14 December 2005

Tremendous loss

Our community mourns the loss of two magnificent guys, the likes of whom we'll not soon see again: Steve Harvey to gun violence, and Joseph Robinson to cancer.

Steve was an invaluable leader in the community, having worked at Jamaica AIDS Support (JAS), doing outreach to MSM, prisons and high-risk night spots, and representing HIV/AIDS interests in the NGO and diplomatic communities. He was also a registered delegate to the PNP Conference and was instrumental in trying to mobilize an LGBT constituency within the party. Who knows what influence he had on John Junor and Donald Rhodd in their recent calls for public debate of the gay rights issue? International organizations which knew him and his work have called for a thorough investigation into his death, which attracted the editorial notice of the New York Times. DCP Mark Shields has promised investigation with independent monitoring.

Joseph was a founder of JAS, but is much better known as co-founder, with Paulette Bellamy, of the internationally acclaimed and innovative arts-training and edutainment entity known as Ashe. Originally from Turks Island, he came to Jamaica to attend the Jamaica School of Dance where his recalcitrance led him to cross swords with Rex Nettleford, resign from the NDTC, and later, fall out with Cathy Levy with whom he had joined up in Little People. His fearlessness led him to establish Ashe Centre in Nannyville, which they eventually vacated after the killing of a security guard there, and to invoke the wrath of the Church, in the person of Monsignor Mock Yen from the pulpit, for his sex education manual, Vibes in the World of Sexuality, published under the auspices of the MOEC with input from teachers. His legacy is the cadre of young Jamaicans he has trained to be open, questioning, creative and self-possessed, who continue to run Ashe as if he is still there, for he has imbued them with his spirit, the spirit of Ashe.

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