by Josef Molnar
With its bright tones and rolling rhythms, Jamaica’s dancehall music brings the familiar messages of politics and religion to its many fans.
But for a small number of musicians like Capleton, reggae dancehall music is a medium for a much darker message of homophobia and anti-gay violence, and one club in Houston has responded by canceling the performer’s upcoming show.
Fitzgerald’s revoked its agreement to host the musician, but according to a man who answered the Preet Pavilion telephone, Capleton is still scheduled to perform at the venue. Raggae and dancehall music have a strong fan base in Houston, and Capleton is scheduled to play there on Oct. 15.
Andy Thayer, a spokesman with Gay Liberation Network, a Chicago GLBT right organization, said musicians like Capleton use the stage as a pulpit for their anti-gay rhetoric.
“Capleton is bad apple in terms of his attitude toward gay people,” he said. “He had a concert on Dec. 25 of last year and called out to the people there to show their hands if they’ve hurt gay people.”
That phrase, “All who a bun battyman and sodomite, hand up,” or “All who have burned queers and sodomites, put your hands up,” reinforces the cultural bias against GLBT people in Jamaica, one of the worst offenders in terms of anti-gay rhetoric and violence. And by attaching his message to one of the most popular styles of music in that country, Capleton has reinforced his message of hate.
“The situation in Jamaica is a particularly dangerous site for gays and lesbians,” Thayer said. “There has been repeated mob violence against gay and lesbian people, with the authorities standing passively by while that happens.”
Thayer said that although music is protected speech, venues which support anti-gay violence should consider more than revenue when booking these musicians. A concerted movement in Chicago to cancel Capleton’s show at the Kinetic Playground club was successful in keeping the musician out.
“This is a lesson for clubs generally,” he said. “We need to hold clubs accountable for booking groups like this, and we hope venues not just in Chicago but nationwide are more careful about the kinds of groups they bring in.
“There is no obligation for them to provide a place for this kind of violent speech.”
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To voice your opinion about Capleton’s appearance at Preet:
11040 South West Freeway Houston TX 77074