Thursday, January 17, 2013

We Are Jamaicans: A campaign against homophobia by Jamaicans for Jamaicans

I am probably jumping the gun here but I just stumbled onto this beautiful new campaign against homophobia in Jamaica.  I spotted it through a tweet sent by the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) this morning.  There is no link to a project page, just a description of the project on their YouTube site:
We Are Jamaicans is a campaign for Jamaicans, whether gay or straight, to share their experiences and perspectives about LGBT human rights. This in an effort to promote greater understanding and help change minds and hearts of Jamaicans about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. We Are Jamaicans is funded with the kind support of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) through its Global Fund Vulnerablised Project. The videos were recorded and edited by Maya Wilkinson.
There are five videos in the series so far. In the first one J-FLAG's own Director Dane Lewis says "I want to just be free to be me"...

In the second one Alexis Goffe says he was constantly harassed as being gay during high-school even though he wasn't and explains the reasons why now as an adult he has decided to stand up and speak out against LGBT discrimination. "Now, if you call me gay I'll feel honored," he says, "I've come out of the closet as an ally of the LGBTQ community"...

In a third video Susan Goffe speaks of her role as a teacher and a parent. "I want Jamaica to be a safe place for all our children" she says...

In the fourth video Javed Jaghai holds index cards to drive home his message...

The final video is similar from someone who has decided to remain anonymous...

Obviously the campaign has just been launched. I will update this post when there is more information about it. But I am truly moved and hope that this opens up a more welcoming environment for LGBTQ Jamaicans.

An aside: The background music is Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' "Same Love" featuring Mary Lambert.

UPDATE: Here is the official press release from J-FLAG...
J-FLAG Boss Headlines New Human Rights Video Campaign
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Dane Lewis, the executive director of J-FLAG, Jamaica’s foremost gay rights advocacy organisation, is headlining a new a human rights video campaign featuring straight, gay and lesbian Jamaicans.
The campaign, which is called We Are Jamaicans was launched today to raise awareness among Jamaicans about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) identity and community, human rights, stigma and discrimination. We Are Jamaicans is a participatory video campaign hosted on YouTube at It features prominent Jamaicans such as Susan and Alexis Goffe and Javed Jaghai.
According to Lewis, “the campaign was developed following recommendations from consultations with LGBT persons, activists and allies to show the experiences of Jamaica’s LGBT community in a more diverse way.”
There is an urgent need to interrupt prevailing discourse on LGBT realities in Jamaica. Opportunities must be created for Jamaicans to see and hear about the experiences of LGBT people so they can understand what it means to be LGBT.
“Regrettably, the diversity and the complexity of Jamaica’s LGBT community is masked by media and advocacy narratives that too often focus on sex, victimhood, crime and HIV. These themes are not identity-affirming and they sometimes further entrench the marginal position of LGBT people in the society,” Lewis said.
Javed Jaghai, an openly gay Jamaican, says that ignorance helps to fuel homophobia and the campaign will be critical for increasing understanding among the Jamaican public about gender and sexuality variance. “By diversifying the stories told about LGBT lives, the complexity of LGBT identities will be made apparent and it will be easier to evoke empathy and secure general support for tolerance,” he highlighted.
The Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) through its Global Fund Vulnerablised Project funds the campaign. It is expected to lead to greater understanding and help change minds and hearts about Jamaica’s LGBT community. Gay, lesbian and straight Jamaicans are encouraged to use creative ways of sharing their experiences with LGBT issues and join the campaign whether they wish to show their face or not.
Contact: Dane Lewis | Executive Director
P.O. Box 1152, Kingston 8 T: 978-8988 | M: 875 2328 | F: 946-3244
W: | E: | T: @equalityJA

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