It will come as no surprise to many that Jamaica is a country with a bit of a reputation for homophobia. While many countries have handbags at dawn fights to get the gays to visit their country, there is a noticeable silence from the island nation of just under three million people. Instead one hears quiet but stern whisperings to basically stay away with horror stories about attacks on clandestine gay nights and elected officials portraying the evils of homosexual acts. A sense of strong homophobia permeates Jamaican society with especially their rappers, getting a lot of attention for their lyrics. Eight years ago Grammy winning Beenie Man was removed from the 2004 MTV VMA’s due to strong protests of his overtly homophobic lyrics. Sodomy is still illegal in Jamaica, where they like to use the delightfully Victorian term buggery for it, so be careful where you stick your ding-dong in Jamaica.
However like most places around the world there seems to be a slow but positive trend towards greater acceptance of gays in Jamaica. Even Beenie Man a couple of months ago publicly apologized for his past lyrics and called for greater acceptance of gays in Jamaica. In politics on the island things are changing too. Bruce Golding, the previous Prime Minister in 2006 basically said a big “Nuh Uh!” to gays in his cabinet. Six years later Bruce is gone and there’s a new bitch in town.
Earlier this year Jamaica elected a new premier with the fabulous name of Portia Simpson-Miller. It sounds like some classy fag hag. But this woman is the shit; from her power-lunch fashion style to the tough but cool bobbed haircut, you just know she’s the kind to give you a big bear hug, pull a chair over for you, buy you a drink but will slap you down if you question her shoe style. ,Portia also has a strong progressive side to her. She is mainly known outside of her country for two political stances, the first being her desire to see the Queen go as head of state and Jamaica to become a republic. The second stance is her endorsement of civil rights for gays. So basically she wants to ditch one old queen and help the more fabulous and deserving queens in her own country.
It is still too early to say whether Portia will put her words in to actions and make bumming legal or publicly go to some gay bar and sing along to “I’m Every Woman” while giving the local drag queens helpful style tips but we shall see. Jamaica is a nation with a sclerotic domestic economy with a strong reliance on tourism. A lot of jobs could be made by making the country a more welcoming nation for gays. So watch this space for packages tailored for gays to the sandy beaches of Jamaica!