Jamaicans quickly reject anti-gay Olympic slur

Omar McLeod, Olympic gold medalist
Omar McLeod, Olympic gold medalist (Photo courtesy of the Jamaica Gleaner)
Jamaica Gleaner's invitation to suggest a caption for Omar McLeod's photo, followed by the offensive Lasco tweet.
Jamaica Gleaner’s invitation to suggest a caption for Omar McLeod’s photo, followed by the offensive Lasco tweet.

Even an Olympic gold medalist from Jamaica isn’t spared from being insulted by a homophobic fellow countryman, but Jamaican culture has evolved to the point where such hostility now has stern consequences.

Omar McLeod, who won the men’s 110-meter hurdles on Aug. 16,  was called a “goldfish” in a tweet from a major Jamaican company. “Fish” — a derogatory term for a gay man — was applied to McLeod even though his sexual orientation is unknown.

lasco

In response to its employee's homophobic tweet, Lasco issued this apology not only to Omar McLeod but also to "our fans, friends, customers, consumers, partners, Jamaicans and everyone."
In response to its employee’s homophobic tweet, Lasco issued this apology not only to Omar McLeod but also to “our fans, friends, customers, consumers, partners, Jamaicans and everyone.”

An employee of Lasco Affiliated Companies used the company’s Twitter account to propose the label “goldfish” for McLeod in response to the Jamaica Gleaner’s request for readers’ suggestions for a caption under McLeod’s photo on the newspaper’s front page.

Lasco is a Jamaican holding company involved in a Jamaican holding company with operations in food products and financial services.

At first, Lasco said its Twitter account had been hacked, but then it acknowledged that the post had been made by an employee and, as a result, that he had been fired. The company apologized to McLeod and to Jamaicans, saying that the post did not represent its values.

In further response to the tweet, Portia Simpson-Miller, former prime minister and current opposition leader, issued her own tweet condemning homophobia.

This tweet from Portia Simpson-Miller rejected the Lasco employee's homophobic tweet.
This tweet from Portia Simpson-Miller rejected the Lasco employee’s homophobic tweet.

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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, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at info@76crimes.com.

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