The below is a letter I sent to the editor, in it's unedited format. This is over the Gleaner's word limit, so if it is published it will be a little less.
J-FLAG’s PSA that basically said “please love and respect your GLBT family members and friends, please allow them to live, do not go out and kill them” has caused quite a stir. Clergy has been offended, the television stations are too afraid, and persons in the general population are incensed.
Among the many reasons for rejection is that the spokes persons are brown skin. Some persons rejected it saying that “cultural imperialism [is] behind [the] gay message”. Why did J-FLAG use this ‘high coloured’ woman and her brother to bring this message across? Why didn’t they use the ‘dutty battyman’ or the ‘black skinned, patois speaking’ parent of a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender child?
Firstly, since when did being brown skin or ‘high colour’ disqualify anyone from being a Jamaican? Does our motto not say “Out of Many One People”?? Why does their skin colour, make Christine Straw and her brother Matthew any less Jamaican? We already say black/African Americans shouldn’t tell us what to do, are we now saying brown skin Jamaicans should not be allowed speak about issues that affect them?
Secondly, are you crazy? Jamaica is an intolerant society, we’re intolerant of anything or anyone who dare go the other way (not just sexually). Which parent or sibling of a black GLBT Jamaican could do a video PSA, showing their faces and giving the same message? How many can do that, how many are willing to do that? What will happen after that PSA? Will they be able to return to their community, or their job? The security of that person will be greatly undermined.
Yes it would be great if we could have a PSA of a black parent or sibling with their GLBT family member, but until those persons can be safe from Jamaica’s intolerance of differing views, we won’t get a PSA like that.