By Mickel Allen
As hate and hostility continue to abound, fueled and often times instigated within ministerial, education and faith systems, we stand at the sidelines rendered mute and immobile or haughtily cheering on the antagonist(s) as we watch one of our people become yet another statistic; a victim and prey to the hate that has and continues to be allowed to permeate the Jamaica we love, revere and all but too often over celebrate.
Mickel Allen is a native of Jamaica, previously employed by the MOE as an English Linguistics and Literature Teacher. She is presently assistant communications coordinator for a diverse organization and a law and society Bachelors candidate. Mickel is an active women’s advocate and volunteers as a counselor and adult educator with Yes We Are Women. She is a supporter and volunteer with COFI Inc. www.coficares.com
We sit in cliques and recap the beatings, stonings or other onslaughts we’ve witnessed or taken part in and laugh outwardly at the shortcomings of our brothers and sisters. On retreating to our private solitude, some among us weep, because we are just like them but for fear of exposure instead become the champions of homophobia in hopes of deflecting.
Despite the island’s many accomplishments, it continues to struggle with a demon that notwithstanding the country’s motto remains on its path of destruction, continuously perpetrating direct, brazen attacks against members of, and individuals perceived as belonging to or being in support of a particular group. These negative, traumatic, sometimes fatal acts of violence against members of the LGBTQ community and by extension their associates and families has become commonplace, oftentimes going unannounced but more importantly unpunished.
Recently an inhumane officer belonging to Marksman Security took it upon himself, with the assistance of another male officer, brutally to beat and publicly humiliate a male student at the University of Technology (UTech) located in the nation’s capital. The situation all unfolded after the young man was “allegedly” caught in a compromising position with an individual of the same sex.
Subsequent to the discovery, the man was slapped and “draped up” by the Marksman Security officer; all this while other students looked on, mostly laughing and cheering on the officer. Homophobic hate slurs were extremely audible. One onlooker even remarked that the officer should release the boy so that they could have a go at him -- beat him as well.
Were a heterosexual couple found in a compromising position, even in a more conspicuous place, would the outcome have been the same? The young man fleeing from a mob of students tried to find solace in the security guardroom, yet it was there that he faced his fate. The incident is not unique to Jamaica and many other homophobic Caribbean countries I’m sure but has sparked the attention of many as it was recorded and has gone viral on electronic media -- internet and television.
The Jamaica Observer has since published that the guards involved have been detained.
Although this may be the case, I am certain that the unquestionable evidence left them no choice but to do so but begs the question what next? What will the celebrated leader of the PNP and prime minister of Jamaica Portia Simpson Miller seek to implement to finally, and hopefully put a stop to these inhumane acts of violence that are clearly indicative of a prejudice that is being allowed to fester and inadvertently foster an intolerant, violent and inhumane society where, out of many, one group is being singled out and preyed upon for the entertainment and satisfaction of others.
“To our leaders, great defender, grant true wisdom from above, justice, truth be ours forever… Teach us true respect for all…” We sing the national anthem over and over again, yet we do not put our words into action. Our motto and anthem both speak of acceptance and respect for diversity yet we seek to infringe upon individuals because of that which makes them unique.