“…a mob of educated fools”: How will Jamaica staunch its homophobia?

The Merchant of Feathers II

Is the mother whose son is found

in a compromising position with a man

in a university bathroom

and is beaten by security guards

who police anuses

while girls walk unguarded in the night

and a mob of educated fools chant

for more blood, more fire.

This mother must put her son back together again

paint his wounds with Gentian Violet

ice swollen tendons, protuberant eyes

find the scars deeper than skin

and like a seamstress mend what’s broken within

and when his father who isn’t worth two dry stones

or a shilling sees his son on the news and appears

at her door to beat her son some more

she will turn herself into serrated edges

stand sharp and poised to kill

for her son is her only gold

and if the father’s thirst for blood is too great

she will pacify him with what he needs

to prove he is not like his son.

In her, he will bury the fear.

And in the morning she will stir soft words into

the cornmeal porridge, carry it to her son’s bed

blow a benediction into each spoon full she brings

to his bruised and beautiful lips.

Tanya Shirley

Shirley’s poem quoted in full above with her permission is a timely intervention into the barbarism threatening to drown us. She speaks eloquently for those of us who yearn for a healing of the nation not unlike the one administered by the mother in this poem.

The fish in this cartoon references current Jamaican slang for male homosexuals; in addition to ‘batty bwoy’ ‘fish’ is a popular synonym for gay men here. So the security guards at UTECH were exhorted to ‘Beat di fish!’ by the mob. Obviously the common expression ‘like a fish out of water’ would also apply to this cartoon by Clovis, November 05, 2012, Jamaica Observer.

And a postscript to my previous post on whether gay bashing is a national policy. No, it isn’t. Here is what the education minister said as a coda to the whole ‘sex text’ imbroglio (as reported in the Gleaner):

“The principles that must be at all times respected is that the Ministry of Education promotes sexually responsible behaviour in the context of faithful union between a man and woman while offering respect and compassion to those who adopt a different lifestyle.”

It’s how to get more Jamaicans to adopt this reasonable outlook that is the problem. The visual below captures the absurdity of the Jamaican lynch mob well.

copyright Norman F Cooper

6 thoughts on ““…a mob of educated fools”: How will Jamaica staunch its homophobia?

  1. Dry-eyed, I am weeping inside. It is not enough to condemn homophobia – the Ministry of Education, together with pro-active secondary school principals and the Principals of UWI and UTech, will have to design and implement programmes – as is done in the best US educational institutions – actively to educate young people to be tolerant, to thoroughly understand what it is that make us human, and to commit to defend the humanity and rights of others. When work of that kind begins, then we can say that something is being done. Otherwise, the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth after the fact, given that practically every public statement by an authority figure whether religious or secular demonizes and belittes gay people, is the worst kind of blatant hypocrisy.

  2. Pingback: Police arrest guards involved in UTech beating « just telling it as it is

  3. There are moments when I am so moved by another’s eloquence that all I can say is ‘Amen’. So I say, ‘Amen’ Tanya

  4. Pingback: Jamaica: The Gay Man is Somebody’s Son · Global Voices

  5. Pingback: Τζαμάικα: Ο γκέι είναι γιος κάποιου από εμάς · Global Voices στα Ελληνικά

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