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5 comments | Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It seems not a week goes by that there isn't some horrible story of anti-gay violence taking place in Jamaica. The island has earned it's reputation for being one of the most homophobic and dangerous places for black gays and lesbians. From the murder music of reggae artists Elephant Man, Sizzla, and T.O.K., homophobia is ingrained in Jamaican culture and sadly many of the islanders are unapologetic about their inhumane treatment of gays and lesbians and even towards those who they perceive to be.

So what causes this deep-seated hatred? It's a question that many people have asked but very few have gone to the source to find out. British comedian Stephen Amos does just that in a brilliant documentary titled "Batty Man" that is filmed between his home land in the U.K. and Jamaica.

Realizing the painful effect black homophobia has had in his life as a gay man Amos decides to incorporate coming out into his stand-up routine. The reaction he receives from blacks in the audience is downright chilling.

On the streets of Brixton, a borough in South London, volunteers are put to the test when they're asked to identify a gay man from a line-up of men who are all dressed differently, some preppy and others in thug drag. Their idea of what is stereotypically gay and the reality is the first step in shattering their stereotypes.

The contempt many black young people in the U.K. feel towards gays and lesbians isn't much different than it is here in the states. Sadly, many of the young people interviewed couldn't explain exactly why they held gays in lesbians in such disregard other than it's what they've been taught to believe by their parents or from scripture.

But whereas blacks openly disapproved in the U.K., Jamaicans were downright violent. Citing lyrics to popular reggae songs that called for gay men to be burned or killed with a bullet to the head, Amos found himself retreating back into the closet due to the imminent threat of danger posed by the level of homophobia in Jamaica.

Many attempts to interview gay Jamaicans failed due to the subject's fear of being identified and murdered based on his sexual orientation. One brave man does finally agree to appear on camera and his story is heartbreaking. Amos also finds an ally in Jamaica in one of the most unlikely of places and his words give life to an environment that can be deadly if you're gay or lesbian.

This documentary clearly shows how serious homophobia is in the black community and how it must be addressed with urgency. I highly recommend that you take about 55 minutes out of your day to watch "Batty Man" and to share it with your family and friends. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section.

Watch "Batty Man" here.


<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...


Good documentary. I must admit I was a lil nervous for Stephen when he came out to the all black audience. I felt it would be too much of a negative experience for him. For a minute I felt as if I was the one on stage. Coming out was always a one on one experience for me. Very weird feeling.

August 13, 2008 12:34 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Lambeth is the Borough in London, just like Brooklyn is a Borough in New York City.

Brixton is a neighborhood within the Borough of Lambeth, just like Bed-Stuy is a neighborhood within the Borough of Brooklyn.

August 17, 2008 2:10 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Very powerful, heartfelt, forward-thinking film. I applaud Mr. Amos for this work, and especially for his bravery in doing it.
I have deeply loved two men in my life; both were from Jamaica. I had no idea that life for Gay men on the island, not to mention England, was so tough. No wonder they both had tough times with their own sexuality.
Here in California, it's much easier, but we're stilldealing with a lot of intolerance as well. I am producing a series of commercials dealing with the subject of bigotry against Gay marriage. If you wish to see the work I'm doing, visit my website, at...

Pony R. Horton
Gay, Out, living with AIDS, and still fighting for our rights.

August 17, 2008 4:21 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Thank you for posting this documentary. I was quite taken and moved by it as I have been harmed by the homophobia in J'ca even though I've never set foot on the island. I family who live there and wont talk or associate with me. But, what can I do with this new-found gift that would make a difference? Until then ... Boycott Jamaica!

August 23, 2008 8:56 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Link expired on 4od. Found a recent link on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxGCQ3TjfPU

April 19, 2013 12:19 PM


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