebrated in Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

 

Bi-erasure or Biphobia by default from our advocacy structure???? 

 

Unfortunately in Jamaica either our advocates haven’t matured to the recognition of bisexuals as a part of our struggle or we can’t be bothered as “batty business” is more important when some of the very issues of homophobia as we call it are not really so but bi-phobia if one were to closely examine the details at times.


JFLAG has Allsexuals included in their acronym I suppose to cover all other orientations and variants outside of the original LGBT population but I never heard of any direct meetings, interventions or strategies to engage this section of the population.

I would hate to think that our advocacy representatives are themselves guilty of bi-phobia in the form of bisexual erasure (the tendency to ignore, remove, falsify, or reexplain evidence of bisexuality in history, academia, the news media, and other primary sources.

In its most extreme form, bisexual erasure can include denying that bisexuality exists). Inclusiveness is the name of the game now if we are to get anywhere but with the elitist position taken by the group one wonders when will we begin to move on anything?

 


It is refreshing to see other individual voices saying their piece and going out on their own, I would love to see an all out Jamaican bisexual website or at the very least a couple of blogs


Let us hope in the near future something can be done about that either by them despite the insulation or some other group, organization or individuals.


Celebrate yourselves anyway my BI-FRIENDS.

 

 

 

Peace and tolerance

 

H

No to Dudus extradition, no to US demands

While the US continues to subject Jamaica to its superpower one-upmanship over the Christopher “Dudus” Coke affair, many Jamaicans continue to sleepwalk with “matter” in their eyes concerning that and other global geopolitical developments.

Although it will always be true that there are none as blind as those who will not see, and although no amount of preaching, teaching or writing can inject common sense into brainwashed “sheeple”, those who love Jamaica and its people must continue to try to rouse Jamaican sleepers from their socio-political slumber.

Based on the talk on Jamaican streets, radio-show and television comments, Internet blogs and newspaper articles dealing with the Coke case, certain camps among Jamaicans and people with vested interests in Jamaica can be identified. Yet, one gets the impression that among the majority of Jamaicans who should be concerned about this case, namely, the poor and the common people, there is a “couldn’t care less” attitude and outright apathy, leading this writer to wonder when we will all wake up.

The US game of imperialism has utilised the same strategies with slight modifications throughout its history. Strategy number one is for the US to give up the least and gain the most, using every method from deception to brute force. Not enough Jamaicans read US history, especially the massacre of the Native Americans, perhaps because Jamaicans became completely mesmerised by US propaganda movies featuring Indians and lawmen.

Too few Jamaicans understand that the US plants groups and individuals in Jamaica to orchestrate US policies, including the destabilisation of Jamaica, as seen in the Michael Manley era. Very often those US puppets are Jamaicans – including politicians, professionals and people from any level – who are bribed, blackmailed or brutalised to play their parts.The greatest need, therefore, is for this camp of Jamaicans, the innocent ignoramuses, to be taught by politicians, preachers, pedagogues and people who know the truth about US imperialism. If those Jamaicans are not duly educated, then it will be “dog nyam wi suppa”.

US strategy number two is a kind of distraction that approaches deception but which runs much deeper than any one issue or development. The Dudus debacle is a classic case. The US always uses groups and individuals to do its dirty work and then disposes of those suckers. The JLP did some dirty work for America during the Manley years and it might be “sucker time”.

There might be connections between the Buju Banton arrest, the courageous stand of Prime Minister Golding against the homosexuality that the US is promoting worldwide, and the Coke case. Thus certain Jamaican factions, some diaspora entities, and of course, those clandestine forces promoting US interests online and elsewhere, are now swarming like vultures toward this Dudus distraction to help the US accomplish its hidden agendas.

This camp containing Jamaicans and non-Jamaicans, the licky-lickey lucre lovers are those for whom the US can do no wrong and for whom Jamaica can do nothing right. They lack analytical ability, spout overworked clichés and paddle in ad hominem Portia-potties. It will take enlightenment from Yeshua Messiah, or timely repentance when their turn comes to be US suckers, to help that camp. Yet, every single Jamaican is important and should be helped to see the light, if at all possible.

There is also a guild of pathetic pragmatists who deliberately support US policies that they know to be immoral and evil, simply because it is the “wise” thing to do to remain in US favour so as not to lose business, lose visa, or otherwise suffer recrimination. This camp makes it easy for the US to perpetrate its strategy of using Trojan horse gifts to manipulate and exploit Jamaica. They grab at straw arguments to support extradition for Coke and proffer non sequitur ramblings and biased rancours against PM Golding and the Jamaican government. Some are opportunists who play the Coke conundrum for political points, while others try to curry US favour.

It is not totally unwise to play it safe at times, but members of this camp must remember that imperialism is no respecter of persons. It would be better for this guild to remain quietly neutral instead of bad-mouthing Jamaica. Private sector groups, Opposition spokespersons, church organisations and media houses that kowtow to the US position in this Coke affair might be bordering on treachery, especially when some of them played similar roles in the Manley years.

The extradition treaty between Jamaica and the US is lopsided and pragmatically flawed. It smells like an agreement between entities, one of which is more equal than the other. In its Narcotics Report the US admits that 70 per cent of guns used in crimes in Jamaica come from the US, yet there is still only a one-way extradition from the weaker nation to the other. Most of the agreements between the US and other nations mentioned in that report simply give licence for the US to have free run in those countries which in turn give up their sovereignty to US imperialism. Jamaica already suffers too much from such manipulation and exploitation from European, North American, and other nations and NGO groups.

This fight for Jamaican sovereignty and justice for Coke should not be a Golding gladiator bout but a cause in which every single conscientious Jamaican should stand up against US bullying.

Thank God for the conscientious crew that analyses this extradition issue from the standpoint of Godly justice and divine righteousness. It includes the Rev Al Miller, PM Golding, and others. If it were not for the spectre of imperialism, grounded in social Darwinism, overshadowing this issue, long ago there would have been delegations of diplomats from each country meeting behind closed doors to resolve this issue respectably, and there would not have been that US one-upmanship displayed in their Narcotics Report.

Too much “sufferation” among Jamaicans is being caused by foreigners. Careful analysis of the Dudus case will help Jamaicans learn many vital lessons about how they are being exploited from without. Wake up and live, Jamaicans!

INMerv@hotmail.com

Pride Week forum 2008 – Canada

Gareth Henry, Co-Chair of the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, Allsexuals and Gays (JFLAG), noted that while progress may seem slow in Canada, things are very different in Jamaica, where the gay community is essentially excluded from society. “We’re at the stage where we’re talking about basic human rights for gays and lesbians,” Henry told the group.

A gay community activist for the past 10 years, Henry said that in his home country, people must often flee for their lives because of their sexual orientation. In fact, he noted that 13 of his friends had been murdered in Jamaica between 2003 and 2007, simply because they were gay. He also reported that no one has ever been arrested for these murders, since there is scant regard for the lives of gays and lesbians in Jamaica.

“It’s not easy to accept that you’re not accepted because you’re different,” he said. “But, I believe strongly in what I’m doing.”
Henry moved to Toronto in early 2008, following years of ongoing death threats and attacks. “Here [in Canada] we have a lot of freedoms, but there is a lot more to be done. I’ve experienced homophobia here too,” he reported.
He pointed out that laws can’t necessarily change attitudes, so it’s important to make the laws meaningful. “Don’t be complacent,” he warned. “Things can change again.”

Click post title or the image for more

Gareth in the news….

TORONTO, June 30 (UPI) —
The closing parade for Toronto’s 28th annual gay and lesbian pride festivities was attended by at least 1 million people, organizers said.
The downtown core was choked with men and women in wildly elaborate costumes, and in some cases, nothing but body paint, the Toronto Sun reported.
The parade wound through the city for three hours. There were no police reports of major problems, the newspaper said. For that matter, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and four other police forces had recruiting booths set up, the Sun said.
A first for this year was the inclusion of the Canadian armed forces, with about 18 soldiers, who has said they are gay, marching in the parade.
Politicians from the local up to federal level also marched, with the exception of anyone from the federal Conservative party, the Sun said.
The parade’s international grand marshal was Gareth Henry of Jamaica, who is seeking refugee status in Canada. He has told various local media he fled Jamaica because of police intimidation and says 13 of his friends have been killed there since 2004.