The beginning of August is usually reserved for celebrating Jamaica Emancipation and Independence.
For the last three years, this time of year is also when LGBT Jamaicans celebrate Pride. Pride is a celebration of the progress that the community has achieved in making Jamaica the ideal place to live, work, and raise children, especially for LGBT Jamaicans.
While there are many obstacles that the community still faces, in being able to achieve the freedoms enjoyed by heterosexual Jamaicans, Pride gives the community an opportunity to celebrate the milestones it has achieved thus far.
Pride is celebrated around the world with a series of events, and the Jamaican Pride movement is no different. This year, they had a Pride Conference, where they discussed and highlighted significant issues and progress that the community has made and plans for the future.
Some of the panels spoke about safe spaces, hormone replacement therapy for Jamaicans of trans experience, and other issues. Other events included a health fair, breakfast party, open mic night, family fun day, and community service projects.
For many Jamaicans, the idea of Pride is completely against Jamaican culture and should not be allowed to take place. They feel that these events and activities normalise homosexuality and that that is wrong, especially since Jamaica is defined as being a Christian country.
My Christian colleagues are especially against the existence of Pride in Jamaica because they feel it is immoral and encourages behaviours that are against the teachings of the Bible.
I disagree. Jamaica’s motto is “Out of many, one people”. We don’t get to decide who is included in the “many”. There are LGBT Jamaicans, and for the most part, they are discriminated against, threatened, and their very existence is treated as non-Jamaican.
As we celebrate our 55th year of Independence, LGBT Jamaicans also have the right to celebrate their ‘Pride’ in this country and in themselves. Happy Independence and happy Pride.