J-FLAG was founded in 1998 and is the leading Jamaican human rights organization serving the needs of Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals and Transgendered (LGBT) people. August 1-7 J-Flag presents PRiDE JA 2017 - the third annual week of LGBT celebration.
PRiDE JA 2017 is a momentous occasion for the LGBTI community in Jamaica - an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to improving human rights and making the country a more hospitable place for everyone to live and thrive.
The question is often asked, “Why does there have to be a gay pride?” This question is often followed by, “You don't see straight people walking up and down half-naked in a parade.” It is our personal experiences as LGBT+ individuals that make Pride celebrations extremely important and relevant. As the feminist adage goes, “The personal is political.”
Pride matters for the 18-year-old boy in Kingston who cannot let his mother know that every time he talks about his “girlfriend” he is actually talking about his boyfriend. Pride celebrations give this 18-year-old boy hope.
Pride matters for the 23-year-old trans woman who walks by the MAC store in Liguanea and is too afraid to go in. She wants to express herself, if even only at night, but the store is open in the day and she already knows what people call her behind her back. Pride gives this 23-year-old woman courage.
Pride matters for all the queer people who have to call their partners their “friends”, “cousins”, “brothers”, or “sisters” in public to ward off attention from their unmistakable affection for each other. They have to deny themselves, their love, and their bond just to get by. Pride celebrates their unions.
Pride matters for all the ways the world makes or forces us to be invisible; whether it is not wearing the clothes we want to or it is lying on legal documents. Not only do we learn to hide ourselves, we are also erased in laws and policies, in research, and in the little things that happen in our everyday lives. Pride gives us the power to proudly live our own lives.
Jamaica celebrates LGBTI Pride at the same time as the country celebrates its independence to place the community’s journey towards full freedom in the context of freedom for all Jamaicans. Jamaica has come a long way and has even further to go to ensure that LGBT people can fulfill their dreams and aspirations, and live their fullest potential without having to hide who they love or the man or woman they have grown to become.