Friday, August 30, 2013

Calling for a Tourism Boycott on Jamaica is a dumb idea at this time

Some young advocates as it were with full support from some older ones who seem more interested in attention seeking than seriously thinking what can happen when such poorly thought out agitations are launched. Lest we forget the LGBT population is still reeling from the black eye from the Queen Ifrica fiasco and the fumbling by all parties involved namely JFLAG and JAGLA (Jamaica Association of Gays and Lesbians Abroad) like wherein the hardened positions by the anti gay voices and persons has gotten more so. Now we see the Lovemarch folks planning another march from Hope Gardens to Half Way Tree on September 14th in opposition to the upcoming court cases challenging the buggery law etc.

Lest we also forget for those who were around before in 2008 and for newcomers we have gone down this road before with calls for boycotts by over exuberant foreign activists out of touch with our realities and who in a supposed bid to assist us in the struggle instead we ended up with a near diplomatic nightmare and a major spike in homophobic incident reports that these same voices were not prepared to assist us (I was a JFLAG at the time) to mitigate or engage. The choppings, profilings, beatings and so on were numerous and the narrative that rang out in some of those documented cases was that they were done in retaliation for making our country suffer in the eyes of the attackers.
EGALE - EQUALITY FOR GAYS AND LESBIANS EVERYWHERE Canada for example comes to mind in 2008 where they fervently called for a tourism boycott and the nation turned red with the call those days we did not have a more supportive media as now and it was a public relations nightmare the call ended up causing more problems than they solved, SMMS Stop Murder Music Canada also joined the call but called it off after some persuasion from local advocates on the ground and a response from the then government of Jamaica, also involved was the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto who had demanded that the Jamaican government immediately denounce homophobic violence in the country and begin work on repealing laws criminalizing homosexuality, including sexual orientation in the Charter of Rights and developing education campaigns for the country and for the police. A similar call has been hinted to by JAGLA, individual advocates and supported by Maurice Tomlinson. The supposed call is stop the rising numbers of violence meted out to members of the LGBT populations in recent times, my fear based on experience is that such calls only seek to increase the very abuses that the calls are intended to decrease, boycotts are counter productive, besides travel agents said that a tourist boycott was not likely to have a major impact anyway then and I doubt it would have now, also we must bear in mind that Air Canada recently commenced flights to Kingston again with renewed interest in the destination and given our economic situation, austerity and the mood of the nation on many fronts this is not the time for a boycott. Jobs are scarce, persons are tense we do not need a spark to set the place on fire.

Then came the Red Stripe boycott as well which had us in a frenzy for some time although Red Stripe bounced back easily and capitalized on the unexpected exposure that they could not pay for, their forward thinking however averted trouble when they vowed not to support shows with artists professing violent lyrics overall. Back then I had posted in a response to our friends in San Francisco; "While I appreciate the support in the cause for justice and tolerance towards everyone here despite their sexual orientation, groups planning or who have planned these events must be mindful of the repercussions such actions may have on an already marginalized grouping as we are here.

Members of the public and by extension select public opinion shapers will consider this as interference by foreigners and hence push for more hatred and opposition towards gays. Not to mention the increase in violence that occurs when a situation like this becomes public knowledge. As we have seen before during the planned Canadian group EGALE’s boycott early last year many persons including lesbians suffered attacks, we saw a spike in the numbers that was never so for lesbians especially before. The stories told to us by many victims included hints that we (gays) were getting foreigners to force their nasty lifestyle on Jamaica and other derogatory remarks so the attackers felt justified in their actions.

I ask you our friends to be mindful, JFLAG is slowly working on the ground to reach several objectives which include on going dialogue and other strategies which I am not at liberty to reveal now that I am aware of. Also to consider are the limited resources available for any action that may need to be taken in crisis intervention cases.

Let us remember too that it was Red Stripe, one of the targets of this ban campaign that withdrew financial backing for events and artists who promote violence of any sort against Jamaicans some time ago, we wouldn’t want to erode that small gain now, small as it was it was a step in the right direction.

Thanks to the organizers and participants however for showing concern and for taking the steps to bring the matter(s) to public light but let us communicate before any other drastic actions are taken, I know that there are passionate persons out there to our cause and I am grateful personally and by extension I know the JFLAG team and gays here are thankful too.

One Love


Cordially relations are enjoyed since and in fact it was the members of the same team in essence that met with Buju Banton, Michael Petrelis seated to Buju's left was involved in the Red Stripe boycott call. Boycott calls tend to make the hotel market jittery and with the public still angry at the feeling that the lobby has moved from being the oppressed to the oppressor. 

alarmist LGBT crisis reporting?

One wonders if the calls are genuine when the same persons making such calls do not reside here and seem oblivious to the real conditions on the ground such as the long standing issue of homelessness which none of these fly by night groups have once spoken to fully yet but are loud on limelight placing demonstrations and homophobic or transphobic violence reactions, case in point the Dwayne Jones murder in July, Jones was indeed homeless and resided illegally in a captured house in western Jamaica while alive he got very little assistance but in death became wonderful public relations material for some persons to project themselves yet they do not directly get involved in frontline work, one wonders. 

The fundamental concern for me is when the boycott is launched as persons seem head strong to do impervious of the opinions of influentials and previous Programs Managers of JFLAG will these groups and individuals provide assistance in whatever forms (outside of asylum seeking avenues) for local folks who may fall as involuntary martyrs for a cause they may not necessarily subscribe to? Such persons are in the comfort of other lands and can say anything what about the least amongst us especially who are far more exposed to the likelihood of being attacked or killed?

Knee jerk reactions to an obvious spike in homo-negative incidents is not the way to go about it, careful thought has to be done and strategizing but with recent outcomes in the lobby as well as outside of it leaves me wondering and indeed concerned on many fronts.

'I SPOKE FOR WHAT I BELIEVED IN' - Queen Ifrica defends Grand Gala performance after JFLAG backlash

We muss tek sleep and mark death and learn from previous mistakes instead of going headstrong inna more mess creating more unneeded obstacles.

Peace and tolerance



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