Not surprising old dormant homophobic and or antigay feelings have come front and centre yet again in light of the Pulse Orlando Florida gay club shooting incident. In previous posts on tolerance and subsequent entries I and others have warned not to believe that perceived reduction in reported homophobic matters is not a sign to judge how tolerant Jamaicans are. Even comments as done in vox pops, comments on social media appearing to be tolerant can disappear overnight as this round of expressions show quite clearly; even as persons express some surprise if not shock at the brazenness of the shooter the corresponding sentiment openly in some instances declare those impacted by the incident deserved what they got.
This disturbing narrative has been ringing out steadily on popular Jamaican Facebook groups in particular and on Snapchat; not to mention Instagram as photos from the melee are shared, with some persons literally rejoicing; persons pour vitriol in almost endless threads. Then comes the unfortunate if not deceptive tie-in of gays by way of advocates becoming too brazen (effeminacy and light public displays of affection) or the old victim-hood line of bullying religious voices linking the Professor Bain and the University of the West Indies, UWI to the local scene and how powerful LGBT lobbyists have become as they try to change the ‘buggery law’ whilst some ignorantly also conjoin paedophilia into the mix to justify their position as per usual without any proof and sheer conflation of abuse and same gender sex.
I was never one to call signs of tolerance as definitive as changing hearts and minds aint no easy feat; while hope remains towards true harmony. There is usually a lull in between matters and narratives die after the proverbial nine days only for when another major matter such as this shooting incident then the old antigay forces come out. The comments are if not only disgusting but troubling as persons are willing to declare they would have done the act if they had the means, but one also wonders if these are just barbs for social media reflective of a narcissistic complex to supposedly ‘get a fawud’ as has been happening in recent times with all kinds of offbeat matters making appearances supported by hundreds of ‘Likes’ in other words anything to get some attention; even LGBT people are guilty of this whilst decency, boundaries and just plain common sense seem to disappear in the process.
The already lengthy string of mostly antigay comments on GLBTQJA’s Youtube page especially on the Dwayne Jones video of his last appearance prior to his murder has only gotten more graphic in threats and in numbers in recent days. My email inbox is starting to look like a list of steady threats and negative responses and justifications for the shooting; even as the repressed sexuality causation comes forth in the US media some persons are now claiming that it has always been gays who kill gays locally and that the twist added in recent days proves it. The shooter is now being reported as being a regular visitor to the very club he ended up shooting. The dismissal of claims of homophobia is on the rise which only raises yet again how to tackle the so important crisis communication in advocacy and taking each case on their own merit even this very awful tragedy.
Hypocritically religious groups such as the most consistent antigay group Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship came out with some half hearted position also obligatory condemnatory sounding narrative as expressed by its puppet President and one time HIV ally Helen Coley Nicholson where she said that the LCF condemns the use of violence against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation (they finally accepted that sexual orientation is real ... oh wow!) or in disagreement over moral and religious issues. She said in part:
“Guns have never been known to kill ideas; only people, change in opinions, lifestyles and beliefs can only come with respectful dialogue which acknowledges the sanctity of life and common humanity; our weapons in the struggle for change are not carnal, those who think and act otherwise are on the wrong side and will never win the battle ..... "
The Jamaica Umbrella Group of Churches also has joined to present a very pious sounding position while condemning violence specific to the shooting they did not condemn the sentiments openly expressed given rise to the very homophobia they and others fan the flames if ever so tendentiously. Jamaica CAUSE and other antigay groups/voices seemed muffed let us see if they will cough up something to seem supportive or to avoid being labelled as being silent is a sign of a serve them right stance. No statement has come to hand yet from the local Muslim community or from their radio show (unless it was missed) neither have I seen when I checked as at the preparation of this entry anything related statements from the Marcus Garvey political outfit. Prime Minister Andrew Holness had issued a message with some commiseration included but I wonder if it was just the expected statement and really not meant in principle or some obligatory condemnation. The parliamentary opposition is silent on this and seems more busy with its own internal drama for leadership positions even as when they were in power duped all of us post the 2011 leadership debate and conscience vote promise or suggestion that has not materialized.
For what it is worth the PM’s statement was statesmanlike but his appointed Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte also a former Foreign Affairs Minister decided to tweet on the fact that a rainbow flag being flown on the US Embassy locally has thrown a wrench in the wheel; has she forgotten that the embassy is US soil? Seeing that they are going through this issue she is upset and tries to clarify her tweet as a personal position.
Other sensible folks though have been separating the issues and rightfully so and thanks to President Obama’s statesman role in addressing the public he has also helped to clear the air by distinguishing the possible motives and not only describing the event as a hate crime but one of terror as well; his address today definitely put Trump in his place and right-sided the discourse with clarity of thought and perspective of logic; it has now garnered a name of ‘The Obama blast’ oh if we had more leaders like this. Malahoo Forte would have been schooled after hearing that, I hope she took notes. Let us see when the dust settles and the narratives shifts to something else which happens so easily.
Think on these things
Peace & tolerance