Human beings have always been afraid of the things they don’t understand. We are born different, with different attractions, different tastes. As far as I know, there are homosexuals in every nation. Unfortunately, common practices and beliefs in communities across the globe refuse to accept homosexuality. According to statistics, one person out of ten is born with homosexual attraction, which means we all have a brother, a sister, an uncle, a niece, a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker who is inclined to same-sex attraction. A lot of people are trying to keep this aspect of their life a secret because of shame and fear of discrimination, but having a sexual orientation that differs from the mass population is nothing to be ashamed of.
Let's face it, who would believe that homosexuals woke up one morning and asked themselves, "How could I complicate my life? Oh yeah, got it! A different sexuality!" It just doesn't make sense.
Some say it’s just a matter of logic. A man must go with a woman for procreation. This I admit, for procreation. But let’s put it this way: in the course of the average sex life, procreation may represent as low as 0.01% of sexual activities. The rest being for reason of personal and mutual pleasure. No one needs to feel obliged to live a certain way, because society tries to impose it. Above and beyond the physical contact, homosexuality between two women or two men is about love. Some people often tend to put homosexuality, pedophilia and bestiality in the same basket. This is totally unfair. Homosexual acts imply two consenting adults, as is not the case in the two other practices. I find pedophilia and bestiality immoral and non-acceptable.
In order to encourage a greater acceptance, we need to talk about homosexuality at home and in schools. When I was in high school, I remember that only one teacher talked about homosexuality for about 10 minutes. That wasn't enough for me to be able to understand my sexuality, but at least it was a start. That was 20 years ago. I hear they talk a lot more about it now – a sign that times are changing. Having role models in show business that are openly gay has had a positve impact on addressing the discrimination problem. There are also movies and TV shows that have gay characters. To help the community, there are several gay help lines. There are also gay pride parades and annual walks where several thousands gay and straight people unite for one cause: eradicating homophobia. These events occur in large cities.
I don’t condemn the whole dancehall movement. I think there are some great songs and great singers. One thing really strikes me: the number of songs written by the same singers on the subject. It's like an obsession, talking about homosexuality. It reminds me of the theory that one who yell the loudest against gays and lesbians are often homosexuals that cannot deal with their own sexuality. The only way their social context allows them to express themselves about a different kind of sexuality is through negativity. This theory seems true to me, as I've witnessed this behavior with two people I've met in my life: they later admitted being attracted to same sex partners. The majority of my friends are not gay and like many other heterosexuals, they find these violent homophobic songs stupid and sick. Let's not forget that dancehall is often listened by children and teenagers, who can be easily influenced. DJs in the Caribbean and elsewhere must responsibilized themself: they must realise that they are an important link in their community and that the promotion of violence is unaccceptable. If you are a DJ and you read this, I have a section on this website where you can pledge not to promote violence [see MANIFESTO]. The more people that sign this, the more will want to contribute.
The peak for the amount of songs promoting violence towards gays and lesbians was reached between 1998 and 2004. The situation has improved in recent years, mostlikely because LGBT organisations in Europe, North America and the Caribbean have made a lot of pressures. Unfortunately, these songs are still available for sale on Amazon, iTunes and orther records stores. In recent year, Jamaican artist Mista Majah P have taken the lead through music in addressing tolerance towards gays. Unfortunatley, Jamaican medias have mostly ignored his crusade. He deserve a lot of recognition for walking through this rough path. Tanya Stephen have also made a song that preached tolerance in 2006. I’m positive some other Jamaican signers might have already considered a similar aproach, but probably backed out because it might tarnish their career. The first reggae singer that I recall speaking positively about homosexuality was Lucky Dube, during an outdoor concert in Montreal. Probably because South Africa is ahead on equal rights. Many other reggae singers have voiced their opinion in interviews about this topic, sometimes in a positive way. You can read their views in the 'COMMENTS FROM THE INDUSTRY' section of this website. I’m positive that if Bob Marley was alive he would not have tolerated the degradation of the situation as it is today.
I'll finish by mentioning few facts: Did you know that homosexuality also occurs in the animal kingdom? The book Biological Exuberance exposes homosexuality, transgender, and nonreproductive heterosexuality in 450 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, and other animals worldwide. Did you know that in 1996, South Africa became the most progressive country in the world, at least on paper, when Nelson Mandela's governemnt established the post-apartheid constitution's Bill Of Rights? A constitution banning descrimination against gays, lesbians, transsexuals and bisexuals. Two years later, the old British Colonial Law against sodomy, used to prosecute gays and now found unconstitutional, was struck down by the court. Nelson Mandela is one of the greatest black leaders of the 20th century, appreciated by African communities all around the world. I think the Jamaican government could surely use some tips from the new South African constitution's Bill Of Rights.
Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights. As far back as 1979, AI recognized that "the persecution of persons for their homosexuality is a violation of their fundamental rights". The organisation uses the Bob Marley song Get Up Stand Up as their official anthem.
Thanks to all of you who are supporters of the cause, and to all the organisations that put on a daily fight for the protection of our right to freedom. If you have any feedback, please e-mail me.
May this website be a seed that flourishes in the future.
e-mail: irieites72 (at) yahoo (dot) ca
PS1: this Editorial was writen in August 2005 and partly revised in Spring 2012.
PS2: If you feel concerned by this issue, you could make a donation to J-FLAG (Jamaican Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays). Any contribution would greatly contribute to a better and a safer place for Jamaican gays and lesbians in which to evolve.
PS3: If you wish to visit the other reggae websites that I've created, click on the link section of the main website SoulRebels.org