Reggae Homophobia

Reggae Homophobia

Apology does not appease gays alarmed by calls for anti-gay violence

Jamaican reggae star Beenie Man has conditionally apologized if his lyrics have offended gay people. “It has come to my attention,” he said in a statement, “that certain lyrics and recordings I have made in the past may have caused distress and outrage among people whose identities and lifestyles are different from my own. While my lyrics are very personal, I do not write them with the intent of purposefully hurting or maligning others.”

Beenie Man’s hit, “Bad Man Chi Chi Man,” meaning “bad queer man,” tells listeners to kill gays, reported: “Some bwoy will go a jail fi kill man tun bad man chi chi man!!!./Tell mi, sumfest it should a be a showdown/Yuh seem to run off a stage like a clown (Kill Dem DJ!!!).” In his hit song “Damn,” he says, “I’m dreaming of a new Jamaica, come to execute all the gays.” He has defended the sentiments as part of Jamaican culture.

Peter Tatchell of the LGBT group Outrage! told Gay.comUK, “Beenie Man hasn’t explained what he is apologizing for or who he is apologizing to,” and dismissed the statement as a “total fudge” that was “drafted by his lawyer” because he was afraid of prosecution and being barred from appearing at certain venues. Outrage! wants a more direct apology and wants his albums with anti-gay lyrics pulled from stores, with the profits made from those songs donated to gay causes.

The reggae dancehall star is also wanted for questioning in connection with the gang beating of a Jamaican gay man. He is currently on a 33-city tour in the U.S., including New York. Tatchell called upon U.S. LGBT leaders to protest his tour. “No one would give a platform to a singer who advocated killing black or Jewish people,” Tatchell said. “A performer who brazenly glorifies and encourages the murder of lesbians and gay men should not be rewarded with concerts and financial success.”

An ad hoc group is meeting at the LGBT Community Center in Manhattan on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. to address the presence of Beenie Man and other anti-gay dancehall singers in the United States. Emmaia Gelman, a lesbian activist, said, “It is a response to queers from Jamaica who held a meeting at Human Rights Watch and asked for support from New York queers.”

Beenie Man just played Carifest Club on Coney Island on August 1 and is set to perform at Cro Bar on October 6 and B.B. King’s on October 8, as well the West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn on Labor Day. The ad hoc group is contacting all the club owners and the parade organizers to object to his appearances. They are also asking Virgin, Beenie man’s record producer, to take responsibility for what they call his “hate lyrics” and to get Hot 97 radio to stop broadcasting them.

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