After the first town hall meeting held in years by the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays, JFLAG on November 7th as planned by the country control representative of Jamaica from the Global Fund with the other major parties absent and the last major discussion on the matter on Television Jamaica's All Angles program as hosted by Dionne Jackson Miller myself and others concerned were relieved in a sense but cautiously optimistic and guarded as to what was being told to us as we knew the previous Safe House Pilot project experience and its subsequent dubious closure has made us the wiser to many things.
The town hall meeting was to have addressed the designated shelter facility JFLAG was said to have secured and had even gone as far as to cost the labour repair bill at approximately $1.5m, they had also decided to go with the facility as is, the procurement of furniture was also said to be in full swing yet the planned opening date never seemed to have materialised which was slated for December 1. A draft of the programme was slated for the ready by November 12th and the assessments to select who would be deemed suited for the facility was slated for November 14th. All of the developmental work and or achievements were to be communicated or disseminated to those in attendance at the meeting as per questions raised by yours truly on the breakdown of the programs and the psycho social activities for the men and other matters.
None of the aforementioned has come as promised by the Executive Director Mr Dane Lewis which is not surprising to those who have had to communicate with JFLAG over the years as follow-up is not one of their strongest features and is a complaint echoed by others who engage the J,
See CVM TV's previous story in August HERE and More on Cargill Avenue Homeless MSM Eviction
Word has also come that the deal to rent the intended facility has fallen through but not a word was said to most. The planned shelter would have gone counter to the respective town planning codes and no insurance available it was scrapped, all this came to be sans the grand announcement and townhall meeting which to me was foolhardy to have been called in the first place without properly ensuring all was well and signed off on.
How many errors must we continue to see happen with the J's programs personnel?
How many more such news as this eviction are we to continue to see with this population?
When are the appropriate responses to come into full effect?
Will JFLAG or Jamaica AIDS Support for Life for that matter under whose leadership the previous Safe House Pilot project was set up and controversially closed ever own up to some responsibility with this see-sawing involving themselves and the populations?
Are the agencies really serious about social issues or more concerned about the legal advocacy and the repeal of buggery?
It was just on December 3 that there was another standoff between the men and staff at JASL where one of the men in particular stripped bear before gracing the staff with the colourful Jamaican curse words that there are. Then after the eviction the cops took the men to none other than JASL's office grounds and the cops were there again today. There was also a major clash between a male JFLAG staff member and a member of the homeless group after the World AIDS Day function ended at the Jamaica AIDS Support for Life grounds where a machete was allegedly pulled by the member on the man, the man however left the property soon afterwards. Things just seem to be spiralling uncontrollably.
Bearing in mind also that some of the present set of males in this very group were once apart of the defunct Safe House Pilot with peer educator training and all to boot and were incarcerated at one point yet here we have this rebellious behaviour which clearly tells anyone objective enough that simple peer educator HIV prevention training is NOT rehabilitation and to pass off such to anyone is flat out dishonest as has been done before when the aforementioned agencies refer to trying other mechanisms to engage the men but they have not worked.
Can problematic homeless MSM be engaged without the necessary pre-stabilization work first be done before any form of re-socialization is brought to bear?
Everyone else seems more interested in the lime light of buggery reviews, accepting awards and such at the expense of some dirty homeless men, who cares really? The real work that is needed with this group nobody in advocacy really want to take that on as it won't involve major sound bites or hyped media appearances so the group is systematically ignored save and except for a view persons like me or when national TV stations carry the challenges nationally in prime time.
Past members of the GLABCOM (gay lesbian bisexual community) committees for example who helped to form the ideas together for the initial homeless shelter back in 2008/9 now look on in shock and are wondering how our work has gone down in vain when such a solution was enacted though problem plagued and poor management but the project as I always say could have been tweaked, things never had to reach this stage.
See some historical posts on this matter from related blogs:
Gay Jamaica Watch
Also see the double murder story of two of the men in June of this year (not a homophobic crime) and my response.
The inherent lack of attention to social justice issues over the years and more emphasis on the anti buggery agenda has also caused the issue to go unnoticed for extended periods as MSM are often only engaged via HIV prevention messaging more so than anything else by respective NGOs.
latest podcast (subject to updates)
see this post from 2009: Homeless MSM to feel the pinch as JASL issues ultimatum then we started to see the early consequences of the closure: Complaint of "Freaky Gays" Harassing New Kingston .. and Homelessness still a major problem the cracks had gotten wider to the present scenarios.
click below to see more -
Here is my podcast then on the shelter idea when it postured on national television
Peace and tolerance
(editorial note: MSMs has often been used instead of the correct acronym "MSM" as a colloquial expression more so than a typographical error, thanks for the observation readers none the less)