The Binariness of Jamaica and LGBT activism

Something just hit me, Jamaicans are not very inclined to multiplicity, everything is either black or white and either or:

  • JLP or PNP
  • church or rumbar most churches per square footage, most rumbar and entertainment spaces per square footage.
  • Man or woman

Could it be our forefathers made a booboo when they said ‘Out of many’ or were they simply trying to impress on us the importance of diversity and multiplicity. The only group that seems to have a better foot in on the notion of multiplicity is Jamaican men who its seems are able to ‘gal inna bungle’, yes, sexually we have mastered multiplicity, how do we get this skill to be transferred to other areas of our life…hmmmm…thinking point.

In particular, I want to share my frustration with LGBT activism in Jamaica, perhaps due my unsophisticatedness, I can’t see anything but frustration. I am one who believes in sharing exactly where you are, as we are not all at the same place, and it is only in sharing that we can see and attract the kind of help or guidance that we need.

There are 2 agencies who over the years have provided support to the LGBT community. Jamaica AIDS Support for Life was established some 19 years ago to address the HIV epidemic that was affecting mostly gay men at the time (this was the situation all over the world and not just unique to Jamaica, gay men were adversely affected by HIV in the beginning of the epidemic). Way before any national response addressing the issue, 5 brave souls decided to do what they could, and started loving people and creating a family for people infected and affected. Years later, they realised that in order to protect the organisation from homophobic sentiments, they needed to set up a separate organisation to handle the issues of LGBT life and human rights and Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-sexuals Gays (JFLAG) was born, each with distinct but intersecting purposes. The organisations had programmes that facilitated social interaction and personal development for the otherwise parent-less Jamaican LGBT, addressing social and psychological impact of being gay in Jamaica.


SUDDENLY! THE ORGANISATIONS DECIDE THEY CANNOT DO THIS ANYMORE! This dissonance is experienced in the way they interact with their ‘constituents’, and has now made it to the public media where in a recent article JFLAG was represented as not being able to deal with and distancing themselves from homeless gay men, with rowdy behavior and prostitution as their vices. Each time these issues come up, I find myself with sleepless nights and pain, as my frustration mounts, and I get vocal about the issues, I am not vocal to personally attack anyone as many would think, nor am I blame throwing. The fact is our activism and opportunity to politically activate is binary in nature, and just like mainstream politics and social culture, the response is either JFLAG or JASL. Simple. Individuals have admonished that we need to do something now and this frustrates me as well, I had grand ideas of doing without the binary masters of JFLAG and JASL and like many other failed political attempts to change the 2-party political system, my attempts have left me financially destitute but with a clearer appreciation of the realness of our binary culture.

Ah nuh suh it werk.

A knee-jerk reaction or some people coming together is the way of the past. Any initiative must be multi-sectoral and thought through and it must have longevity, it must be strategic or it really and truly makes no sense. We look to JFLAG and JASL because they have the political pull and expertise needed to put a multi-sectoral effort into play. It is time we stop the pussy-footing around, Uriel and I are activists as well, not trouble-makers or chattimouts as many would say behind our backs, we have to ensure that the agencies with the political pull, develop the political will. We have availed ourselves to be a part of this process over and over, I see that Uriel was contacted to be part of the process, I certainly wasn’t but whatever, you cannot ignore or take for granted the grass roots contribution to the conversation, if you wont include the loud-mouth offensive lesbian, at least include the loud-mouth offense gay man…anyone who knows anything about LGBT activism know that Uriel and myself not only have our fingers on the pulse but also on the people. I wrote to JFLAG requesting information on the strategy for this unique opportunity we have/had with ministers, police and corporate Jamaica to sensitize them to the issues, build local support, and was flatly turned down, with a curt ‘We will try to keep you informed’, the information came by way of an article which basically authorises further discrimination of gay people, authenticated by the gay political party – JFLAG. It is our right to express our disappointment in the ‘dragging over coals’ of our marginalised and yes for funders ‘extremely vulnerable to HIV group’.

With that being said, do not try to make a pappy show out of the situation by saying that WE (as individuals) need to start something now…that is a joke. This is not the 80’s where information was lacking, there should be no question of our commitment to address…we have been doing so with our own (not donor) funds, any attempt to address must take SOUND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES. Sad to say this is not something that should be done from the HEART, I am tired of hearing this shit, this must be done properly…I have seen the HEART harbour feelings of personal entitlement, get greedy or simply overwhelmed, the issues are a lot, and they are dangerous, it needs a multi-sectoral commitment. Not having that multi-sectoral commitment, or the political will from the only organisations politically-able is what renders the entire system weak. We don’t need to start over building a wheel when one has been functioning for over 18 years and is known world wide…we need to ensure that the wheel we have works!


5 thoughts on “The Binariness of Jamaica and LGBT activism

  1. Michael Jackson said “start with the man in the mirror” we are segregated amongst out selves and divided by class. Until we can resolve the internal politics , won’t be able to affect the wider world.

      • Thank you very much. Its heart rending to look at our current position. What we fsil to realise is that if opportunity doesn’t come knocking, we have to create it. As tanya stephen says “if the ball nah roll, we haffi kick it”.

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