(August 16) Some years ago Time magazine dubbed Jamaica the "most homophobic place on earth." It pleased gay activists to no end, since no amount of activism and lobbying for gay civil rights had managed to change a thing in the Caribbean island-nation. Meanwhile, the bad publicity enraged island supporters who dismissed the charges of homophobia because gaybaiting and gaybashing are merely part of Jamaica's cultural heritage.
That intolerace was laid bare again this week when the above video, featuring former Miss Jamaica World (1998) and Miss Jamaica Universe (2004) Christine Straw with her gay brother, Matthew, was launched by the advocacy group Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals, and Gays (J-FLAG) and intended for airplay on Jamaica’s main TV stations, CVM and TVJ.
But both stations have refused to air the PSA fearing a public backlash.
I guess they're worried they'll be attacked and lynched like so many of Jamaica's gay citizens.
This week, in Jamaica's national newspaper of record, The Gleaner, columnist and TV host Ian Boyne denounced the TV stations, writing, "It's an indication of our backwardness, appalling intolerance and bigotry that an ad calling for "unconditional love" of our homosexual family members and friends is unlikely to be shown on local television because the stations are just too scared to show leadership in this area."
Boyne adds, "It is to our shame that Jamaican gay people cannot come on television, show their faces, debate their homosexuality with heterosexuals, go back home in peace and to their jobs and live normal lives the next day. If we lay claim to being a pluralistic, democratic society and not an autocracy like Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Burma, Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan, gay people should be free to express their views without fear of violence, harassment or victimisation."
I have traveled to Jamaica a few times over the last 20 years and I don't know if an official gay-tourism boycott would only increase attacks on gay people in an already-impoverished Third World nation.
What I do know is being a gay person in Jamaica is a curse, and living your life openly there is next to impossible.
Even The Gleaner columnist Ian Boyne wants it both ways. He winds down his column, "I detest how the gay lobby has manipulated language to classify any opposition to homosexuality as 'homophobia'. That's absolute nonsense. There are rational, sophisticated people who believe homosexuality is morally wrong and philosophically and theologically unjustifiable. (As much as arrogant gays find that hard to believe). I personally believe that if the Bible is read as authoritative, and if any plenary inspiration is ascribed to it, you cannot come away with any justification whatsoever for homosexual conduct"
Boyne then concludes, "We must reach a point in this country where we can discuss homosexuality rationally; though perhaps not in my lifetime. Gay people, though, must understand that "unconditional love" does not mean unconditional acceptance of their sexuality. That's another form of bigotry."
To which I say tolerance is not acceptance - it is hypocrisy.
Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.