I met Slava Mogutin when I lived in New York and he dated a friend.
My friend, is Jamaican. He once told me he "hates" his homeland and would never return due to it possibly being the most homophobic place on earth.
I have in recent times, more so, kept up with some of Slava's work as I try to make sense of my own voice as a poet and draw inspiration from his liberation which in a sense came after he moved to New York as he was able to express himself with impunity.
If you feel so moved to check out his website and photographic work, you may be offended. I find some of it disturbing but such is the nature of expository work. He captures what he describes as gay sub-cultures, to be honest for the most part they are white gay sub cultures, at least in genesis. This is not to say there are no fetishes in black gay culture but to my knowledge…lets just say to borrow a line from Langston Hughes who credits Berry “The ways of white folks, I mean some white folks…” you get my point.
The reality is though that there is no gay Caribbean identity. This may seem like a jump but it is in part what motivated this piece. The matter simply does not arise and when it does it draws heavily on the mores and trends of North Americans who live a different reality. I ask myself how we are at same sex union talks when we haven’t even decriminalized consensual anal sex, not to be confused with homosexuality but used interchangeably in the language of some. There is a lot more to be said about that but this is a blog and not me attempting to justify non-normative sexual practices, normative being for procreation in missionary style only.
In the Caribbean the only institutionalized rejection of institutionalized relationship models is the mistress, the outside woman, yuh matey. We never hear of parents advocating sex of any kind not even between them. We do though hear of that necessary deputy and are allowed to imagine that this is where men, the one kind there is in the Caribbean, get their pleasure.
It speaks to socialization which is really the bee in my bonnet as I write and which will take me back to Slava Mogutin.
In speaking with a former media colleague recently I asked her about what caused gun violence in her area. She answered by saying it’s rarely drug related. She said a lot of times its really minor matters like disrespect, basically men and more so young black men now express anger with the pulling of a trigger and many times the taking of a life. This has been said before. It's also been said that belying all that is a lack of a sense of power, which is natural to desire and so gangs form giving a sense of belonging to a disenfranchised group. Within this structure one is now able to experience a range of things among them power and the ultimate form being to take a life. For leaders of gangs the power to provide as we see with dons in Jamaica and so called so called community leaders in Trinidad.
This week in T and T a man was sentenced to 20 years, in real time, for a brutal and excessive rape. Story goes he showed up at a house, asked for the father of the girl who answered the door, he wasn’t there and he proceeded to rape her along with an accomplice. Strange.
One radio commentator, and contemporary, in addressing the issue on his show which has a black agenda, a man of Muslim faith he is, spoke of the absolute zero tolerance for acts of violence against women by men. Here I can add that feminist activists recently told me, albeit under the pressures of a press conference and one which they were using to denounce the rise on domestic violence and crimes against women since the start of the SOE, that domestic violence affecting women in same sex relationships is a minority issue, they said more women were being affected by the violence of that other gender making the matter more pressing. Ok. Back to the radio commentary though, it was the second Muslim I’ve heard say it’s ok for men to hit each other but reprehensible for them to hit or hurt women. This ironically does not jive with the misogynist label usually associated with the faith by feminists particularly.
I aint so brave to disagree, as they say, “15 million Frenchmen could not be wrong". I have been conditioned along the same lines. I on one level feel different when violence is perpetrated against women. From a purely academic p.o.v this is conflictual as feminists argue that any difference between a man and a woman in terms of strength, ability and the like is a nurtured difference and not a natural one. The paradigm is changing though. Rhinanna's Man Down comes to mind so too the movie Columbiana, which I havent seen but have heard features a lead female killer of sorts.
It does make we wonder though if the ideal of a world of no violence is possible if we look again at that message that we send young men: they will be violent and we accept that what we won’t accept is violence against women.
I don’t write without fear but I am comforted to some degree by some of those crazy white people who do things that black people don’t: Slap Peace