June is recognised in the United States as Pride Month, a 30-day period where people in the queer community celebrate sexual diversity.
One person marking the month is Jamaican-born publicist Shuzzr, who spoke with Billboard magazine about what it’s like being ‘out’ in dancehall.
Being ‘out’ refers to people who identify as queer living their lives freely and openly, something which Shuzzr said he did not do prior to 2014. The publicist told Billboard than when he made the decision to come out as bisexual, his friends tried to discourage him, saying he was in a “good space”.
“I don’t want you to just be allies for me right now; I want you to be allies for all of us, all year-round. Let’s speak on the issues. Let’s call this stuff out.”– Shuzzr
Shuzzr, he runs the company Shuzzr PR, said he when published an article to his website about his sexual identity, which was carried on the front page of a Jamaican tabloid, he had no clients for two years.
“Nobody wanted to work with me, nobody wanted to touch me. There were death threats, online harassment, bullying — you name it, I got it,” he told Billboard. “People still refer back to that article and say, “I’d love to work with you, but the fans I have won’t tolerate me bringing you onto the team.”
“Still, being out has allowed me to find more creative ways to survive in this industry. I’ve paired myself with clients who were probably not the kind of artist I would typically work with but are more tolerant. It’s easier for us to relate to each other. And whether people in Jamaica want to accept it, there is a community of LGBTQ professionals in dancehall that support each other,” Shuzzr said.
He added that he also receives support from people who are not part of the queer community, how who are allies to it. “I think it’s time for them to bring out even more support — I don’t want you to just be allies for me right now; I want you to be allies for all of us, all year-round. Let’s speak on the issues. Let’s call this stuff out.”