LGBT community pushing for safe spaces

Jaevion Nelson, Executive Director of the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays [J-FLAG] (Photo: YouTube)

The need for safe, open spaces to meet and interact without fear of violence or discrimination still ranks high for members of the local Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community.

The issue came to the fore as Jamaica observed its fifth annual Pride celebrations earlier this month.

“[Pride has] really played an important part in how people understand themselves and the kind of spaces they get to celebrate, find community and friends”

⁠— Jaevion Nelson, Executive Director of J-FLAG

According to Executive Director for the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals, and Gays (J-FLAG) Jaevion Nelson, safe, open spaces are important as many LGBT Jamaicans do not have that basic privilege – marred by discrimination, violence, and rejection in most instances.

Nelson, in an interview with BUZZ, noted with concern that only during the annual Pride celebrations does the community get a chance to breathe, far away from the widespread homophobia that permeates Jamaican society.

Jaevion Nelson (Photo: Instagram @Jaevionn)

“The LGBT community has always looked forward to Pride activities and I think [Pride has] really played an important part in how people understand themselves and the kind of spaces they get to celebrate, find community and friends,” Nelson explained.

“A number of people don’t have access to such spaces on a routine basis,” he added.

In the meantime, as J-FLAG resumes the rebuilding effort, Nelson maintained that despite the challenges, it knows the needs of the LGBT community are great and so, even without a headquarters just now, the organization has moved full-steam ahead.

#PrideJA2019, kicking off its annual Sports Day event at the UWI Bowl in St. Andrew on Emancipation Day (August 1) (Photo: Twitter @EqualityJA)

The transition has not been entirely smooth, Nelson posited, as the lack of a physical space in which to coordinate, plan and execute key functions have been affected by the destruction of the Rainbow House in December 2018.

However, as best as humanly possible, J-FLAG is assuring the LGBT community that it remains unmoved in its efforts to have their needs addressed.

“We’ve continued the work we’ve been doing with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure that we improve the human rights situation in Jamaica for people who are LGBT and to ensure that they can have access to services and the support they need to address different challenges they may be facing,” Nelson told BUZZ.