So as Queen Ifrica fires back with her latest tune released two days ago in response to the firestorm well aided and abetted by none other than the faithful lobby Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays, JFLAG in a press release describing the Queen's anti homosexual rant at the recent independence day celebrations a follow up to a similar performance by her friend Tony Rebel the year before as vitriolic yet they couldn't justify it in the end. The over intellectualized press release was laughed at by the two who pigeon holed JFLAG for being dishonest and putting undue pressure on the music industry as it were via the Stop Murder Music Campaign but after hearing the disastrous performance on a Nationwide radio interview with the two aforementioned artistes earlier this month and the Executive Director of JFLAG Dane Lewis which forced the goodly gentleman to apologies for supposedly labelling the acts as homophobic, "vitriloic" and on some "anti gay animus" the snickering by the two left me feeling I wasted my time at the goodly J back in the day. Tempers flared days following as news spread that the J apologized to the Queen and by extension Tony Rebel with host Cliff Hughes the self appointed referee. Subsequent discussions on other radio stations just made me wonder if after all this calms down if we won't see a resurgence of such lyrics as the charge now being led by a female artist bearing in mind males carried the day on such materials.
We are surprised this happened on the day the Prime Minister urged us, in her Independence Day Message, to accord respect to people so every Jamaican can feel a sense of belonging in our society.
It is regrettable that the government has not been able to guarantee non-discriminatory performances from artistes for such a high-profile function as the Grand Gala. We encourage the government to follow the example of reggae and dancehall promoters and their sponsors who consistently draft contracts proscribing penalties for the use of indecent language, discriminatory rhetoric, and incitement to violence. Independence celebrations showcase the best of Jamaica’s indigenous artistic and cultural expressions, and are held to a high standard from their inception.
As the nation passes the 50 year mark and enters a new epoch of its history, we must zealously work to protect the dignity of all Jamaicans without any distinction. We have all pledged to play our part in advancing the welfare of the whole human race. These words are especially poignant in such a celebratory period of our nationhood. We are therefore compelled to reflect on these and other patriotic words of commitment found in our National Anthem and Pledge.
Jamaica cannot become the place of choice to live and raise families unless respect and dignity can be given to the entire Jamaican family. As we celebrate Jamaica’s 51st year of independence we must also celebrate the importance of peace, democracy, justice, and equality for the continuation of our prosperity as a nation.
the station's site carried this: Gay community split on Queen Ifrica’s Canada performance
The SMM back in the day was surgical in its nature and sought to target only those artists that had directly offending lyrics such as Capleton's - Shot Him Up, Beenieman's - All Battyman Fi Dead that were clear in their description and prescription on gay men's demise in the long standing purification of the earth imperative. The victim ploy being used by the music industry to suggest that the SMM's impact over the years is not true, dancehall has always had spirals in its support in certain market and especially in Europe traditional Reggae forms still are more popular as the older artists still carry the day such as Burning Spears as they are even more popular than modern day dancehall acts and with the absence of names such as Vybz Kartel and Ninjaman who just recently has been allowed to travel as his legal woes continue the attraction to the genre is fickle. The SMM targeted mostly the US, Canadian, European and a few African States with the latter for a short time as they withdrew. The campaign took a life of its own as overseas activists in turn carried on the role as JFLAG went quiet for a while and the foreign activists became astute in deciphering the local patois dialect. Then came the so called Reggae Compassionate Act that was to act as an agreement between artists that signed and promoters in not performing such tainted materials but some artists developed a stage trick where the band would strike up a chord of the respective anti gay track then the audience would fill in the rest loudly and willingly while the artist remains mum on stage. When confronted as to the infringement they would claim that they never actually performed the song. So the campaign changed its look and feel again but slowed down somewhat, it soon picked up again when some French activists reconnected with local contacts including yours truly where again the campaign took on a new life going after two main big names, Capleton, Sizzla and then other artists such as Elephant Man, Beenieman tried daring the system as they used Sizzla's repeated opposition and well oiled PR strategy.
Meanwhile the Jamaica Observer had reported some days ago:
A poster placed on Facebook by JAGLA reads — “No Queen Ifrica roun’ here! Canada says — stop homophobic Jamaica singer from performing at ‘Rastafesta’ in Toronto on August 24.”
(photo added here only)
JAGLA has also called on the Minister of Citizen and Immigration Canada (CIC) to immediately withdraw a work permit issued to Queen Ifrica ahead of her performance at Rastafest.
“Ifrica's reported homophobic outburst came days after the killing of Dwayne Jones, the teenage cross dresser” said a statement from the organisation.
The group added that Ifrica's remark is not the first of its kind and reflects the mood of Jamaica, where gays and lesbians are exposed to hatred and intolerance resulting in attacks and even murder.
According to JAGLA, by allowing Queen Ifrica whose given name is Ventrice Morgan, to perform in Toronto, the government is sending a message that murder music from anti-gay profilers is welcomed in Canada.
“The Canadian government now has the opportunity to send a clear signal to groups, countries and individuals who wish to incite intolerance against gays and lesbians through various forms” the statement continued.
JAGLA describes itself as a group comprising of Jamaican gays, lesbians and allies, living in the Diaspora.
During her performance at the Grand Gala, Queen Ifrica made statements glorifying male straightness, heterosexual marriage and the legalisation of marijuana.
She defended herself against statements made in a press release by the The Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (JFLAG) in which they expressed disappointment over her anti-gay statements.
The group said her sentiments are an example of the constant prejudice that is being allowed to take prominence on the national stage and that the remarks she made bears some resemblance to statements fellow reggae recording artiste Tony Rebel made at the same event last year.
But in her response, Queen Ifrica explained that she merely expressed what she had believed in, and that it was unfair for them to make her into a villain.
“I am not homophobic,” Queen Ifrica insisted.
With sentiments from sections of the LGBT community still not favourable following the not so tidy exclusion of some homeless men from the International Day Against Homophobia symposium on May 17th then the subsequent comments and stern criticisms from other seasoned advocates and a former Programs Manager the staff of the goodly J has chosen instead to remove themselves from Facebook groups that have such persons present apparently to absolve themselves of scrutiny and queries and so it appears to some even one time staunch defenders that they are more interested in personalities, the image of JFLAG on the international stage and self congratulatory gestures that addressing the real issues out there while more and more persons are arriving at a damning conclusion that the do not care about certain socio-economic classes really and making headlines with "expert" conferences are more important.
All of this fiasco is more that just about accusations and counter accusations it shows more clearly than ever that if JFLAG and others want to convince the public on reaching some semblance of tolerance (despite the non demonstrable evidence of same - case in point the perception the homeless were abandoned) they need to make their communications overall as simple as possible to reach a wider audience and stop the over intellectualizing; they seem to be on a frolic of their own, I hope they learn the lessen in all this and as for foreign based voices they need to get with it and carefully scan the ground before launching campaigns, this reminds me too much of the EGALE mishap in 2008/9 as well where they in Canada called for a tourism boycott and we ended up with a spike in homo-negative violence towards persons on the ground and a diplomatic nightmare. There are implications for public agitations that must not be ignored when decisions are made to launch such. Persons also need to be properly prepared before eagerly jumping to go on radio or other media and sounding stupid in the end.
Peace and tolerance
Additional stuff/video from 2007 with some former allies Dennis Carney and Peter Tatchell:
additional reading on Stop Murder Music from 2010:
Gays Move to Ban Reggae/Dancehall in Germany says the Xtranews where German authorities including a gay MP joined the discourse as reported in the now defunct XNews tabloid.
More Murder Music posts from GLBTQJA on Wordpress
UPDATE August 26, 2013
Nationwide radio's Emily Crooks during her What's On My Mind segment of her show gave her two cents alongside Naomi Francis co-host, I am total agreement with her, JAGLA over reached in this case: