In light of the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, yesterday, the Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) says security is top priority when lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) friendly events are held in Jamaica.
THE STAR apparently spoke with Latoya Nugent, education and training director at JFLAG, who disclosed that although there are no gay clubs locally, homosexuals host 'events' in Jamaica. What she should have said was there are no official gay venues. The last considered 'gay club' was Club Heavens which ran for some 11 years before it slowed down for a while now but events are held nearby. Also see: Club Heavens “The Rebirth” 2012 and Miss World (LGBT) 2010 a quick look
She said: "I am not aware of any LGBT clubs in Jamaica, but there are a lot of spaces where people from the community host parties that are considered to be LGBT friendly."
When asked by our news team if such an occurrence such as the killing of 50 people and the injuring of another 53 at a gay club in Orlando could take place here in Jamaica, Nugent said anything is possible, however, extra precautions are taken. The open disclosure of venue addresses is and has been a concern of mine for some years now so much so that my present DJ residency it is only invitation only and no flyers are shared publicly as opposed to some others who leave themselves open; if someone really wants to strike then they can.
We used to use social media alot in the days of transitioning from the good old word of mouth or flyers in the early 2000s but with the high visibility one has to be still cautious none the less. The unusual photo taking is also a concern for some patrons and some stay away these days or attend ultra private events instead.
"Security is usually top priority and because a lot of it (events) is done in secrecy and spaces are not so open, the risk is minimized. The promoters take extra precaution," she said.
Nugent spoke, however, of one event, Pride Jamaica, which was held locally last year in an open space.
"There were no security breaches. The police also provided support as they would for any other event," she said.
THE STAR asked Nugent her thoughts on the Orlando shooting, which is described as "an act of terror and hate".
Nugent said: "It's difficult, when I saw it I said I could be at that club with my partner. I reminisce a few years ago while in Orlando with a partner, I started to put myself in their shoes. I'm still in shock. I still haven't processed it. Really senseless and very disheartening".
She also spoke of the response from the public saying, "There is a lot of outrage locally and elsewhere. It sends a signal that more and more persons are outraged about violence, regardless of the perpetrators or victims".
STATE OF EMERGENCY
Meanwhile, a state of emergency has been declared for the city of Orlando after Omar Mateen was accused for the killing of 50 people, and injury to 53 others in the gay club. Mateen was later killed by police during a stand-off at the club where he also held hostages.
The rampage, which is being treated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as an act of terrorism, occurred as the gay community in the US prepares for its Gay Pride celebrations. Another arrest took place in Santa Monica of a man with alleged explosives where it is surmised he intended to attend Pride events some eight miles away.