The Latest

A Doctor For Trans Children

Dr. Norman Spack specializes in helping Trans youth at a new clinic in Children's Hospital.

The Boston Globe printed an interview with the doctor this weekend.

" SPACK: Transgendered kids have a high level of suicide attempts. Of the patients who have fled England to see me, three out of the four have made very serious suicide attempts. And I've never seen any patient make [an attempt] after they've started hormonal treatment."

Sally Kern's Troubled Theology

The infamous Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern (left) has gotten a lot of attention, so she is a perfect example of the dangers of anti-gay theology. I've written a fairly lengthy theological essay responding to some of her bigoted ideas. To save space, I've only posted an excerpt here. You can read the rest of the essay at Queertoday2.

"To suggest that the values of a ancient West Asian monarchy (i.e. ancient Israel) or texts written in an imperial Roman dictatorship (i.e. the New Testament) should be simply applied to a modern, post-industrial society is absurd and dangerous. Too many people have suffered and died because literalists refused to leave ancient customs and assumptions in the ancient world. But it is no surprise that right-wing bigots like Sally Kern would want to preserve as many values from authoritarian, hierarchical societies as possible...."

Read more.

Massachusetts Family Institute Lies Again

Among the long list of deceptions Massachusetts Family Institute has tried to perpetrate against the public comes yet another attempt to put a spin on reality. The transgender rights bill (H-1722) has been put to study, and that has MFI's Kris Mineau declaring victory against it on their website and subsequent emails to supporters:

"Massachusetts Family Institute also strongly opposed and testified against an array of other anti-family bills that are now defunct. The following bills have also been sent to a "study," meaning they are effectively dead for this legislation session."

Here are portions of his testimony at the Judiciary Committee Hearing on the matter:

"This bill is a radical assault on the right to privacy and safety of all women and children on behalf of one of the smallest special interest groups, which can be accommodated otherwise."

MFI's delusional logic here is that sexual preditors (to them GLBT people are one in the same) may now have access to public rest rooms.

"It is estimated that the ratio of male-to-female transsexuals to genetic males is at the most 1:2000 (or five one-hundredths of 1%) with the ratio of female-to-male transsexuals being even smaller."

His point here is that this group is too small to bother with. He seems to feel that if a group is too small their needs are outweighed by his wants.

"This bill would add the vague terminology of “gender identity or expression” to the state ban on sex discrimination. The bill says, “The term ‘gender identity or expression’ shall mean a gender-related identity, appearance, expression, or behavior of an individual, regardless of the individual’s assigned sex at birth.” There is no generally accepted definition for “gender” or “expression,” which would cause chaos in the inevitable swirl of litigation, as activists press for access to the most private spaces of the opposite sex.

The word “gender” (as opposed to “sex”) is dangerously vague. It refers to socially constructed roles unrelated to biology. The term denies immutable biological differences between the sexes and places women and children at risk from biological males."

Here is Mineau's attempt to mire the public is legaleze. First he says that there is no legal definition for gender, then tries to inject his own opinions on the matter as fact, throwing in the word "dangerously" for good measure. Keeping the public afraid is how this organization keeps it's funding, so I can understand why we hear this language from them so often.

"Transgenderism is classified as a disorder by the American Psychiatric Association in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Under this bill, if a father and his young daughter went to a public accommodation and the young girl needed to use the ladies room, her own father could not go in with her, but a man claiming a gender identity disorder could."

Apparently Mineau thinks that if transgender is a mental disorder they are not to be afforded the dignity of equality. Then in a bizarre twist he tries to say that parent's aren't allowed to cross the gender line for the sake of their small children needing to use the bathroom. What parent has not already come across this problem and dealt with it? The public accomodates what it sees fit to; all situations are up for their individual scrutiny. A man trying to help is little girl try to use the facilities has the public sympathy, just as someone with "mental disorders" do too. Mineau wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants people to believe that transgender is a disorder, but then wants the public to hold that against these people somehow. People should not be discriminated against on the basis of who they are inherently, but for people like Mineau this is too difficult of a concept to grasp.

"H1722 also deletes protection from discrimination for children, or based on marital status, veteran status or membership in the armed services, or recipients of public assistance. Public policy should not allow an infinitesimally small percentage of the population with a psychiatric disorder to use whatever public restroom or bathhouse they want, while simultaneously removing protection of families with children, veterans and people on public assistance."

There is absolutely no explanation of this charge given, but I guess it goes along with Mineau's scare tactics. Perhaps Mineau thinks that his word is good enough. Perhaps he thinks that the public has forgotten that he is behind a petition so rife with fraud that there was a special hearing to investigate the matter, or that since then Senator Edward Augustus has proposed legislation preventing the elements which led to this trouble. Mineau had charged with intimidation because they posted the names of people who signed his petition, yet he used Wanted: Dead or Alive style posters against legislators himself. Isn't that more clearly intimidation? When the legislators met on the historical day of June 14, 2007 and voted 151-45 to deny Mineau's attempt to write discrimination into the Constitition he claimed that those who changed their votes were given what amounts to bribes. Time and Mineau's inability to prove his accusations have shown the truth behind this claim. Mineau's testimony on H1722 is yet another mistruth that he had hoped the public would fall for. In addition to all these lies Mineau tries to re-sell the idea that Catholic Charities was forced to pull out of Massachusetts rather than be forced to abide by our laws against discriminating against same sex families interested in adoption. In actuality Catholic Charities had already allowed several adoptions to same sex couples over the years, but since the dawn of marriage equality had tried to cover up this truth and seem more conservative. To say they were forced out is simply untrue, the board did not want to go, but it was Cardinal O'Maley's call to make. Let's put the blame where it's due. From the Boston Globe we find the unbiased truth:

"In the past two decades, Catholic Charities has placed 720 children in adoptive homes, including 13 with same-sex couples."

For the betterment of public understanding on this matter, review the talking points made by the Massacusetts Transgender Political Coalition and the facts supported by the ACLU:

House Bill 1722 would make it clear that discrimination on the basis of an individual’s “gender identity or expression”* also violates those state civil rights laws.

• Transgender students will be protected from discrimination in public schools.
• The Massachusetts laws forbidding discrimination in employment, housing, and credit and in places of public accommodation will explicitly apply to transgender individuals.
• Transgender people will have the same rights as others to bring complaints to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), to have that agency evaluate and hear their claims, and to bring their claims to court.
• The MCAD’s advisory boards will be encouraged to include transgender members, just as diverse representation from various communities and businesses is encouraged under current law.
• The Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth will become a more inclusive Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth.
• Assaults and property damage crimes intended to intimidate individuals because of their race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation or disability will be punished in a like manner when they are committed with the intent to intimidate an individual because of gender identity or expression. The State Police, who have responsibility now for keeping records and making reports concerning crimes motivated by bigotry or bias, will add crimes because of gender identity or expression to those records and reports.
• Sex-segregated accommodations will continue to be available, as they are now, consistent with a person’s own gender identity or expression.

In 1989, Massachusetts passed Ch. 516, “An Act Making It Unlawful to Discriminate on the Basis of Sexual Orientation,” making clear that our Commonwealth’s basic civil rights laws protect gay men and lesbians. Since then, 14 states have passed or amended their state anti-discrimination laws to protect gay and lesbian rights and have included transgender rights. Minnesota (1993); Rhode Island (2001); California and New Mexico (2003); Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, and Washington, DC (2005); New Jersey and Washington (2006); Colorado, Iowa, Oregon, and Vermont (2007).

My take on all this is that Massachusetts Family Institute's practices are founded on lies, is morally bankrupt, and therefore cannot be trusted. They are nothing more than a group of bigots trying to perpetuate a time when they were free to discriminate against whom they chose without public opinion against them. America is growing in a direction that takes it away from such devisiveness, and into a direction that encourages individuals to embrace themselves for who they are. We in Massachusetts have been known for being the leaders of liberty and enlightenment since before our nation's existance. Giving equality and protection under the law is not just the morally responsible thing to do, it's one of our founding principles that our Constitution calls for.

Hate Speech On Campus? Should it be allowed?

Framingham State College is allowing the Young Conservatives to sponsor a speaker who will spread hateful lies about the LGBT community on March 31.

The speaker, praised and promoted by MassResistance, a group recently deemed a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, will be giving a speech about his upcoming book The Born Gay Hoax.

Call Student Life:
(508) 626-4616

Click here to contact Framingham State.

Watch Ryan Sorba Speak at another College on Google Video.

Cheers & Jeers

Cheers to Barney Frank for supporting the decriminalization of Pot. (Still in the doghouse for splitting ENDA though!)

Jeers to Hillary Clinton for keeping the pressure on Obama over his Pastor Rev. Wright - a pro-gay fighter for social justice who has been smeared by the media.

Jeers to Quebec for ending Sex Ed!

Cheers to the Boston Pride Committee for choosing the most progressive theme of the options presented. (Now let's cut down on the corporate nature of this event!)

What are your cheers & Jeers?

Making political sense of an "outraged sensibility": Whiteness, Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama

Some white people, including white queers, in this country (and still, far too few of us white people) have chosen to work for social justice, including racial justice. Some actively oppose the structures that prevent people from living life on their terms. Some come out of the privilege-closet for protecting voting rights, preventing discrimination, fighting for poor people's self-determination, and supporting political candidates that reflect their values.

Fewer white people enliven their commitment to freedom and fuller humanity by re-learning history. Re-learning the history of this country enhances attempts to show up and confront injustice alongside those who live it, inherit it and never forgot it the first time. Re-education puts our hope and individual actions into a movement-building context. Without this re-education, the recent conflict between Pastor Jeremiah Wright and Senator Barack Obama has the potential to confuse, alarm and upset white people--those who support Obama and those who don't.

In his article, "Of National Lies and Racial Amnesia: Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama, and the Audacity of Truth," one white guy, Tim Wise, a long-time and well-respected white antiracist writer-educator (, really helped me connect the historical struggles to the current political landscape embedded in this conflict and escape the vacuum of the monolithic media frenzy. He provides an opportunity for a piece of this re-education right here and now. So, if you're white like me and you like justice, read this article--it might be helpful in working for change with sincerity and simultaneously, continuing to question the pre-established ways of being American and white.

Here is the link to the article:

These are some questions that came up for me while reading: What happens when political leaders who offer up hope for the vision of justice suddenly say something I know isn't true? How can I be sincere in my commitment to anti-racist movement building when it doesn't make me feel "nice"? How do I both act in support of individual political leaders of color and also, refuse to again accept inaccurate retellings of the past and mis-representations of a minister of color's anger? How do I share both my outrage toward injustice and my hope for the future?

What came up for you?

The 2008 Boston Pride Theme

Your votes made a difference. Boston Pride chose the most progressive of the themes they presented as options. With just 500 votes cast, there is no doubt the QueerToday community made an impact. This year's umbrella theme leaves the door open for discussion about the issues we care about in our community. I'm down with the environmental justice aspect as well.

Now, let's keep encouraging the Pride committee to gather smaller local sponsors and shed the big corporate folks who work against our interests.

From NewEnglandBlade:

Pride 2008 Theme: Sustaining Our Community, Conserving Our World

At its Tuesday, March 18 meeting, the Boston Pride Committee ended months of speculation, debate and online voting with the announcement that the theme that 2008 Parade marching groups must somehow embody will be: "Sustaining Our Community, Conserving Our World."
The committee has already committed to a number of environmentally-sensitive initiatives: renting office space in a green-certified building, requiring parade and festival applications to be submitted online only, and encouraging parade-goers to carpool or take public transit during Pride Week, which begins June 6 with a flag-raising at City Hall. The committee is also asking parade participants to partner with local "green" groups and businesses.
"Boston has always been progressive, and here we go being progressive again," said Pride Committee President Linda DeMarco, who added that going green this year will be "a huge task for us as an all-volunteer group."
But "green" is not the only way the committee is imagining groups will approach defining "sustainability." Cale Moore, who is the chair of the merchandising sub-committee, said the word could be used to describe issues like health care and social reform.
"We want to encourage our community to think about these things and how they affect the world," said Moore.

HRC Makes Deal with Bush?

Here is one I don't remember hearing about.


HRC was criticized by gay activists when the group's leaders announced that the organization would be softening its demands for equal rights and consider making political bargains, such as supporting President George W. Bush's plan to privatize Social Security partly in exchange for the right of gay partners to receive benefits under the program. [23] [24]"

This is as sick as it gets.
HRC considers selling out all of the people who would be harmed by privatizing social security - all of the working and middle class - so that their rich constituents could get partner benefits. I suppose it is no surprise considering their corporate sponsors like Shell Oil company and Washington Mutual. Is it starting to make sense why they endorsed John McCain's bff and warmonger Joe Lieberman?

Join our HRC Doesn't Speak for Me Facebook group today.

Read more about how HRC stayed silent about issues concerning HIV/AIDS and sold out our community time and time again>

Damn You Rich!

Guest Post:
by "devilstower" (see more by this DailyKos blogger)

Damn you rich! You already have your compensation.

Damn you who are well-fed! You will know hunger.

Damn you who laugh now! You will weep and grieve.

Damn you when everybody speaks well of you!

A rant from a radical preacher? Without a doubt. Someone on the Obama campaign? Well, Sen. Obama says so. That's the Scholars Translation of Luke 6:24-26, and the speaker is Jesus of Nazareth.

In the King James Version, the first part of Luke 6:24 reads "But woe unto you that are rich!" That comes off as quaint and a lot less shocking to modern ears -- not the kind of preaching that nets you space on Fox News. But Jesus meant his words to be shocking. He meant them to strike against the status quo and shake up the comfortable.

God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human.

God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme.

That's Jeremiah Wright.

Is the vision of a pastor standing in his pulpit shouting "God damn America" shocking? Yes. But don't mistake Wright's (or Jesus') statement for what some drunk in a bar would mean using the same phrasing. Wright isn't saying "FU America!" he's saying "these actions of America are worthy of God's condemnation." He's just saying it in a way that cuts through the Sunday morning sleepiness and makes people sit up in their pew.

From Gandhi to King, it's in the nature of spiritual leaders to grab their audiences by the throat and their nations by the short hairs. This was true at the time of the Civil War and during the Civil Rights movement. Martyrs did not become martyrs by appealing to the status quo.

Don't take this to mean that I agree with every word that Wright spoke (e.g. the United States did not create AIDS), but neither do I feel like his words require that "his church should lose it's tax exempt status" that he's a traitor, or that he's an embarrassment to his church or to Senator Obama -- all comments that have appeared on this site.

Do I think that 9/11 was the "chickens coming home to roost?" Yeah, I pretty much do. Of course the terrorists bear the personal responsibility for their actions and the deaths that resulted. But to pretend that decades of actions overseas had nothing to do with that terrible morning is far more delusional than anything said by Rev. Wright. If you jab a stick into a hornet's nest and shake it for fifty years, the hornets might do the stinging, but you can't blame only the hornets. Actions have consequences, and though we may pretend to both purity of motive and prescience about outcomes, the truth is that violence tends to generate violence in return. Or, as that radical I quoted above said "those who take up the sword, will die by the sword."

The purpose of a good sermon isn't to placate, ease, and make people comfortable. A dangerous religion isn't one that challenges people and makes them squirm. Makes them angry. A dangerous religion is one that is too amicable to what you already think, one that pats you on the head and sends you forth in assurance of your own righteousness. If you want to search for "traitors" in the pulpit, turn your eye toward those who never find anything wrong in the actions of this nation.

I understand why Senator Obama finds it necessary to distance himself from Rev. Wright. There were plenty of things in those sermons that I don't agree with, and I'm suspect many of the ideas that grate on my nerves also strike the Senator as either wrong or unsustainable politically. These days, three isolated words on the news seem far more important than context or intent. But I wish he didn't have to do so.

Because getting your personal beliefs regularly challenged, rather than reinforced, is important.

Save San Francisco Queer Nightlife!

Guest post by Trevor Hoppe (blog)

SF Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Sophie Maxwell have put forward legislation that would effectively kill independent queer nightlife in San Francisco. The bill, "would require anyone who promotes two or more events a year to obtain a permit, and would enable police to determine who to hold accountable for a security plan, any health or safety rule violations, or creation of a public nuisance."

More importantly, it would require event promoters to provide proof of at least ONE MILLION DOLLARS in liability insurance!!!! One Million Dollars!!!

The best queer nightlife in San Francisco would be killed under this new legislation. How can indie queer organizers afford this costly burden? They couldn't. The parties would be over.

This kind of regulation and government encroachment on queer lives -- along with real estate development -- has been destroying gay nightlife in cities across the US. We've seen the closure of some of the most famous clubs in the country over the past five years: Club Universe in San Francisco; The Roxy in New York; Backstreet in Atlanta; Nation in DC -- just to name a few!

Tell Supervisor Maxwell and the Entertaintment commission that this legislation is bullshit and should be killed ASAP. Contact Maxwell here -- and here's the Entertainment Commission's contact info:

Entertainment Commission City Hall, Room 453 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place San Francisco, CA 94102

Phone: (415) 554-4539
Fax: (415) 554-7934


Robert Davis, Executive Director
(415) 554-7793 voice
(415) 554-7934 fax

Jocelyn Kane, Deputy Director
(415) 554-5793 voice
(415) 554-7934 fax

Audrey Joseph, Chair
City Hall, Room 453
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102

To leave a message for any Entertainment Commissioner, please call (415) 554-6678.

Anti-Immigrant Neanderthals Strike Again

Racist Providence Store Owner Demands Latin@s' Social Security Card

"You shall not pervert the justice due to a resident alien..." Deuteronomy 24:17

"The resident alien who lives with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were resident aliens in the land of Egypt; I am YHWH your God." Leviticus 19:34

From the Providence Journal:
'All José Genao planned to do at the heating equipment supply store was buy a spare part for his boiler.

While the owner began searching for the part, Genao and his friend began speaking to each other in Spanish.

As owner David C. Richardson was ringing up Genao’s $18 purchase, he demanded to see their Social Security cards.

...When Genao told Richardson “he did not have the right to ask all those questions,” Richardson pulled out a membership card for Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement, a group that seeks curbs on illegal immigration.

Then, he lifted the phone receiver and threatened to call immigration authorities, Genao said.

“He [Richardson] grabbed the phone and said, ‘I can call ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] anytime I see an illegal immigrant,’ ” said Genao. “He also said, ‘I can make a citizen’s arrest.’ 

... Genao, a Rhode Island state employee, is a native of the Dominican Republic and a U.S. citizen. He speaks fluent English. He said his friend — who declined comment — is also a Dominican native and U.S. citizen. “There is no problem with his status,” said Genao. “He is legal.” State records list both as registered voters. '

Folks, this is where anti-immigrant rhetoric takes us. Every Spanish speaking person and Latin@ person is a suspect. It is tempting to focus on the fact that American citizens were harassed and make that the injustice, but the evil here is the racism and anti-Latin@ sentiment that go along with anti-immigrant hysteria. You cannot separate the two. Anti-immigrant activists like to say that this is just about the law and enforcing the law--as if people who vehemently oppose "illegal immigration" were busting down the doors to make legal channels for immigration a lot easier. Rather, ideas about how "those people" are stealing jobs or causing crime or straining our social system lie behind "illegal immigration" rhetoric (as the article makes clear). So cut the bullshit--this is not about law; it's about your distaste for Latin@ immigration. And that is why we rightly call the anti-immigrant movement racist.

When the right-wingers were scouring the Bible for anti-gay passages, in their haste to cite Leviticus 18:22; 20:13--the infamous "you shall not lie with a man as with a woman" passage--they seem to have skipped some verses that pose some problems for their political foolishness. Biblical passages, including some in the very book used to condemn queer people, repeatedly support justice and kind treatment for immigrants. Even an ancient West Asian despotism had some concept of decent treatment of immigrants, but it's obviously too much to ask for America--you know, the Christian nation. Excuse me--"Judeo-Christian" nation (snickers sarcastically)

The notion that this country should be hostile to foreigners is barbaric and stoops to levels even ancient peasant societies condemned. Decent and ethical people should expect and demand hospitable treatment for immigrants.

Call for Proposals: Translating Identity Conference

Just passing on this call for proposals for the sixth annual
Translating Identity Conference (TIC), which will take place on November
8th, 2008, at the University of Vermont.

TIC is a student-run event (free and open to the public)
that focuses on gender and gender identities. We hope to reach out to
the University of Vermont, the Burlington community, and the nation as a
whole to educate us all further on transgender and gender non-conformant
topics. Check out our website, for more information, or email us at

Guerrilla Queer Bar to Take Over Faneuil Hall Bar

Boston: Guerrilla Queer Bar takes over predominately straight venues.

Call your grandmother and rally your friends...Get ready for GQB's biggest takeover yet!

This friday at 9pm, we'll be taking over the nation's oldest bar - The Bell In Hand. While we're sure they've seen plenty in their 213 year history, they ain't seen nothin' yet!

The party starts at 9pm, but with our numbers there's sure to be a line, so show up early.

Its right in the Quincy Market area, so you can get there easily from either the Government Center or the Haymarket T Stops."

MA Trans Rights Bill Hearing Updates

Trevor Wright Reports from the State House:


  • Over 100 supporters of HB1722 already in attendance.
  • Deval Patrick will submit testimony. Says he had daughter proof read it for him.
  • Martha Coakley to submit testimonial in favor of the bill.
  • Brian from the anti-gay MassNews asked for Trans Rights Sticker. Response: "That will be a dollar donation to MTPC."
Read New England Blade's Report>

Read Bay Windows Full Report>

Take Action! Hearing on Trans Rights Tuesday March 4

The Joint Committee on the Judiciary has scheduled an open hearing on HB1722, “An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes” for the afternoon of Tuesday, March 4 at the State House. It is scheduled for room A-1, but may get moved to Gardner Auditorium. Those wishing to testify in support of this legislation should sign in by 1PM and plan to be there for the entire afternoon. MTPC will have people there to guide and help you. Read More at MTPC>

Call or email your legislator TODAY and ask them to support H.B. 1722.

To Call:
1. To find out who your State Representative and State Senator are, and to get their phone number, go to and type in the address where you are registered to vote: You want to call your "Senate in General Court" and "Rep in General Court."

2. Calling Script:
Hello, my name is______, and I am a constituent of Representative/Senator______. I am calling because I would like him/her to support House Bill #1722, An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes. This bill simply expands the existing non-discrimination statutes to include protection from discrimination based on gender identity and expression. Will Representative/Senator ______ support this bill?

GRAGGER: Radical Purim Party!


Workmen's Circle First Annual Radical Purim Party

Celebrating Gender Justice!

Saturday, March 22


At Community Church of Boston

565 Boylston Street

Sliding scale $10-20

All Ages Event Honoring Keshet and Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition

Music by Zili Misik, DJ D'hana, and What Cheer Brigade!

Performance! Costume Contest!

The Gragger, the Jewish Noisemaker, is traditionally used to drown out the names of our foes. On this night, we'll make some serious noise in a rowdy call for justice and joy!

WANT TO PERFORM AT GRAGGER? Online casting call starts today! Let us know if you want to be considered for a main part – or want to have a ton of fun as part of the general cast! Email

Where Killas Get Hung: Anti-Queer Violence in Jamaica

We can go to the tropics
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 island of Jamaica. The stories of murder, cruelty and mob-violence are gut-wrenching and the rhetoric coming from Jamaican churches, political leaders and ordinary citizens is frightening. Let me reiterate that I support the use of violence for self-defense and if that is an option queer Jamaicans are considering, they should have our full support.

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 West Indes scholar by any stretch of the imagination, but I can tell you as a religious studies student that to simply say that “Christianity” is causing the problem is incredibly naïve. Religious expressions are tied to social and economic factors—and this is true regardless of whether we are talking about the ancient world (my area of study) or the modern world.

A political response to anti-queer violence in Jamaica requires careful attention to economic and social issues in Jamaica—something I have seen precious few commentators on anti-queer violence in Jamaica address. On the other hand, I have seen plenty of stereotypes about Jamaica and the Third World that are, if not outright racist, are borderline racist.

Jamaica has one of the lower poverty rates among “Third World” countries and it seems to have experienced economic growth over the last few years. But class stratification, lack of opportunity, crime and even poverty remain large problems. Kingston has the second highest murder rate in the world, so many people—not just queers—are killed violently on a regular basis. I suspect, and again I must emphasize that I am not a West Indes scholar, that anti-queer violence has the same roots as these other expressions of violence and is tied to the broader social problems faced by Jamaica. As Jamaican-born lesbian poet Staceyann Chin put it:

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 Jamaica’s economy is extraordinarily misguided. Besen, who has great faith in the power of American gays to affect the economy of foreign countries, says, “It is time to hand an ultimatum to Jamaica's public officials: Stop allowing rampant abuse of gay people or your economy will be crippled.” Not only does the imperialistic tone of this statement slap you in the face, it shows that Besen could care less about the social factors that may be the cause of anti-queer violence. For all we know, an economic crisis in Jamaica might actually make the situation worse for queer people by exacerbating the island’s social problems!

This isn’t the first time the white-dominated gay community in Europe and the US have responded to Jamaican homophobia. In the early 2000s, Peter Thatchell, a gay activist in Jamaica's former colonial master, organized protests against violently homophobic lyrics in Jamaican reggae and hip-hop. Some raised concerns about whether or not these protests were playing into anti-black images and stereotypes in Britain and did not appreciate the complexity of the social situation in Jamaica. But such concerns fell on deaf ears. Apparently, Thatchell argued that people should just fall in line with his (Eurocentric) analysis and response to homophobia in Jamaica.

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 Jamaica—if that is a concern of theirs. We could also express solidarity with indigenous queer organizations in Jamaica (like J-FLAG) by providing them with whatever support we can. Perhaps, instead of calling for boycotts, Besen could call for fundraisers for queer Jamaican organizations and groups.

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 Metropolitan Community Church’s response per se, but I do believe that all people who want to show solidarity with queer Jamaicans should show that they are working in consultation with queer Jamaicans.

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 United States to dictate to queer Jamaicans what they “need” and how to “help” them.

See also Staceyann Chin's "On Leaving Jamaica" and her interview on

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.”