Over the weekend I was out and about in Kingston when I ran into an old taxi colleague who once transported myself and other party patrons in the days of the entourage and other clubs back then, taxi drivers then preferred to take LGBT patrons from parties knowing they could charge double or triple scale as they know such patrons want to be safe and sound from profiling and abuse. The driver I will call him "Glen" for this post was well known but went off the scene for a while due to ill health however he was forced to return to driving his own vehicle as most owners of hackney carriage do to earn a better profit. Since his return he has been making inroads it seems in the community as old faces remember his services and are re-engaging him but this has not gone down well with rival drivers who operate from the parking area they "shoot" from i.e. answer central radio call while customers are on hold to the main switchboard of the respective taxi service agency.
The competition can and has led to riffs with drivers on similar agencies or rival ones and with violent outcomes or stealing or under pricing so as to cut into the others business. The rival drivers have now become vitriolic towards the tolerant taxi driver (not the same one who intervened in a case I blogged about in 2010 - Homeless MSM/CSWs in New Kingston rescued by taxi driver) they are now jealous of the continuous patronage this man is now enjoying, some would say in Jamaican style "bad mind" that even if Glen is spotted on a duty in traffic by other drivers it becomes source for snide remarks over the short wave radio between duty announcements or when he returns to the terminus/stand he is ridiculed that he carries his "battyman fren dem" (gay friends). As of lately thought it has gotten really caustic and Glen is contemplating going solo and leaving the taxi company so as to avoid the taunts and remarks.
It is not the first time I and others have received such complaints from taxi drivers who routinely carry members of the community and who sometimes develop long term business and platonic friendships for years as when the drivers realise we are no different that they are save and except our sexual orientation and they in turn sometimes become inadvertent advocates for the cause as they live the experience in socializing with us as homosexuals. I asked Glen if he was threatened in anyway to discontinue using the terminus from his detractors he said no not really but he is not comfortable sometimes when the argument comes up and it could affect business as he drew an inference for being pointed out by others in order to also turn away would be passengers who happen to walk up to the stand for services or sharing his car number with others to cause call in customers not to want to use his car if his number is named as an option.
Real life engagement is the best way to teach persons over time and they in turn realise that there is no social constructionism at work to supposedly recruit persons into homosexuality or some other biological essentialism in the clouds to achieve some down low imperative. Even as Glen is living tolerance by demonstrably showing it he is vilified for being too supportive, what better way to break down the barriers indeed and not just mainstream advocacy stuck in HIV Prevention and rights based legalise.
One by one persons can change their minds with just a little exposure but with reports coming in recent days of two sets of double murders with unclear motives a this time has left sections of the populations stunned at first but it turned out one was an attempted suicide hence poking another credibility hole in the the crisis reporting/communication while other lesser atrocities are out there alongside our homeless brethren who have been neglected by the more privileged LGBT advocates who offer mere tokenism, more mainstream advocacies and national systems and programs not to mention insensitive parents and public towards LGBT youth in particular.
Glen and I spoke over some beers and he is seriously considering going private and offering services outside the glare of the prying drivers and he is even thinking of changing his car so he cannot be identified as he wants to satisfy his customers while meeting his bottom line whosoever has a problem with gays as it were. I say go Glen you do you and I will gladly support when I can and share his digits with the populations who need such services as I have done for years with other drivers as well.
Peace and tolerance