Friday, March 07, 2008

The Invention of Homophobia.

Two days ago I was in the men’s locker room at this gym in St. Paul. Americans have totally different ideas when it comes to locker room exposure and being a quick adapter to change, I had no problem doing as the Romans do. In the shower amid several buck naked white men were two black guys laughing, joking and showering with bar soap. That they were the only ones showering in boxer shorts should have been a dead giveaway that they were Jamaican. There was also the accent of course, but in a city like St. Paul one gets so hungry for a Jamaican accent that an Antiguan could just as easily pass. But I knew beyond any doubt that they were Jamaican because they were doing one of the Jamdown man’s favourite pastimes: Convincing the world that he’s straight.

Yeah man when me fuck 'ar she jus' awwww and ohhhh and eeeeeh and IEEE-I-I-I-! said stud number one. Not to be outdone, stud number two went on about how even as he was knee deep in pussy, felt a burning sensation and had to go to the doctor because the girl gave him the clap. Of course he punished her with another good and proper screwing. Leave it to people like us to assume that the only way to get rid of a sexually transmitted disease is to fuck it out. With showers spraying, other men talking and loud music playing over the speakers it would have been hard to hear anybody, but those two came out loud and clear. As was something else not said but made plain. WE fuck pussy you faggots, so stay away from us.

Jamaica’s homophobia is so acute, so unlike gay-hate anywhere else that it would have been funny were it not for the odd murder or lynching. It seethes in the rumours of the powerless about the powerful, but it also explodes far too frequently with a brutality that begs for the reintroduction of terms not seen since before political correctness: blood lust and savagery; with murder gangs operating like a Klu Klux Klan fighting for the right to preserve the unfucked anus. If you were to look for corresponding models one would have to go to the most repressive of Middle Eastern states to find a parallel. Last week, after Jamaica cop Michael Hayden’s very brave and very public coming out, death threats started flying and Hayden, who at one point seemed ready to take the hit that the rest of the community dodged, finally realized that he was no match for countrywide hatred and the blind eye of authority.

What’s at the crux of such bigotry? Homophobia’s most frequent victims aren’t necessarily homosexuals either, but anyone who in voice, manner or even profession deviates from a relentless maintained masculine archetype. Our homophobia can be so extreme that a man who has only one woman is suspect. And there in lies the subtext, that our Homophobia is not really homophobia at all but a crisis in manliness.

Truth be told, we produce many males but our country hasn’t really produced a man yet. How can we, with so many still fatherless? In an environment consistently robbed of a father figure, we allow manliness to be defined by other things, music for one, where heterosexuality is dragged to such ridiculous extremes that one wonder how these men’s penises don’t fall off from overuse. Our homophobia, chauvinism and promiscuity all come from the same place, that puzzling unanswered question of what it means to be male. We don’t have fathers to answer our questions so we take lessons from Bounty Killer.

It’s not gayness that's in crisis but straightness. Heterosexuality is relentlessly policed day after day because what was straight today may be gay tomorrow. The straight identity perceives itself as so under threat that it needs to be reinforced every day by chauvinism and promiscuity. So infamous Don-Man, Zeeks, in response to assertions that he was gay, provided his many bastard children as proof that he only bangs the ladies. Not long ago, Bounty Killer, never one to hide his hate, found himself on the defensive for appearing in a No Doubt video where the frequently naked drummer got naked again. This of course took homophobia into the realm of the ridiculous, but nonetheless it was a controversy that raged on for weeks. Only a few years back Beenie Man nearly had his hetero pass revoked because of poor grammar. “How can I make love to a fella/ In a rush? Pass me the keys…” was looked upon by some as a confession of love sessions with the dudes until English teachers everywhere reminded everyone the difference between a comma and a fullstop. All this despite the song having a roll call of conquests matched only by the most virile rabbit.

In this heterosexual crisis women are as much a threat. So even now despite the fact that women are more educated than men, most men (and quite a few women) work towards the day when the woman doesn’t “have” to work, because as we all know women couldn’t possibly enjoy a career. But more than that, the capable woman challenges the identity and place of the man, leaving him with nothing more than phallic certainty. So right along with the kill batty-boy tune, is the Gal in a bungle tune. Boasts of sexual prowess is nothing new to music and is certainly not endemic to any one culture, but it’s the nature of ours, the depersonalizing, the grouping of women like cattle or spare parts, the violent ‘tear it out wide and kill it with stab’ imagery that makes ours special. With it lies implicit the fight to be the man that nobody has defined the Jamaican male to be. The homosexual, or rather the effeminate man of course confounds this.

Homophobia also rages because good people do nothing. The church, never shy to fan a homophobia flame when it needs to get fornicators to go to church, nonetheless turns a blind eye to acts of violence, fearing one supposes that support would mean consent. This is understandable of course, but it is also backward logic which has no place in the 21st century. One cannot turn a blind eye when people who aren’t the least bit religious, trot out the bible excuse; fornicators calling sodomites sinners as if they aren’t all going to the same hell—if you believe in such a thing. Homosexuality is a sin, according the wildly corrupted King James Bible that I read, but then it also calls for the death of all who eat shellfish, which raises some interesting questions about Crab Night.

Such hatred in unacceptable in any place that claims to be a member of western civilization. Annie Paul is right about foreigners coming into a country to condemn their atrocities when they are in truth redefining cultural superiority in another effort to show how better than us they are. But she is also right that this does not let hatred off the hook. Nor does it hide that we are on the verge of becoming an international concern and a genuine human rights crisis. I for one have very little tolerance for homophobes. If that person is you, feel free to stay away from my blog. Come to think of it, you can fuck right off.