The vacuum nature hates: Grassroots activism

It is said you wont know what it feels like, until you have walked a mile in someone else’s shoe.

Drag Queens/Transgenders are perhaps the most maligned of the LGBT community, both within the community and within the straight world.  For a very base appreciation of who/what a drag queen transgender is, a drag queen is a born male who is happier and most comfortable dressed and being female.  This is a hard to swallow concept for many. why would a man want to dress and feel like a female? How is it that he only feels complete and whole if he walks and talks, looks and feels like a woman, and doing anything else would be fake?  Who knows, it is what it is, and perhaps the same confusion is the cause of the marginalisation of gay people, as straight people struggle to justify how a woman can please and love another woman, or how a man can find masculinity sexy. For many of us as gay people, being attracted to the same sex is what is natural for us, where attraction to the opposite sex is unnatural.  We would not feel complete or whole doing anything else?

The church says it is a demon, and perhaps like the inquisition against witches who were really normal women hunted and killed at stakes, the church orders/supports/influences such murders and then stay quiet while it happens.  Families are ashamed, and try to ignore the ‘signs’, but can not help but convey the disgust, whether influenced by their fear of their loved ones being hurt or the pain that maybe they did something to cause it.  The state ignores them and those sworn to serve and protect, abuse.  A mile in these shoes would leave anyone with severe corns, manifested in anger, resentment, abandonment, hate and perhaps all the trappings of a wild life, living without the opportunity to have or believe in dreams…a constant nightmare.

Amber Rose:

I had the opportunity to meet one of the most beautiful young promising gay men, just entering the scene about 3 years ago…Rojae, he had the sweetest shy smile, gorgeous skin, nice body…clean and pretty attending school, not knowing much gay men, hanging with a bunch of lesbians and begging for the chance to go to a gay party, even if its all girls.  I turned him down, because Pandora: The Magic City was strictly for women.  I saw him staring at this pretty pink princess looking short dress, he wanted to try it on, giggling and blushing all the way…I zipped the dress up on him in the changing room, taking sad note of how excited he was to be in the closet at the back of the store, see himself in a pretty pink pumpkin dress.  Looking at him, I never imagined his eyes would light up as much at the thought of putting on a dress, I had met the issues of transgenders and the struggles involved in living in the skin they knew was not theirs as it didn’t match how they felt inside.  Seeing the peace in the smile of someone who is allowed to settle into themselves is heart warming and Rojae warmed my heart.  I lost touch with him for a while, and then turned up Amber Rose…fierce drag queen very unlike his alter-ego in attitude, great dresser but unfortunately always in arguments and fights.  The transformation from Rojae to Amber was hugely contrasting…night and day, black and white.  In our 30 minute discussion about the incident at Bargain Mall, on Saturday October 13th, I tried to understand what happened.  Rojae/Amber is now 19 years old, and has been living the fast and furious life of Jamaican drag queen.  He has never been exposed to programmes at JASL or JFLAG (the leading agencies with access to and ‘working ‘ with gay Jamaicans , it has been a long held criticism that JFLAG and JASL only works with certain classes/types of gay men…whiles the others (like Amber) are ignored/marginalised.

Drag Queens and Butches arguably face the most challenges in attempting to survive everyday in this homophobic society, the poor ones, without family support have it even harder.  In trying to find a solid enough base/launching pad in the absence of family and social acceptance from which to begin exploring life, the start off is usually shaky with support garnered from the available source of equally marginalised gay youth without guidance and launching pads.

When I asked Amber, what happened, what caused the change?  His simple reply without thought was:

‘Mi just fed up, Mi just fed up of straight people a tek disadvantage ah wi, and mi just feel like a stoppage must put to it, and that’s why mi a stand up fi my community and a defend my community’.

The reaction to Amber’s standing up to what is regular and expected by so many gay people is met with varied degrees from appreciation to outright disgust and anger.  Some people say the straight guy deserved what he got for attacking Amber and that they should start leaving gay people alone, saluting Amber for not backing down after being attacked in a club knowingly frequented by members of the LGBT community; while others are blaming Amber for her activities that will make straight people more mad at us.

According to Amber, she went into the club as she usually does, the bartender calls out to her, she wasn’t sure and turned to ask if the bartender actually called her, the answer was ‘no’. However, a straight patron decided to make his disgust with ‘battyman’ known and felt as he hurled a bottle at Amber.  The typical response would be for the gay man and every other gay person in the club (despite the ratio of gay to straight) to leave, with common sentiments of ‘this is Jamaica and we don’t belong here anyway’.   Not the evolved dragon Amber, she asked him what he knew of her and the guy threw another bottle, and the fraca began, Amber claims that in self defense she took out her weapon and stabbed the guy in his hand before he could hit her again.  She said she only became aware of the acid incident on leaving the mall and feeling her own skin as if it were set on fire.

Amber has single-handedly, and it would seem by some supernatural power and divine influence, at 19 years old, decided to take on this fight with straight people as she is simply ‘fed up’.  She is adamant that Jamaica is as homophobic because of the amount of illiterate people who populate it and that the government must recognise that gay people are people too and leadership is needed to address this.  She acknowledges JFLAG’s presence but believe that the ordinary gay and lesbian need to chip in, and stop running and hiding, as they are also part of the struggle for change.  She thinks more presence in the media, a peaceful and secured demonstration, as well as meetings with public and government officials sensitizing them to the plight of gay Jamaicans is what is needed now.  She is very aware, and though she won’t readily admit it, that many people see her and her attitude as a curse to the gays being accepted.  Despite that like Joan of Arc she is confident that this is something she must do, almost like its her purpose.

I shudder to think how this will turn out, will Amber get the support, guidance and partnership from JFLAG and the rest of the community to fulfill her passion for a Jamaica where gay people are free to be, or will her radical attitudes render her just another dead saint, who becomes a fable.   There are ripest opportunities in deepest darkness, it is just a matter of perspective, Amber has been on radio programmes and is willing to become a visible drag spokesperson, willing to do TV or whatever it takes to move this forward.  Would it be better if we engaged her, exposed her to the big picture and try to see if, where or how she might be able to positively help create the change, or will we operate as normal, ignoring the true issues but focusing on the personalities we like or don’t like, to the detriment of arriving at a solution that is for as much people as possible…inclusive and not marginalizing?

Whose call is it?  There is a vacuum.

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13 thoughts on “The vacuum nature hates: Grassroots activism

  1. I never understood the whole trans thing,not saying I understand now… But perhaps the picture is a bit clearer. I agree living in Jamaica as a drag/butch is extremely difficult, and tho I want to see a change I don’t think aggression is the way to go, I just think it will invoke more senseless attacks and violence against both communities, that we don’t need. I agree that more gays need to speak out especially those who are not apart of the marginalized segments of our population, but with the way things r now I don’t c how they would/ why they would. I really think the way to go is thru changing the stereotypes by acting the part and showing them gays r not demented, violent monsters, I believe that once we change the perception that the masses have of the community it will get alot better here! And then we can move 4ward. I understand the anger n frustration but please try to hold it in. Jamaica can change but Violence won’t do it

  2. Amber rose was banned from the venue by the owner it shouldn’t be there in the first place now what that fucking transvestite did was throw acid in a crowded area and trust me I’m furious I never ever had any beef with these things before but now for ever drop of acid that caught my skin I’m going to make sure he get the same number of bullets to his fucking suck wood face.

    • Thanks for expressing how you feel. I am very sorry that you got hurt 😦 very and I understand that you are angry. To be honest, I wish that your anger will subside and you will reconsider, although nothing can bring back your skin save plastic surgery. This whole situation is so unfortunate. When people get hurt or feel like they have to defend themselves all the time, and there are difficult incidents and war…unfortunately the innocent get hurt :(. This is not the first or last time that incidents have gone down in public not only in the gay community where the innocent got hurt.

      One of the major issues is that post this, there seems to be an all out alerted attack on ALL gay people, lesbians and gay men. Do we continue to fight each other or do we prepare for the bigger war out there as we try to stand up and stop allowing abuse from heterosexuals…

      Broken Hearted….just saying. I am so confused in all this..where to go what to do.

  3. Agggh boy see what I mean…that acid shit was malicious shlda byn the fight n done it deh suh! See n d ppl dem ask dem not to come back to dem place! Y dem cyaa respect ppl’s wishes to stay away frm them this whole thing could hve byn avoided had the respected ppl’s space… I knew it was sum provocation shit enuh, sum1 says Don’t come back a me place, dem must have a reason gay/str8 respect it damn disgusting

  4. This story is so sketchy! Did or did amber not throw acid at the guy? Did she really stab him? Where are we getting this acid story from? Killing amber won’t bring gratification to any one! Yuh skin done poil up aready! Y u ago kill smaddy fe dat? Yes ur mad but be smart! And stop being an ass. Going 2 prision 4 killin sum1 is not sensible. Anyhoo, I would like to know what rally went down coz here its sayin amber didn’t use no monkey lotion n then on the other hand I’m hearing that persons got burnt with the acid.

  5. Happy to report that i stand by Amber all the way…mi jus fuckin fed up at all this shit…mi sorry sey him neva blind…dem fuck str8 ppl yah need fi leave we the fuck along…why u ago trouble the chile all the chile did a do was lymine and enjoyin her self and u Mr duty HOMOPHOBIA deside fi show up inna the miggle and look weh u cuz u too bloodclaat nuff…. #averymadblacklesbianwoman

  6. To all gays and those who feel like they want to be. A 100 years from now you will be the same, bowing to your slave masters like your ancestors did in the past begging for a space in time to be seen and get fucked in your asses. And your kids and your kids kids will have the same faith that is why extremist groups exist we balance the mistake that you are and now is a time for you to experience full ethnic cleansing of your type we are of many military, teachers, chefs, doctors, police, street sweeper and this list “WILL GO ON”. WE ARE DONE WITH THE SHIT THAT YOU ALL ARE this is a war that your ancestors fought but never won because you kids are living the lifestyle of the enemy and it will never end no matter how much freedom you get from this government its we who will have the last say and now we say THE WAR IS ON.

    • THANK YOU FOR YOUR COMMENT.

      I PRAY THAT YOU WILL FIND PERSONAL HAPPINESS SO STRONG THAT WILL FILL THAT EMPTINESS YOU HAVE INSIDE OF YOU, AND ADJUST YOUR FEAR OF CHANGE AND GETTING TO A PLACE WHERE YOU BELIEVE THAT YOU ARE TRULY DIVINE AND THAT YOUR DIVINITY CANNOT BE THREATENED BY ANYTHING YOU ARE NOT. I PRAY YOU PEACE AND RECOGNITION OF SELF.

  7. While this is an interesting piece, I do need to call attention to two things. The first is the fact that your definition of a drag queen is incorrect. Drag is a performance, not a permanent lifestyle. Drag queens are men (or sometimes women) who wear women’s clothing and perform an extravagant show of femininity on stages, in parades, etc. They are actors, basically. Drag queens do not live their lives in drag as women. Transgender women, however, do and that is whom you are referring to with your definition. Transgender women are people born male but feel like and/or become women. Transgender men are people born female but feel like and/or become men.

    The second thing I need to call attention to is your incorrect gender pronoun usage. If your friend, Amber, transitioned into womanhood then it is disrespectful to call her a gay man or use male pronouns.

    Being a gay transgender man myself, I can attest to the fact that the LGBTQ+ community is more like the LGB community and TQ+ community. There is a severe disconnect, which I find interesting given that the Queer Rights Movement was kicked off by a transgender woman. Without going too deep into the politics of it all, since gays are the majority it became the Gay Rights Movement and transgender people were left in the dust. This is one of the reasons many people feel the trans community should detach from the rest and do their own work. This belief is also held due to the fact that while being lesbian, gay, or bisexual is a sexuality…being transgender is about gender identity—two very different things. Whether the transgender community goes off on its own or not, though, the gay and lesbian community does need to get it together and learn to be more accepting and inclusive if they want to be accepted and included themselves.

    • Thanks alot for your reply, and for the clarifications, I tried not to get as political with the information, I agree strongly with all your points, the transgender community is marginalised. Unfortunately, a lot of people see drag queens and transgenders as being the same thing. We rarely have an opportunity for the development or exposure of proper ‘drag’ performances locally, or even perhaps transgenders seem to perform everyday.

      Thanks again for your feedback. Keep it coming.

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