Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Gay men, especially in Jamaica are often euphemistically referred to as 'funny', and I find our attitude to that kind of 'funny' to be sometimes funny on one hand, while being confusing and contradictory on the other hand. In Jamaica, a man who acts 'funny' onstage is a guaranteed commercial hit every time. But a man who's genuinely gay off-stage lives with the risk of being literally and physically hit at anytime. And that's not so funny.
But funny also sells. In Jamaica, there's an increase in the number of comedy promoters. There were eight major comedy shows in Trinidad & Tobago over the last two weeks. I performed on three and I saw the ads for the other five. As a Jamaican, one of the interesting features of Trinidadian comedy shows for me is the number of acts that employ cross-dressing men or men playing gay characters. I find especially funny how the audiences find them funny. A man comes on-stage in neon coloured wig, skimpy bikini and bra, and the crowd goes wild. Chairs turn over, people run up and down and 'buss blanks' and di place nuh good again.
Two such acts appeared on the same events I did. One was a man playing a woman giving tips and sharing recipes for women who want to learn to fix foods to keep a man tied. The other was a drag-queen-comic protesting the promoter's decision to shorten his act when his motto, philosophy and mantra can be summed up in four words, "want it long!" People loved it. The thousands of people at Jean Pierre Complex, and Guaracara Park in Trinidad, as well as an unbelievably massive throng at Dwight Yorke Stadium in Tobago threw big cheers, applause and adoration at those performers. I couldn't help thinking that if they were in Jamaica the audiences would probably respond with not cheers, but chairs, tables, stones and other missiles. But that's not necessarily true.
You see homophobia's very funny- and selective. Gay men are tolerated if they have the right connections, or they work in stereotypical spheres like cosmetology or choreography, and they are adored and celebrated if they consent implicitly to be perpetually framed as comic relief. In fact, based on current official logic, it's OK to be gay and acceptable for gay people to form groups as long as they don't try screechie into Mr Golding's cabinet, insert themselves into the police force or own guns.
But I wonder if we realise that technically there is no law in Jamaica that says it is illegal to be a homosexual. What's illegal is buggery. And buggery means anal sex (whether it's with man or woman!) Funny eeh?
Funniest part of the scenario for me is Ernest Smith the MP. He righteously condemns buggery in Parliament, but as a lawyer he has to earn his money yu see. So, based on what I read in the papers, here's how it look to me. A noble lawyer, who's a Smith, stands before an honourable judge, who's a Pusey, and makes a plea in mitigation on behalf of a man who pleads guilty to buggery! Funny eeh? Well at least it's funny to me.
Imagine if the government made JFLAG illegal. They could then become his clients and earn him some real funny money. Trust me, he might not be anywhere near as hilarious as 'Bashment Granny', but I think the South West, St Ann Member of Parliament is very, very funny.
What you think? firstname.lastname@example.org
In part 2 we continue to look at the dangers and happenings in the world of gay and bisexual men who cruise the public places for hook-ups.
This second reported incident happened a week ago in the downtown Kingston region, a 20+ year old unemployed male who occassionally gets a few small chores for pay was free that day and found himself wondering along an empty corridor of a certain commercial region. He came across a young man who was resting on his bicycle and smoking what seemed a ganja/marijuana spliff.
Their eyes met and the man winked at him and beckoned with his left hand discreetly. The curious male so as to not "dis" the "ganja man" obliged and approached cautiously as he was aware that there are men who pose as gays so that "They can rob or beat yuh" he commented as he related the story to me.
They exchanged words for a while which led to them arranging a secret rendezvous at a desolate location nearby so off they went, with the man riding his bicycle a few feet infront so as to guide his new friend. They arrived at what seemed a good enough spot and the ganja man eager to get into it initiated the "play"
About ten minutes or so into the exchange the man brandished a gun and demanded all his money, the young man nervously complied, the gun man proceeded to replace his attire and searched his victim which included a small pouch he was carrying with a small amount of cash ($3400+) he had on him, his shoes was also removed (a fairly new pair of K Swiss sneakers).
Fortunately the attacker did not harm the victim but departed with words to the effect that he didn't want any sex, he was just "lookin a food" - colloquial for robbing or to huslte someone.
They have been uncomfirmed reports of liaisons resulting in more disastrous outcomes as we comb through them we will try to unearth the facts behind these attacks, you can appreciate that many of the victims do not wish to rehash these occurences or to even let their friends and counterparts become aware of their cruising ground(s) or techniques.
If you are a "Cruiser" be warned, it's dangerous out there. Stay safe.
AS DEBATE stirs over the Jamaican Government's insistence on retaining legislation against buggery, homosexual men continue to suffer from discriminatory acts which make it difficult for them to seek health care in the country, a study has indicated.
A 2008 survey commissioned by the Ministry of Health showed 31.8 per cent of gay men in Jamaica are living with HIV. Another 8.5 per cent were found with chlamidia, 2.5 per cent had gonorrhoea and 5.5 per cent had syphilis.
According to a release from the Caribbean HIV & AIDS Alliance (CHAA), the high number of sexually transmitted infections among gay men, sometimes termed men who have sex with men (or MSM), is linked to the way they are treated by the law and members of the general population, including those in the health sector.
"Many MSM are not secure in themselves and so put themselves at risk by having multiple partners," an MSM peer educator, who requested anonymity, said.
That claim was corroborated by the MSM survey. Some 27.7 per cent reported having two or more sexual partners in the last four weeks; 25.9 per cent had a new partner in the past four weeks; 28.8 per cent had a female partner in the past four weeks; 15.9 per cent live with a female partner; and 33.8 per cent had two or more female partners in the past 12 months.
The peer educator explained that even with the high level of sexually transmitted infections, MSM are reluctant to go to health-care providers, as they fear discrimination.
"Our main problem is that based on the law, we have problems interacting with each other. There are no safes spaces," the source said.
Devon Cammock, targeted intervention co-coordinator at the Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL), explained that even when meetings were convened, MSM shy away from them or hide their sexuality. This makes it difficult to conduct programmes that are needed in the community.
Through funding from the non-governmental organisation, Caribbean HIV and AIDS Alliance, the JASL has been conducting voluntary counselling, testing programmes and peer education training with MSM.
The CHAA, which was launched in Jamaica yesterday, will continue to work in close partnership with JASL, as well as other key regional and national institutions, governments and donors, on various activities to empower MSM and other vulnerable communities.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Senior Puisne Judge Marva McIntosh told the jurors trying the case of 25-year-old Sheldon Pusey, who is charged with the murder of 64-year-old Ambassador Peter King, that Pusey "is not a bad-looking fellow" but they should not feel sorry for him.
The judge, who began her summation yesterday, also told the jurors that they had heard certain words used to describe the deceased.
She was referring to the words defence lawyer Berry Bryan used when addressing the jury.
Erase those words
The judge said the words used to describe King included "sadistic, pervert, piranha". The judge told the jurors to erase those words from their minds because they must not have any prejudice towards the accused or the deceased.
Pusey has been on trial in the Home Circuit Court since January 19.
The Crown is alleging that Pusey chopped and stabbed King at his home at 11A Waterloo Road, St Andrew, between March 19 and 20, 2006. The body had a total of 30 injuries, which included four stab wounds to the chest and four chop wounds to the neck.
Pusey said in his defence that he went to King's house about a job. He said King was attempting to "rape" him when he took a knife from a cup on a bedside table and stabbed him.
Not to speculate
The judge in her summation called on the jurors not to speculate. She also told them that in a murder case, the Crown did not have to prove motive.
"You are here to determine on the prosecution's case whether this accused murdered the deceased," the judge said.
The jurors were told that they were the sole judges of the facts and were called on to draw reasonable inferences.
There were no eyewitness to the murder and the judge told the 12-member jury that the Crown was relying on circumstantial evidence to prove its case.
The jurors were told that circumstantial evidence could be powerful evidence but they had to examine the evidence with care.
The judge will continue her summation when the trial resumes today.
MEMBER OF Parliament Ernie Smith might just have become the butt of a new round of jokes. Despite his impassioned plea in February for tougher penalties for buggery convicts, the South West St Ann representative, who is also an attorney-at-law, was in court last week strongly defending a man charged with - you guessed it - buggery.
So strident was Smith in defence of his client in the St Ann Circuit Court that although pleading guilty to the charge, the accused was able to walk away with just a suspended sentence.
Smith later defended his action, saying he was upholding the tenets of his profession.
"I am a professional person; anyone who confides in me and believes in me that I will properly represent them in any case, provided I take the case, I give that person my 100 per cent expertise," Smith explained.
Lenford Adams, 23, of Alexandria, St Ann, was brought before Justice Leighton Pusey on a charge of buggery on February 23.
Allegations presented by Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Natalie Brooks are that on August 19, 2007, the accused entered the room of his female cousin and began fondling her, and buggered her afterwards.
Adams pleaded guilty but sentencing was put off until March 6.
No deviant behaviour
When the case was heard last Friday, Smith pleaded with the judge not to send Adams to prison, arguing that his client had never before run afoul of the law.
Based on the probation report, Smith said, his client had never displayed any deviant behaviour and co-existed well with others in his community.
Smith's stout-hearted defence was in stark contrast to his lambasting of gays and buggery - the main sexual expression among homosexual males - in a presentation to Parliament last month.
But in court Friday, Smith changed his tune on buggery.
"My view on a particular behaviour in the Jamaican society has nothing to do with my professionalism. It has nothing to do with the quality of representation that I give every person who retains me to defend them," Smith said.
Monday, March 9, 2009
In the day to day life of gay men who cruise the streets, parks and secret meeting places there are heaviots who abound and use their sometimes stunningly physical masculine attributes to bring in their prey, covertly as genuine sexual favours only to use the opportunity to rob or harm unsuspecting admirers. This is one of two such incidents as reported to us and there is some concern now about the authenticity of the men who cruise for sex are they "gay" or just using the opportunities afforded to them by unsuspecting men?
We have heard of incidents where men pose a gays to harm their targets with homophobic violence but there is new twist to these two incidents the "attackers" were in sexually comfortable positions with other men before exacting their real intentions.
A former popular recreational park in St. Andrew where joggers do their morning run, was the scene of this bizarre affair, here a 29 year old middle class accountant takes a jog, not his usual morning activity but he proceeds non the less, he is distracted by a male figure that moves in nearby bushes, he ignores it and makes a lap around the dusty wooded area a second time. The figure again shakes the trees to attract his attention and beckons with an audible "pssst" the jogger continues and realises this isn't your ordinary action here. A third lap around the track he is overtaken by a female jogger who he had passed several chains before on another path, the "bush beckoner" by now comes closer to the track but still slightly concealed and beckons again this time our accountant jogger is surprised by a well toned shirtless thug masturbating and trying to attract his attention, the jogger ignores his attempts and tries to quicken his pace, the "bushman" however launches out and grabs hold of him as he passes directly in front, he whispers erotic words in his ear but something else happend that the jogger did not intend, his $30,000 gold chain around his neck become a weapon for the overpowering thug who demanded that he give it to him.
By this time the erection of the attacker had long disappeared although he was still exposed, he choked the jogger with the chain and demanded money as well and brandished a knife.
The shocked accountant by now raised alarm while a struggle ensued, the attacker retreated into the bushes and the female jogger and several other joggers who had heard the shouts for help arrived. The shocked man explained that a robbery attempt was made on him everyone dissipated after that.
Luckily it ended the way it did, the chain had left a deep imprint around his neck and there were other light bruises which were as a result of the struggle. The accountant did not report the matter to the police.
Part 2 coming soon.
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Thanks for your Donations
thank you for your donations via Paypal in helping to keep this blog going, my limited frontline community work, temporary shelter assistance at my home and related costs. Please continue to support me and my allies in this venture that has now become a full time activity. When I first started blogging in late 2007 it was just as a pass time to highlight GLBTQ issues in Jamaica under then JFLAG's blogspot page but now clearly there is a need for more forumatic activity which I want to continue to play my part while raising more real life issues pertinent to us.
Activities & Plans: ongoing and future
- To continue this venture towards website development with an E-zine focus
- Work with other Non Governmental organizations old and new towards similar focus and objectives
- To find common ground on issues affecting GLBTQ and straight friendly persons in Jamaica towards tolerance and harmony
- Exposing homophobic activities and suggesting corrective solutions
- To formalise GLBTQ Jamaica's activities in the long term
- Continuing discussion on issues affecting GLBTQ people in Jamaica and elsewhere
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Information & Disclaimer
Individuals who are mentioned or whose photographs appear on this site are not necessarily Homosexual, HIV positive or have AIDS.
This blog contains pictures that may be disturbing. We have taken the liberty to present these images as evidence of the numerous accounts of homophobic violence meted out to alledged gays in Jamaica.
Faces and names witheld for the victims' protection.
This blog not only watches and covers LGBTQ issues in Jamaica and elsewhere but also general human rights and current affairs where applicable.
This blog contains HIV prevention messages that may not be appropriate for all audiences.
If you are not seeking such information or may be offended by such materials, please view labels, post list or exit.
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Recent Homophobic Incidents
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What to do if you are attacked (News You Can Use)
Try to reason with the attacker: Establish communication with the person. This takes a lot of courage. However, a conversation may change the intention of an attacker.
Do not try anything foolish: If you know outmanoeuvring the attacker is impossible, do not try it.
Do not appear to be afraid: Look the attacker in the eye and demonstrate that you are not fearful.
This may have a psychological effect on the individual.
The police 119
Crime Stop 311
Steps to Take When Contronted or Arrested by Police
b) Only give name and address and no other information until a lawyer is present to assist
c) Try to be polite even if the scenario is tensed) Don’t do anything to aggravate the situation
e) Every complaint lodged at a police station should be filed and a receipt produced, this is not a legal requirement but an administrative one for the police to track reports
f) Never sign to a statement other than the one produced by you in the presence of the officer(s)
g) Try to capture a recording of the exchange or incident or call someone so they can hear what occurs, place on speed dial important numbers or text someone as soon as possible
h) File a civil suit if you feel your rights have been violatedi) When making a statement to the police have all or most of the facts and details together for e.g. "a car" vs. "the car" represents two different descriptions
j) Avoid having the police writing the statement on your behalf except incases of injuries, make sure what you want to say is recorded carefully, ask for a copy if it means that you have to return for it
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