Despite the fact that the country is widely regarded as one of the most homophobic places in the world, committed LGBTI advocates in Jamaica are finalizing details for the country’s first Pride festival – due to coincide with the nation’s annual Emancipation and Independence celebrations in the first week of August.
Pride Jamaica will run from 1-8 August and is being promoted with the hashtag #prideja2015
Because of fears over security, Latoya Nugent, the associate director of the Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), has told local newspaper Jamaica Gleaner that there will be no parade. However, ‘a parade is not the only way we can celebrate our pride and freedom as LGBT Jamaicans.’
Instead, events will include a flash mob this Saturday at 10am in the capital, Kingston.
Details are not being made public as yet, but those interested in finding out more can email [email protected] to receive more information nearer the date.
There will also be an art exhibition, open-mic night, flag-raising ceremony and ‘coming out’ symposium.
‘The symposium will also feature allies, who will share their experiences of what it is like to publicly support the LGBT community in Jamaica, as well as an acoustic concert for women and a pride party.’
Gay-friendly businesses will be offering discounts to those who use a specific promo code. Further information can be found on the J-FLAG Facebook page.
‘The idea is to support businesses that have been kind to the LGBT community and are considered safe spaces for LGBT people to do business,’ said Nugent.
In a statement to Gay Star News, Nugent, who is co-chair of the Pride committee, said that through the event, ‘We will pause the negative vibrations from anti-gay lobby groups and focus on the strides we have made as a community. More importantly, we will recommit to initiatives that see us moving forward as one community.’
Pride Jamaica has received a video message of support from singer Diana King, in which she asked all Jamaicans to support the event: ‘support freedom, independence and breaking the rules of oppression.’
Same-sex sexual activity between men is illegal in Jamaica. Prejudice against LGBT people remains widespread across Jamaican society and homophobic attacks are common.
Last year, Human Rights Watch compiled a report that concluded LGBT Jamaicans are vulnerable to both physical and sexual violence and ‘many live in constant fear’.