Towards a more tolerant societyThursday, August 19, 2021
For Jamaicans, the period of August 1-6 each year is generally known as a time for mass celebration and excitement as citizens revel in the 'Emancipendence' holiday season.
Coupled with our national celebrations, the staging of Pride JA during this period is a deliberate symbolism of our freedom, struggles, successes, and pride as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Jamaicans nationally and within the Diaspora.
Throughout the course of the event it was rather remarkable to see an increased level of transgender representation, which, undoubtedly, epitomises hope for a future where trans and non-binary individuals are accepted for who they are and receive less hate and discrimination for expressing and affirming their true identities.
For decades the trans community has been seen as merely gyrating, confused homosexuals who wear wigs and are nothing but a nuisance to society. Sadly, this assumption is still embedded in the minds of today's society as trans people face high levels of discrimination and vulnerability ranging from low access to social services, such as health care, education, unemployment, homelessness, etc. However, with the work of organisations who are actively engaging in trans advocacy, such as TransWave Jamaica and the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (JFLAG), we are in a much better place than where we were 10 to 15 years ago.
In the struggle to create a safer country for its most at-risk and disenfranchised community, Pride is slowly becoming commonplace in Jamaica. Currently, in its seventh year, Pride has garnered major strides and publicity when compared to previous stagings, especially with the support and partnership of mainstream media and dancehall figures.
Contemporary research shows that visibility is the key to overcoming homophobia and transphobia in Jamaica, and as such Pride JA is crucial in this regard by promoting greater tolerance for and acceptance of LGBT individuals.
With Pride now over, it is evident that the event has brought unprecedented visibility to the LGBT community. The shift to a more digital/virtual reality created avenues for vast amounts of social media use and traction, thus reaching international audiences.
Pride JA is therefore a time for us to celebrate proud, resilient LGBT individuals who continue to break societal stereotypes and strive for equality, equity, and justice.
It is also our prerogative that, whilst we crave greater tolerance and acceptance of the community, we also seek to work towards empowering and sensitising stakeholders about the challenges faced by LGBT Jamaicans and chart a way for a more just and inclusive Jamaica.
Policy, advocacy and research ambassador