So it seems that the public in times gone by thought that when JFLAG spoke to LGBT issues via public advocacy it was representing a united front but that belief seems to be dying rapidly within the last couple of years especially owing to the homeless MSM/Trans issues in New Kingston in particular showing the class divide, hypocrisy, elitism (terms such as monied homosexuals used) and perceived institutional bigotry that exists in the LGBT populations and a feeling of the have and have nots being more pronounced seeing said populations are a microcosm of general society, current public sentiments seem to support all of the above.
I agree in some respects and have been bringing this and other concerns to bear via this and my other blogs/podcasts but impervious minds don’t listen, do they? One cannot be asking for tolerance and acceptance when said items are only editorialised and academised for masturbatory intellectual sport via public advocacy but nothing more. Tolerance must be clear cut shown and visible in order to enhance credibility and then some of the lobbyists complain of resistance when the thrust is missing the active evidence? I was made aware of some of the comments via a recording sent to me by a reader of the discourse on some talk shows locally and have been monitoring some shows when I can.
Reactions continue to come in following the latest public advocacy on the homeless LGBT youth in the business district of New Kingston as a recent press conference hosted by Jamaicans for Justice (video above), which also had the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition, CVC and JFLAG present, a clip was carried on CVM TV on April 7 on the matter although the more substantive issue of the recent IACHR report where all the named organizations were present to address Jamaicans position in terms of recommendations by the body, former ED of Jamaicans for Justice and now Director of the CVC Carolyn Gomes spoke to the Northern Caribbean University cheer leading matter where a female student who played a male role in a routine and who also kissed the hand of another female has come in for disproportionate disciplinary action by the student leadership body and has caused a fire storm in the court of public opinion, Miss Gomes seems to have been made the mouth piece for JFLAG again instead of JFLAG speaking stridently on its own behalf a silence that has not gone unnoticed as well by members of the public all over where in one instance on social media a user asked why is only gay men issues that they are the loudest yet this one has a female involved yet they are quiet. So the cynicism in regards to lesbian-invisibility is present not sure how high it is though although coming from anti gay voices which points to credibility yet again.
Jamaican human rights advocate uses the "H" word in submissions on intersex/lgbt issues at IACHR hearing where Miss Gomes erred using an outdated term to describe intersex individuals.
The crisis communication has not been an strong element of the struggle even after all these years and successive management that needs to be tightened.
None the less Dane Lewis Executive Director of JFLAG spoke to one of the recent police actions towards or against the homeless persons by that gully (described as a sewer for exaggeration by some) saying that he is concerned about the police harassment, I did not like the description however by CVM TV of JFLAG however as “one minority group” as if to search for a proper term for political correctness. Mr Lewis spoke to the police abuse and the diverse sexual identities in the group thus making the discrimination in his eyes more damaging.
Callers to several talk shows since the airing of that clip on CVM TV and even on social media have been weighing in, I do not dismiss these responses as gibberish as some lobbyists tend to do in contempt while reclining in their privileged positions, the court of public opinion must be watched to see where the minds of the people are at and then tailor the public advocacy alongside the crisis communication interventions where applicable as it is a cultural battle that we face not necessarily a legal one, instead what we continue to have is a corporatist behaving agency in handling LGBTQI matters while doing all that is possible to protect its image more so than being straight forward on the urgent situation of homelessness in New Kingston in particular. That does not include the other populations across the island. Callers expressed the continued disbelief for example of homophobic violence and or killings and the one female caller in particular on Newstalk 93FM built on the recent article by Dr Michael Abrahams on the lobby becoming a bully or bullyist tactics in public advocacy a growing perception since the Queen Ifrica matter, the airwaves have lit up since the article came to hand despite other matters of national importance competing for attention. HOT 102FM’s Mic 1 2 3 show host Steven Golding (son of “Not in Cabinet” former Prime Minister Bruce Golding) took a swipe as well as he always does on the matter as well in a one liner bearing in mind the station is owned by CVM TV that carried the aforementioned clip, sister program hosted by Betty Ann “Peter King Tape demanding” Blaine has not been so vocal on this recent set of issues yet by cursory glance, unless I missed it. Power 106FM’s Justice show as well has since some activity regarding the bully perception although the NCU student suspension matter has taken centre stage in as far as LGBT mattes are concerned. Nationwide radio too since the Gleaner article and the matter raised on different current affairs shows have also seen some hint to the perception of the poor response to the homeless one caller went as far as to suggest a similar “have and have nots” scenario or the “us and them syndrome” with the fat politician versus meagre selected populace, such inference was drawn with Mr Lewis’s appearance versus the homeless men as photoed and video captured in the gully.
Mrs Barbara Gloudon also raised some concerns on her Hotline show on RJR (was not able to hear alternate hosts Clive Mullings and Dr Orville Taylor’s take) similar to those she raised in July 2013 after the eviction of the homeless or squatting MSM/Transgender youth at MIllsborough Avenue where she asked what is going to happen to them while mindful of the “dem fi dead” (they are to be killed) sentiments by sections of the public. She questioned the identity of the men in terms of cross dressing etc and how did they get to be homeless and basically abandoned by more privileged gay persons, she questioned what is the lobby really doing than just talking about it and crying foul, “are they worthy of any human consideration?” “is it worth doing anything for them?” “What did their parents discover when they were children?” “We have been marching, we have been preaching, will any church consider giving them sanctuary?” she asked. Since the CVM news item she repeated her query/advocacy of sorts. (Tape not available unfortunately)
Ronald Mason’s Newstalk 93FM show that mostly deals with politics also segwayed into the matters as well where he asked what is going on when there are reportedly six lawyers who defend the men when they are allegedly abused yet JFLAG is missing, he reiterated a question he asked during the Millsborogh Avenue eviction “Where is JFLAG, you’re always aggressive in your advocacy for them, how about dealing with the disorderliness of them, that comes a part of your territory too, not just advocating for acceptance but where they create challenges to society we have to react to them or do you think they should be allowed free reign in that particular part of the corporate area?” he lamented as to the length of time it is taking to deal with the men so much so that the numbers have grown. Here comes the tossup between public order and the screaming welfare issues from a section of the LGBTQI populations.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller’s recent comments at the opening of the parliamentary year on the poor and vulnerable and her attempt to try to identify with their plights saying that she has felt the pain has not gone down well either as cynicism rises in that regard on the larger backdrop issues of job, the economy and crime, one caller on Power 106FM’s Justice show on Tuesday while opposing homosexuality as it were wondered aloud the hypocrisy or trickery by the PM as to their perception of a promised repeal of buggery or a conscience vote but she has ended up playing the usual three card trick in order to get votes, so it is not lost to some of the dithering or deception which ever suits. Other callers on Power 106FM, RJR and Nationwide also expressed similar opinions as well.
Then came the future victimization belief by some of the church/religious voices in free speech via local and international LGBT groups seeing that they oppose the “homosexual lifestyle” and related matters, the recent move by anti gay group Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship, LCF on offering pro bono legal services for representing children who are abused has not escaped the notice as well of several callers and some see it as a covert move to address homosexual abuse of children of course playing also on the long held belief of predatory behaviour perceived or real of boys by older men or girls by older women or even teen on teen abuse. Terms such as homosexual grooming and rape are used especially on Love 101FM the leading Christian station and on NCU radio as well at the times I have been able to scan them. Also we must be mindful that with every public appearance of spokespersons or JFLAG on LGBT matters there must be a review of the temperature on the ground as experience has brought to bear there is always some spike of some sort in response to said public advocacy.
I have been watching the sluggish developments or lack thereof for some time in the recently hyped Dwayne’s House proposed solution even as the persons were or are still residing in the gully (sewer for some for exaggeration of the matter) or other dilapidated buildings and open spaces despite four or five other agencies also do outreach (HIV predominantly) interventions to the group including faith based owned and managed ones as the persons are peddled as vulnerable populations by the LGBT specific ones yet their conditions have not improved, not to mention the older populations prior to the advent of the gully (sewer) group who have been ignored now especially those who were the occupants of a previous residency you may have heard me mention the Safe House Pilot Project 2009. JFLAG sat back and watched that project close without any opposition to its parent organization Jamaica AIDS Support for Life, JASL as its board used the “bad behaviour” of the men mostly as justification to do so well before the expiration date while not allowing the various psycho social elements written into the project concept/rationales to be effected. Laudable as the Dwayne’s house looks on paper or public advocacy via social media and with certain names attached to it such as Yvonne McCallah Sobers of Families Against State terrorism the real power lies in the executives who sit behind JFLAG, JASL and CVCC to name a few yet no real moves seem afoot to address the issues. Laudable as well the visibility based campaigns in terms of voices coming out again pristine aspirational PR is not enough. The cop out excuse as well used by some apologists that there is not wide funding available for homelessness is an outright lie it is reintegration program funding and subsequent psychological support for families that is lacking and a cause for concern internationally which has been raised by others involved in similar interventions. Said funding for housing is not readily available for newer none state actors but for older ones with strong evidence of stigma, homophobia and crisis hence my resting the blame at the foot of JFLAG especially with fifteen years of existence but one wonders if they are only for that? Existing.
The powers that be apparently thought the men would simply disappear in the underground as was so prior to the shelter’s opening but instead we have ended up with five years of grief to date and yet JFLAG uses public advocacy to pretend they care, that all? The J could not speak up or out on the clear wrong of the closure of that shelter as the board/management committees of both Js are incestuous in nature in terms of composition so fiduciary responsibilities disappear all this despite anecdotal and hard evidence of displacement due to stigma etc. Yet the campaign is steeped too much on victimhood and still kept to the level of importance here as the populations are obviously used as martyrs voluntarily or not as if we cannot survive in Jamaica somehow while the underground railroad to asylum is overused in my eyes. It is not lost to the public that something is amiss while not knowing the inside shenanigans, despite changes to the leadership over time the same organizational psychology seems to still exist just by observing the public advocacy. A discussion on Newstalk 93FM’s Point Counterpoint morning show the matter of the homeless group in New Kingston, masculinity and sexuality came for mention on April 7th the dithering, refusal to offer real solutions and cloudy concepts of tolerance by the gay student representative displayed an elitist positioning on this was clear as crystal, while we understand there is room for academic review of the issues the academising and editorialising as pointed out by the social anthropologist on the show won’t solve the issue, making the populations poster children is not enough and smacks of a kind of hypocrisy on the part of the LGBT lobby collectively but I am not surprised as this has been the modus operandi for years as intellectuals recline in that world.
Mistakes, deceptions or omissions in public advocacy have had an effect for all involved including those who aren’t even involved directly.
JFLAG and others cannot be asking for tolerance when it is not already demonstrably clear and functioning not just presented as aspirational public relations or playing catch up when the issue has festered to the point of decay. More and more LGBT persons are being forcibly evicted or displaced, only last month three new cases came to hand through Aphrodite’s P.R.I.D.E Jamaica alone outside of other reporting mechanisms. The public and indeed some in the populations want more hard evidential success so as to change the homo-negative mindset out there, ignoring or dismissing the public sentiment especially that of the common or everyday Joe is not a good sign as it smacks of a kind of contempt while on a frolic of their own also while getting ahead of themselves in their perceived success. Elitism has no place in the struggle.
The HIV prevention credibility with respect with MSM is also being challenged with the latest ad campaign by the Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society, JCHS with their continued HIV is gay disease ploy which has the eyes and ears of locals and foreigners alike as evidenced in the Human Rights Day 2013 event hosted by them at the Emancipation Park, ironic that the park signifies freedom yet theocratic imperatives are made manifest repeatedly. Who is going to stand up openly for the least amongst us or I should say which individual or group with clout and power with HONESTLY stand and assist the youths to more from lives interrupted to some sort of independence eventually?
Why are the religious voices too creating outcasts and who really has the moral authority in these matters?
Lastly let me say it again True tolerance MUST be demonstrably clear for it to be an effective tool for change.
Interesting times ahead folks