Video campaign pushes respect for LGBTs in Jamaica

While broadcasters in Jamaica have refused to air an advertisement promoting tolerance and respect for LGBT people —  and have been sued for that denial — the gay-rights group J-FLAG has launched a new public awareness campaign called “We Are Jamaicans.”

These are videos on YouTube in the “We Are Jamaican” project (with a brief excerpt noted for each):

  • Dane Lewis – http://youtu.be/sJ-17R5DCoI  (“I just want to be able to enjoy the
    Dane Lewis, president of J-FLAG, on YouTube video in the "We Are Jamaicans" campaign.
    Dane Lewis, president of J-FLAG, on YouTube video in the “We Are Jamaicans” campaign.

    simple pleasures of building a relationship.”)

  • Alexis Goffe – http://youtu.be/DyUFC8P0GJI  (“I’ve come out of the closet as an ally of the LGBTQ community in Jamaica.”)
  • Susan Goffe – http://youtu.be/D8A0pJlt7Ug  (“As long as there has been a Jamaica, there have been gay and lesbian Jamaicans.”)
  • Javed Jaghai – http://youtu.be/BS2P6TvzuFM  (“I’m gay. I wish you’d understand. This is who I am.”)
  • Let’s Build Our Country – http://youtu.be/ffys1xXGq3E (Messages such as “Let us focus on building our country and not define each other by who we love,” with a musical background.)

Here is the announcement of the project.

Dane Lewis, the executive director of J-FLAG, Jamaica’s foremost gay rights advocacy organisation, is headlining a new human rights video campaign featuring straight, gay and lesbian Jamaicans.

The campaign, which is called “We Are Jamaicans,” was launched today to raise awareness among Jamaicans about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) identity and community, human rights, stigma and discrimination. “We Are Jamaicans” is a participatory video campaign hosted on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/user/EqualityJA. It features prominent Jamaicans such as Susan and Alexis Goffe and Javed Jaghai.

According to Lewis, “the campaign was developed following recommendations from consultations with LGBT persons, activists and allies to show the experiences of Jamaica’s LGBT community in a more diverse way.”

There is an urgent need to interrupt prevailing discourse on LGBT realities in Jamaica. Opportunities must be created for Jamaicans to see and hear about the experiences of LGBT people so they can understand what it means to be LGBT.

“Regrettably, the diversity and the complexity of Jamaica’s LGBT community is masked by media and advocacy narratives that too often focus on sex, victimhood, crime and HIV. These themes are not identity-affirming and they sometimes further entrench the marginal position of LGBT people in the society,” Lewis said.

Javed Jaghai, an openly gay Jamaican, says that ignorance helps to fuel homophobia and the campaign will be critical for increasing understanding among the Jamaican public about gender and sexuality variance. “By diversifying the stories told about LGBT lives, the complexity of LGBT identities will be made apparent and it will be easier to evoke empathy and secure general support for tolerance,” he highlighted.

The Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) through its Global Fund Vulnerablised Project funds the campaign. It is expected to lead to greater understanding and help change minds and hearts about Jamaica’s LGBT community. Gay, lesbian and straight Jamaicans are encouraged to use creative ways of sharing their experiences with LGBT issues and join the campaign whether they wish to show their face or not.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, and editor / publisher of Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at info@76crimes.com.

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