“Growing up, my mother was always saying that [if] any of her child become gay or lesbian, she would take them out personally,” says the unidentified man in the red tank top, his head sliced from the camera shot. “Meaning she would kill us herself.”
Facing these sorts of attitudes and resorting to clandestine behavior are the reality for the LGBT community in Jamaica, where same-sex relations are scorned by an enormous chunk of the population: more than 80 percent, according to a new video from Logo’s Global Ally campaign and the Where Love Is Illegal organization, believe that homosexuality is immoral. And while homosexuality is not illegal, “acts of gross indecency” – intimate relations between members of the same sex – are.
The video, This is Who I Am: LGBTQ Stories of Survival, is the latest in Global Ally’s year-long storytelling project that launched last year on The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biophobia to unite victims, activists and supporters of LGBT rights around the world.
The Jamaica that unfolds on the video is a brutal realm where LGBT individuals often live in constant fear of violence, exiled from their families, unemployed and uneducated because they are forever shunning public places.
In an atmosphere so tainted, why, then, would anyone come out at all?
“Our personal stories, which display our humanity, are very important, because it’s not real to Jamaican people unless they know somebody who’s part of the community,” says one man, echoing Logo’s position that increased visibility of LGBT individuals – whether in one’s personal life or the media – is the best way to diffuse homophobia.
Others were more blunt about asserting their rights. “Frankly, I’m sick and tired of hiding,” one woman says, seated beside her partner on their bed. “I’m sick and tired of being afraid to come out of my house. There comes a point in time where you have to take a stand.”
While the homophobic atmosphere is slowly evolving – the nation recently held its second pride parade, and national leaders are beginning a dialogue that could shift public attitudes – enormous challenges remain. Click here to watch Global Ally videos on the challenges facing different factions of the LGBT community, from refugees to the homeless.
Social activism supporting the broad LGBT community infuses Logo’s programming: both the net’s Gay Ski Week activations and RuPaul’s Drag Race (which is moving to VH1 for its ninth season) earned NAMIC Excellence in Multicultural Marketing Awards recently, while its emotional tribute to victims of last year’s Orlando nightclub massacre at its Trailblazer Honors and its Fill in the Blank campaign earned Cynopsis Social Good Awards.