Jamaica is known as a no-go zone for gay people. With reports of mob brutality and reggae artists who glamorise violence against gay people in their music, things got so bad, in 2006, Time Magazine asked: “Is this the most homophobic place on Earth?”
Now Jamaican LGBT’s have an ally, and one that might surprise you – Mista Majah P, a 50 year old straight reggae artist, born in Jamaica, has had enough of the homophobia and is calling for “Tolerance”…
“My reason for doing this album was to kill the myth that all Jamaicans are homophobic and get rid of the hypocrisy by these reggae stars that spew homophobic lyrics about gays, then come to America and Europe and perform in gay establishments, take the money and run. I’m troubled by the stereotype; because I’m from Jamaica, have dreadlocks and make reggae, I must be homophobic. It disappoints me when fans around the world refer to reggae as murder music – that is wrong and I feel that somebody has to make a stand and I guess that person was me. My hope is somebody in reggae with a bigger name than mine will tell the world – HOMOPHOBIA IS WRONG.”
How did things get so bad in Jamaica? Has it always been this way?
“Jamaica is very homophobic, and the main reason is people are ignorant and need to be educated on different lifestyles and culture. Things have always been bad for the lgbt community, but the news was always suppressed until the beating s and killings of gay people got too much and certain organizations started investigating and it made international news. This gave a voice to the gay community and J-FLAG WAS born; this started saving lives in Jamaica.”
What has the reaction been like to your new album?
“In Jamaica, it’s been negative and positive. On one hand, some people are glad that this has been made, and on the other…I’ve been sent death threats. Some people have said I can’t come back to Jamaica and that I’m trying to spread a ‘gay agenda’, Some close friends won’t talk to me now…I’m not scared to be known as a gay sympathizer, because I am doing the right thing.”
How do the media portray gays in Jamaica?
“They’re not represented properly. When a gay person does something bad, it makes the headlines. But when it’s something good, the media is silent. They demonise gay people.”
On “Tolerance”, you have a song called “Letter to Bruce Golding”, Jamaica’s Prime Minister. What is this about?
“The song tells him that as a leader of a nation, you will be held accountable for your actions…with great power, comes great responsibility and he was selfish in making that statement [“gays will find no solace in my cabinet”.] He talks about gays as if they are animals…well, there are repercussions for statements like that. “
What is the level of power reggae artists have in Jamaica?
“They are treated like Gods. Beenie Man, Elephant Man, Sizzla, people worship every word they say and are influenced by them. Often these artists don’t practice what they preach and when somebody takes the law into their own hands, the artists always try to distance themselves.”
You now live in America. What challenges are facing America’s gay community?
“The greatest challenge is the politicians. It’s about money, not family values as they’d have people believe. It’s funny, so many politicians with the strongest stance against gays are in the closet themselves.”
What message do you have for homophobes in Jamaica?
“Hate, bigotry and discrimination will not be tolerated. The gay community is here to stay and should be respected. They are our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers. I believe the gay community should be more united – there is a lot of division in the gay community and that leaves them vulnerable to attacks. Keep on letting your voice be heard in a peaceful fashion, because we are listening. You are not alone, help is here, and remember – tolerance. “
Those wanting to buy or listen to “Tolerance” can find it at I-Tunes or www.cdbaby.com
(originally published in Queensland Pride 1/ Dec/ 12 http://gaynewsnetwork.com.au/entertainment/reggae-artist-preaches-tolerance-3249.html)