Four members of San Francisco's gay community met yesterday afternoon (Oct. 12, 2009) for 40-minutes with Jamaican singer Buju Banton in Larkspur, up in Marin County, to discuss his troubling history with gay people.
According to Buju and his advisers, this was his first meeting ever with gay advocates, and they really want to put an end to the controversy that continue to plague the artist over the alleged "Homo-Hating" song "Boom Bye Bye" done when the artist was in his teens.
At the meeting were gay leaders Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who arranged the meeting, Rebecca Rolfe, executive director of the SF gay community centre, Andrea Shorter of Equality California and Michael Petrelis. Also present was Supervisor Eric Mar, a progressive straight leader in the Asian community, and, of course, Buju and Tracii McGregor, president of his music company. About ten minutes into the meeting in the hotel lobby of where the singer is staying, some of his P.R. people joined the conversation.
The meeting was said to be very civil and productive, several suggestions were made for him to consider, in order to start to undo some of the problems he has in the gay community because of his past anti-gay lyrics.
Proposed was that he think about making statements in Jamaica calling for love toward gays, donating to the JFLAG group, hold a town hall meeting in Kingston about the need to respect gays, and sing about loving gay people. All the suggestions were rejected.
The group stated that American gays are not singling him out, as they advocate for gay tolerance in Jamaica, but that they have also applied pressure on the government and business leaders to affect change that benefits gays across the island nation.
There was little movement on Buju's part, and the gays did not agree to tell any other gays to stop protesting his concert tour or suggesting he do more to confront the terrible, and sometimes deadly, anti-gay violence in Jamaica, they all felt it was a very positive step forward that the meeting took place.
It is hoped that continued dialogue between Buju and Gay Activists will "address the pervasive hatred gays face in Jamaica, and work together to reduce homo-hate." Over all the meeting is viewed as a beneficial first step and that the gay community will want more concrete steps taken, before our actions against his concerts cease.