Monday, July 10, 2006

Blogs Protest Reggae/Dancehall Homophobes

Blog Protest to Drop Homophobes from AIDS Awareness Concert
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
Webster Hall
125 East 11th Street between 3rd & 4th Avenues
Doors open at 9pm


LIFEbeat, Inc.
630 Ninth Avenue (between 44th and 45th Streets)
Suite 1010
New York, NY 10036

Telephone: 212.459.2590
Toll-free: 800.AIDS.411
Fax: 212.459.2892

John Cannelli, Executive Director, x101,

Sarah Peters Manager, Operations, x119,

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:

Bernie/Bejata link
Keith Boykin link
Republic of T link
Pandagon link
Clay Cane link
Jasmyne Cannick link
Journey Into Light link
Frank Leon Roberts link
A Burst of Light link
Blabbeando link

Media Coverage

PlanetOut link
Southern Voice link
BBC News link
UK Gay News link


  1. Wow, you've been busy blog drafting. Thanks for the link to the Charlotte Rampling interview. I've never heard her referred to as "astringent" before, but how apt. She really did give Lopate the icy tongs. I had heard about the sad end to Zidane's career, but wasn't sure if there had been some racial epitaph voiced. However, none of the reporting I saw noted any overt provocation from Materazzi. And I agree with your assessment, one of the responsibilities of the captain is not to let himself get riled and red carded, especially when he's the team's top penalty kicker. Poor Trézéguet. I had been following the Buju Banton and Beenie Man situations, but didn't know about the benefit tie-in for the latter. When a health organization decides that money trumps the existence of some of the very lives its attempting to serve and save, then that organization's board needs at the very least to have an emergency meeting about ethics and funding. Shameful. BTW I put up some images from the Carbonist School exhibition, on my blog, but may not keep them up for long because I their quality doesn't do the show justice.

  2. Bravo to you and all the other bloggers and protesters who it appears have stopped LifeBeat's travesty. Its sad, however, that they used 'fear of violence' as the reason for cancelling, as opposed to telling the truth, or simply 'disinviting' Banton and Beenie Man. This has hurt LifeBeat's reputation more than anything else.