I cannot believe it’s twelve years already it feels like yesterday and so much has passed since you were forcibly taken from us by sadly of all one of us who was just too greedy, simply put.
On social media namely Facebook a recent discussion which had Brian Williamson as the subject left me stunned for a time as some older folks in the group expressed some frustrations at homophobic killings especially in recent times or other forms of murders involving LGBT victims versus inter/intra-community violence especially in the homeless fields and at least two persons now residing overseas lamented that if Brian Williamson was around some of the atrocities may have been dealt with differently (not that he could stop them). Persons are still asking what is or was the purpose of JFLAG and others if all they seem to be is being preoccupied on media and on Facebook etc.; and as one person puts it ‘patting each other on the back’ (narcissistic mirroring) as the memories of Brian Williamson and the overseas based living legend Larry Chang both co-founders of JFLAG whose legacies seems to have been muddied in some sense. It is as if everybody going out of their way in bumping over each other or crabs in barrel syndrome to see can sound more politically correct and has a nice doctored online persona than anything else; covering up the ugliness underneath. Truth is hard to find these days as visibility increases and so welcomed but yuck!
Brian’s murder though in and of itself was not a homophobic matter as the matter as it was confirmed in the subsequent court case involved the liaison and assistance of one man as a newspaper vendor to which Brian funded brought or demanded another party be assisted and hence things went downhill from there. Where the earthy active homophobia came in was when the news of Williamson’s death spread in the business district and a large crowd converged at the address on Haughton Avenue, many persons celebrated Williamson’s murder, laughing and calling out “let’s get them one at a time”, “that’s what you get for your sin”, “let’s kill all of them”, while others sang “boom bye bye”, a line from a popular Jamaican song about killing and burning gay men and words to such effect. Others in-front of the very police and investigation crew who were removing the corpse even as other activists and friends arrived to confirm the news and who were emotional were told that they should be or would be next.
Meanwhile Desmond Chambers, one of two men with whom Williamson shared the three-bedroom house, told the media at the time that he did maintenance work around the property and accused two men who had visited
the premises earlier of the murder.
According to Chambers, one of the men was a regular guest of the deceased.
“I have seen him here about six times (and) anything him want, Brian give him. Brian give him money, Brian give him food and help him to purchase (newspaper) to sell on the road,” he said.
Then a longtimer who now lives in Amsterdam asked the banger question ‘What happened to the Brian Williamson Memorial Fund launched way back in 2004/5? An action I totally forgot which was to among other things:
Help homophobic victims recover
Assist with homeless and or displaced persons (a matter that is yet to be properly executed)
Act as a fund raising mechanism with events planned for the year in which it was launched.
Well his memory is good and only left me to lament the continuity problems of either well needed programs and successful ones that have been discontinued, what is the point of launching initiatives only to have them as nice announcements then nothing comes afterwards? And the legacy of Williamson seems just relegated to a mere memory; even as homelessness back then was such a pet peeve for him so much so as he used his own space, a drapery factory and rented office spaces by day and a drop in centre of sorts by night for selected displaced gay men by night and club central (the Entourage) on a weekend; I was a pleased admirer from afar then as one of his resident DJs and the clockwork like efficiency that obtained then in his day to day management of proceedings the machines would be wheeled away to make way for the already prepared bar area hidden from sight until revealed along with the entrance to the dance floor for the club; but some of us have become so accustomed to the initiatives announcements that we have simply stopped applauding said announcements.
The true essence of the struggle is long gone and the truthfulness nearly all gone; it feels so fake these days with well pressed suited individuals and privileged folks rubbing their very privilege in the faces of not so lucky folks and then expect them to cheer it on. Micro blogging campaigns that really do not reach down to the ground as per usual continue and activities are centred around the more comfortable folks then paraded as a general practice in all spheres; in other words ordinary battyman still are not seen as important by the more privileged. Advocacy as I and others have pointed out over years has come to be just a grand show especially with the infusion and use if not over use of social media and reliance of same to lull people into a false sense of security while real on the ground matters get overlooked. It’s more about image building on NGOs part than about real work that a question that I first saw in 2010 asked openly (yet to be answered) where do advocates/operatives find so much time to be on social media with almost hourly if not minutely status updates and tweets yet so much is happening on the ground? Then the old unapproachable paradigm is only further highlighted where impacted individuals hold on to issues in sometimes shame and embarrassment and are reluctant to make reports when urged as the belief is uptown privileged folks cannot or will not help me; perceptions is a hell of a thing I guess, not to mention the feeling by some older folks (over 40) and I tend to agree of non-interest in their age cohort even in the face of life expectancy almost doubling. Worse yet with HIV positive aging folks who do not necessarily want to interact with young wide eyed, inexperienced operatives who it is felt won’t be able to address let alone understand the issues; the customer service experience is prickly and somewhat uncomfortable. Many such older men simply do not engage NGOs or such and find others in their age cohort to confide or talk to.
Uncle Brian was the one just from memory was very passionate about the real community issues and not just the longer term goal of the buggery law but it would seem his memory apart is just left to languish or if referred to tagging homophobia to his name when as the introduction in this post showed the murder was not a homophobic matter directly. Even as the interview with a print media house a short time afterwards named Desmond who lived on the property sought to explain the truth but that seemed to have been ignored over time and the push to link Uncle Brian’s murder with a homophobic motive was more important and then we wonder why the antigay voices thrive on lambasting lobbyists as deceptive! Crisis communication is still not a tool that is sharpened that it leaves no doubt when reporting on matters.
Uncle Brian I thank you for helping in opening the door but some of the ones after you have near totally missed the reasons why, thanks for opening the door especially for me in the disc-jock, party promotion department on Christmas Eve 1996 at the very club ‘Entourage’ where you were taken from us sadly and the other DJs such as Chris Eaton, the late Boswell, DJ Ricky and the now residing overseas DJ Whiteman who had to flee Jamaica in 2008 as his life came under threat after a gay party DVD went public and the subsequent outing of those involved; Oh Uncle Brian the legendary U-Girl has left us as well and how you tried to help those young drag queens then as frustrating as it became with some limited success, U-Girl as an older patron of the club for so many years yet she was taken only yards literally from the very place; unfortunately proves that your work, your concerns are yet to be fully addressed even as your baby JFLAG is still around. I wonder sometimes how Brian would feel nowadays had he been around but that maybe a stretch. In the same breath we lost long-timer ‘Kevin’ battle queen who died of natural causes at the Kingston Public Hospital, KPH in March of this year, he is to be buried soon. Another old timer Dexter Dacres who was murdered in Falmouth Trelawny, New Haven Heights on March 9, 2016 is to be buried on June 18, 2016 at Dovecot. He was not a good dancer going from memory but appreciated the music and his critiques after a club night sensible DJs took note as he did do deep listening. Not sure if I can make it to the service though, I am not a fan of funerals as my friends know but sometimes we have to stomach it to pay our respects; especially after my experience at Kirk Lester’s service in Mandeville that made international headlines then with the mobbing at the church, thankfully the deacon was livid as to the desecration of the property and made his feelings known in no uncertain terms. When I learnt of the murder of Dacres I was not sure who it was until someone sent me a photo of him and my spirits dropped; as it is looking it seems to have been a break-in but police say they are investigating; as per usual the truth unfortunately is never found or if determined is not followed up as they ought to.
Thanks Uncle Brian and I like others miss you.
Peace & tolerance