Sunday, October 16, 2005

SASOD Film Festival - review 'A darker Side of Black'

(This was written by someone who wanted to remain anonymous)

The recently concluded film festival by SASOD-Guyana
was very edifying since it focused on many issues
affecting the gay and lesbian community in the region
(the Caribbean) and internationally. I was fortunate
to view the documentary ‘Darker Side of Black’ which
is an exploration of homophobia expressed by reggae
and rap artistes against gays and lesbians.

It is obvious that some reggae artistes in the
Caribbean have become crusaders in propagating hatred,
wide spread condemnation and damnation of homosexuals
through explicit violent lyrics and obscenity. This is
very perilous for Caribbean societies that see a
constant challenge to their democratic ideals (esp.
individual freedoms). Further, in Caribbean societies
that serve to build and strengthen its plurality the
rights of minority groups (in this case the gay and
lesbian community) must be recognized and respected
and given a chance to exist with state respect and
legal protection.

The content of reggae and dancehall music noting that
most artistes are of Caribbean origin sends a signal
to the international community that Caribbean people
generally accept and welcome the torture and
criminality against homosexuals more so in the
Caribbean. This is the wrong perception and one that
must be altered.

The reality is that there is an existence of
homophobia in the Caribbean like any other region or
country. However, ‘songs of hate to death’ by some
reggae and dancehall artistes in the Caribbean
reinforce this homophobia. Why is this so?

Well, based on my analysis of the documentary four
over-riding themes can be cited for the so-called
‘homophobic nationalism’ in the Caribbean.

* Black Patriarchy – The reality that we live in a
male dominated and constructed society (the Caribbean
in specific context) with the black male exhibiting
and exhorting a strong level of machismo. Therefore
any tendency or lifestyle that counters this (being
homosexuality) is an attack on the masculinity of the
black male and his superiority over women in a
patriarchal society that subordinates them (women).

* Reggae & Dancehall music – Whether fortunately
or unfortunately a favorable amount of music by
artistes of the above genre are products of the
abovementioned society noting most of these artistes
are men. Hence, it is not surprising that the music
reflects the orientation of the society/environment of
which the dwell. This is a society that is intolerant
of homosexuals. However, some of these artistes
advocate zero-tolerance of homosexuals with crass,
flagrant and grotesque citation of violence towards
the annihilation of human being of such lifestyles.

* Religious Fundamentalism – I am no religious
theologian but my wit affords me to make this
commentary for I believe in God (Christian) and from
my exposure to religious text. We all know the
religious argument of homosexuality. However, some
denominations (in the context of Christianity)
exercise moderation with homosexuals (the individual:
the sinner) but not with homosexuality (the act: the
sin). The exercise by some Christian denominations I
believe is to ensure homosexuals have some acceptance
in the church with the hope they can reform. What has
been observed of recent in the Caribbean like other
countries globally is the rise of churches that
exercise religious fundamentalism.

This fundamentalism, in my view, sees an all out
campaign against homosexuals and homosexuality by
church groups of such practice to ‘cleanse’ the
society of this ‘pestilence’. This serves to further
aid in the victimization and stigmatization of
homosexuals. It is hypocritical how some churches
approach this issue with fervor unlike societal treats
and ills such as AIDS, poverty, criminality among
others and cases of fornication and adultery among its
congregants. It is obvious that you will see an
uprising by citizens and some churches towards
recognized gays and lesbians that live in there
communities than towards recognized drug lords that
poison the minds of youths and destroy families and
communities with illicit drugs.

* Rastafarianism – Like religious or Christian
fundamentalism practices by some churches,
Rastafarianism has declared zero-tolerance on
homosexuals and homosexuality. Note that some
dancehall and reggae artistes in the Caribbean that
produce music of homophobic lyrics are practicing
Rastas or are supportive of the Rastafarian culture.
The ideology of the Rastafarian Movement is highly
condemnative of the Western culture (the US and
Europe) based of its enslavement of the African people
and the underdevelopment of Africa among other issues.

The Rastafarian Movement generally condemns the
existence of homosexuals and homosexuality. But when
it comes to African community they are of the view
that it is a Western perversion that serves to destroy
the morality and integrity of the African community
(in the Caribbean).

It is lucid that the above four themes do not exist in
isolation. They serve to entrench the deep resentment
that exists in some sections of the Caribbean against
homosexuals. Amidst this homosexuals are peacefully
co-existing with their tolerant heterosexual and
homophobic heterosexual counterparts in the Caribbean.
Noting the abovementioned themes some homosexuals have
resorted to ‘solitary bliss’ whilst others publicly
articulate the right for legal protection against
discrimination and other related intolerance.

SASOD-Guyana has displayed valor in being daring to
the peculiarities that serve to make the advancing of
the rights of the gay and lesbian community a
challenge. The task ahead of advocacy for the gay and
lesbian community is challenging due to years of
Caribbean culture and tradition that is ignorant
against homosexuals. This taboo can be broken and it
has started with some incremental steps and
achievements. The mere fact it is a debated issue is
indicative that the issue of homosexuality being a
taboo in the Caribbean will diminish with other
significant changes being a corollary to this