The beating of a gay student at the University of Technology in Jamaica has continued to be a subject of discussion online. While the exact details of the incident are still not completely known, much of the discussion has centered around homophobia and the culture of violence in Jamaica.
Writer and activist Staceyann Chin commended her fellow Jamaicans for condemning homophobia:
Proud of the Jamaicans who have taken a strong anti-homophobic stance against the recent gay bashing on the UTECH campus.
Chin suggested that the incident is symptomatic of deeper problems:
We cannot solve the problem of violence & homophobia in any country without looking at poverty, religion, & access to Education. Period.
Blogger Carla Moore decided to explore the deeper issues behind homophobia and its ultimate futility:
yes, because beating the ‘battybwoy’ is going to pay your school fee, or clothe your children, or create jobs for you when you graduate with your degree and nowhere to go but back to school, or decrease your chances of being robbed on the way home, or somehow remove all gay people from Jamaica. Yes, ignore the things that are pressing and fundamental to your everyday survival such as earning an income, living in a country where taxes do not consume half of your pay, the hurricane that destroyed parts of the island (perhaps where your family members live) or even your sister being able to take a bus in the park without some man raping her.
According to Moore, homophobia is a way for Jamaicans to compensate for a feeling of weakness and emasculation on the world stage:
you need to prove that Jamaica at least has the moral high ground. despite being economically impoverished and at the whim of the US and various other international bodies, despite failing social structures, climbing crime rates and a government that barely has any power because of IMF and other involvement, ‘at least we nuh allow dem summn deh roun here.’ perhaps you should be more concerned with your own life and issues that affect your own family than things that people do in their sexual lives […]
Finally, if you would for a minute think about why it is you're so against the gay man, how much your need to control him comes back to your own feelings about not having any power- because you're from the Third World, because you're black, because you're not as educated as others, because your education won't get you all the things you want, because your woman can find a job in the free zone but you're still sitting at home, because he represents something foreign- something white people do and left behind and you hate that, because you have been incorrectly told that black people are not gay, gayness in black people is some corruption brought about by the white man, because the US always has it better, because you can't control your man but you can control this man
Moore concluded that all the attention paid towards oppressing gays meant more important issues were being ignored:
in the time you spent ‘beating the battybwoy’ five women were raped, one person was senselessly murdered and four children went to bed hungry. but somehow what two consenting people do with their bodies is what you prioritise in this situation. you may want to think about that.
Amielle Anderson was disgusted with the situation:
At The Petchary, Emma Lewis wonders if the person who posted the video ever considered the repercussions for the country's reputation:
Has anyone – the UTech leadership, the politicians, Jamaicans in general – thought about the possible global repercussions of the UTech matter? YouTube videos are powerful weapons. The moron who uploaded the video of this human rights abuse thought it was great fun to show the world this illustration of Jamaica’s homophobia and ‘wild West’ mob-rule mentality. But it may have back-fired – not only on those who participated in this scene of persecution, but on Jamaica itself, including its law-abiding citizens.
She added that the country's bad reputation may have an economic impact:
Could the world fall out of love with the Jamaica of Usain Bolt, gold medals, beaches and reggae music? Isn’t its image tarnished with violence, lawlessness and bigotry already? Doesn’t this video make matters worse? Or do Jamaicans and Jamaican leaders not realize that people around the world do sit up and take notice of such matters, which here in Jamaica might be brushed aside with a quick statement or public relations piece? What impact will all of this have on our tourism industry, for example?
Lewis referenced a column by Olubode Shawn Brown which suggested that Bolt may have to distance himself from the island in his branding:
A close look at images from his latest deal with Nissan suggests that this is already happening. It is conceivable that Mr. Bolt’s other major partners including Puma, Gatorade, Visa and Virgin Media amongst others, will have this be a condition of his continued representation of their products should Jamaica continue on its present course of celebrating violence against the most vulnerable in its society.
The recent video of security guards at the University of Technology beating a young gay man while students cheered will be seen globally. It will go viral because Jamaica has a high profile in the world through our many accomplishments. However, this profile comes with a price. Being a world leader with impact way beyond our size comes with a global responsibility. When our leadership is exposed as a sham we will lose all credibility, globally.
WHO THE HELL WOULD ‘CHOOSE’ TO B GAY or LESBIAN or TRANSGENDER or ANYTHING OTHER THAN STRAIGHT?
BECAUSE WE LUV or CRAVE ATTENTION?
THE BEATINGS? THE STONINGs? THE BULLYING? THE DISRESPECT? THE PERSECUTION?
TO B SPAT ON, DISOWNED BY OUR FAMILIEs, SHUNNED by CHILDHOOD FRIENDS, BOSSES, CO-WORKERS, CHURCHEs and SCHOOLs … AND FANS
TELL ME, WHO WOULD ‘CHOOSE’ THIS, KNOWING THE ABUSE, NEGLECT, VIOLATION, RAPE and ELIMINATION POSSIBLE … PROBABLE?
B VEIWED AS NASTINESS, ABNORMAL, LESS THAN, THE LOWEST OF LOWS and UNWORTHY OF ANYTHING GOOD and HUMANLY FAIR … breathe … AN ABOMINATION, SODOMITIC, A CURSE, A DEMON, A SEX DEVIANT, HELL BOUND, LESS THAN HUMAN and MENTALLY ILL?? … WOULD U?
Writer Marlon James, also via his Facebook page (from which he has granted us permission to quote), noted that the victim may not have even been having sex in the bathroom but was beaten merely because of who he was perceived to be:
Here's what I find interesting: Everybody assumes that the gay man caught having sex at The University of Technology and beaten while the crowd goes into a frenzy was actually doing something. And I mean EVERYBODY, even those who condemn the beating. Even GAY people. But why do you think they were doing anything at all? You know that phrase traveling while black? Try traveling while gay. Laughing too loud while gay. Trying on a pair of jeans while fag? Bussing it while gay. Doing homework while gay. Reading a book while homo. Walking home while gay. It's interesting how everybody on both sides of this argument somehow just took it for granted that these oversexed gay boys would take leave of all senses, and try to have sex in a public bathroom with no locks, in broad daylight while campus is in full swing, all this in one of the most homophobic spots on the planet, because both men clearly have FUCKING PERVERTED IDIOTS WHO CANNOT CONTROL THEMSELVES clearly written on their foreheads. Two effeminate men go to a bathroom at the same time they are getting jumped. But everybody assumes they were doing something.