Sunday, April 11, 2010

Jamaica Holds First Gay Pride!

The gay glass ceiling in Jamaica may finally be breaking, at least to some extent. On April 8th, 2010 Jamaica held its first “March for Tolerance” in Montego Bay. The march which was meant to be a March to bring awareness to the plight of HIV/Aids is being touted as the first Gay Pride Event in the Carribean Island. It is an Island known not only for its beauty, but for its intolerance of the LGBT/Gay community.This is apparently changing. Not one incident of anti gay bashing took place. Only a year ago it was speculated that Jamaica would never hold an openly gay event.

The March was held by InterPride - International Association of LGBT Pride Organizers and The Jamaica Aids for Life Support, an organization aimed at helping those with HIV. It was founded in 1991 to deal with the problems facing those who are HIV positive. The Island of Jamaica is one that is fighting a huge battle with those afflicted with HIV/Aids. It is estimated by that between 25,000- 27,000 people in Jamaica are HIV positive. Therefore, the importance of this group and this march cannot be understated, nor ignored. Jamaica’s culture is one that has a history of intolerance of Gay/LGBT individuals . Most of the press and media attention given to gays in Jamaica revolves around it’s musical artists. Those who use homophobic lyrics, like singer Buju Banton, whose gay bashing songs have resulted in many of his concerts being canceled. It is, therefore, even more imperative to give light to any major event in Jamaica that speaks of change towards the LGBT community.

There are many who are saying that the event was not a Gay Pride March. It was one for tolerance. What is a Gay Pride March if not that? What is Pride if not a demonstration of our LGBT men and women who take to the streets to say “ We’re here and you can’t ignore us”. A March to demand that society not ignore who we are or the rights we deserve? It is of course, also a celebration of the struggles we have fought. Some that were easily lost and many that have been hard won. We may all carry our pride in different ways from day to day, but on certain days we all carry it  together en masse. The semantics of it does not matter. So, to Jamaica and it’s citizens, I’ll say one thing. HAPPY GAY PRIDE!

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