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January 20, 2014
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Bisexual dancehall publicist opens up - Says Sizzla should not be nominated for a Grammy

Despite the homophobic nature of the dancehall industry, a dancehall publicist has come out to say he is bisexual.

Rickardo 'Shuzzr' Smith recently came to the fore with his sexuality.

"I Rickardo Smith, more popularly known as Shuzzr, has been a victim, is still a victim of discrimination because of my sexual orientation. I refuse to let my life be subjected to the old colonial thought. I must embrace a new era where all men are equal irrespective of their beliefs, lifestyle and choices," said the publicist, who has worked with persons such as Gaza Kim, Blak Ryno, Patexx, Teflon, Morgan Heritage, RDX and Lisa Hyper.

He noted that at the close of 2013 he decided to "confront his inner demons."

"Years ago, I pledged to serve the ultimate master of all. Though it's been challenging, it found me straying away from his will as I understood it. I was compelled to reflect on the life I've lived and continue to live and the choices I've made. I was living a life that men deemed abominable, while others like me saw it as a blessing only few will ever be able to experience," he said.

He continued, "Whilst it was not an exemplary life at times, I felt closer to my Creator than I could ever be, and though some moments found me on my knees crying, struggling, I asked for help and it was given. God's mercy continued despite not fulfilling my end of the deal. "

'God's mercy, as Smith puts it, did not make it any easier to work within dancehall.

"Over the last three years, I've represented several dancehall heavyweights with distinct pleasure and humility, but, while doing so, I was subjected to the torture that the industry is historically known to carry," he said.

"Dancehall has always stood firm in its belief against homosexuality. As a practitioner within the industry, I have had to endure the blatant hypocritical stance over the years, but if I'm to ever be who I truly am, and be truly comfortable with myself, in my soul, I must take a stance and speak against injustice, hate lyrics, discrimination, and anything that may seek to reduce the life of one and their beliefs."

anti-homosexual stance

And, although there is still a general anti-homosexual stance in the dancehall industry, Smith says he still wants to work in the industry.

"I'm still a publicist and I hope dancehall artistes would still engage me, but, so far, I represent no one since the start of the year," he told THE STAR, noting that he is currently working as a freelance journalist.

"I've managed to build a brand and reputation, irrespective of my sexual orientation. There will always be backlash, but I'm embracing a dancehall culture where we all can have our stance and beliefs and still coexist. Judge me by my work not my sexuality."

And shortly after opening up about his sexuality, Smith also sent out a statement in which he said dancehall artiste Sizzla should have been dropped off the Grammy nomination list for the 'Best Reggae Album' category.

"In lieu of the Grammy reggae album nominations and Sizzla's performance at the recent staging of Sting, one would expect that the organisers of the most recognised entertainment award show worldwide would seek to distance themselves from the act and his pronouncements," he said in a press release.

"One cannot ignore Sizzla's contribution to the industry. However, we can't turn a blind eye to his prolonged negativity and the injustice his fellow gay Jamaicans face daily. The reggae industry over the years has produced a reservoir of talent from which such accolades would be more fitting of. Any artiste who continues in this day and age to promote homophobic lyrics and receives international recognition only helps to deter the fight for equality, justice, and freedom for all irrespective of their beliefs and sexual orientation."

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