Free Up Now – J-FLAG, Mistah Majah P and Others Fight Anti-Gay Culture

Contrary to popular belief, it is not actually illegal to be homosexual in Jamaica.  [However], the law makes certain homosexual acts illegal, and these laws are used to persecute gay men.                                       – J-Flag, Jamaica

Saying few Reggae artists respect gay people is putting it mildly.  Modern Reggae/Dancehall artists like Beenie Man , Elephant Man, Sizzla and Buju Banton  (“Boom Bye Bye”) pen anti-gay lyrics encouraging violence against gays, offering up half-hearted, politically-correct apologies and continuing to write songs with lyrics like kill gays.

At the height of Banton’s controversy for instance, Banton simply continued his tour, riding the waves of controversy rather than refuting them.  This continues to lead to real-life, real-time threats of post-concert homophobic violence which can and do end in murderómost especially seen in Jamaica, the birthplace of Reggae music.

Though much Reggae the hate speech manifests in Dancehall music (a subgenre of Reggae), Reggae artists generally keep silent on queer issues, offering up songs of peace, love, freedom and tolerance instead (as in Bob Marleyís classic hit, One Love).  Continuing the well-meaning legacy, Bob’s son Ziggy Marley supports diversity and tolerance at various charity functions and in his personal life, but few if any Reggae musicians express gay-friendly let alone LGBTQ affirming ideas in their work or lives.

As a prominent out gay Jamaican reggae singer, Mista Majah P holds the reigning title of recording the first pro-gay reggae album, Tolerance.  Mista Majah P’s themes include anti-bulling messages, marriage equality, and ending anti-gay/homophobic violence in particular.

“I want to counter the myths that all Jamaicans are homophobic”, Mistah Majah P told the press. “I’m seeking to challenge ignorance and reach out to gay people.” Now a full-time California resident, Mista Majah P continues to receive homophobic death threats, warning him not to come back to Jamaica.

Though not much is voiced in terms of transgender/intersex folks in particular, a handful of Caribbean-based or Jamaica-focused LGBTQ empowering organizations do exist, regularly advocating for political and social inclusiveness.

Founded in 1998, J-FLAG, and C-FLAG (www.jflag.org) also seek to lobby on behalf of Jamaica-based Dancehall artists, focusing on those who don’t write hateful lyrics.

Too, gay rights activists worldwide are pressuring Reggae concert promoters.  Are these efforts enough?

Though Buju Banton is in jail for drug charges until 2019, hate speech and hateful music rails on, while Bounty Killer and other Dancehall artists don’t want J-FLAG speaking on their behalf to lobby against anti-gay lyrics.  So, Caribbean culture still rejects its own sons and daughters and wonít come out about keeping anti-gay feelings in the closet.

Why do you think Reggae musicians are either proudly gay-bash or skittish about gay rights? Does it have to do with Reggae’s fundamentalist roots?  Can artists like Mistah Majah P. really make a difference?  More Hip Hop artists are coming out when will Reggae artists follow suit?

Let us know your thoughts!  Speak up in the comments section below.

2 thoughts on “Free Up Now – J-FLAG, Mistah Majah P and Others Fight Anti-Gay Culture

  • July 19, 2013 at 5:16 pm
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    Seems like that record is older it would be good to know if he has new music out or how people are receiving this – like does he tour? Has he been back to Jamaica?

    • July 27, 2013 at 8:01 pm
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      Mista has been releasoing new music since. They all are available on YouTube. I think three new singles have been issued: KARMA (about Murder Music), 4 MORE YEARS (about Obama elections), DON’T DRINK & DRIVE. They acn be seen on YouTube. I think he was tourning in 2012 to promote the album.

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