17 December 2005

Re: Outraged

Dear Friends

It appears vulgar to be having a discussion seemingly on the corpse of a good friend. But based on my own personal relationship with both Steve and Brian, my work in issues of LGBT rights and now with HIV and human rights, I feel entitled to make some comments.

To begin, I hardly think that gay rights activists (local and international) are responsible for any kind of indecent eposure. Newspapers are always going to report in a reductionist and sensational manner. A life's work will be reduced in one's untimely death with only the tag of sexual orientation. And that is sad, because clearly, a person must be more than just his sexual orientation.

However, the issues of sexuality that stalk the death of many gay men, is worthy of discussion. I am happy that a senior police believes that there is need for special oversight of the way murders with a perceived homosexual subtext are investigated. This , I beg to say, is not a call for "special rights". Complaints that the police have often refused or been breathtakingly inadequate in investigating crimes against gay people, is not a figment of some foreigner's imagination. As it now stands, the class of persons called homosexuals (also described as "vulnerable people" in relation to HIV an AIDS) have no rights. In fact, male homosexuals could even be styled unapprehended criminals, by law .

This is a difficult conversation to conduct, even among gay people and those who are "gay-friendly". We really should be focussed on mourning the loss of a dear friend . In fact, we really shouldnt be burying anyone in these circumstances. But we are. And activism geared to change some of the institutional things that make some murders happen with impunity, is actually worthwhile.

Yes, there are many murders that occur in Jamaica with a whole range of victims. But there is a particular way that some murders occur. Even worse, some are motivated by who the victim is. Sometimes the system even seems to conspire to make some murders occur with no redress. And what do we do, if we happen to fall in a category that puts us at risk? Well we can grieve, reflect, honour the dearly departed and take steps to ensure that this doesnt happen again. But we cannot just sit back and love all the hurt away.

There is no doubt, that distance and economic status can make a difference in any kind of activism. Much is said about people who have the luxury of being overseas and continually "fass" in local [Jamaican] business. I also recognise that being middle class does sometimes act as a buffer for both men and women, in respect of homophobia. But I will also say that that none of these things disentitle anyone from an opinion on these important issues. Murder and repression are not private matters. I believe all well thinking persons, gay, straight, rich, poor, Jamaican or foreigners, can feel involved with these issues. As a dear friend of mine said recently, we all carry the "psychic burden" of Jamaica's violence. I believe that the cry for change, expressed in part by activism, is an attempt to save our country and all Jamaicans both inside and outside.



1 comment:

jalgbt said...

Dear Friends,

I don't think it is vulgar to be having to be having a discussion of this kinda following Steve's death.
I personaly am heartened to see people opening their mouths and also reading what is being said here. The varied views offered up here are healthy and welcomed - especially when new things are learnt and minds are provoked.