Jamaican Singer Diana King Comes Out as a Lesbian
Anyone who knows me knows that I am disgustingly proud of my Caribbean heritage. My Jamaican born mother imparted the wisdom “no matter where you live remember you always, know that you come from somewhere, you have a home.” To bring that point home my mom sent me to Jamaica for many summers during my youth. I was often surly (or fiesty as yardies say) about leaving my friends in the Bronx, but now I appreciate what she did. The ink on my citizenship papers were barely dry when the military might of the United States descended on the tiny island of Grenada, the land of my father’s birth. Ever since that day I have been ambivalent about being fully American.
Jamaican politics are deadly serious. Jamaicans have been about political change since the Caribs fought the Spanish conquerers and the maroon slave resistance forced the British to give them their won independent homeland on the island. Jamaica had the most slave rebellions in the Caribbean and the fight for independence on the island was at the forefront of the liberation for other West Indian island. The Caribs of Grenada leapt off a mountain cliif rather than be slaves to the French colonialists. Julian Fedon a Grenedian planter kept the island free from British rule from from March of 1795 to June 1796. With a history like this who wouldn’t be proud? There is one thing that makes me hang my head in shame, Jamaica’s history of homophobia. Gender roles in Jamaica are very traditional. Deviation from the norm can bring familial & societal scorn. The antiquated sodomy law is still enforced with up to ten years of hard labor. This ideology has manifested in dancehall music in songs like Boom Bye Bye. It is sad to hear this hate come from music that descended from Bob Marley’s cries for justice and equality. Many gay Jamaicans choose to immigrate and simply trudge through the arranged dates that wait for them when they visit home. Recently, some brave Jamaican LGBT folks have been making a stand. J-FLAG provides legal, educational and social support for the emerging community and uses the traditional Jamaican values of unity and struggle to appeal to the mainstream. The organization has documented 7 anti-gay deaths in the country since 2007 so coming out is a very dangerous act. This hateful tide may be turning since Jamaican celebrities have begun to advocate for their gay brethren. Beenie Man released an apology for his previous homophobic lyrics and now Diana King has bravely come out while still living most of year in Jamaica. I salute sistren Diana King’s brave stand against homophobia and patriarchy. Read her statement at the URL below.