Jamaica: A Week of Courage and Solidarity

This week, the LGBTI community of Jamaica decided to show another side of their courage by organizing Jamaica pride 2015 (#PRiDEJA2015) which consists of cultural and public political events throughout the week in Kingston.

As Angeline Jackson, a lesbian activist and founder of Quality of Citizenship Jamaica (QCJ) puts it:

“Moving from the earlier days when pride, though celebrated, did not have the same publicity as this year's event; Jamaica pride 2015 is a perfect example of the ways the LGBT community in Jamaica is evolving and growing. In all its forms over the years the same holds true for the pride events this year, they have created spaces in which LGBT Jamaicans can feel free and safe.”

The visibility of this year’s event is the result of many years of networking and gaining strength and political presence in the country.

Yes, Jamaica has a high rate of violence based on sexual and gender identity prejudice. It still has anti-sodomy laws in place. Yet, the needle is slowly shifting thanks to the amazing work of brave LGBTI Jamaicans. Their organizing and building of tools to document their situation is gaining local and international support to denounce the injustices happening within their community.

This week the world gets to see a LGBTI movement in Jamaica that does not only struggle, but grows bigger, celebrates diversity, creates meaningful art and music, builds networks for safer and respectful environments and, also, receives gracious global media coverage.

Media can be a crucial agent of positive transformation or for reproducing injustice. Unfortunately, most local media has been central in reproducing negative stereotypes of LGBTI communities and individuals in Jamaica. This has been documented in our forthcoming collaborative report with United and Strong and The Jamaica Forum of Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG).

This week’s events are a celebratory way of breaking down stereotypes and occupying a social space that has belonged to LGBTI Jamaicans for generations.

We hope the people of Jamaica as a whole embrace such a wonderful gesture. For the LGBTI and allies in the country, we send all our admiration and solidarity!!!

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Jamaica Pride 2015 on Social Media - Live Updates