Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Gleaner on 'The Jamaican Gay Issue'

Does this venerable newspaper have an opinion on the 'homosexual issue'? Oftentimes, it publishes editorials slamming politicians and vigilante groups for perpetuating hatred, and using wanton violence against homosexuals. Other times, its pages are filled with poorly argued, homophobic rants without any disclaimer. The Flair this week includes an article entitled 'The Jamaican gay issue'. This inflammatory piece argues that violence against a minority group is acceptable when it is culturally sanctioned, and that crimes against gay men should not be taken seriously, because in all likelihood, the person was killed by their violence-prone lover.

Firstly, how is it logical to compare someone's choice to play cricket or baseball with their sexuality? The analogy is weak, when one considers that sexuality is an immutable human characteristic, and that homosexuality exists in every strata within every culture. When a country's laws and cultural practices sanction violence against a group of its people who have historically been marginalized, then I understand that foreign organizations will be moved to counsel us. Jamaicans are being hurt everyday- if not by physical violence, by feelings of guilt and shame about something that is normal. They feel that they do not belong in the country of their birth, and fear that mob murder is inevitable and imminent. Had the writer been the parent of a gay or lesbian child, I am sure s/he wouldn't support the status quo so vigorously. The world didn't stand by and wait during Apartheid, assuming that it was culturally acceptable to marginalize Black South Africans, so it'll have to wait till things change from within. People everywhere are able to identify injustice (or their perceptions of injustice) and will speak out against it in whatever capacity possible.

The writer ignorantly declares that foreigners should keep their baseball and allow Jamaicans to play their cricket. But, acknowledging someone's right to 'play baseball' has nothing to do with what game everyone else plays. To borrow from the weak analogy, why can't we play baseball and cricket in Jamaica, as we already are, albeit covertly? What s/he, and many others, fails to recognize is that there are thousands of gay men in Jamaica. This class of individuals does not have a powerful voice, and foreign groups have stepped in to help, so that this disenfranchised class can be acknowledged and one day guaranteed the rights that are offered to all Jamaican citizens, freedom from persecution and protection from the state. In the same way that it took great pressure from international organizations and nation states to overcome apartheid in South Africa, it might take a similar effort to dismantle the foundations of anti-gay rhetoric and action that flourishes on the island, and around the world. Cultural imperialism? Absolutely. Some things are just wrong. I accept that people can believe that homosexuality is sinful, but it cannot be okay to advocate for violence against a group of people.

Lastly, The Soloist supports the misconception that homosexuals are more violent than heterosexuals. This cannot be proved empirically, and belief in this libelous statement justifies police and government inaction in times when the rights of gay Jamaicans are being infringed. Typically, many have considered gay men only when they are casualties of homicide, or mob murder, so it is reasonable that they characterize gay men as jealous, violence-prone maniacs, or cross dressing, limp-wristed pseudo females- but these are stereotypes, and should be regarded as such. I do not doubt that there are gay men who were murdered by their lovers, but I will trust that the axe wielding lover is a minority, akin to their heterosexual counterparts, until I see evidence to the contrary. There has to be a rational voice in any discussion of homosexuality. The Soloist's published article gives credence to parochial propaganda. Through publishing this unsophisticated opinion piece, the Gleaner actively retrogresses from the advances it has made championing equal rights for all Jamaicans.


  1. I don't really see the point of the author comparing baseball to cricket. Is the author saying that Jamaicans are so bias/partisan they will not allow another sport to flourish in Jamaica. Which as you said, is already being played there.

    What the author failed to realize is that there are ton of gay men and women living in Jamaica, who want the fundamental right that is given to heterosexual individuals. They are clearly ignoring the motto that we are "out of many one people," and such if they castrate one group then they are defeating the motto of our country.

    Time will only tell when many Jamaicans will realize that their neighbors, their brothers, sisters or even parent are living a double life because of the way their society looks at them. What will they do then, preach death for their love one or will they see that the dogma they have been following for years is overrated.
    Only then will we see if their love will prevail or their hatred.

  2. Thanks for your comment seekdiansa. I have no issues with people arguing against homosexuality, but it's time we elevate the conversation beyond where it is now and argue more intelligently. Baseball vs Cricket? Seriously?

    To think that the writer of the piece is an employed journalist with Gleaner Jamaica.

  3. Wow! He is an employee of the gleaner. Interesting, at first I thought that the gleaner was the one of the only source of unbiased news in Jamaica. I think that Journalist kind of destroy what global reputation the gleaner may have.

  4. You were once of the impression that the Gleaner was unbiased? Yea, I don't think any news agency is "unbiased"- that's perhaps not possible. The Gleaner is definitely, in my opinion, the most balanced news source when it comes to matters that are as contentious as homosexuality, gay rights, and abortion.

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