A bold, brazen buggering
A most troubling report in yesterday's Observer detailing the gang-rape of a male jogger in the early hours, in the Queen Hill area of St Andrew, will certainly send a signal to the general public that any gains the highly agitated gay lobby has been enjoying in Jamaica in recent years, especially in trying to have the buggery law overturned, must now be put on hold.
In trying to wrap our minds around this most troubling incident we must first appreciate that violent criminality, of whatever kind, is deplorable. Unfortunately, in Jamaica — and I suspect many other countries — the many of instances of rape of our women go unreported for very obvious reasons.
More troubling is a silently accepted cultural aspect among many of our men that women need to be forcibly coerced into sexual acts because many of them actually enjoy that macho approach. Much too high a percentage of our men share that belief. Violated women have a terrible fear of ending up in court to give evidence of what happened to them and to have lawyers representing the perpetrators make them out to be sluts of the worst kind.
As troublingly accepting as many of our men are of female rape, the irony is, our general population views rape of the male by a male as not only more 'sick', but culturally unacceptable. In other words, where discussion at street level surrounding rape of a female will elicit shouts of, 'dem man deh fi dead,' in the instance where men have raped a man, it is all about the 'country going downhill' and 'God soon come fi him world'.
In any language, rape is rape, because it speaks to a violation of another human being. Someone has the right to freedom of space, of movement, of physical bodily expression, like jogging in jeans, in sweat suit, in shorts. The gang-rape of the man in the Queen Hill area where he was found tied up by the road, bleeding from his rectum, will definitely elicit much more societal anger than usual, and almost the same as if it was the rape of a female minor.
On Wednesday morning, as the report surfaced, even women at street level were more incensed than usual. On Red Hills Road one woman said to me: "Dem bway want tek over di ting now. Dem fi dead!" When I told her
that Jamaica has a high percentage of unreported rape of females she almost dismissed those facts and asked instead, "Ah when last yuh hear bout dem a rape man like a dat?"
The men were more vociferous even if somewhat in touch with a sad reality. One man in his 60s said: "Is long time dem ting a gwaan but it always keep down." A much younger man, a stone mason in his late 30s, said: "Police stop mi a road and tek weh mi knife." Then he removed what looked like an extremely well-sharpened kitchen knife from a specially made long pocket in one side of his pants and said: "Yuh tink seh police can protect mi from b...man. Di road rough!"
Twenty years ago a man told me about an incident which happened in almost the same area that the recent gang-rape took place. Areas like Queen Hill, Red Hills, Belvedere, Golden Acres, Sterling Castle, Coopers Hill, and those residential areas on the hills always tend to have construction going on. According to the mason who told me the story, he and five colleagues had finished work for the week and were walking down the hill that late Friday evening.
As they neared the foot of the hill, five men with guns jumped out from bushes and confronted them. After the hold-up men had relieved them of their hard-earned cash, one said to his colleagues: "So, weh unnuh seh, unnuh waan wi &%$# dem bwoy yah?"
The man who told me did not give me the impression that it meant that the men intended to kill them. In a suddenness, all of the men who were just previously held up ran for their lives. They were prepared to deal with being robbed, but were not ready for what they imagined would come next.
Last Sunday's Observer carried an excellent story written by their ace journalist Karyl Walker, which gave in much detail a fact unknown to many Jamaicans: that in many of the crime-infested garrison pockets there are homosexual criminals who are openly gay in a country like Jamaica that is said to be one of the most homophobic places on the planet.
That article must have thrown a lot of cold water on those detractors, like J-FLAG, who are always seeing crime against gays as proof that Jamaica is not just a violent country, but that it is extremely hostile to homosexuals. When gay gunmen can openly walk in a tough inner-city pocket, just like any other straight gunman, and he is not killed, what does that say about the 'Jamaican homophobia'? Why would the straight gunman not kill him in violent Jamaica?
I must confess that when I read the Observer story about the gang rape of the jogger in Queen Hill, I cringed. It also invoked in me evil thoughts that should that happen to a male relative of mine.... Moreover, I used to jog in the Queen Hill area. What if it should happen to me?
Where would my head space be after such a disgustingly tragic act? Would I want to go out and do evil things to others?
We know and accept that our society is a most violent one. In recent times there has been much debate at street level about gays in the society and, in the last 20 or so years, Jamaicans have become willing to listen (at least) if not actively engage in the bigger debate about the buggery law.
The recent gang rape will immediately put a stop to that and it may have disastrous consequences for the gay community in Jamaica, many of whom would like wider acceptance in the broad society.
I happen to be one of those few Jamaicans who happen to believe that homosexuals are that way because that is what they are, just as how a heterosexual is the way he is. Although no gay gene has been identified, isolated, and conveniently transmitted to about eight per cent of the world's population, there is something I believe that has a congenital, impelling effect on a child that makes him either gay or straight. What it is, we do not yet know.
Most Jamaicans do not share that belief. They believe that gay people make themselves gay, or worse, they become so because of the pull of money.
The gang rape of that man in Queen Hill will reinforce that view and lock down the gay debate. The sexual polarisation will increase.