13 November 2014
Help for the Gully Queens
Most countries no longer tolerate homophobia; sadly Jamaica is not one of them. According to Williams, there are three influential institutions that encourage homophobia in Jamaica: the church, the government, and the music industry. The very religious people of Jamaica use the passages from the Bible to justify their homophobia, and most of the church does nothing to aid homosexual people. The majority of the officials in the Jamaican government are homophobic, so they care little for the welfare of the homosexual population and often run very anti-gay political campaigns. In Jamaica, music is very much a part of the national identity. Unfortunately the popular music in Jamaica, specifically dancehall music, is very homophobic. One of the biggest hits in Jamaica is Boom Bye-Bye by Buju Banton; the song contains lyrics advocating the shooting and burning of “batty boys” which is slang for gay men. The almost universal homophobia in Jamaica forces homosexual people to hide their homosexuality in public. Those who refuse to hide their homosexuality are overwhelmingly and violently ostracized from society. The homophobia in Jamaica has created a huge problem that is well documented by two videos uploaded by Vice News and JA for U. The problem is openly homosexual people are forced to live in storm drains, regionally called gullies. The gullies barely shelter gully queens, what homosexual people who live inside gullies call themselves, from the weather and the often violent population. These gullies are no paradise; they are dirty, cramped, and flood prone. The gully queens make a living selling food, drugs, and their bodies out on the streets. Gully queens cannot live anywhere normal because most are too poor to have a real place of living. Even if they did have enough money, no one would allow them to own or rent a place because they are gay. Everyone wants to get the people out of the gullies. Those who hate the gully queens don’t care that they have no other place to go, they just want them out. Those who sympathize with the gully queens would like them out of the terrible conditions that the gullies have to offer and live elsewhere in normal, safe conditions. Both sides seek the government’s help, but the government has offered no real solutions for either side. The solution to helping the gully queens get out of the gully is at the moment in the hands of people, charities, and organizations that support the LGBT community. Yvonne McCalla Sobers is an example of the sort of help the gully queens need. Mrs. Sobers gives food to the gully queens bi-weekly and helps with their legal and medical problems. In Jamaica, there exist few charities and organizations that support anything specific to the LGBT community. These charities get very little support from the overwhelmingly homophobic Jamaican government and culture. Together the people, charities, and organizations have done much good for the LGBT community in Jamaica, and it is in their capabilities to help the gully queens get out of the gully. The most fitting solution would be people, charities, and organizations coming together and setting up homeless shelters specifically for homosexual people. This has been attempted many times by the gully queens. Before they lived in they gully, they all shared a house. Chris, who now lives in the gully, described the conditions at the house as, "More comfortable, one hundred percent." Sadly, the homophobic neighbors would complain to the landowners, and they would be forced out. The same thing happened each time they tried to relocate, so they settled with the gully instead. About three shelters would be built or bought far away from residential areas, so no one would legally or forcibly remove them. The shelters would have to be financed through personal money, charity, and fundraising. Each shelter would house about twenty-five to...
Cited: JA for U. “ ‘Jamaica’s Underground Gays’ – video depicting a minority of gays living in
Jamaica.” Online Video Clip. YouTube. YouTube, 12 June 2014. Web. 30 Oct. 2014
Vice News. “Young and Gay: Jamaica’s Gully Queens (Full Length).” Online Video clip.
YouTube. YouTube, 28 July 2014. Web. 30 Oct. 2014
Williams, Lawson. "Homophobia And Gay Rights Activism In Jamaica." Small Axe: A
Caribbean Journal Of Criticism 7 (2000): 106. Academic Search Complete. Web. 13 Nov. 2014.
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