On Friday, I posted about the upcoming Reggae Gold Live 2006 Jumpoff concert at Webster Hall, which will feature a handfull of reggae, dancehall and hiphop stars, supposedly to benefit an organization that promotes HIV/AIDS awareness among people of Caribbean descent. Beenie Man, who has been condemned for his homophobic songs and statements (including equating homosexuality and pedophilia), and who had one of his recents in Britain canceled as a result, is one of the headliners. Another is T.O.K., whose music I was unfamiliar with, though according to a report in the New York Blade, he also has written toxicly homophobic lyrics as well.
The real-time effects of their rhetoric are on evidence in Jamaica, where homophobia helps to fuel the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the third largest in the Caribbean after Haiti and DR, and where lesbians, gay men, and transgender people have been and are continuing to be openly harassed, attacked and killed based on homophobic and heterosexist prejudice and hatred, as I've reported in the past. The situation is no less salient in New York City, the site of the event, where HIV/AIDS seroconversions among Black men continue to rise and where anti-gay violence is an ongoing problem, in no small part because of the climate created by ignorance, homophobia and heterosexism.
According to the Blade, the program beneficiary, LIFEBeat, has offered the following rationale: "We know some of the problems of their lyrics, but our belief is that the dialogue is good. Education and enlightenment can help the artists see the broader picture." I originally wondered if they'd discussed the event's purpose with Beenie Man or broached his homophobic lyrics and statements, and there's no indication they have, nor that the event's sponsors, including BET and Vibe Magazine, Music Choice and New York’s Power 105.1 FM, have called him on the carpet as well. Keith Boykin has activated a protest, calling for those in the blogosphere to urge LIFEBeat to drop Beenie Man and T.O.K. from its lineup. I've included the relevant information below, and may add to it as I learn more. (Many thanks to Bernie and Donald who sent me this information!)
Reggae Gold Live 2006 Summer Jumpoff
July 18, 2006
125 East 11th Street between 3rd & 4th Avenues
Doors open at 9pm
BACKGROUND ON LIFEBEAT
630 Ninth Avenue (between 44th and 45th Streets)
New York, NY 10036
John Cannelli, Executive Director, x101, email@example.com
Sarah Peters Manager, Operations, x119, firstname.lastname@example.org
Promotional support provided by BET, Vibe magazine, Music Choice and Power 105.1
Emil Wilbekin, the openly gay former editor-in-chief of VIBE magazine, is on their board of directors. Hilary Rosen, the openly gay former head of the Recording Industry Association of America, is on their board of advisors.
Other voices of concern: