In the Caribbean, anti-gay bigotry thrives

Iraq continues to implode, the Taliban have effectively retaken control of much of Afghanistan, and George W. Bush (along with, apparently, British Prime Minister Tony Blair) appears to be itching to attack Iran.

Meanwhile, on the tiny islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique, French territories in the eastern Caribbean, rampant homophobia goes unchecked, offering unfortunate proof again that, although many people around the world have come to appreciate that racism, bigotry and intolerance are pernicious social diseases, it’s still okay – in fact, in many places, it’s still encouraged – to vilify, disparage, discriminate against and physically harm gay men and lesbians, or individuals whom homophobic bigots only suspect may be gay or lesbian.

So it is that the Guadeloupean pop singer Admiral T and his musical confrère from Martinique, Lieutenant, have made big names for themselves regionally by peddling vicious, anti-gay “entertainment.” In fact, last year, in an event funded in part by the government of Paris, Admiral T was awarded a Music Césaire (something like a Grammy Award in the U.S.) as a noteworthy performer in the new-discoveries category.

Admiral T is best known for his song from a few years ago titled “Makoumé” (which means “homosexual” in the local creole). In it, “he clearly announces his hatred against homosexuals, inviting his listeners to ‘burn them like cigarette butts.’” In the song, Admiral T declares that he has “come to burn the fags who hang out near city hall,” and that the targets of his bigotry are “going to suffer, suffer; they’re going to be gassed, gassed.” He advises his listeners: “Instead of aiming your gun at your brother, aim it at them…” (LGBT Commission of the Greens, France)

As for Lieutenant, the young Martiniquan distinguished himself at a music festival last summer in Fort-de-France, his island’s main city, where he offered such poetic lines as “I kill the fags” and “There’s nothing to expect from Europe; there’s nothing there except gays.” (Le Monde)

SACEM, the Paris-based organization that oversees the publishing rights of musical artists in France, presented prizes to performers from Martinique in a ceremony there last Wednesday. SACEM prizes for musical artists from Guadeloupe are scheduled to be awarded there on March 30. In France, An Nou Allé, an organization that advocates on behalf of black gays and lesbians throughout the country and its overseas territories, has called on SACEM not to honor Admiral T or Lieutenant or to even allow them to be considered for music-prize nominations. (In fact, Lieutenant did not win any prize at the March 21 awards event.) (Le Monde)

SACEM has made it known that it cannot withhold from such performers the publishing-rights payments that are due to them and which the organization administers on their behalf. (Têtu, France)

In a December 2006 statement on his record-company-hosted Web site (click on “News“), Admiral T writes (or his public-relations handlers write for him): “I’m the first to want men and women of all cultures, of all races, of all religions, of all convictions and of all mores to be able to live together, free and equal, in tolerance. I’m opposed to homophobia and I have always been.” Admiral T’s record producer has indicated that the singer has stopped performing the notoriously anti-gay material that helped him earn his renown.

Source – SF Gate