Sip piña coladas
Shorty, I could take you there
Or we can go to the slums
Where killas get hung
Shorty, I could take you there…
Sean Kingston, Take You There
“…the only Jamaicans who aren't some combination of homophobic, drug addicted and savage have been murdered by the ones who are.”
Comment at former HRC activist Wayne Besen's blog in response to his column on anti-queer violence in Jamaica
Like most people, I am appalled by the anti-queer violence and terrorism that seems to have gripped the
Yet, as terrible as these acts are, those of us in the US watching these horrors (and let’s not forget our own horrors here in the “civilized” USA, such as the murders of teenagers Simmie Williams and Lawrence King) need to be very careful about how we characterize Jamaica and think about our political response to the violence there.
I’m not a
A political response to anti-queer violence in
When it comes to the poorest of the poor what it comes down to is bread and butter. They are willing to have conversations and are willing to protect people who protect them in different ways. You can’t talk about gay rights in Jamaica when a black boy does not even have food and clothes. How the hell are you going to tell him to allow somebody to be gay, when he is not even being allowed to eat?
Which is why former HRC activist Wayne Besen’s haphazard call for an attack on
This isn’t the first time the white-dominated gay community in
Before cavalierly proposing to, say, wreck the economy of a third world country, those of us concerned about forms of oppression besides just anti-gay oppression, would need to integrate the other forms of oppression that exist in Jamaica such as sexism, class stratification, poverty, etc in our analyses and responses to anti-gay violence.
One political response I think that may be consistent with these principles would be to welcome queer Jamaicans who immigrate to the United States and elsewhere (this would require us to support lenient immigration laws), and help exiled queer Jamaicans organize and strategize about ways to organize queer people in
Raising awareness about the plight of queer Jamaicans as well as showing solidarity by demonstrating can be appropriate, if the political message is one of solidarity and support for queer Jamaicans and respect for queer Jamaicans as the ones who should ultimately take the political lead in response to the violence there. I don’t have a problem with the
Regardless of what solutions there could be, I strongly believe that queer Jamaicans—not white, gay men like Besen and Thatchell—should be taking the lead on how to respond to anti-queer violence there. If an organized political expression of exiled queer Jamaicans or indigenous queer Jamaicans want to call for a boycott or some other form of external political pressure, that would be their decision to make—and of course then we could support such measures. It is not, however, up to the mainstream gay community in the
P.S. Take a look at some of the racist comments Besen’s column provoked. Besen sometimes steps in to a discussion when it gets too problematic. He was silent about these:
“I never had any desire to go to that shithole anyway, and I never will, even if they stop the attacks (not likely). I'd rather spend my money on civilized people and cultures. Sounds like a place where rush limbo would show up with his suitcase full of viagra. Barforama!”
“A bunch of stoned savages. What a bunch of immoral a-holes. I would not spend a dime there. These people can go to HELL.”
“Personally, I think batty boys should ban together and shoot Jamaicans. The world would be better without them. They are disgusting, unshowered creatures with roaches in their hair.
"Notice these fucking cowards hunt gay people in packs. They always outnumber the gay people and have weapons. Why can't they fight one-on-one? Because Jamaicans are a bunch of low-life scum sissies.”
I’m sure the posters would howl with indignation at the suggestion that these statements are clearly racist even as they employ classic racist letimotifs and terms (e.g. the generous use of the term “savage”). Never mind that many of the queer people they are supposedly concerned about are a part of this culture of “savages.”