With the international day of tolerance approaching how timely this post comes, we really need some tolerance in our own backyard I think.
There are just too many Jamaican LGBTians who have real world experiences and have learnt or not in or moved on and who can teach or impart some knowledge (often treated as discarded) to others for not boastfulness for the true edification of the younger); no wonder why we have so many claims for ‘firsts’ in ignorance as to what transpired prior.
The business of class(ism) has always been a challenge in the LGBTQ populations (I deliberately avoid community as we are not that yet in any serious way) the feelings of exclusion or entitlement depending on which side of the aisle one is at determines a standoff of sorts in many respects including advocacy; the impacts of such tenseness can be seen in socialization patterns and even sex seeking behaviours to gay on gay violence that appear to be homophobic. What forced me to prepare this entry was a discussion I ended up in with a brethren I had not seen for some time and we ran into each other on East Queen Street recently. We greeted and recounted when we last saw each other and stuff.
By the time we got to recounting old parties sessions we remembered and then names recall; who died, who migrated or are dead came next; a pattern of conversation when gay men meet face to face as if to reinforce a feeling of being a survivor in this place called Jamaica. He recounted also some difficulty he had gone through and a relocation exercise he was forced to undergo as some heat came his way. But the class business came into the picture somehow as he had reached out to an older more affluent man for some assistance. The assistance was offered as in a short stay at the grantor’s house but then other strange things started to occur.
The sometimes annoying lecture that comes from the likes of older or more successful or comfortable gay or bisexual men who in assisting a poor boy or perceived careless ‘sport’ (colloquial for gay man) also featured in my brethren’s experience which can be laced with condescending tones and terminologies that are outright elitist and a turn off. The tone of blame can creep in as well; so it was one’s fault why you got yourself in trouble and why should they or ‘we’ (implying superiority of some kind) assist you people or ‘unu?’ this business of who should be entitled to be gay also presents itself surprisingly in society, the so called murder music, MSM circles and even the police customer service experience. Cases I have been close to have had impacted persons who try to make a report at a police precinct being told by the intake officer that if they were uptown or rich or more affluent than their actually station in life they could have avoided their impasse. A lesbian who suffered an arson attack in Rockfort recently was the subject of such castigation by a police officer in the name of diagnosing her case and causation. Even as he penned her pointers instead of careful listening and copious note taking or rightly allowing her to write the report in her own hand he played the blame game that just by her look and where she lived where the attack occurred she is at fault; essentially she is the wrong class and in the wrong place so she should not really complain but accept her fate.
My brethren continued that he got fed up with the lectures from the grantor and decided to reach out to other persons to see how he could ‘eat a food’ (colloquial for day to day survival) but almost at every turn to achieve such he ran into the scrutiny and or the scanning eye and elitist sounding comments. “So why are you not working ......?” one person was said to have asked him as he went on. The ‘so you should be like us’ mantra supersedes the genuine concern that ought to exist. He sounded rather upset that the cohesiveness that once was there in his mind is somehow gone and a new selfishness (I call it self centeredness) has come to define us. As in general society I imagine one is judged by who ones knows, materialism or ownership of items, how one looks and where one lives all determining how one is treated. I have referenced the above pointers in previous entries relative to advocacy versus impacted poorer classes of LGBTians. In other words the privileged versus the so called ‘scary queens’; a disturbing term used by a so called LGBT advocate yet stigmatising terms are part of their narrative.
How can the call be tolerance be therefore legitimate if only said tolerance in a TRUE sense is demonstrably clear in LGBT circles to make it so? Those disturbing images of an emaciated gay homeless man is one such example of how class(ism) is most visible. We are told repeatedly by more powerful and visible voices of shelters coming, so called fund raising and other explain-aways yet no serious help and assistance but said voices are willing to take photos and pretend they actually care.
My brethren felt affronted and turned off from approaching anyone for help as many others do and sometimes suffer in silence, this also has an impact on under-reporting of matters and infractions; barring fear of rejection (without saying it out in so many words) and avoiding such lectures and judgements implying blame that one is the cause of their condition or state. An argument ensued between the grantor suspected to be caused by frustrations or impatience by him to continue any assistance and the implied elitism came at him loud and clear. This is the opposite side of the all important community based assisted sheltering or couch surfing where persons do genuinely offer such help however short a period. Tie in the concept of middle classes feeling more immune to homophobia in the form of violence or public verbal spats so while they have agency the poorer guys are left being seen as permanent victims of possibility of such.
I don’t know when these social constructs that have become so entrenched in our psyche can be unlearned and real tolerance and cohesiveness coming through. It is a challenge expressed even in more what are considered advanced societies that obviously we are modelling. The very advocacy images nowadays suggest perils of poorer classes are to be kept quiet or under a bushel as it is too embarrassing while highlighting effectively a lie or false image of survival as it impacts in too much a real way on the privileged folks. Just check twitter-verse and Facebook for the evidence. Commensurately other activists have been accused of using said plights in their privileged state to gain legacy, if not wealth and such as other persons are not bold enough to speak out openly due to safety reasons, there is a feeling of resentment that money is going to some and they are not sharing or assisting poorer classes real or imagined. Not that positive imagery is not needed but sheeesh when it is a lie to look good then we are dealing with something else here and it stinks. It was only yesterday I ran into an old friend and he quipped why was it that party promoters for example aren’t contributing to more community developmental projects and even homelessness assistance?
Good question but wrong subject being asked I told him.
Nuff to chew on right yasso again.
Jamaican Homosexuality and Class Issues 2009
Inviting an unverified third party for a hook-up can be dangerous 2013
Facebook & unintentional outings to family members
Peace & tolerance