On October 14th 2015 a woman became the latest in a series of bizarre occurrences regarding what appears to be a trend in intensified heat against butch identified, indeed studs or androgynous looking women; this instance by a group of three men in the Portmore Mall just adjacent to the Kentucky Fried Chicken Store around 6:30pm. According to reports and a somewhat blurred photograph of the ordeal that was on Facebook but has since been deleted the woman was on her way to the mall or the carpark when somehow an argument ensued with men in the car park. The argument got louder and intense to a point where got to a stage of physical pushing shoving between the woman who refused to be manhandled and the men who were intent on supposedly embarrassing her or teaching her a lesson while ridiculing her appearance or aesthetic.
The heated exchange lasted for some ten or so minutes before security guards by the nearby entrances to the NCB ATM and westwards to the Jamaica Public Service, JPS bill payment office intervened to try to calm things down. One of the guards allegedly sided with the men in castigating the young lady upon hearing the gist of the argument and words to the effect including the grossly stigmatizing ‘Manroyal’ were hurled at her from who was supposed to be a peacemaker in the scheme of things; effectively demonizing her as she was dressed in what appeared to be male attire. So aesthetics factors in this latest matter; this ugly business of profiling has been featuring in recent times again especially with our same gender loving sisters with ghastly outcomes from arson to death threats to police pepper spraying (despite a police diversity training effort) to forced evictions.
Kicked Out! Lesbian told to leave home by father as he can’t stand the site of her
Lesbian profiled & pepper sprayed by cops
Disturbingly it seems some NGOs or personalities in them want to keep the truth away from the public square on said issues as they seem to be more interested in suring up their images and portrayal of a middle to affluent out levity while the less privileged classes are relegated to at risk populations and victims. It has been said that those who carry reports such as these are exaggerating them; when sadly the vast majority of so called advocates are so out of touch with the real world and are comfortable in their own bubble complete with security guards in gated communities or apartment/townhouse complexes are do not dare venture into the byways, fields and hedges where the real heat exists. They only come into contact with such persons after the fact via reports or an office visit by the victim; so I do not expect anything else from such persons lacking real world experience as they try to paint a false rosy less homophobic picture of Jamaica when it comes to homophobia or indeed lesbophobia. The tweets are more about being out and proud and their own personal matters more so than that of the organization’s collective imperative.
The young lady according to my two reliable sources who witnessed aspects of the exchange and picked up more from the aftermath and conversations involving the intervening guards and members of the public some laughing defended herself ably despite the three against one unfair advantage. This ‘Manroyal’ stigmatization has been with us for some time and has been legitimized in a sense by dancehall artists; chief among them is Beenieman who voiced an old recording simply titled “Manroyal” where he claimed he is not interested in any intimate relations with a woman who dresses like a man and even via subtle hints suggest violent rebuffs to change her or suggesting that such a woman is to be then treated as a man since he wants to become one. A street dance on the Heroes Day Weekend nearing my house the song was played several times by the DJ among other antigay songs (Buju’s “Boom Bye Bye” included) driving the audience into a frenzy and I felt I was in the 1990s all over again.
more on the lyrics and their meaning here: Lesbian construction worker profiled told not to return to worksite 2013
There are other reports similar to this one but the challenge as usual is confirmation or at least corroboration; so they just remain as hearsay or a report unconfirmed which makes the job of tracking our situation difficult. We may never get a true picture as many other persons choose to remain silent and absorb the disruption or instance and try to recover on their own with only their own circle having knowledge of the situation. Asking persons to make reports to established NGOs as the ones I hinted to above is even more challenging as the old feelings of such groups being male dominated or insensitive lesbian advocates within such structures persons do not come forward so the under-reporting continues. The display for example of two present supposed leaders in a certain women’s group via some disturbing if not embarrassing tweets as their relationships battle is made very public has turned off some lesbians and bisexual women to approach said groups for anything.
Trust is so important in this kind of work especially in crisis intervention but where is the interest apart from promoting coming out & proud? When the reality is certain socio-economic groups simply cannot be out and still homo-negative Jamaica; the appearance of tolerance to me seems dormant and only requires a spark of some kind to revive such feelings; case in point the recent antigay rally deceptive labelled as a concern for the family by groups such as Jamaica CAUSE, Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship LCF & Lovemarch. The week immediately following that rally in Half Way Tree, HWT saw a spike in reports of verbal and physical tussles with suspected LGBT persons, so called Manroyals & androgynous or gender non conforming persons as well a trend I observed after the previous rally in 2014. Tastees Patties store for example smack in the middle of HWT was the scene of a short lived verbal spat earlier this year with a tattoo bearing, sleekly dressed woman often seen as ‘studs’ in the labeling ladder where one of the obnoxious male DVD bootleggers who peddle DVDs in the vicinity followed her to the establishment and attempted to verbally embarrass her while she waited in line to place her order. She responded in no uncertain terms that she was not intimidated by him and proceeded to conduct business as the man tried to repeatedly incite support for his stigmatizing cause which fizzled as other men around reportedly told him to leave the woman alone as it made no sense to proceed down that path. One person allegedly said words to the effect that sodomites will always be around.
Peace and tolerance