Thousands flock gay parties - Pastors concerned about events staged during ‘Emancipendence’ weekend
While Jamaicans are gearing up to celebrate a significant milestone in the country's history, some nationals are getting ready to fly their rainbow-coloured flags during the 'Emancipendence' weekend.
Jaevion Nelson, one of the persons involved in the staging of Pride Week in Jamaica, said that some 3,000 persons comprising of gays and their allies attended last year's events, and a similar number is expected this year.
The week of activities is scheduled for August 1 to 7.
According to Nelson, even people who are not part of the LGBT community, but who supports the rights of that group of people, attend the events.
"Typically, it lesbians, gays and bisexuals and transgender people and allies who attend the events," Nelson said.
This year, as part of the third installation, a breakfast party will be held on Independence Day. The week of activities will also involve a two-day conference, sports day, open mic, concert, beach picnic and cooler fete, family funday and a health and wellness fair.
"It is a typical breakfast party where people come dressed in their best clothes to have fun to techno, house, reggae, dancehall and soca music," he said.
"It is a period of emancipation and independence, fighting for freedom and empowerment in our country, so where the LGBT community is concerned, we draw on that parallel to say that the LGBT community is fighting for their own freedom and respect in the country," he said.
And although Jamaica is perceived to be a very homophobic nation, Nelson says they have received minimal backlash since the first staging in 2015.
"Only last year we had a little bit of uproar about why celebrating the week, but it was more about the significance of the August 1 to 6 period rather than persons saying that the event shouldn't happen," Nelson told THE WEEKEND STAR.
While applauding the steps made in the acceptance of the LGBT community in Jamaica, Nelson feels they are a long way from been treated equal.
"Over time it will get better and better. Certainly it is nowhere near where the country needs to be, but we can't ignore the progress that has been happening," he said.
In the meantime, Reverend Dr Lenworth Anglin, the pastor for Rockhall Church of God and Cavaliers Church of God, has expressed concern that such events are being held in Jamaica.
"At anytime we would have a concern about this type of event. However, we are deeply concerned by the attempt to link our independence and emancipation with anything of their agenda," he said.
Reverend Renardo White of Tower Hill Missionary Church believes that these events are nothing but superficial celebrations of the LGBT lifestyle to give the impression that it is being accepted, but in reality it is rejected by the bulk of the population.
"While there may be different levels of rejection, there is an overall rejection of that lifestyle, so we are not comfortable with this kind of thing because the society is not embracing it," he told THE WEEKEND STAR.
"They are trying to piggyback on our independence celebration and it would be a false impression to think that to draw a large crowd is an endorsement of their lifestyle. People are in the holiday mood so they will attend," he said.