In part 3 of the series watch Shabba Ranks express his feelings in an interview during the Stop Murder Music Campaign of his shows, contracts and record dealer
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Milk moved from New York City to settle in San Francisco in 1972 amid a migration of gay men moving to the Castro District in the 1970s. He took advantage of the growing political and economic power of the neighborhood to promote his interests, and ran unsuccessfully for political office three times. His theatrical campaigns earned him increasing popularity and Milk won a seat as a city supervisor in 1977 a result of the broader social changes the city was experiencing.
Milk served 11 months in office and was responsible for passing a stringent gay rights ordinance for the city. On November 27, 1978, Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by Dan White, another city supervisor who had recently resigned and wanted his job back. Conflicts between liberal trends that were responsible for Milk's election and conservative resistance to those changes were evident in events following the assassinations.
Despite his short career in politics, Milk has become an icon in San Francisco and "a martyr for gay rights", according to University of San Francisco professor Peter Novak. In 2002, Milk was called "the most famous and most significantly open LGBT official ever elected in the United States". John Cloud remarked on his influence, "[After Milk] many people—straight and gay—had to adjust to a new reality he embodied: that a gay person could live an honest life and succeed.
Milk graduated from Bay Shore High School in Bay Shore, New York, in 1947 and attended New York State College for Teachers in Albany (now the State University of New York at Albany) from 1947 to 1951, majoring in mathematics. He wrote for the college newspaper and earned a reputation as a gregarious, friendly student. None of his friends in high school or college suspected that he was gay. As one classmate remembered, "He was never thought of as a possible queer—that's what you called them then—he was a man's man
Milk's early career was marked by frequent changes; in later years he would take delight in talking about his metamorphosis from a middle-class Jewish boy. He began teaching at George W. Hewlett High School on Long Island. In 1956, he met Joe Campbell at the Jacob Riis Park beach, a popular location for gay men in Queens. Campbell was seven years younger than Milk, and Milk pursued him passionately. Even after they moved in together, Milk wrote Campbell romantic notes and poems. Quickly growing bored, they decided to move to Texas, but they were unhappy there and moved back to New York where Milk got a job as an actuarial statistician at an insurance firm. Campbell and Milk separated after almost six years; it would be his longest relationship.
Milk tried to separate his early romantic life from his family and work. Once again bored and single in New York, he thought of moving to Miami to marry a lesbian friend to "have ... a front & each would not be in the way of the other". However, he remained in New York and secretly pursued gay relationships. In 1962 Milk became involved with Craig Rodwell, who was ten years younger. Though Milk courted Rodwell ardently, waking him every morning with a call and sending him notes, Milk was discouraged by Rodwell's involvement with the New York Mattachine Society, a gay activist organization. When Rodwell was arrested for walking in Riis Park, charged with inciting a riot and indecent exposure (the law required men's swimsuits to extend from above the navel to below the thigh), he spent three days in jail. The relationship soon ended as Milk became alarmed at Rodwell's tendency to agitate the police.
Milk abruptly stopped working as an insurance salesman and became a researcher at the Wall Street firm Bache & Company. He was frequently promoted despite his tendency to offend the older members of the firm by ignoring their advice and flaunting his success. Although he was skilled at his job, co-workers sensed that Milk's heart was not in his work. He started a relationship with Jack Galen McKinley, and recruited him in the fight against the proliferation of big government by persuading McKinley to work on conservative Republican Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential campaign. Their relationship was troubled: McKinley was prone to depression and frequently threatened to commit suicide if Milk did not show him enough attention.
Moscone planned to announce White's replacement days later, on November 27, 1978. Half an hour before the press conference, Dan White entered City Hall through a basement window to avoid metal detectors and made his way to Mayor Moscone's office. Witnesses heard shouting between White and Moscone, then gunshots. White shot the mayor once in the arm, then three times in the head after Moscone had fallen on the floor. White then quickly walked to his former office, reloading his police-issue revolver with hollow-point bullets along the way, and intercepted Harvey Milk, asking him to step inside for a moment. Dianne Feinstein heard gunshots and called the police. She found Milk face down on the floor, shot five times, including twice in the head at close range. Feinstein was shaking so badly she required support from the police chief after identifying both bodies. It was she who announced to the press, "Today San Francisco has experienced a double tragedy of immense proportions. As President of the Board of Supervisors, it is my duty to inform you that both Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk have been shot and killed," then adding after being drowned out by shouts of disbelief, "and the suspect is Supervisor Dan White."
Within an hour, White called his wife from a nearby diner; she met him at a church and escorted him to the police, where White turned himself in. Many residents left flowers on the steps of City Hall. That evening, a spontaneous gathering began to form on Castro Street moving toward City Hall in a candlelight vigil. Their numbers were estimated between 25,000 and 40,000, spanning the width of Market Street, extending the mile and a half (2.4 km) from Castro Street. The next day, the bodies of Moscone and Milk were brought to the City Hall rotunda where mourners paid their respects. Six thousand mourners attended a service for Mayor Moscone at St. Mary's Cathedral. Two memorials were held for Milk; a small one at Temple Emanu-El and a more boisterous one at the Opera Hous
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Marcus Bryan, a member of Sunshine Cathedral Jamaica, a church formed for homosexuals, charged that most clerics were wary of guilt by association and, therefore, refrained from seriously addressing the issue.
"There are ministers who offer one-on-one counselling and other support, but will have to be careful, as it will result in fallout in their congregations," Bryan told The Gleaner.
He said ministers who were prepared to deal with the situation were only aiming to change their sexual orientation.
Bryan is a former Roman Catholic but left that denomination because of the church's doctrinal opposition to homosexuality.
"I couldn't stay at the church because all they do is pray for changes in me and I didn't want to worship in a place where I have to leave my sexuality outside.
"I love my sexuality and it plays a significant part of my life," he stated.
The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), the island's main sex-minority lobby, said the organisation has been concerned about the treatment of homosexuals by local churches.
"Our clients have over the years expressed their discomfort with many religious institutions which have and continue to make worshipping in that church uncomfortable, as they preach hatred towards gays and lesbians from the pulpit," said Jason McFarlane, J-FLAG's programmes manager.
Fearful of being labelled
He also claimed that clergy who were compassionate towards the gay and lesbian community have often been prevented from offering support because they were fearful of being labelled as homosexuals.
Prominent church leaders from various denominational groupings have called the gays' claims disingenuous.
The Rev Peter Garth of Hope Gospel Assembly has rebuked the gay community, saying that part of the resistance to sex minorities was based on their open promotion of homosexuality and active recruitment of children.
"These persons don't keep this to themselves, they flaunt their behaviour and set to put their lifestyle to others," said Garth. "Even when you send your children to school, they are at risk because these persons will try to address them."
He also argues that homosexuality was not natural, saying, "There is no such thing as gay genes and nobody was born attracted to the same sex," he claimed.
Bishop Delford Davis, head of Power of Faith Ministries, acknowledged that homosexuals faced the possibility of ostracism by fellow congregants. He urged understanding that the same levels of stigmatisation which dogged society existed in the Church.
"It takes a lot of courage to reveal to the public who you are, based on narrow-minded persons in society. It's the same in the Church, there are mature and immature Christians, so they are not motivated," stated Davis.
The bishop said the Church had a policy to refer homosexuals to counsellors to address issues.
Karl Johnson, president of Jamaica Council of Churches, said homosexuality was an emerging concern in the modern church which denominations would have to face head-on.
"No church representative can say they don't have the issue, it was always part of society but has become more rampant in modern society," Johnson told The Gleaner.
No one is perfect
"We try to diffuse any activities which will make the person feel less of a human being. Moreover, if this person shows changes, things will go back to normality, as no one is perfect," said Johnson, who is also general secretary of the Jamaica Baptist Union.
The Rev Al Miller, pastor of Fellowship Tabernacle, said homosexuality was inconsistent with fundamentalist biblical values. He said his church was involved in restorative therapy to alter their sexual urges.
"We try to redeem persons and restore them by establishing a personal relationship with them and God so they can overcome soon," he said.
"A number of homosexuals recover, as the power of redemptive work can break free any barrier. It's a reality and though it's contrary to the word of God, persons have to accept it and deal with it," he said.
Monday, February 16, 2009
MP says cops are gays
Member of Parliament (MP) for South West St. Ann Ernest Smith has suggested that the authorities deny homosexuals licensed firearms.
During Tuesday's Parliamentary debate on the Sex Offenders Act, the St. Ann M.P. described homosexuals as violent people who should not be allowed to carry licensed firearms."I am very concerned at the extent to which homosexual activities seem to have overtaken this country ... I am very concerned that homosexuals in Jamaica have become so brazen, they've formed themselves into organizations and are abusive, violent and something that the Ministry of National Security must look into is why is it that so many homosexuals are licensed firearm holders," said Mr. Smith.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
OUTWEEKLY Investigate the early stage of homophobia in the dancehall music. This is part 1 of 4 video stories that will be covered.
With the release of Buju Banton song “Boom Bye Bye” the attention was brought world wide about the dark side of the dancehall music. Gay activities started the Stop Murder Music campaign.
The term 'Murder Music' was coined by British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell in the mid-1990s to describe the homophobic work of certain Jamaican musicians, primarily dancehall and ragga artists who called for and encouraged physical violence and murder of homosexuals.
Stop Murder Music Campaign have accused Beenie Man, Elephant Man, Sizzla, Bounty Killer, Vybz Kartel, Capleton, T.O.K., Buju Banton and others of promoting anti-gay violence, harassment, and bigotry through their music.
In part one (1) the release of the anti-gay lyric "boom bye bye,"in 1992 and the many uproar that it brough. Shabba Ranks supporting Banton's song on The Word.
Monday, February 9, 2009
All dancehall songs which qualify as 'daggering' content - the rapidly emerging culture of quasi-erotic dances and music - will also be outlawed from the airwaves, the commission also said.
The ban, which takes effect immediately, does not affect content recorded on CDs and DVDs.
"There shall not be transmitted through radio or television, any recording, live song or music video which promotes the act of 'daggering' or which makes reference to, or is otherwise suggestive of 'daggering'," said Hopeton Dunn, commission chairman, in a release last night.
"There shall not be transmitted through radio or television or cable services, any audio recording, song or music video which employs editing techniques or bleeping of its original lyrical content," Dunn continued.
The Broadcasting Commission's tough stance coincides with widespread criticism of the chart-topping hit, Rampin' Shop, a song laden with sexually explicit content and inferences. The song is performed by deejays Vybz Kartel and Spice.
Debate was stirred when Esther Tyson, a Sunday Gleaner columnist, lambasted media managers for giving dancehall artistes a platform to "corrupt the psyche of Jamaican children".
"We must work together to stop enriching people like Vybz Kartel who create filth and are then paid when they release it on the public.
"The corporate giants in this nation who are promoting such filth need to come into the schools and see what is happening to the minds of the young," wrote Tyson, principal of the co-ed school, Ardenne High.
The Broadcasting Commission has come under pressure in recent months as complaints mounted, particularly in print media, that the organisation should ramp up its policing of the airwaves and sanction stations which breach the Television and Sound Broadcasting Regulations.
The Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) last night told The Gleaner that it was in support of the move by the Broadcasting Commission to ban the airing of songs with extensive bleeping.
"We believe that there should be a distinction between creative production for consumption or enjoyment in the dancehall vs the public airwaves," said PAJ President Byron Buckley.
"We are against the current futile practice of bleeping out distasteful sections of a song on air when, in fact, the explicit content is widely available elsewhere."
Gary Allen, chairman of the Media Association of Jamaica, the umbrella representing both print and broadcast management, said entertainment-centred stations would likely suffer most from the new directive.
"The entertainment stations will have a struggle as they will not be able to compete with the different entertainment tools such as CDs and iPods. But they still have to be mindful that it's a directive from the commission that has the authority without media houses questioning it," he told The Gleaner last night.
Allen said the Media Association of Jamaica was categorically against the airing of songs "that clearly make reference to a daggering position" and said he was aware of the Broadcasting Commission's bid to balance popular interest with the boundaries of public decency.
In recent years, church and civic groups have clamoured for a tighter leash to be placed on television and radio content. But dancehall proponents have argued that the musical genre has been an easy target of moral conservatives seeking to impose a generic standard of values.
Monday, February 2, 2009
If, as expected, she is confirmed as interim head of government later today, she will be the first openly gay person to do so. Not in Iceland, in the world.
A gay man did act as prime minister of Norway, but only for a matter of hours.
As head of a new left-green government, she should remain in office until elections in May.
When Visir, an Icelandic website, published a short article about how she could become the first openly lesbian head of government, the common response was annoyance towards that website for "making a big deal" out of such a non-issue as her sexuality.
A country of only 300.000 with a gay scene that is largely embedded into mainstream culture, Iceland is considered one of the safest places in the world to be gay.
Because of its small size Reykjavik's gay scene co-exists to a greater extent within mainstream nightlife than in Britain and the rest of Europe.
This is one reason why the Icelandic gay scene is so widely accepted as normal and a non-issue by the public.
Born in October 1942 it is fair to assume that Ms Sigurdardottir had a political upbringing. Her father served in the Icelandic parliament for the Social Democratic Party between 1959 - 1971 and was chairman of the civil service union.
It should also be noted that Sigurdardottir's family played a key role rise of trade unions in Iceland, her grandfather was one of the founders of Dagsbrun, the largest workers union in Iceland, and her grandmother served on the board of Framsokn the female-workers union.
In 1960 Ms Sigurdardottir graduated from The Commercial College, a private college funded by the Icelandic Chamber of Commerce, a highly respect institution but also considered the breading ground for the Conservative party.
After graduating she worked as an air hostess for Loftleiðir (now Icelandair ) and later as an office worker at a box factory.
From early on in her professional life she was active within the trade union movement and served on the board of the Icelandic Cabin Crew Association in 1966 and 1969 and on the board of Svolurnar, the Association of Former Stewardesses, in 1975.
She was also a member of the Board of the Commercial Workers Union from 1976 to 1983.
In 1978 Ms Sigurdardottir was elected to Althingi (Icelandic parliament) for the Reykjavik constituency and has held her seat since then.
A Social Democratic party MP, later she became the vice-chairman of the party and served as Minister of Social Affairs in four cabinets from 1987 - 1994.
Personal animosity between Ms Sigurdardottir and party leader Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson led to a breach.
Ms Sigurdardottir accused Mr Hannibalsson and the party of going against its fundamental principles of social equality at the expense of the most vulnerable in Icelandic society.
The dispute ended in a humiliating loss for Ms Sigurdardottir and eventually her resignation from the party.She famously ended a speech with the words "my time will come" and walked out on the Social Democrats.
She then founded Thjodvaki (variously translated as "Awakening of the Nation" or the "National Movement") a breakaway party.
During the 1994 election Thjodvaki played heavily on the "my time will come" theme. The phrase has haunted her political career ever since.
Thjodvaki managed to get 4 MP's elected. The party was later credited as one of the stepping-stones in unifying the Icelandic political left.
After the 1994 elections it became apparent that the Icelandic left had become too scattered and would never stand a change of forming a government unless it would become more unified.
Ms Sigurdardottir and Thjodvaki became one of the founding parties of The Social Democratic alliance. The alliance was part of the coalition government that resigned en masse earlier this week. The alliance has been asked to form an interim government.
Ms Sigurdardottir, their choice for prime minister, is greatly respected by her colleagues, political opponents and the people.
She was recently voted the most trustworthy politician in Iceland with a 60% to 70% approval rating, despite serving in the government widely considered to be responsible for the financial meltdown.
The public knows her as someone that has strong and inflexible principles and an utter disdain for elitism and wastefulness.
She is remembered as the minister who refused to accept a personal chauffeur and a luxury car paid for by the public.
Instead images of her driving around in her tatty Mitsubishi endeared her to many Icelanders.
Ms Sigurdardottir is however strongly criticised for being difficult to work with and inflexible when it comes to negotiation.
This has proven difficult in a country where coalition government between two or more parties is the norm. She has also been criticised for not having enough understanding when it comes to reducing spending on social security.
This criticism has grown louder after she recently refused to accept any cutbacks in funding for any issues under the responsibility of the Ministry of Social affairs and Security despite what looks to become a record-breaking budget deficit.
Ms Sigurdardottir is also known for keeping her personal life out of the spotlight. She has never given interview about her sexuality or her personal life.
Her spouse is Jónína Leósdóttir a well known playwright, author and a journalist and the couple is registered in Iceland (the equivalent of a civil partnership).
Together they have three grown up children. She is described as as family oriented and especially close to her grandchildren, despite her busy career.