Monday, October 23, 2006

Beenie Man: It's not gay men, it's the anal sex I find hard to take

Beenie Man has been struggling to save his chances of playing the US and the UK following the ongoing boycott campaign orchestrated by Outrage and others. Beenie says we've gotten it all wrong:

"I like to entertain, not hurt people. In Jamaica being gay isn't the same as in the UK."

Well, no. In the UK, there's very popular singers who build their sets around calls to kill gay men, for a start.

But if Beenie isn't homophobic, what's all that batty man business about?

"Batty man does not mean gay. A batty man is a man dat like to have sex through the rear; he isn't gay. He could have a wife and kids, but just does that... it's also a word for the man that likes to indulge in kid prostitution, which is frowned upon, so of course we will speak out."

Apart from the charming attempt to conflate gay sex and paedophilia (the age old trick of the homophobe), this is slightly disningenuous. Admittedly, it's true that "batty man" does come from the act ('buttocks man', explains Jamaican HIV expert Dr Heather Royes in her UNESCO study), to suggest that that means the use simply refers to people who enjoy buggery is a little lame. Imagine if you heard a club comic saying "yeah, but my jokes about turd burglars and arse bandits are about people who give it up the arse, not queers specifically, for example.

With another swift swerve, Beenie tries to suggest that criticism of his music, and other hate-artists is actually levelled at Jamaicans:

Beenie squashes the myth that coming from Jamaica means being homophobic: “It’s not like if you pass a gay man on the street, you don’t say hi or nothing like that but it’s just not as accepted”.

But there isn't a "myth" that being Jamaican means you must be homophobic - if that was the case, Outrage would be campaigning against Jamiaca the state rather than specific musicians.

“Gay attacks happen everywhere, why blame it on Jamaican music? Have these people ever been to the Middle East? In Jerusalem if a person is gay, they can be taken to the middle of the road and cut-up. But they say we are the most homophobic country in the world! What about the comedians who make jokes about gay people? What about the American president who doesn’t agree with gay marriage?”

Well, yes, there is a lot of homophobic activity all around the world. But reciting a slightly skewed list doesn't get you off the hook, Beenie. (And it's worth noting that in Jerusalem, under Israeli law, homosexuality isn't illegal, and anti-gay discrimination is.)

And is Beenie really saying that he has a problem with anti-gay comedy or objections to gay marriage? Can we expect to see him on a march?

Finally, though, the question is, if Beenie isn't anti-gay, what on earth is his lyric in Damn all about?

"Well I'm think of a new Jamaica, me come to executve all of the gays"

Perhaps he meant to say paedophiles but just couldn't make it scan.

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