Monday, August 06, 2012
I first visted Jamaica when they were celebrating 25 years of independence. It was my initial venture out of the U.S. and it is where I first fell in love with all things caribbean. I was just getting out of school and had traveled there to tour the country with a community theater group. We performed in Ocho Rios, where we visited the great open-air market and Dunns River Falls. We then spent several days in Kingston visiting the Bustamante Children's Hospital, the University of The West Indies and being received by local sponsors and the Governor General.
The Jamaica I remember was welcoming and kind, unlike the homophobic terror it is portrayed as today. We were instructed then not to venture into parts of the city of Kingston due to high levels of crime in general, as opposed to today where having a perceived lack of a certain swagger might cause suspicion of homosexuailty, therefore bringing threats of beatings or death.
I haven't fully jumped on the bandwagon of the Boycott Jamaica movement, though I realize the human rights violations are severe and numerous. I can't seem to ignore the many anonymous gay faces who work in the tourist industry, who study at the universities to make a better life and a better Jamaica, who toil in the bauxite mines alongside unsuspecting coworkers while dreaming of a different way of life.
Each time I wrap my leftovers in aluminum foil I count my blessings that I have more than enough and I remember that I am providing work for that anonymous face in the bauxite mines and I pray that his Jamaica becomes the one that is welcoming and kind for ALL people.