Det har vakt oppsikt at den kontroversielle artisten Sizzla fra Jamaica skulle opptre på Rockefeller i Oslo 29.mars. Konserten han skulle holdt i Stockholm dagen før er avlyst på grunn av protester. Liberaleren har snakket med forfatteren og aktivisten Thomas Glave om det homofiendtlige budskapet i sangene til Sizzla. Og om hvordan det bør reageres på konserten til Sizzla. Gaysir opplyste fredag at konserten er avlyst – og flyttet til Rhytm club.
Den planlagte konserten til Sizzla har vakt sterke reaksjoner, som er omtalt blant annet i Blikk, Gaysir og av NRK. Det har vært diskutert hvordan det burde reageres mot det sterkt homofiendtlige og voldelige budskapet i sangene til Sizzla. Konsertarrangøren lovet at Sizzla ikke ville fremføre disse sangene i Oslo.
Oppdatert: Også Blikk opplyser at konserten på Rockefeller er avlyst, og at det jobbes for å få avlyst konserten på Rhytm Club.
Ifjor holdt Thomas Glave et innlegg på Oslo Freedom Forum om situasjonen for homofile på Jamaica. Glave var en av grunnleggerne av organisasjonen J-FLAG. Innlegget ble omskrevet til et essay – som ble publisert på Liberaleren.
Vi kontaktet Thomas Glave, for høre hans mening om Sizzla og hvordan det best bør reageres mot artistens konsert i Oslo.
– Bytt ut «homofob» med «anti-semittisk»
– Thomas Glave, you spoke at Oslo Freedom Forum 2011 about the homophobia and persecution of gays and lesbians in Jamaica, and how it is reflected in the popular culture. On March 29th the artist Sizzla from Jamaica is having a concert in Oslo. He has been widely critizised for anti-gay lyrics in his songs, among them ”Bad Man Don’t Apologize”. What is your reaction to this concert in Oslo?
It’s a difficult question in some ways, isn’t it? But I think that another important question to ask is: if Sizzla were an openly anti-Semitic singer, would we even be having this conversation? Or would Norway categorically refuse him entry? But why is that? Is it because memory of the Holocaust runs high in Europe, as it should, and people don’t wish to seem anti-Semitic, given what happened to Jews during World War II? Yet people in Norway are asking if it’s all right to invite an openly homophobic singer – someone who has expressed his hatred of and contempt for gay people. So. . .need I say more? I would also think that Norway would be particularly sensitive about these issues given last year’s violence caused by Anders Behring Breivik.
– His concerts have been cancelled in many European countries the last years, even in Stockholm the day before the Oslo-concert, because of protests. Can the agency booking Sizzla or the concert in Oslo have been unaware of his anti-gay-lyrics?
But would it not be their business to be aware of his lyrics, aware of all of his lyrics? I don’t see how the agency can have been unaware of his lyrics. But again, put the words “anti-Semitic” in place of “homophobic.” Would we then be asking such a question? – “Could the agency have been unaware of his anti-Semitic lyrics?” It is the agency’s job to know who and what they’re representing, as you and I both know. So let us now ask the question more clearly – the question that was implied in my first response: why do we seem to make more room for the possibility of a “mistake” in a situation of homophobia (“maybe the agency was unaware”) when we would never allow such a “mistake” with anti-Semitism?
– Er det greit for nordmenn at det kommer artister og synger sanger om å drepe homofile?
– The gay and lesbian community as well as political parties and youth organizations are discussing how best to respond to this concert with Sizzla. Among the possible reactions have been to send emails to the agency and to the concert- hall (Rockefeller) to demand that they cancel the concert, arrange protests outside the concert-hall, and some have pointed to the fact that Sizzla was denied entering Great Britain in 2004 as a possible solution. How do you think Norwegians should respond to Sizzla and his concert?
I of course can’t tell Norwegians how to respond to someone like Sizzla. I think that question must be answered by Norwegians and their own moral conscience and sense of humanity. Perhaps a good thing for Norwegians to do in this situation would be to imagine that they have a gay or lesbian child. And then they should imagine the kind of world in which they would like their gay or lesbian child to grow up. Would you or other Norwegians like a gay or lesbian child to grow up in a world in which people come to your country and sing songs about killing gays and lesbians – essentially songs about killing your gay or lesbian child? What if you had a gay or lesbian brother or sister? Do you feel that it is acceptable for your gay or lesbian sibling to live in a world where people can come to Norway and sing songs about killing gays and lesbians? Norway will have to decide this for itself.
– Latterlig å påstå at Jamaica er det mest homofobe landet i verden!
– On gay websites in Norway Jamaica has been described as the most homofobic country in the world. Do you think it’s an accurate description of Jamaica?
No, absolutely not. Who did the research for this statement? Did they interview every single person living in Jamaica? It is an absolutely ridiculous statement. Remember that gay people are killed in Europe also, quite frequently – even in Western Europe. And remember that, up until quite recently, Europe was torn apart by war, for centuries. Would we say that Europe has been the most violent continent in the world? Do you see how ridiculous such a statement sounds?
– Does Sizzla and his songs reflect the actual feelings of Jamaican people towards gays and lesbians?
My response is: Do you feel that Anders Behring Breivik reflects the actual feelings of Norwegians toward foreigners and non-white people in Norway?
– Is Sizzla and his opinions representative for the reggae music in general?
The reggae and dancehall music industry is an enormous one. You cannot use one single individual as a representative for hundreds, if not thousands, of people in the industry.
Forholdene for homofile og lesbiske på Jamaica bedrer seg
– In your speech at OFF 2011 you gave a rather sad image of Jamaica and gay-rights? Has anything improved since then?
Things have improved, yes – the new Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, has expressed that she might be interested in having more public discussions about gays and lesbians. We’ll see. Remember that social change happens very slowly. Look at how long it took Europeans to stop slaughtering each other and finally form the European Union. This only happened after centuries of people in Europe tearing out each other’s throats at every opportunity. If you can grant Jamaicans the kind of time for change that you grant yourselves, I will be pleased.
– Snakk med J-FLAG, men velg gjerne flere reaksjonsmåter
– A Norwegian expert on Jamaica, Lene Wikander, says boycott of the concert is not something she would recommend, because it can make conditions worse for gays and lesbians in Jamaica. Do you agree?
I think that the gays and lesbians themselves in Jamaica should be asked this question, not me. The first people I would direct you to would be J-FLAG. Ask them how they feel about it. They live in Jamaica and they know what they need. This response leads to your next question.
– Wikander said that all reactions and the choice of response to the concert should be done only after dialogue with J-FLAG. Do you agree – or should Norwegians respond in the way they concider best?
I don’t think that the solution has to be that you do this or this, and nothing in between. Can’t you do both this and this, and something in between? Can’t Norwegians speak with J-FLAG, but also make a humane decision on their own, based on their own moral principles? It’s your country, isn’t it? You have the right to admit and refuse whomever you choose, don’t you? What about the International Court of Justice? Would we consider Sizzla’s songs crimes against humanity? I don’t know – but it is worth asking the question.
– the agency booking Sizzla says he will stick to the conditions in the The Reggea Compassionate Act – and not perform with the songs with the most homofobic lyrics. Do you think that’s trustworthy?
– Sizzla signed that act, but has later said that a true rasta never would apologize to gay people. Was his signature without value?
– Do you think that this concert show a low level of information in Norway about the conditions for gays and lesbians in Jamaica?
I honestly can’t speak for Sizzla, since I don’t know him. My general philosophy with anyone would be to say that I will trust you until you give me a reason not to trust you anymore.
Du kan se et opptak av Thomas Glaves innlegg på Oslo Freedom Forum 2011 her, eller lese essayet hans (Jamaica – toward a queer prayer) publisert på Liberaleren her. Liberaleren gjorde også et intervju med Glave i forbindelse med hans deltagelse på OFF 2011. Intervjuet finner du her.