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August 28, 2013
Star Features


Gays celebrate Independence, too

So the debate rages on about Queen Ifrika's utterances at the recent Jamaican Independence Grand Gala. Well, here's my two cents worth. I absolutely love Queen Ifrika. Yeah, I think she's a great artiste and I'm a big admirer of her work, but I have to say it how I see it. And mi nuh care who waan vex!

Hear me, nuh. I actually saw nothing wrong with her voicing support for review of the marijuana laws on that occasion. To me, marijuana legalisation is an issue that has serious socio-economic relevance for the country and one that can positively impact our national financial independence, so the ganja talk was not out of place in my book.

I strongly feel, however, that the national celebration was not an appropriate platform to introduce any issue around which our people are obviously divided and passionately polarised. As a people, we don't do arguments well. We don't usually politely agree to disagree. Instead, we have a culture that says the way to address differences is by figuratively [and sometimes literally if it comes to that] 'burning out' any dissenting voice or opposing side.

In that context, I feel it was wrong of the artiste to invite division into the national celebration. The event was for all Jamaicans - ugly and attractive, rich and poor. Gay people pay taxes, too, and gay people also celebrate Independence. Whether it's PNP versus JLP, Saints vs. Sinners, uptown versus downtown, or Gays versus Straights, no divisive issue should have been put to the people on the Grand Gala stage with any request for them to take sides ['all man who love this or bun out dat raise unnu han!']

The fallout was inevitable. So now, Queen Ifrika has been pulled from a show in Toronto. That's sad, but I'm not surprised. After all, what did she really expect? And as for the folks who're suggesting that she's being punished for 'advocating heterosexuality', I think unnu nah really talk straight! I'm sure I heard her say 'no gays 'round here' on the big stage at the National Stadium - and in dancehall parlance 'shi get a big forward fi dat'.

But if she didn't just say it to get the 'forward', then she must be serious about all the meanings inherent in that statement. And if that is so, she shouldn't really want to perform in Toronto because nuff gays round there! Yeah, Toronto is the city that hosts one of the biggest gay pride festivals in the world. And Toronto is the province of Ontario, and the Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne, is reported to be openly gay and has lived with her partner Jane for over 25 years.

In fact, given that many Jamaican dancehall artistes are so passionate about their abhorrence homosexuality, and since they obviously see protesting against homosexual lifestyle as a major priority of their creative mission, they should boycott those countries that support gays. Yeah man, President Obama is on record supporting gay marriage, and homosexuals are protected and embraced in the USA, so dancehall artistes should stand on principle and refuse to work in the US for their 'gay' money.

Local artistes who want to protest could do well by taking a leaf from the book of the late Peter Tosh. The stepping Razor didn't just say 'no apartheid 'round here!' Anybody can do that, especially when it's guaranteed to get a cheer. Tosh did more. He gave up lucrative financial benefits and refused to perform in Israel because that country was selling guns to the apartheid regime in South Africa. What say you?


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