Thursday, April 23, 2009

Boycott Against Institutionalized Bigotry

I long to live in a world where individuals will instinctively stand up for the rights of others. This is but a far-fetched dream, stymied by the self-interests of moralizers who are blinded by their culture, and who refuse to recognize that there can be no excuse for institutionalized violence, or the lethargic efforts used to mitigate such violence. The recent boycott efforts of the BoycottJamaica group instantly caught my attention, and I was initially outraged by their efforts, which I believed to be misguided and doomed to failure. Today, I believe differently. We simply cannot keep finding excuses for maintaining the status quo; we have to do something!

The hatred perpetuated against homosexuals, and the reasoning used to support such attitudes, are no longer secrets. Everyday, in communities across the world, people live in fear, only because they have an attraction to people of the same sex. Society doesn't understand these people, and the bible explicitly says their lifestyles are abominable, and so the land must be purged of them. Now I wonder, how many people with this view know a homosexual? And I don't mean, oh they've seen one on tv- not many I bet. It's incredulous that I have to state this, but I will- you haven't met one yet, not because they are rare, unnatural members of the human world, but because the majority of them fear being ostracized by their families and their societies, and if you are from Jamaica, or any of the other notoriously homophobic societies, for their lives. Homosexuality is not viewed as a variance of human sexuality, but as a purposeful choice against what is most natural. I can't imagine why anyone would
choose to lead a life of shame and fear...It's so frustrating for me to be writing this, because I don't know what I need to say to homophobes to convince them that their violent regard for homosexuals has no rational basis; that their attitudes towards queer identified individuals is a most obvious display of their poor understanding of human gender identity and sexual expression. People are not simply male or female based on their genitalia, and they do not fit prescribed gender roles and sexual orientations because you desire it to be so. The reality is much more complex than we have been led to believe in the Jamaican education system.

The Jamaican government needs a wake up call, because it currently speak out against homosexuality as though there are no homosexuals in Jamaica. It's always "the lobbyists" in north America attacking Jamaican values. This is no simple matter, and it must be dealt with in earnest. Unfortunately, the many people who believe in advocating for a change in the government's position continue to shy away, because they do not want to be implicated as sexual deviants. This is somewhat understandable, but what is the alternative? Let us have the gay men in Jamaica organize a pride march through Kingston, because they are best able to lobby for their rights in a most oppressive context. You do not need to be black to be a black rights activist, and you do not need to be a woman to be a women's rights activist. All you need is a conscience, which many of us seem to have lost on our evolutionary trail to the present day. Where are the feminist groups advocating for greater representation of women in government, and better harassment and sexual abuse laws to protect women? Where are the liberal groups speaking our against legal moralism, and the crippling hold it has on the archaic laws of our land? Where are the Human Rights advocates who are brave enough to declare war on the government, for maintaining laws that actively discriminate against a minority group in the nation? Jamaicans are so expressive, so open, so loud. Why is it that we only hear the church bellowing discriminatory garb down our throats? The few organizations just as Jamaicans for Justice are representing a cause that is so important, that their voice should be more powerful. More of us needs to join the chorus of these organizations.

Jamaica is in the spotlight once more, and the time is ripe for us to express to our government that it needs to defend the rights of all Jamaicans. Liberty, and equal protection under the law are touted as inalienable rights in the Jamaican constitution, but so many are without it- and they have no chance of attaining it without powerful, orchestrated efforts by those who recognize this need.

The Boycott Jamaica campaign is playing a part in this process. I would never ask someone to boycott Jamaican products, but I do not refrain from telling of the painful realities faced by many queer Jamaicans. I have read one too many chilling tales of gays and transsexuals being beaten, and burnt, as sanctioned by our communities, for me not to be outraged and fed up with the situation. If they use their consciences to decide that they do not want to support Jamaica in any way, then that's their choice to make. I will not refrain from educating people, based solely on concerns about the imminent destitution of already struggling Jamaicans.

The state has no business regulating the private, intimate lives of its citizens, and that is exactly what the buggery law seeks to do. If we are as concerned about the family as we claim to be, then maybe its time to create laws that support mandatory DNA testing for men who refuse to claim their children, born to women outside of their marital unions. Perhaps too it is appropriate to imprison women who have more than 6 children, who remain without a job, for they put the livelihoods of Jamaican children at risk, in a manner that should not be tolerated. You see, we don't understand why we hate homosexuals anymore. For the reasons we come up with today are easily contradicted by our own deviant lifestyles, and our laxity towards activities that directly influence the continued erosion of Jamaican society.

People often claim that homosexuals are predators, actively seeking to lure unsuspecting young boys into illicit affairs. This is but one of the many myths purported by the aggressors, in demonizing a group of individuals they know nothing about. The BoycottJamaica campaign is taking an affirmative stance against such destructive stereotyping. If you disagree with their approach, talk to them; tell them what you would like them to do instead. I'm tired of hearing people say "stop the boycotts", without offering viable solutions to address the problems at hand. Inaction is not an option. If resocialization, and education is what people need to overcome their puritanical and often downright bigoted views, then that we must do from within Jamaica. It is simply not appropriate to make judgments and critiques of other people's approach, while we sit on our asses and do nothing to mend a tattered ("tear-op tear-op" works better) social fabric.

ATAKLAPS AGO BOS!!! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH MAN!!! I am launching a personal boycott against Jamaica's institutionalized bigotry. We have international gay rights organizations dictating the parameters of the debate we need to have about the violent manifestations of Jamaican homophobia, because we have been silent for so long. Now we have some momentum going; let us not waste it.


  1. lawd mi couldn't say it better, poignant piece indeed.


  2. What a beautiful post. It did clear my mind as I was a bit hesitant in supporting and indeed advertising (which is what I intend to do) a boycott of Jamaica and in fact all countries plagued by state homophobia.

  3. i dont know how to communicate with you other than by posting a comment. maybe theres an email address somewhere?
    I just wondered what do you think about the argument that a boycott would bring a backlash of violence against gay people in Jamaica seen as the cause of it all.

  4. @ GLBT Link Up: Glad to hear from you. I know this is a topic that you have engaged with also.

    @bohoco: Hey bohoco, thanks for stopping by. I am very glad that you are working to secure rights and freedoms for lesbians and gays around the world, and in Jamaica. We will need the support of as many people as possible, in this ambitious endeavour. I am weary of how you intend to participate in the boycott efforts, however. I have closely followed the efforts of the BoycottJamaica and am increasingly more critical of their approach. See my most recent post on the issue here:

    A sustained effort against the situation in Jamaica we must execute, but it can't all be coming from the outside. J-flag has been at odds with the organizers of the campaign since the very beginning, and I think it is important that we address the impasse before we continue.

    Backlash is inevitable, whenever a minority group is agitating for rights and protections. I fear though, the the backlash in Jamaica may be more severe, unless we find a way to bridge the current divide between foreign advocacy groups, and those in Jamaica. Otherwise, the efforts of groups like Outrage! and BoycottJamaica will be regarded as an imperialistic ploy akin to colonization, where the "enlightened" westerners sought to Christianize and educate barbarians in the "New World".

    Also, you may have noticed that the original post has been transferred to this blog. You will need to make the relevant changes (links and blog title) on your blog. Again, don't be a stranger to the blog. You opinion matters to me.

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