The weed whacking project started by an interfaith group including myself is still struggling with equipment challenges and dwindling interest by the participants as they feel demotivated.
As per usual whenever LGBT issues are on the mainstream in terms of discourse there is some corresponding spike in incidents usually already in train via profiling, verbal abuse and the final blow comes with physical attacks and or evictions.
Most of the matters seem to have a profiling motive attached to them and while persons are encouraged to formally file reports to the police (even if the precinct officers refuse to take the statement of this nature and by extension to groups such as JFLAG noting the refusal, some persons prefer to private absorb the shocks and move on avoiding any publicity. I fear this refusal or hesitation in making reports hints to a long suspected challenge of under-reporting of infractions.
I still do get reports via Facebook mostly these days via referrals and via emails and phone calls for verification, (will not share all of them as requested by parties making them) thankfully social media has assisted in reporting homo/lesbo/trans/biphobic incidents and persons do not have to necessarily use phone/text/walk in office ways which can delay possible restorative responses to such matters as in the old days where it was more paper based incident taking exercise.
Here are some reports that have come to hand that have me concerned, thanks to persons for granting some clearance in sharing the relevant details.
Report 1: via Facebook
Teen told to leave the house by month’s end – in October 2014 in East Kingston, Rockfort to be precise after a series of verbal homo-negative encounters with a sibling based a perceived sexual orientation mantra finally ended in a fight and threats of a mobbing to have the teen removed if he did not comply. Profiling by family members seem to be the springboard for this one. After a prolonged tense relations the ultimatum was issued, the teen as others in a similar position get help from friends but for a short period.
To date he is still ‘kotching’ by a friend but is seeking a job while doing evening classes.
Report 2: via phone
Man forced to relocate (another such case yet again since my tracking) after assisting or accommodating an effeminate man for a short time in Portmore. After offering some kindness to another man who is said to be “real” (our term for effeminacy) he found himself being profiled and accused of bringing his ‘woman man’ to his home and suggesting the community has been poisoned by his actions. Community members insisted they did not want him to remain in the housing scheme and he has reported that he was literally being watched over a period of months prior to the advise/warning given to him by a nearby neighbour.
There was a similar incident I carried on sister archive blog on the wordpress platform where a man had helped a displaced man and found himself in major challenges while forced to leave his home but thankfully with police protection. The man via his Facebook status has since publicly declared he will not assist anyone else as he is now in trouble, this has garnered much response from persons on his friends list who are in agreement.
The tone of the comments suggest out of protectionism persons are cautious or refusing to offer any type of informal crisis intervention via the assisted shelter. This is a blow in that department I feel as this community level each one reach one typed help has been instrumental for decades in Jamaica as persons rally around persons genuinely concerned in working towards closure. I have also seen where persons offer assistance under deceptive guises too which also when made public have an impact of such avenues for closure as mistrust drives refusal.
Report 3: via Facebook(a very lengthy one)
Transgender teen told by mother she does not want a child who is gay in her house in St Andrew, while the separation process was not violent as the mother claimed she loves ‘her’ she says for safety reasons for her part (not her child as was expected) she wants her out of the house so as to avoid problems with neighbours and other family members. The teen has since found temporary refuse via a friend but for how long one is not sure as such help has time limits and costs financially speaking.
For example I would love to help more persons in my spare room as I have done before in my home but apart from an incident I had with one such persons two years ago where I had to take a break in doing so financially it costs to have another mouth in house to feed. This is a sentiment expressed by the few these days I am aware of who will help in this department in shelter assistance, seeing that no formal shelters for MSM/Trans persons currently exist (despite we have had our expectations raised by state and none state actors) this avenue is a viable option. During my tenure at JFLAG I had formalized a rent cheque/shelter assistance stipend for persons opening up their homes to offer such help but it does not seem it is in effect or if so in a new form.
Some complaints from persons who have engaged the goodly J for such assistance and maintaining same for let’s say two months which was the maximum I had allowed suggest that they were not afforded such benefits and instead it was reduced to one (financial issues maybe or limited funding) this is of course outside those more serious cases that require asylum for closure. The first month rental deposit cheque for example seems to have died down and just a stipend for groceries and such personal effects, JFLAG too based on unconfirmed reports seem to have been encouraging or continue to encourage the community based shelter assistance avenues for displaced or threatened persons.
Report 4: Gay man given illegal notice to quit property (September 2014) via phone
St Catherine my home parish was the place for this one in Portmore (Waterford) to be precise, there seems to be a spike in recent times in the surburb (historically so despite its unique mostly while collar working middle class demographic) The man has only just settled after the forced eviction issues verbally by the landlord of the property as he claimed he has been informed by phone that he the victim has had too many men coming to the property and again as above neighbours are grumbling.
Profiling has been always a challenge as previous entries on this and on Gay Jamaica Watch bring to bear, persons especially gay men worst yet when they have effeminate traits are scrutinized closely, their socialization patterns are monitored and discussed over the dinner table, the corner shop, verandas and so on and where such persons claim to have ‘evidence’ of their suspicions then it is converted into in their minds justifiable action normally planned homophobic attack of some sort or forced evictions. In this case the landlord literally came with a notice form but it was not written and served properly. After a lengthy and tense conversation with the young man according to his report the landlord went to his car and returned with the partially completed notice form which he slipped under the door despite the fact the tenant was present in house so it was not served properly in my eyes.
He has had to send his furniture and so on all over with other friends and suffer the inconvenience of prolonged travel to work and costs with very little recourse for some time. He has since found a new rented spot and has settled but says he is far more circumspect about his neighbours and has curtailed visiting activity by friends.
Report 5: via Facebook
Gay man in fight at workplace over battyman comment, photos were available via his Facebook profile but have since been removed in January 2015 (not sure the actual time/date of the incident but it seems recent, again profiling is the chief springboard for supposed justified homo-negative attack. The status message that was visibly public and not limited to friends garnered some comments from other users mostly negative ones. I suspect the man did not know how to navigate the privacy setting on FB, a problem I have seen for years leading to fallouts and such. Apparently it was this lack of knowledge on FB that got the attention of the offending co-worker apart from the in house subtle bashing or influenced it so much so that it got physical and the man defended himself.
The man has since reported the matter to the supervisors who have since tried to separate or reduce the level of opportunities for contact between the offender and the victim which seems to me as a temporary fix as anything can happen outside in public or during breaks.
What about other co-workers is unclear in the public post but it seems as previous cases show miscreants always have company or support to carry out their quests.
Report 6 via Facebook then followed up by phone
Butch identified woman relocates after concerns raised when she has been repeated verbally attacked by men in her former community on the corner shop. The actions by the men has a chief instigator who was in prison and absent from the area for some time and upon his return with misplaced bravado tries to reassert his dominance as it were in the community so he targets persons including this woman.
The woman made initial contact via Facebook (I suspect a group I am in) then she made a friends request to which I responded she then proceeded to lay her case in a lengthy message and a chat thread where she released what she described as pent up worry.
She claimed she has been living as a hermit in her home and only venture out when it is absolutely necessary she has since in order to avoid her pending fears coming to reality she asked a relative to assist but her true home (occupied with other family) is where she wants to be and be comfortable, to relocate for safety reasons is just too much for her she fears.
There are other cases that I am not able or have been able to confirm and those made to other groups and individuals, I have no doubt but the under-reporting, hesitation to formally make such reports and avenues for closure are concerns for me yet still after all these years.
Even though the discussion around homosexuality is ever so slowly becoming more sensible in large part the homo-negativity, old perceptions and mistrust towards LGBT advocacy still have an impact on tolerance and understanding that ought to exist.
Please be safe out there, vigilance is required for personal safety especially social media privacy or monitoring is key.
Peace and tolerance
also see some previous entries on here and on Gay Jamaica Watch:
Lesbophobic Rant on RJR’s Afternoon Flagship Program by Broadcasters
More Jamaican LGBTQ displacements & homeless challenges in 2014
Some considerations ..... would you assist someone who has been displaced ??? (podcast from 2011)
Same gender loving sister clashes with bus crew in Half Way Tree
Schoolboys in custody for assault of soft spoken male student
Jamaican Transgender Activist Turned Away From Bacchanal
Montego Bay Male Sex Worker misses a beating at popular sex site
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