This is the third of three articles:
- The first article presents the Edmonton Reggae Festival’s response to protests against anti-LGBTQ singers that it has invited to perform.
- The second is a commentary by Jamaican/Canadian activist Maurice Tomlinson titled “Reggae festival does little for LGBTI Jamaicans”
- This third article is from the FundRazr crowd-funding site that seeks support for organizations that empower Caribbean and black LGBTQ people.
Empower the Black Queer Community of Edmonton!
Recent controversy around homophobia at the Edmonton Reggae Festival made it clear: Black LGBTQ people in Edmonton need to be heard. You can boost our voices by donating to a group of community organizations that unify, celebrate and empower us!
All proceeds will be split amongst the following organizations that empower Caribbean and Black people who self-identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, or Queer (LGBTQ):
We are Black.
We are queer, trans and gender non-conforming.
We are Edmontonians.
Our race, sexuality, gender, and where we come from are inseparable parts of our identity. Each aspect of our identity affects our experience of life.
We enjoy the celebration of blackness and queerness in Edmonton. We have a stake in any issue concerning blackness or queerness in Edmonton. Yet we experience a lack of visibility in each of these communities resulting in isolation from the greater community and from each other.
The reality of our invisibility to the greater community, which is a denial of our existence, was made clear recently.
There has been controversy around the potential for homophobia at the Edmonton Reggae Festival. Public conversations and decisions on how to address the issue completely excluded the people most immediately affected: Caribbean and Black LGBTQ Edmontonians.
We were not afforded time to gather, find out what was happening and what could happen, strategize for our safety, and speak with our counterparts, LGBTQ Jamaicans, on how to act in solidarity with each other.
Black LGBTQ Edmontonians were not approached for our perspectives in the article by the Gauntlet about homophobic headliners. We were not consulted in the filing of a complaint to Edmonton Police’s Hate Crimes Unit or the CTV report about that complaint. We were not directly addressed in Edmonton Reggae Festival’s initial response to public concern around homophobia (please see the positive progress we’ve made in our Joint Press Release). We watched major sponsors and the general public pull their support for the Edmonton Reggae Festival with no mention of how to safeguard LGBTQ humans near and far from backlash.
These conversations happened about us, without us.
All of these actions were taken in haste before seeking, asking and listening to the voices of Black LGBTQ Edmontonians about how to honour BOTH our blackness and queerness. The public attention and resulting outrage on all sides has made no mention of what was needed in the first place: visual, measurable, and lasting support for Caribbean and Black LGBTQ everywhere.
Those of us in Edmonton who felt most safe to shout began shouting that WE EXIST. We should be speaking at the center of any conversation that affects us most.
We are finding each other. We are organizing. We have different backgrounds and opinions but we agree that we need safer spaces to celebrate our blackness and our queerness.
If you agree with us please support this crowd fund.
If you are a Caribbean and/or Black person who self-identifies as LGBTQ you know best what supports you need for your empowerment. Please contact us.
Black Queers of Edmonton
- Demand diversity training for anti-gay reggae singers (July 10, 2015, 76crimes.com)
- Anti-LGBTQ artists headline Edmonton Reggae Festival (July 7, 2015, The Gauntlet, student newspaper of the University of Calgary)
- Fans and sponsors abandon reggae festival over anti-gay song lyrics (July 9, 2015, CBC News)
- Edmonton Reggae Festival sponsors suspend support (July 9, 2015, Edmonton Journal)
- Jamaica: No tax money for reggae singers’ homophobia (August 2013, 76crimes.com)
- Canada was right to nix tax-funded Jamaican hate (August 2013, 76crimes.com)
- LGBT envoy heads to Jamaica amid plans for Pride (May 2015, 76crimes.com)
- Jamaica’s major newspaper backs LGBTI rights (June 2015, 76crimes.com)
- Progress in Jamaica toward ‘world as it should be’ (June 2015, 76crimes.com)