Tifa, Curvy Diva, Ishawna for gay Pride party

July 29, 2019
Yanique ‘Curvy Diva’ Barrett.
Yanique ‘Curvy Diva’ Barrett.

L ast year when D'Angel made her appearance at the PrideJA Breakfast Party, it was the first time in Jamaica's history that a well-known dancehall artiste would perform at an LGBT Pride event in Jamaica.

It was labelled a step in the right direction by organisers who said the performance would signal a change in the relationship between the dancehall fraternity and the LGBT community.

This year, dancehall artistes Ishawna, Tifa and Yanique 'Curvy Diva' have been booked for the annual event. Their images have been placed on the official promotional materials announcing their participation in the event.

While they have shown their support via their Instagram pages, the artistes have otherwise chosen to remain silent.

"Based on the reaction, when we called and asked them (the artistes in this year's line-up) to be part of the event, we're sure they're looking forward to it. It's three persons who are very loved in the community, so we're expecting it to be another great year," said Suelle Anglin, associate director of marketing, communications and engagement of the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG).

Problematic lyrics

Anglin touched on the relationship between dancehall and LGBT people, and argued that it's very complex.

"A lot of people think that LGBT people cannot enjoy dancehall music, and if you listen the very hardcore type of dancehall music, there will always be very problematic lyrics in it. But our community likes to listen to the feel good dancehall music, the music weh make yuh wah whine up yuh body and dash out," she said.

"It is such a big part of our culture, we grew up on it and we want to enjoy it like everyone else. We wanted Pride to be that space where LGBT people who appreciate dancehall music could enjoy it, and not just from a selector but from their favourite artistes."

Anglin said based on the reception she's been getting from female dancehall artistes in recent times, she believes things are changing on the entertainment scene. "Some years ago, artistes weren't so open to the idea of being a part of events like these and so this signals growth," she said.

Anglin has high hopes that male entertainers will come to see things the way their female counterparts have, but admits that may still take some more time.

"I think if we should get to that day, it will say a lot about the growth we have taken regarding LGBT people, especially by people in the dancehall arena."

The PrideJA Breakfast party is scheduled for Independence Day.

"People always say we have every other holiday and we shouldn't have it on Independence and I always like to tell people that if they understood what Independence meant for people, and if you understand what Emancipation meant for people, then it should not be hard to see why we would have Pride during this time. Pride is a big part of finding yourself. People always try to take our 'Jamaican-ness' away from us because of our identity and it's a time to claim that back."

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