There is homophobia all around the wolrd. Developping countries seems to have a harder time to deal with homosexuality. For several reasons: laws that persecute gays and lesbians, deeply entranched religious background that preaches intolerance and a lack of education on the subject.
In this section I will bring excerps from authors that try to explain why Jamaicans suffers from an higher problem of homophobia, compare to the other caribbean islands. Lower on this page, you will find all the excerpts from the Bible that deals with homosexuality.
Old British law dating from the nineteenth century (1864): Article 76 of the Jamaican Offences Against the Person Act punishes the “abominable crime of buggery” by up to ten years imprisonment with hard labour. Article 79 of the same act punishes any act of physical intimacy between men in public or private by a term of imprisonment of up to two years and the possibility of hard labour. This law is still in effect in Jamaica. Reviewing colonial laws, Jeremy Seabrook wrote: 'lyrics inciting attacks on gay men, raises once more the tangled relationship between homophobia and the legacy of colonialism. In Jamaica, the offences of buggery and gross indecency were framed in the Offences Against the Person Act of 1864, derived from the English Act of 1861. The wording is chilling: "Whoever shall be convicted of the abominable crime of buggery, committed either with mankind or an animal, shall be liable to be imprisoned and kept to hard labour for a term not exceeding 10 years." When the constitution for the newly independent territories of Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados was drawn up in 1962, its architects honoured their former rulers by preserving colonial values which would themselves be abolished in Britain within five years. These laws had their roots in Victorian morality, but they were embraced enthusiastically by the black nationalist middle class; and, like many illiberal attitudes in the world, these filtered through society, and were transmuted into a virulent machismo among the poor; a consequence, perhaps, of people having been stripped of everything else, including the promises of a better life after independence. It is out of this culture, fortified by contemporary evangelical Christianity, that the culture of music-driven homophobia has grown'.
LARRY CHANG (Jamaican Chinese agay activist)
"We are known, diservely or not, to be probably the most homophobic society on earth. That’s probably an exaggeration. Anyway, we are known for Homophobia. But people never stop to wonder “why is it that the average Jamaican male reacts in such a personal and immediate way to the phenomenon of homosexuality”. I have my own theory, of course: I think that it is a complex of things. But one of the main thing that is operating is the role of the black male in this society, generally, as it relates to our inheritance from slavery. I think that the issue is directly tide in to Jamaican men in particular. Their self image, their awareness of themselves as men. And to me, what they probably think of as their primary function as a man is to breed. And this is a carry over from the days of slavery, well this is exactly what men slave were expected to do. If this is recognize than as one of, if not the major, indicator of manhood in the Jamaican psyche. Than we could begin to understand why if there is a Jamaican male who does not fit into this category, who does not chose to even pretend to fit in this category, than that person immediately becomes a threat to the psychological security of self-identity of the average Jamaican male. Because you are now drawing into question, the very basis of his existence. Everything that he has based his identity on has to do with procreation and here comes somebody who says “well no, that’s not what I’m about, I’m about something else completely different”. (Excerpt taken from an interview recorded in 2002, available in the documentary Songs Of Freedom).
NOTE: I transcriped the interview from the documentary. Their might be some grammatical errors, as I am not perfectly bilingual.
KEVIN O'BRIEN CHANG and WAYNE CHEN (writers)
The militant anti-homosexual attitude of Jamacians, men and women alike, is startling. Few subjects arouse such strong emotions here and polls have shown a strong majority in favor of jailing homosexuals," leading to a situation where, "no stage show goes by without at least one ringing condemnation which inevitably draws a huge chorus of approval from the crowd." (Chang & Chen, 204) Barrow & Dalton attempt to explain, although not justify, this bigotry. "Some psychologists, accurately or not, attribute this to a lack of real male self-confidence in a society where 85 per cent of children are born out of wedlock, and the vast majority of boys lack full-time male roll model while growing up." The quotations are coming from the book 'Reggae routes : The story of Jamaican music', written by Kevin O'Brien Chang and Wayne Chen. Temple University Press: Philadelphia, 1998. (and were initially found in the text The Changes of messages in dancehall by Ben Thielen).
DAVID AUERBACH CHIFFRIN (general secretary for An Nou Alle!, a LGBT organisation for Martinique, Guadeloupe & French Guyana)
LGBT people from the French overseas territories or from sub-saharan Africa are particularly exposed to homophobia (and to hatreds associated with transxexualism or AIDS), as well as to sexually transmitted diseases and the risk of suicide for the following reasons. (1) The machismo and sexism current in society; (2) Pressure from extended families; (3) Religious commentaries derived from a literal reading of the Bible or Koran; (4) Political commentaries claiming that minority sexual (or gender) orientations were perversions introduced by former colonists or slave-owners; (5) Taboos surrounding the mere mention of sex and sexuality; (6) The need for scapegoats; (7) Racism, which affects every LGBT people of color.
(the following text in French by the same author is more profound analysis of homophobia in the Caribbean)
FRENCH TEXT. Les causes de cette spécificité de l'homophobie antillaise sont d'ordre géographique, historique et institutionnel : Les facteurs géographiques sont l'insularité et le contexte latino-américain. Les îles des Petites Antilles précisément, parce qu'elles sont des îles et parce qu'elles sont petites, forment autant de sociétés closes où tout le monde connaît tout le monde, comme en Corse par exemple, ce qui rend le regard collectif singulièrement oppressant pour les personnes LGBT (lesbiennes, gaies, bi & trans). Et ces îles font partie intégrante du contexte latino-américain avec son cortège de violence rhétorique ou physique, violence qui va de la «murder music» interprétée par Krys ou Admiral T, décalque des appels au meurtre de certains chanteurs jamaïcains, jusqu'aux meurtres homophobes commis chaque année par dizaines au Mexique, au Brésil, en Jamaïque et ailleurs;
Les facteurs historiques relèvent du passé colonial et esclavagiste. Le passé colonial, qui a laissé de nombreuses lois homophobes dans les Antilles anglophones, participe encore aujourd'hui d'un contexte social figé, rétif aux avancées des droits des minorités sexuelles, perçus comme un «cadeau empoisonné» de l'ancien colonisateur destiné à empêcher les descendants d'esclaves d'affirmer voire de redécouvrir leurs supposées valeurs originelles et, par là même, leur liberté. Le passé esclavagiste, plus particulièrement, toujours présent dans les mentalités et souvent déterminant dans la répartition des richesses, voyait le corps des esclaves réduit au rang d'objet de jouissance pour les maîtres, et amène certains de leurs descendants à voir dans l'homosexualité une volonté «du» Blanc de reprendre possession du corps «du» Noir (l'homosexualité entre Noirs étant alors déniée ou ramenée au statut de pratique sournoisement répandue par «le» Blanc);
Les facteurs institutionnels sont la religion et, pour ce qui relève des Antilles françaises, la loi française. L'église catholique et les différentes confessions et sectes protestantes, particulièrement vivaces aux Antilles, assimilent ouvertement l'homosexualité à la pédophilie et ramènent sans cesse leurs nombreux fidèles à la littéralité des passages homophobes de la Bible (Lévitique, XVIII, 22 et XX, 13 notamment). La législation française, en réprimant les actes et les propos homophobes, place finalement les Antilles françaises dans une contradiction permanente : coincée entre une norme sociale et une norme légale de plus en plus divergentes, la population martiniquaise et guadeloupéenne a jusqu'à présent plus ou moins troqué son homophobie, ramenée à une certaine discrétion, en échange du confinement de la vie homosexuelle dans un non-dit permanent, facteur d'étouffement psychologique et de défaut de prévention VIH/sida.
La culture de la famille antillaise se forme au creuset de ces facteurs : insularité, contexte latino-américain, passé colonial et esclavagiste, religion, influence métropolitaine... La notion de famille élargie est alors primordiale à la Martinique et à la Guadeloupe (qui comptent respectivement un peu moins de 400.000 et un peu plus de 450.000 habitants, soit en moyenne la population de l'aire urbaine de Metz) : où qu'il soit, chacun est toujours sous le regard d'un cousin, d'un oncle ou de quelqu'un qui en connaît un. Dès lors, la famille, soucieuse de protéger sa réputation, exercera une pression renforcée sur ceux de ses membres qui seraient homosexuels. Plus facilement qu'ailleurs, cette pression pourra aller de l'humiliation permanente à la violence physique en passant par la séquestration. Et si la famille élargie n'exerçait pas cette pression, c'est elle qui serait stigmatisée : il n'est qu'à voir les attaques que subit apparemment en Martinique la famille de Cyril, candidat supposé homosexuel de l'émission «Star Academy» diffusée par TF1 (cf. le magazine Baby Boy de novembre 2006, page 8). L'exil apparaît dès lors comme la plus vivable des solutions : la mère pourra renoncer à demander des petits-enfants à son fils sous réserve que ce fils soit loin, en France hexagonale, au prix d'une rupture familiale de fait qui expose les plus jeunes à une précarité sociale et économique ne restant pas sans conséquences à un âge où le futur professionnel se joue. (Renan Benyamina – Heteroclite – December 2006) (more from this interview: Heteroclite)
DONNA P. HOPE (Jamaican dancehall academic and researcher)
DISCUSSING HOMOPHOBIA IN DANCEHALL MUSIC. "This issue is about the historical imperatives handed down by British colonialists that conditioned black Caribbean people to view themselves as sexual beings; it is about patriarchal tenets that support the domination of heterosexual men; it is about the Christian and Rastafari fundamentalism that guides the greater majority of our religious circles; and it is about the rites of passage that dancehall artistes must undergo to claim their authoritative positions as Jamaican wordsmiths.... It is, therefore, critical for us to question the vociferous and explicit nature of the anti-homosexual dialogue in the society since the late 1990s. My research shows that this rise in anti-homosexual dancehall lyrics is a direct result of the progressive unmasking of (male) homosexuality since the late 1990s. This is reflected in growing numbers of openly homosexual television programmes broadcast during prime-time on cable television stations that are accessible to Jamaicans. These include Will And Grace, Queer As Folk and Queer Eye For The Straight Guy. Many popular sitcoms also broadcast episodes that feature actors as homosexual men and women. The formation of J-FLAG in December 1998 acted as another catalyst when it raised the visibility of proud, gay Jamaican men and women. Homosexuality in Jamaica has been tolerated for many decades, cloaked under a hypocritical kind of 'respectable' silence as long as gays 'do their thing' in private and the response to the open panorama of homosexuality since the 1990s has generally been cloaked in this same 'respectable' silence. On the other hand dancehall's extreme response has been the very public increase in anti-homosexual lyrics. In its early years dancehall lyrics mentioned gay men (or women) in a line or two of a song. Now entire songs are devoted to condemning male homosexuality as an abomination that threatens to corrupt and overturn Jamaican society, like the Biblical example of Sodom and Gomorrah”. (Excerpt taken from a two-part article entitled 'Clash: Gays Vs. Dancehall', published in the Jamaica Gleaner, October 2004).
NOTE: Although I dont share her point of view on several topics discussed in the article and don't like how she protects dancehall artists that write vilolent songs, I think she made an excellent job in covering the subject from a Caribbean point of view. Click here for Part II
DECCA AITKENHEAD (journalist and broadcaster)
REVEREND JOHN HARDY (minister of the New Testament Church of God in Kingston)
EXAGGERATED JAMAICAN HOMOPHOBIA TAKES ITS ROOTS IN SLAVERY. In her article 'Their homophobia is our fault', Decca Aitkenhead put the blame on slavery for Jamaican exaggerate homophobia: "The vilification of Jamaican homophobia implies more than a failure to accept postcolonial politics. It's a failure to recognise 400 years of Jamaican history, starting with the sodomy of male slaves by their white owners as a means of humiliation. Slavery laid the foundations of homophobia, and its legacy is still unmistakable in the precarious, overexaggerated masculinity of many men in Jamaica... Every ingredient of Jamaica's homophobia implicates Britain, whose role has maintained the conditions conducive to homophobia, from slavery through to the debt that makes education unaffordable. For us to vilify Jamaicans for an attitude of which we were the architects is shameful". Jamaican Reverend John Hardy embrassed this angle and made a column in Jamaica Observer two years later quoting Aitkenhead, hadding: "The black slaves and most of their descendants developed this hatred for homosexual activities because of the painful experiences that their forefathers endured during slavery. It is alleged that if and when a white slave master suspected that black male slaves were showing any sign of resistance to their enslavement, the most cruel and brutal treatment would be meted out to them. One such treatment would be sodomisation. Sodomisation could take place in one of three ways: The white slave master could sodomise the black males privately or publicly; Black slaves could be forced to sodomise each other in front of slave masters and other members of the plantation; Wooden objects known as ramrods would be used to sodomise the black male slaves, until at times blood and excreta would spurt out of their bodies as water gushes out of a broken fountain. It is this painful and humiliating experience of 400 years of slavery that gave rise to Jamaicans' homophobic attitude". Decca Aitkenhead article was severly criticized by Mark Steyn in the British newspaper The Telegraph: "As for the notion that even the randiest plantation owner could sodomise so many male slaves that he could inculcate an ingrained homophobia enduring for centuries, that's a bit of a stretch even for advanced Western self-loathers". (Excerpt taken from The Guardian and The Telegraph, January 2005 and Jamaica Observer, June 2007)
J-FLAG REPRESENTATIVE and ERIN GREENE (The Rainbow Alliance of Bahamas)
...Few can agree on the source of such homophobia. But most agree the church plays a crucial role. "Evangelical Christianity is very strong, and there is a prudishness and hypocrisy that comes with that," said a representative of J-FLAG. "They ignore the part that says don't have sex out of wedlock and focus on gays." Others claim the sheer geographical size of islands in the Caribbean makes them more socially conservative. "So long as you are stuck living close to your family then you never really get the space to make the kind of choices about your life that will challenge the values and practices you've been brought up with," said Erin Greene, a member of the Rainbow Alliance of the nearby Bahamas. The particularly violent expression homophobia has found in Jamaica, most agree, reflects a particularly violent society. In 2002 1,045 people were murdered, and according to Amnesty International, Jamaica has the highest number of police killings per capita in the world. In the national paper, the Daily Gleaner, the murder count is updated daily, between the weather forecast and the lottery numbers. "The worst thing is when you see children of three or four singing songs about killing the Chi Chi [gay] man," said one J-FLAG representative. "They are learning from an early age that violence against gay people is acceptable." (Excerpt taken from The Guardian, June 2004).
H (GLBTQ Jamaica BlogWatch)
Refering to an interviewe in which Jamaican reggae legend Sugar Minott made the comment that Murder Music and songs like 'Boom Bye Bye' was taken too seriously. Unfortunately this is the dismissive tone taken towards the issue of homosexuality and with regards with hate lyrics or murder music, bearing in mind that older acts such as Sugar Minott never recorded such caustic lyrics but clearly from his pronouncements the thoughts were there. Buju Banton lest we forget was 16 when he recorded this clearly prescriptive song for the demise of gay men in particular, lesbians weren’t selected for the punishment in this piece but the alliteration “Boom Bye Bye” is clearly emphasising the sound of the gunshots being administered to the offending party. Murder music came to full maturity in the late eighties on the strength of several cases of alleged paedophilia and the related sensationlism of those stories by tabloid newspapers where the link was and is still made to homosexuality, tabloid’s steady diet of stereotypical and prejudicial stories of male homosexuality namely papers like the now defunct Enquiry, Excess and the still published XNews, the criticisms of the LGBT agitations in the US and elsewhere, the use of homophobic innuendo towards specific politians during election campaigns specifically former Prime Minister P. J. Patterson and subsequent public outcry following the steady feeds of all of the above. Coupled with all of those is the nation’s obsession with masculinity or machismo (thug culture). In fact Buju Banton’s song “Boom Bye Bye” was supposed to be a response to one of those awful cases where a man allegedly sexually abused a boy who was found dead. The country by right was outraged but the marrying of paedophilia and adult male homosexuality without any serious rebuttal has left the gay community suffering unwanted consequences over the decades. To dismiss this song’s meaning and or prescription for gays as a joke is a clear show of the cynicism that pervades a wide cross-section of Jamaican society. There is a popular saying “What is a joke to you is death to me” maybe in this case we can take it literally. Mark Myrie aka Buju Banton was also allegedly involved himself in an attack on a group of gay men in a middle class residential area near his studio at the time in Kingston where the supposed antics of the men drew the anger studio visitors and idlers who often congregated on the outside of the gate waiting to meet a recording star, get a chance to voice tracks or beg money. Buju was however relieved of going to trial on the matter as the charges were dropped by the lawyers representing the men one of whom was badly beaten to the point he now has one eye due to the injuries, for their own safety they never continued to full trial. So taking into account all of that to see the real threats out there to suspected gays and lesbians and merely pass it off as a joke or some metaphor for something else is an insult to say the least. These are the artists we hold as icons with high esteem and they give subtle support to homophobia. Of course the cop-out argument or line usually follows where in this case he said “I don’t condone violence – people trying to kill people because of their lifestyle – or whatever. We have to live together” which is supposed to soften or give some level of tolerance which most times are really not genuine I feel and are only rhetoric. Sorry we didn’t see this before his untimely death where someone could respond to this. Peace and tolerance. (Excerpt taken from GLBTQ Jamaica Blog Watch, July 2010).
CECIL GUTZMORE (Jamaican research student and lecturer at the University of the West Indies)
...In certain clear respects, in its treatment of homosexuals/homosexuality Jamaica is nevertheless demonstrably exceptional. It is a clear finding of my ongoing research that what chiefly distinguishes Jamaica is not – as appears to be widely thought – the proven brutality and physical and psychological violence of its homophobia. Rather, it is the overt virulence of the homophobia at the expressive level within both secular and religious popular culture. The declaration by Bishop Blair – who is a figure of some political and religious influence – that there is no substantive theological basis for the selective highlighting of homosexuality as the ‘sin of sins,’ and which is our epigraph here, is not one that is often publicly made in Jamaica. The overtly virulent expressive homophobia arguably encourages the documented tendency towards and the practice of physical brutality and violence against homosexuals.It is reinforced, even operationalized, by three other specific features of the Jamaican situation. First, Jamaicans tend to be relatively cavalier about law, leading to a certain willingness to act outside it. A significant manifestation of this unfortunate tendency is in the documented behaviour of law enforcement agencies, including some courts, the prisons, the Jamaica Constabulary and Defence Forces and even high judicial offices, such as the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. The second Jamaica-specific feature is the violenceproneness of elements within the citizenry, for which one of Jamaica’s leading politicians, Mr Edward Seaga - in his role as anthropologist - has offered a particularly ahistorical set of explanations (1997). Where these features combine within a single society, those on the receiving end of their effects will suffer grievously: such is the fate of some working-people identified as homosexuals in Jamaica, unprotected as they are by favourable class and race connections. In what follows, I share two findings of my research which are intended to throw some light on the specific convergence of two of Jamaica’s most popular cultural domains – namely, the Christian Church with its fundamentalist doctrines, and the reggae-dancehall genre. A third influential feature in the exceptionality of Jamaican homophobia derives from Christian fundamentalist doctrine which finds constant outlets not just in churches, but in popular culture (in Christian radio and TV programmes), as well as in the rituals of many secular institutions. (Excerpt taken from Casting The First Stone! Policing of Homo/Sexuality in Jamaican Popular Culture, April 2004).
NOTE: The entire16-page essay is relevant and extremely interesting to read for those who wants to learn more about the subject.
DELROY CONSTANTINE-SIMMS (Editor of the book: The Greatest Taboo: Homosexuality In Black Communities)
Why is homosexuality the greatest taboo in black culture? Delroy Constantine-Simms: "It must be made clear from the outset that black culture is as diverse as every other culture, but in respect of homosexuality, the general perception within Black culture is that homosexuality, like Christianity is another cultural imposition on Africans by Europeans. It must also be made clear that Religion, specifically Christianity! plays a very important role in reinforcing this taboo. However, one has to remember that mythical perceptions of Black sexuality and prowess are centred on heterosexuality, not homosexuality. Therefore any deviation from this norm is seen as unacceptable in many sections of the Black community, except the arts to a certain degree. In reality the Black community knows that homosexuality exists but the unspoken rule is we may know it but don't flaunt it. "Open Expression Of Homosexuality Can Seriously Damage Your Health" If it not expressed in the right context among the right people. In many cases these people are usually white! More importantly, universal stereotypes regarding Black sexuality are so strong that Black folks world wide have come to believe the hype about their own sexuality. To the extent that anything outside heterosexuality is dismissed and not allowed to be openly portrayed or displayed in Black culture (with a few exceptions of course). One only has to look at contemporary black music, film and literature to understand that expressions of diverse sexuality are not tolerated. If it is expressed it is more likely to be in terms of lesbianism. Imagine this, suppose DMX declared his love to LL Cool J, image what would happen. Some one would be dead within the week !!!!!" (Excerpt taken from Greatest Taboo: Homosexuality In Black Community Experiences, April 2001).
ILAN GREENBERG (Journalist based in New York City)
...Until about twenty years ago, Jamaicans with whom I spoke uniformly recalled that men didn’t worry about accidentally brushing up against another man on a city bus. Homosexuality was hidden, but not radioactive. That changed beginning the early nineteen nineties, precisely the time when dancehall emerged, with its musicians exhorting fans to spill out of clubs and attack gay people. Dancehall’s culpability is “clear—it’s really the one big difference between other Caribbean countries and Jamaica. Other countries have a cult of masculinity and powerful churches but what they don’t have is dancehall,” said Baz Dreisinger, a professor at John Jay College in New York and a prominent popular music critic who has published widely on Jamaican music. The dichotomy between Jamaica’s democracy and its treatment of sexual minorities “is particularly striking,” said Rebecca Schlieffer, a researcher at Human Rights Watch. “That in a country with such a vibrant democracy and history of championing human rights protections for vulnerable groups, it would have a complete disregard for international law and a total failure to protect people.” (Excerpt taken from Murder Music, Dec. 2010).
NOTE: A very important study that analye the problem of violent homophobia in Jamaican dancehall.
COMMENTS FROM RURAL JAMAICA
...Along Negril's West End Road, which bears fresh scars from Hurricane Ivan's devastation last fall, an unemployed man named Robert said the prevailing antihomosexual sentiment in Jamaica is based on the belief that homosexuality spreads disease and hampers propagation. The country's prime minister, P. J. Patterson, has thus far been largely unresponsive to calls to overturn Jamaica's antigay laws and to do more to protect Jamaican gays from attacks by both private individuals and police. (Excerpt taken from The Boston Globe, April 2005)
...Montego Bay is a small community. I had problems at home with my family, at school and at church, where I had been very involved. One of the reasons Jamaican society is so homophobic is religion - it is all fire and brimstone about it being against God. "People would give me grief in church. I once sat in the congregation while a priest thundered away about the evils of homosexuality. He said that gay people should be stoned. Like everyone else I shouted: "Amen."... Rastafarian homophobia is a familiar experience for Robert: "The problem is ingrained in society in Jamaica. It is a very macho place. There are the DJs and musicians who play music with lyrics about attacking gay people. So the young people repeat them and act them out - they follow the lead of these role models". (Excerpt taken from One Love, July 2004)
INTERESTING COMMENTS FOUND IN ARTICLES
PHILLIP PIKE (author of the Songs Of Freedom documentary)
...Jamaica's experience of slavery was harsher, uglier, dirtier, use whatever word you will, than a lot of the other Caribbean islands and that's why the homophobia in Jamaica is of a qualitatively different kind than in other Caribbean islands. I have a cousin who went to law school in Cave Hill in Barbados. Now the University of the West Indies is a regional university, so in Barbados they would have had students from all the Caribbean islands, and she said invariably when it came time to talk about the sodomy laws in the seminars, it was always the Jamaican men who had the most virulent reaction to the conversation. Sure the Grenadian men or the Trinidadian men would react, but somehow the Jamaicans were just that much more over the top. So I don't know, maybe the Jamaican strain is more virulent, but I still think that it can change. (Randy Shulman – MetroWeekly – April 2003)
ANOMYMOUS (Jamaican psychologist)
One psychologist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said homosexuals were searching for acceptance, as evidenced by the case of the young male cross-dresser who was beaten in Falmouth, Trelawny on April 27 this year. The psychologist believes, however, that their efforts are made in futility at this stage since Jamaica is an island with a culture that is profoundly anti-homosexual. "It is a sort of pushing and pulling. While the homosexual is being influenced by North America, it is like the Jamaican identity is being compromised. So you practise your homosexuality in private, but don't you come forward because this is who we are," the psychologist said. Beyond that, she said Jamaica had a reputation as anti-homosexuality to uphold so that the harder members of the gay community pushed for acceptance, the harder the heterosexual Jamaican will resist. "But we in Jamaica have a reputation and we have a reputation to uphold and our reputation is that we are homophobic and anybody who come with it is going to be knocked down," she said. " We perceive ourselves as being homophobic so any sense of anybody (gay) peeping through, don't cross the line because we have the distinction. Jamaica is known for this so any semblance of this is going to meet with resistance."
(Excerpt taken from Jamaica Observer, July 2007).
SIDNEY McGILL (Jamaican psychologist)
McGill said there is clearly a thriving homosexual community on the island. What is more, he said it is only a matter of time before Jamaicans will have no choice, but to accept the lifestyle. "I think that the heterosexual community in the society, in their fear of homosexuality, are unwilling to look further than their noses. If they were to look beyond their noses, they would see a thriving alternate homosexual community living underground," McGill told the Sunday Observer. "This community has intelligent professionals from almost every field, including academia, and do carry a lot of power even if the power is invisible. The power has been invisible and with time, it will become visible, which is what we are now seeing more and more of - the boldness and the courage, these courageous displays. They meet in the night, among themselves and have their parties, etc. Now they are meeting in the day and in public." The island's acceptance of the US culture, he said, is such that it will drive acceptance of homosexuality over time. "We are influenced a lot by the North American scene, it is just a matter of time before the majority of Jamaicans will have to accept homosexuality as a viable alternative lifestyle," McGill said. Meanwhile, like his colleague, he said homosexuals were on a mission for acceptance. "It is indicative of the homosexual in the community becoming bolder, on a mission of coming out of the closet in a collective sense. And you have homosexual communities that are attached to gangs and they get some amount of protection from the gangs, which allows them to come out without too much fear," said, McGill who sees an average of three homosexuals at the family and counselling centre of which he is boss.
(Excerpt taken from Jamaica Observer, July 2007).
ORVILLE TAYLOR (Jamaican sociologist)
"Pushing too hard for acceptance, they were defeating their own cause... The gay community has taken on the dancehall culture, and when you take on the dancehall culture you take on almost an entire population. And it is the dancehall population that wins and loses elections, and the politicians know this."
(Excerpt taken from Jamaica Observer, July 2007).
JAH FORESIGHT (contributor to Jamaica Gleaner)
The big story this week (April 2006) was the attack on the homosexual at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus. Twenty years ago, when I was as a teenager and I did not know anything about lotto and winning money, I was a student, living on campus. I remember one evening, after a hot game of football, we went to the bathroom to have a refreshing shower. While washing skin, a strange fellow walked in, stripped his clothes and stood with his apparatus in hand, waiting and watching. After realising what was taking place, naturally we had to launch an attack. You might say, 'so uncivilised'. Most students who live on campus are either from rural Jamaica or down the Caribbean islands. We are used to living in close communities where everybody knows everyone, like in Bamboo, St. Ann. You can imagine that Jah Foresight from Bamboo is a homosexual in Kingston and my own people from my village hear that! I simply could not go back. I know several practising homosexuals who simply cannot go back to their village for the rest of their lives. Masculinity means a lot to country heterosexual men. You can be a homosexual in the city, especially uptown, and no one really cares about the sexuality of their neighbours. So when you hear that fire or rock stone fling, ignore it, men just a defend their existence. You can imagine, if Mutty is reading this column, he will say, he must be from the intellectual ghetto, but Rasta men have to support certain flames and we adore lovely ladies. (Excerpt taken from Jamaica Gleaner, April 2006).
MURPHSUP (comment left by a reader, regarding a blog article on Buju Banton's signature to the Reggae Compassionate Act)
Dorian Lynskey's central argument, that homophobic lyrics are a symptom not a cause, is absolutely the cornerstone of the matter. Of course, it begs a question - what might be the cause? A brief look at how the history of Jamaica is linked to the history of reggae and you will see some general trends in politics and society which had some sort of musical reflection. To try to roughly summarise: An initial optimism following independence in 1962 was reflected in ska. Economic crisis started to bite by the early 70s. Conscious reggae arose in was substantially influenced by the civil rights movement in the US from the late 60s, with Curtis Mayfield's Impressions especially influential musically. During the 70s, Michael Manley's PNP mounted some sort of challenge to the crisis, along with conscious reggae artists, of whom Bob Marley and others articulated hope for social progress. The defeat of Manley by the IMF by the end of the 70s, to which Roachboy correctly points, coincided with a decline in conscious reggae. One can't help but think that as a movement for social progress was beaten and poverty bit hard, there must have been a corresponding rise in gangsterism and prostitution to make ends meet. If all you've got to sell is your body to white tourists that may see you as a super-sexual stereotype, it's really sad this can become a narrow option to feed the family. A rise in 'slack' porno-lyrics, and individual gangsterish lyrics might fit this context. A sad musical reflection of the defeat of collective hope and progress, replaced by individual bragging in music seen as the only way to go. In the US/UK the 80s was also the age of Loadsamoney and you may see a historical comparison. We felt economic crisis bite too with the rise of Thatcher and Reagan, with a corresponding anxious/miserable musical postpunk response. But with a much higher level of poverty in JA, combined with a lot less hope, you'll get a much higher level of diversion of bitterness. Dog eat dog in the ghetto (both US and JA) has a macho swagger as a survival mechanism. It's desparate, but it can happen when poor folk see no alternative. Crippling poverty in Jamaica continues to this day, as do crippling terms by the IMF and World Bank, which severely hinder basic health, education and infrastructural provision. To rip this up from the roots will require a social movement. Music can play its part, but central to that struggle will be the movement rather than individual musicians. I think homophobic lyrics should definitely be challenged, as should all incidences of prejudice. A climate of fear should be challenged. But I also agree very much with points made - just because someone expresses violence or all sorts of rotten ideas verbally does NOT imply that they will carry it out. The courts are littered with nonsesnsical claims that 'backward devil-music' caused violence when many other social factors were much more relevant. I think the key will be - baboon 2006, let's use Bob Marley's telling observation - 'movement of jah people'. That movement will need unity between gay and straight to win a better future. It will be a far firmer foundation for social progress than a paper declaration. Attack the root of the problem, then you really tackle prejudice in the process. Just as here - get enough affordable homes built, then BNP scapegoating of immigrants over housing loses its hold. (Dorian Lynskey – The Guardian Music Blog – July 2007)
In this section I will bring you the eight different passages from the Bible that people often quote to justify intolerance towards homosexuals. By searching the net, I also found an analysis of these texts by a church that accept homosexuals. Their goal was to analyzed the scriptures to bring to light possible translation mistakes and to prove others that homosexuality was not a sin. You can go through this analysis (text in grey) only with curiosity, as it wasn't my point to start a debate or preach anyone. These texts and analysis were only place here as reference to the roots of this conflict. After these biblical texts, I will put interesting quotations related to religion, when it's related to the 'Chi Chi Man' conflict.
On a personal level, I was baptized Catholic. My parents never attended church, maybe except for Christmas and on few other occasions as it was more of a tradition for their generation. We just didn't 'practice' in term of the Catholic religion, but that didn't stopped us to have spiritual values. At some point in my life, I felt the need to go to church, and that was OK for the time being. When I wanted to become a rastafarian, back in 1998, I read the Bible, but only went through the New Testament. I read it with curiosity as it brought me memories from my school days. I know that rastafarians focus more on the Old Testament, it was always a project for me to read it, but It never materialized. Although I know most of the stories coming from it, I will surely read it one day, simply for it's historical aspect. I had realized that some of the values vehiculed in rastafarism were simply not reflecting where I wanted to go with my spirituality. In fact, I found myself distancing from any kind of religion, as I was seeing too much manipulation of thinking. Witnessing all of these so called 'Holy Wars' around the world and making that research on the 'Chi Chi Man' conflict was a turning point. Although I can see that every religion teaches some good moral values, I also see some very negative aspect coming from theses same religions. I believe more into a spirituality that would allow people to express themselves instead of repressing themselves. I do not feel the need anymore to be part of a group that share the same spiritual values to be close to my creator. For me, a world without religions could bring so much more unity. It would be interesting to witness such a world, but seeing how much religion is important for a majority of people in all nations, I doubt that we ever reach such a this situation. It's fascinating to realize how much mankind needs to belong into these numerous religions, in order to to get in contact with their inner spirituality. •
Biblical texts and their analysis
The 'Clobber Passages'
The introduction name The 'Clobber Passages' that follows and the entire analysis is by someone simply name Elaine. Weither you are a Christian or not, her point of view is interesting and worth going through.
ANALYSIS TAKEN FROM GAYCHURCH.ORG. "The more I’ve searched Scripture, the more convinced I am that homosexuality is not a sin. Nor has God relegated us to a life of celibacy! So this begs the question: if it’s so obvious that ones sexual orientation is not in and of itself a ‘sin’, why do so many in the church condemn homosexuality? I believe two important factors come into play, fear and prejudice. When you fear something, you wish to get away from it. To most people, this means pretend it doesn't exist, subdue it, change it, or destroy it. Fear is not from the Lord - it operates in satan's kingdom (1 John 4:8,18). Yet we build complete belief systems around our fears and prejudices, and people fight change. There is no getting around the fact that it’s far easier to understand how one can be gay and Christian when one is gay and Christian.
I have also found it common for those who consider homosexuality an 'abomination' to ‘prove’ their cause by quoting every scripture they can find pertaining to sexual sin and promiscuity. It is important to understand that we Christians in the gay community also are a hundred percent against sexual sin. The difference lies in the fact that we do not believe God has singled out any particular community or nation of people as ‘evil’ or ‘sinful’, believing instead that God’s edicts are applied without prejudice to all peoples and communities; homosexual and heterosexual alike. Therefore before calling homosexuality a sin, one should interrogate Scripture to find if this premise is even true. Unfortunately, many well meaning Christians are just repeating what they have heard from the pulpit or attempting to frame God’s will around their prejudices and fears.
For this reason it is important to understand what God does have to say concerning homosexuality. While there is much debate amongst Bible scholars if any scriptures specifically address homosexuality there are eight references that are commonly used by some to condemn gays. These are commonly referred to as "the clobber passages” or the "big eight". Of these eight, only six are still used with any regularity as two have been accepted by most as not pertaining to homosexuality. Four of these (Genesis 19:1-5, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 23:17) are found in the Old Testament while the other four (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 1 Timothy 1:9-10, Romans 1:21-31 and Jude 1:6-7) are located in the New Testament. The two that have been widely discarded are Deuteronomy 23:17 and Jude 1:6-7. (more from the analysis)
The Levitical Law (Leviticus 18:22 and Leveticus 20:13) [Old Testament]
Leviticus 18:21 (NIV)
||“Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.”
Leviticus 20:13 (NIV)
||"If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."
ANALYSIS FROM GAYCHURCH.ORG. The “holiness code” is laid out for us throughout the Book of Leviticus and parts of Deuteronomy. The Israelites were to follow these laws until the Messiah came and a new covenant was created. This of course happened with the arrival of Christ who established a new covenant, which was founded upon “better promises” (Hebrews 8:6). This new covenant did not rely on a lengthy list of do’s and don’ts but focused instead on the heart of God’s will for us. That being the great commandment of Love in which we are to love God first and foremost and love our neighbor as we love our self (Matthew 22:37-40; Galatians 5:14; John 13:34; Romans 13:10). The problem we have here is that some have called for these Levitical Laws to be enforced upon the homosexual community. I’ve even seen people from time to time call for homosexuals to be stoned to death based on Leviticus 20:13! Luckily such folks only represent a small fringe element within the church. Even so, many good intentioned folks still use these passages today in an effort to demonstrate that homosexuality is a sin. (more from the analysis)
Shrine Prostitutes (Deuteronomy 23:17) [Old Testament]
Deuteronomy 23:17 (NIV)
||"No Israelite man or woman is to become a shrine prostitute."
ANALYSIS FROM GAYCHURCH.ORG. This verse is rarely used anymore against homosexuality because its now widely understood that the word Hebrew word qadesh (Strong's #6945) means "a devotee by prostitution" or a "shrine prostitute". Most versions of the Bible now reflect this translation. Before this however, the King James version read “sodomite” rather than “temple prostitute”. For those who believed that the sin of the Sodomites was homosexuality, this verse appeared to be condemning homosexuality. You can see from this how errors in translation begin to create a ‘snowball’ affect, compounding an error many times over. (more from the analysis)
Arsenokoitais (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:9-10) [New Testament]
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NAS)
||"Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God."
1 Timothy 1:9-10 (NKJ)
||"Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, .for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine."
ANALYSIS FROM GAYCHURCH.ORG. I will group 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:9-10 together for discussion purposes because the debate around each centers pretty much around the proper definition of one word - arsenokoitais (Strongs #733). The Greek word arsenokoitais has posed a problem for scholars throughout the years, as it appears to be a ‘slang’ word not commonly used. In fact it only appears twice in Scripture once in 1 Timothy 1:9-10 and again in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Because of these translation problems we see these passages interpreted various ways. For instance the King James translates arsenokoitais in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 as “abusers of themselves with mankind”, Worrell translates it as “sodomites” while the NIV, NAS and others translate it as “homosexuals”. Arsenokoitais has the same translation problems in 1 Timothy 1:9-10. With the King James writing “them that defile themselves with mankind”, ASV is “abusers of themselves with mankind, New King James and Worrell say “sodomites”, NIV has “perverts” while the NAS and New Living write “homosexuals”. So who is right? (more from the analysis)
Sodom & Gomorrah (Genesis Capter 19) [Old Testament]
Genesis 19:1-5 (RSV)
||"The two angels came to Sodom in the evening; and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them,.and bowed himself with his face to the earth, and said, "My lords, turn aside, I pray you, to your servant's house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise up early and go on your way." They said, "No; we will spend the night in the street.".But he urged them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house; and they called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them."
ANALYSIS FROM GAYCHURCH.ORG. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah takes place primarily in Genesis 19 with God about ready to pass judgment on the evil people of Sodom. But before He does so, He elects to give them one last chance, a test if you will. He agrees to send two of His angels to the city. If they can find ten righteous among the citizens of Sodom, God will spare the city from destruction. However, if they cannot find ten righteous people then His judgment would stand and the city destroyed. We catch the story as the angels are coming into the town. That evening as the angels bed down for the night, the entire male population of the city encircles Lot’s home and accuses Lot of harboring these uninvited and unapproved strangers. They demand that Lot hand the angels over to them so that they may “know” them (“Yada” Strongs #3045). While there is much debate over the interpretation of this word “Yada”, I believe believe Moffet’s translation of “violent rape” is probably the closest. I personally don’t think that the citizens of this violent place really intended to sit down and have a nice little chitchat over tea with these strangers! Whatever the exact translation, I think it’s clear the people of Sodom meant the angels harm. God also seemed to come to the same conclusion since after Lot and his family were a safe distance away, the city was destroyed – just as God had originally planned. The question that is debated is this: Is God condemning the people because they were homosexual or because they were cruel, selfish and showed no mercy or compassion to others? Ezekiel 16:49-50 answers many of these questions when he states: "Behold, this was the inequity of your sister Sodom: pride, overabundance of food (in Hebrew this phrase literally means eating to the point of retching...), prosperous ease, and idleness were hers and her daughters; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abominable offenses before Me." (more from the analysis)
What is "Natural"? (Romans 1:21-31) [New Testament]
Romans 1:21-31 (NAS)
||“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful.”
ANALYSIS FROM GAYCHURCH.ORG. The problem of course is, what is “natural”? The word “natural” comes from two Greek words phusikos (Strong's #5446) and phusis (Strong's #5449). These words literally mean that which is a persons "natural disposition" and something that comes "instinctively" to them. In other words, it is who you are naturally; without reprogramming, counseling, or any other form of behavioral modification that attempts to change your behavior to that which society has deemed acceptable. It’s not easy accepting yourself as a gay person. Like most everyone else who has come to terms with this issue. I fought the idea for years. This problem was only compounded by the fact that I was a Christian and had been taught that homosexuality was some sinful “choice” that I had made along the way. (more from the analysis)
Strange Flesh (Jude 1:6-7) [New Testament]
Jude 1:6-7 (ASV)
||“And angels that kept not their own principality, but left their proper habitation, he hath kept in everlasting bonds under darkness.unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them, having in like manner with these given themselves over to fornication and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire.”
ANALYSIS FROM GAYCHURCH.ORG. The eighth, and final scripture comes from Jude 1:6-7. This passage recounts the story of the angels who long ago "did not keep their positions" in the spiritual realm, but left that which was natural for them to cohabit with women (Genesis 6:1-4). Their ensuing offspring were considered an abomination to God.This scripture is rarely used any more against homosexuality because it is understood by most to mean that the angels were leaving what was “natural” for them (i.e. their spiritual plain) to cohabit with humans. This union between “strange flesh” was considered out of God’s intended order of things. In like manner the entire male population of Sodom (physical beings) wanted to rape these angelic messengers (spiritual beings). This was something that not only was a horrific crime but like Jude, out of the natural order of things. We can only imagine the supernatural power such spiritual beings have. Who is mortal man to stand in their way if God did not restrain them, or us, from such liaisons? We can only speculate that the men of Sodom hoped to receive some sort of supernatural power from these unearthly visitors by raping them. Remember - the primary religions of the day were the fertility cults that believed, as part of their religious rites, that sexual relations with another somehow conveyed a portion of that person’s strength and power to you. In the case of temple prostitutes, having sex with one would convey to the participant a blessing from the god the temple prostitute was a proxy for. (more from the analysis)
Jesus' Teaching on Homosexuality
Jesus teaching on homosexuality:
ANALYSIS FROM GAYCHURCH.ORG. Our study is short, because Jesus never taught for or against homosexuality. This raises the question, if homosexuality truly is a sin worthy of eternal damnation, as some believe it is, then why didn't Jesus discuss it? He certainly preached at length concerning every other sin listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and Timothy 1:9-10. Why would He leave this one out? (more from the analysis)
Quotations related to Jamaican religion
or the 'Chi Chi Man' conflict
LARRY CHANG (Jamaican Chinese agay activist)
Again to, there is quite a lot of ambivalence and a hypocrisy there. Because the church is filed with homosexuals. I don’t know what the eventual percentage is, but I would say that a good proportion of the male attendants in churches is gay: they sing on the choir, they serve on the church comities, there are this and that they are that, they are the whole officers in the church. And this is true not only for the established churches but for the fundamentalist churches, the grassroots churches and across the board. And in fact I believed that in many of the africanation religions that we have bocominial, mial, revival, etc. That a lot of the leaders are chosen because of their two-spirited nature, if you know what I mean. It’s that energy that males, in particular, have this ambivalent sexual energy to begin with, that is then translated in a spiritual energy. Because in many societies, and this has been studied and documented, people that have this dual nature, this two-spirited nature are felt to be more in touch with divine. They are known as the ‘gate keepers’, between the two worlds, between earth and heaven, they are known as the ‘go-between’. And this is true of vary many other societies, and I would imagine it would equally be true in this one. (Excerpt taken from an interview recorded in 2002, available in the documentary Songs Of Freedom).
NOTE: I transcriped the interview from the documentary. Their might be some grammatical errors, as I am not perfectly bilingual. The words that have a lighter grey shade are the words that I'm unshure of.