Tag Archives: Jamaican LGBTs

Jamaican Artist Diana King Plans All-Lesbian Record Label

Diana King – who shot to fame in the 90s with her reggae/hip-hop/pop hits – was one of Jamaican first musician to come out as gay.

Since then, she has spent years looking over her shoulder, living in fear, and facing the judgment of not only her own people, but her own family.

However, now she making changes, and with that has joined this year’s Raggamuffin line-up, in a move that seems to sum up her entire approach to music and life.

The Shy Guy singer replaced fellow Jamaican artist Beenie Man after he was dropped for his homophobic lyrics and comments for which he refused to apologise when given the chance.


At first, it was a success, but King’s been facing the backlash of it every day.

When the Jamaican community and diaspora of the Caribbean got wind of it, it was a social media bashing because I am the gay artist, how can I get the spot of this famous Jamaican artist who is known and respected and loved?. And it’s still going on. Whenever someone says Jamaica is homophobic, they defend it like they’re not but they show that they are every day with the words they say when something like this happens. It’s not about me as an artist, or what’s right. It becomes lesbo Diana King.”

She adds

But it’s fine. I feel fine about it – I’m just excited to be on the show and I feel very good to be representing as the first Jamaican out artist. It’s not all that I am but it’s a part of who I am and I am proud.”

Diana King 01

King came out three years ago, posting to Facebook:

I am… woman … mother … aunt … Jamaican … American … international artiste … singer … songwriter … band leader … friend … lover … entrepreneur … goddess … and yes … I am a lesbian.”

However, now she barely returns to Jamaica because “the judgment is always there, the violence can occur. You have to watch where you go, what you say, who you hang around”.

It’s for this reason, she was awarded the Vanguard Award for Bravery – an award she holds dear and plans to honour. She’s planning a comeback of epic proportions.

Not only is she heading on tour, she’s also working on a new EP and album which will release on her own record label, which breaks from her usual sound – “reggae-fusion”. This time she’s making a straight reggae album and an EDM (electronic dance music) EP.

Because I do the fusion I feel like I can do any genre that I choose to. Because of the type of artist I am that touches these genres throughout the years.”

And now that she’s out, she’s looking forward to being “totally authentic”, because that was the one aspect of her life in which she wasn’t, particularly when writing about her favourite topic: love.

More than that, King has bigger plans; her sights are set on re-launching her label as one specifically for lesbian artists.

It’s a scary, big dream, but I’m feeling it. I have friends, other artists who are gay and…there’s so much I can teach [them] and I just really felt close to them and wanting to be there and have a label that is fair and for them – a home.

So I’m going to make a go of it. Like they say, you don’t have to see the first staircase, just take the first step.”

President Obama Discusses LGBT Equality In Historic Visit to Jamaica

Last week, United States President Barack Obama made history when he visited Jamaica as he was the first sitting president to do so since 1982. But that wasn’t the only reason that Obama’s visit was monumental – he also used his time in the country to speak about LGBT rights.

This was a surprise for many not just because Obama spoke about LGBT rights on a big stage but because Jamaica is regarded by some as one of the most homophobic countries to visit. Although intercourse between two women is legal, sex between two men is not and Jamaica has no anti-discrimination laws that protect people against discrimination based on sexuality, gender identity or gender expression. It’s also not uncommon for people to be beaten or even stoned to death once other citizens find out that they are gay.

Angeline Jackson, who is the executive director of Quality of Citizenship Jamaica (an “organisation which focuses on women’s issues; especially those faced by lesbians, bisexuals and other women who have sex with women”) has faced this discrimination, something Obama mentioned in his speech:

Several years ago, when Angeline was 19, she and a friend were kidnapped, held at gunpoint and sexually assaulted. And as a woman, and as a lesbian, justice and society were not always on her side.

But instead of remaining silent, she chose to speak out and started her own organisation to advocate for women like her, and get them treatment and get them justice, and push back against stereotypes, and give them some sense of their own power. And she became a global activist.

But more than anything, she cares about her Jamaica, and making it a place where everybody, no matter their color, or their class, or their sexual orientation, can live in equality and opportunity.  That’s the power of one person, what they can do.”

Obama also gave a nod to the younger generations of Jamaican people, saying that “You’re more eager for progress that comes not by holding down any segment of society, but by holding up the rights of every human being, regardless of what we look like, or how we pray, or who we love” and that this gave him hope.

So are Obama’s words likely to change anything for LGBT Jamaicans? In 2012 the Jamaican government said that it “is committed to the equal and fair treatment of its citizens, and affirms that any individual whose rights are alleged to have been infringed has a right to seek redress” while Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller has said that “no one should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation”, but still, nothing has been done to address Jamaica’s widespread LGBT discrimination.

With Obama’s speech only shedding light on the hardships faced by Jamaica’s LGBT community, it’s far more probable that Jamaicans will begin to discuss discrimination even if no action is taken to deal with it right now. That’s not tremendously encouraging but hopefully, change will arrive in Jamaica soon.

UK Black Community Shines Spotlight on Justice for Jamaican LGBTQ Community

UK Black Pride was proud to join UK Lesbian Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG) to stand in solidarity with Jamaican LGBTQ people who are fighting for their right to dignity and justice by co.hosting an event on Friday 13 June.

Almost 50 participants attended a special screening of the Channel 4 documentary ‘Unreported World: Jamaica’s Underground Gays’ at the offices of Wilson Solicitors LLP in London. The documentary sees Team GB Paralympian, Ade Adepitan, interviews Sachaberry and Krissy who movingly expose, in sometimes disturbingly graphic detail, the systemic extent of violence and homophobia against LGBT people in Kingston, Jamaica, as they try to live their lives.

Whilst homosexuality is not illegal, Jamaica’s anti-sodomy laws prohibit acts of gross indecency(interpreted as any physical intimacy between men in public or private). Such acts can be punished by 10 years of hard labour in prison and violence against the LGBTQ community is rife.

The UK Black Pride and UKLGIG screening was followed by a panel discussion and fundraising reception with lesbian and gay rights activists and legal professionals

PJ Samuels spoke about the negative role of some popular culture, including dancehall music, artists who promote “murder music” that advocates homophobic prejudice. Samuels also noted the omission of any reference to lesbians in the documentary but made clear that this invisibility did not mean Jamaican lesbian and bisexual women do not suffer.

Vernal Scott, a gay Christian, described his efforts to coordinate a meeting with the Jamaican High Commission in London and gave personal testimony about his experience of growing up with his conservative Christian mother, who was shown in the Unreported World documentary as a church attendee with a megaphone. Scott underlined the key role that conservative interpretation of religions has played to propagate homophobia.

James Stuart of Wilson Solicitors LLP described Britain’s asylum system and stressed the need to raise awareness and funds to help LGBTQ asylum seekers while audience members called on UK Black Pride to raise the issue of Jamaican LGBTQ rights with the Jamaica High Commission and to maintain engagement with Stonewall to lobby the British government for fairer asylum rights for LGBTQ people.

Closing the meeting, UK Black Pride’s Phyll Opoku-Gyimah confirmed that it would make a donation to Dwayne’s House, which gives care and support for homeless LGBT youth in Jamaica and committed to its lobbying by asking people to sign a petition calling on Portia Simpson-Miller, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, to provide safe accommodation for LGBTQ youth fleeing persecution in Jamaica.

Sign the petition here: http://chn.ge/1j5O46U

We Can Be Free Here.. But Not There

British lesbians are lucky – this is one thing I’ve learned from my travels. Here we can be free, and we can be visible.

Having visited Jamaica and Kenya, I couldn’t imagine living there for very long because I’d have to live a lie. I’d have to be secretive about who I am, and that just isn’t me.

Abroad I’ve found all kinds of dangers that you just wouldn’t find in Britain. In Jamaica my partner and I were driving from one side of the island to the other when we were stopped by the police.

They pulled their guns on us and I started to panic. In those days I had long hair and looked quite femme and my partner was very buff and boyish. A lot of people would have thought we were gay, but not these policemen. Clearly their gaydar wasn’t very developed!

I then started to worry about them searching the boot of our car and helping themselves to our possessions. Corruption is a huge problem out there, partly because public officials are so badly paid. Fortunately they let us go on our way.

God knows what would have happened if the police had sussed out that we were lesbians.

I suppose the sad lesson I’ve learned from travelling is this: you can’t really be open about your sexuality in certain places.

Image source

UK Black Pride Demands Justice for Jamaican LGBTs

Yesterday, UK Black Pride (Europe’s largest not-for-profit organisation for African, Asian and Caribbean-heritage lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people), proudly announced a collaborative project with UK Lesbian Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG), to show solidarity with Jamaican LGBTs fighting for their dignity and justice in their country.

UK Black Pride and UKLGIG will host a screening of Channel 4’s documentary ‘Unreported World: Jamaica’s Underground Gays’ on Friday 13 June in London. The documentary sees Team GB Paralympian, Ade Adepitan, interviews Sachaberry and Krissy who movingly expose, in sometimes disturbingly graphic detail, the systemic extent of violence and homophobia against LGB and T people in Kingston, Jamaica, as they try to live their lives.

“UK Black Pride’s message of love without borders resonates with our community of Black LGBT people whose families hail from all corners of the world. We must put every social and political pressure that we can muster to demand dignity and respect for our Jamaican sisters and brothers so come out and join us!”

Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, UK Black Pride’s founder and Executive Director

Whilst homosexuality is not illegal on the Caribbean island, Jamaica’s anti-sodomy laws prohibit acts of gross indecency (interpreted as any physical intimacy between men in public or private). Such acts are punishable by 10 years of hard labour in prison. This law and hardened social and cultural attitudes mean that violence against the LGBT community is rife.

UK Black Pride is inviting those who have been affected by the issues raised in the documentary, and those who want to learn more about the situation in Jamaica, and those who want to show solidarity with Jamaica’s LGBT community, to join them us at this film screening, which will be followed by a panel discussion and fundraising reception with lesbian and gay rights activists and legal professionals, including: Wayne Simmonds; PJ Samuels; Vernal Scott, Ana Gonzalez and Phyll Opoku-Gyimah.

You can register for your FREE ticket here. You can also show support by signing a petition that calls on Portia Simpson Miller, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, to provide safe and clean accommodation for LGBT youth who are escaping persecution in Jamaica. Sign here: http://chn.ge/1j5O46U

Watch the trailer for ‘Jamaica’s Underground Gays | Unreported World Shorts’