On the same day that the San Francisco Chronicle publishes an interview with Buju Banton where the notoriously homophobic reggae star defends his rants with crocodile tears—"we have been blacklisted," he cries—Jamaica's leading gay activist is interviewed in another publication and recalls the horrors of being openly gay in his homeland.
“Jamaica is not a safe environment for gay people to survive in, either physically, emotionally, or psychologically.” Gareth Williams, the leader of the Jamaican Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals, and Gays (J-FLAG), speaks to Doug Ireland and Gay City News in an extensive interview. "Williams"—actually "a pseudonym he must use for his safety"—candidly speaks about the rampant homophobic violence that has scarred the nation, including that of his good friends Steve Harvey and Brian Williamson, the former J-FLAG president.
The irony, of course, is that the picturesque island nation has long promoted itself as "one love"—even though the country's leading cultural exports, reggae and dancehall, are also puctuated by violent, homophobic imagery. "The climate here is very, very hostile to gay people. We have been hunted and beaten and killed because of who we are,” Williams added. “Families turn against their own members because of sexual orientation."
Staceyann Chin agrees. The Jamaican-born, lesbian performance artist tells Keith Boykin and the Chronicle that homophobia forced her to emigrate to America. Rape, murder, poverty and HIV are every day facts of life in Jamaica. It's "more than a culture of violence," Chin says. "There's a culture of confrontation."
Staceyann Chin's Redemption Song (Keith Boykin)
Previously:"One Gay is Dead, What's the Difference?" (Rod 2.0) “If You’ve Really Changed, Then Just Say It” (J Cannick) Buju Banton Concert Cancelled (Club Rimshot) Buju Banton Busted By The Bay (Keith Boykin) Jamaican AIDS Activist Murdered (Blabbeando) Homophobia "Greatest Hurdle" in Jamaica (Rod 2.0) Justice, Jamaican Style (Rod 2.0) Jamaica Urges One Love (Rod 2.0) LIFEbeat Latest (Rod 2.0) The Most Homophobic Place on Earth? (Rod 2.0) Buju Banton Pro/Con (Rod 2.0) Beenie Man and Buju Banton Cancelled (Rod 2.0)