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read_me.gif Southern Voice Washington Blade

Should Gays Boycott Bermuda & Jamaica?

There are other destinations

by j. brotherlove

As the world continues to shrink it will be interesting to see how countries approach inclusion and diversity in its tactic to attract tourism. Personally, I could never visit a country that displayed outward violence toward another group. I’m uppity like that.

Last week on The View, Rosie O’Donnell discussed her decision to cancel the Bermuda stop on her R Family Vacations cruise in July. After weighing threats from 80 churches of United By Faith to protest the gay family cruise, Rosie felt Rosie was not a good fit for the cruise’s “judgment free” atmosphere.

Some booked guests were upset at the decision, canceling their reservations (apparently feeling Rosie caved in). But I don’t see how you can criticize Rosie for wanting to protect vacationing children and families from a known threat.

But protests are one thing. Jamaica has a history of incredibly violent treatment of homosexuals, like the angry homophobic mob who attacked three gay men and this latest video of a gay man being beaten.

Videos like this make me want to charter a cruise ship and export my queer Caribbean cousins. It’s one thing to be intolerant of others, but this type of mob mentality is off the charts. What’s worse, Jamaica’s public defender offers little consolation stating gay men should recognize that “tolerance has its limits,” not be so “brazen”, and “confine their activities to their bed chambers.”.

I don’t expect a rainbow flag upon my arrival. But I’d rather not have to look over my shoulder every five minutes in fear of being bashed or killed. These incidents add more fuel to my distaste for the Caribbean as a destination. My most obvious way to combat the problem is to choose and advocate others (regardless of sexual orientation) to choose alternate vacation spots.

A boycott by LGBT travelers would make an impact. Everyone knows the gays have larger expendable incomes and like to shop. A larger boycott would be even better. More importantly, our brothers and sisters need support. I wish I knew how else to help them.

pub: 04/30/2007 | previous entry | next entry | feedback x 10 | subscribe

I’d long heard that in certain parts of the Caribbean as a tourist one shouldn’t step foot off the resort. Just that alone made me not ever want to vacation there. Then I heard how ridiculously intolerent they are to gay couples and that clinched it for me. I don’t see myself ever going there, not until things change dramatically and, sadly, that’s not likely to happen in my lifetime. Though I certainly hope I’m wrong.

I’ve never had much interest in traveling to the Caribbean but I always knew I’d never go to Jamaica anyway because of their deep hatred of gays. The issue came up recently though because my baby brother is getting married and he asked my advice about going to Jamaica on his honeymoon. I rejected Jamaica as a destination for him because while the Jamaican tourist industry would love to get his money the majority of the country would seem to prefer it if his sister were strung up and killed.

So Jamaica was never, ever going to get my dollars but now I’ve made sure they aren’t getting my straight brother’s dollars either. Instead Puerto Rico is. I think a lot of gays and lesbians are already boycotting Jamaica (I don’t know so much about Bermuda since it’s only recent came onto my map as a hostile place) because it’s simply an unsafe place for them to go so I don’t know that a more formal or organized “gay” boycott would do much good but if that boycott focused on things like I just described, that is getting our straight friends, family and supporters, to also skip Jamaica as a tourist destination because of their hostility to gays then we might make a little bit more progress.

3. Colin Robinson

Maybe we shouldn’t boycott Jamaica or Bermuda?

For one, the Bermuda government welcomed the cruise, but R Family Vacations cancelled anyway. Before we boycott, let’s start by asking gays and lesbians in Bermuda and Jamaica if that’s what they believe would improve their lives. Let’s act, yes, and let’s act together, but for me I’d rather visit and work with the folks there to make change. Why not send the activists there the money you’d spend on the cruise?

Activist in Trinidad

Economic boycotts do have power. I like Colin’s suggestion . I wonder about a semi-analogous situation to what he proposes: What would be the effect of groups of Jews touring, say, anywhere in Syria, Saudi Arabia, or other nation with an official policy on Israel and Jews (as targets for annihilation)? Of course, such tour groups could not even have a visit to Israel stamped in travelers’ passports. Such details, aside, the idea is intriguing. Just wouldn’t want my identity discovered by the wrong folks. No more comments from me would be one result. Thanks for your informative post. I had no idea about the Caribbean and actions/attitudes toward LGBT folk. Never considered visiting the region because of the history of dictators and the grinding poverty of the masses alongside extreme pockets of wealth. Not my idea of fair and just.

Maybe not as politically proactive as a well publicized boycott, I will not even attend the various Caribbean festivals offered during various times of the year because of an awareness of the treatment of gays and lesbians living on some of the islands.

6. Colin Robinson

Hmm, Bronze. You’re a brother with two really gorgeous websites and one really bad idea. Several of the Caribbean’s 32 territories are no more homophobic than West Texas. A lot of my queer Caribbean colleagues doubt even if travel boycotts of Jamaica are likely to produce the type of strategic change that’s needed. At any rate, boycotts would work only if they’re visible, targeted and aren’t just by gay folk. The one you’re proposing wouldn’t even be noticeable. Go to the festival, take some friends, buy some Bahamian food, stop by the Jamaica tourist board booth and make trouble.

7. muhus

I do not understand why Colin should offer support for visiting Jamaica and Bermuda. I was sent away from Triinidad at age 13 because I was gay and was hounded to death by my schoolmates, neighbours and any who’d recognise me on the streets. I am now 75 and have never been back. Today, the police there actively harass gays and target their families demanding bribes after beating their children. I’d include Trinidad in the lot.

This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, especially since it’s vacation time. I’m not 100% for a boycott, but I would love to see a media campaign targeted at African Americans in general,not just LGBT, that educates the public on rampant homophobia in the Caribbean, but also celebrates Caribbean travel alternatives. I’m always shocked at the number of people who I work with and in my family who are constantly talking about travelling to Jamaica (and inviting me), and they have no clue that there’s no way I could go there because of the climate for gays. I just take it aqs an opportunity to educate them.

9. Andrew

I have just come back from a Caribbean Cruise where Jamaica was one of the day stops. I was blissfully unaware of the extent of homophobia on the island until my partner and I stepped foot off the boat. Despite neither of us being “in your face gays” we received several taunts from locals. Sure these people are entitled to their opinions, after all it’s THEIR homeland. That’s why I would urge gays, lesbians and their families not to vist the country or spend a penny on goods or services from this country. Encourage all your friends to do the same!! Hit these people where it hurts $$$$$$ There are plenty of nicer places to visit where the locals are welcoming and at least know what a bar of soap is.

10. Genie

My husband, 14-month old, and I booked a spot at an all-inclusive resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and then I decided to do some googling. I came across this site and others that talked about the rampant homophobia and violence against gays and lesbians in Jamaica, and proceeded to cancel the reservation, telling the agent that in all good conscience, we could not spend our money in a country with a reputation for hating and killing LGBT people. I don’t know if the agent will pass on the message to management as I requested (that they’re losing business from straight and gay-people alike because of Jamaica’s reputation for homophobia and violence), but if we all choose to boycott these places and let them know why, perhaps it will get the message across in some small way (though unfortunately, it doesn’t do much in the short term for the plight of LGBT locals). There are too many other gay-friendly places in the world to choose to vacation. So, it’s no to Jamaica for now.

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