Today, August 6, Jamaica marks 51 years of independence from the United Kingdom. Just a few days ago, on August 1, we also celebrated 175 years of the Emancipation of all slaves in the former British Empire. Tragically, Emancipation Day this year was marked by two near-fatal homophobic mob attacks in Kingston. These attacks followed closely on the July 22 mob slaying of 17-year-old cross-dresser Dwayne Jones at a street dance in the tourist resort town of Montego Bay.
Some persons question how I can be patriotic and celebrate Jamaica’s independence while the persecution of LGBT Jamaicans continues unabated. My answer is drawn from the symbolism found in the colours of the Jamaican flag. The tri-colour black, green and gold are meant to represent “Hardships there are (black), but the land is green and the sun shines (gold).” As many of you know, I proudly drape myself in this flag as I march in Pride parades around the world. This is because I believe in the flag’s promise.
Simply put, my nation is not perfect and we have many struggles to overcome. However, we have an unshakeable (some might say inexplicable) hope in the future. This feeds my activism. My country will grow into its motto, “Out of Many, One People.” After all, the US motto “E Pluribus, Unum” (Out of Many, One) is still, for many Americans, an unrealized dream. But everyday Americans work to create a more perfect union. Nation-building is never easy, and divergent views will contend and often clash. But, that doesn’t make the process any less valuable.
So, on this Independence Day, I pause to salute my country and its accomplishments. And tomorrow I go back to work and try to fulfill the dream of absolute inclusion for ALL Jamaicans. This is the legacy of our nation’s founders.
Happy Birthday, Jamaica!
- Congratulations Jamaica (worddelicious.wordpress.com)
- Jamaican politicians’ role in 2 more homophobic mob attacks (76crimes.com)
- Jamaica: Female role in mob murder of teen cross-dresser (76crimes.com)
- Jamaica: Ignore or respond to murder of gay teen? (76crimes.com)
- In support of Javed Jaghai and Maurice Tomlinson (76crimes.com)
- Jamaica: Legal challenge to anti-gay law under way (76crimes.com)