A song recorded by incarcerated reggae recording star, Buju Banton, some 25 years ago, has continued to haunt and blemish the genre. Even though reggae artistes have refrain from recording homophobic songs for more than ten years now, the gay rights groups have continued to suppress reggae artistes who they deemed to have recorded such songs in the past.
The latest reggae artist to face the wrath of the gay rights groups is Sizzla.
Sizzla’s July 13 concert, organised by the Mateel Community Center in northern California, has been cancelled. Board member of the Mateel Community Garth Epling stated that his executive was split on the matter.
“The majority of us decided that we should listen to our membership and our community. We are in a struggling financial state. We see the potential for another money-making show, but I don’t think it’s really worth it. And as a community centre, we can’t stand behind that,” Epling is quoted as saying.
Reports indicate that people who have purchased tickets for the cancelled event will be refunded.
Meanwhile, the gay rights advocates are lauding the decision by Mateel to pull Sizzla, whose given name is Miguel Collins. Todd Larsen, founder of the Queer Humboldt group, said he and his colleagues are grateful.
“We really appreciate the board of Mateel listening to our community and adhering to their mission statement of embracing diversity.”
The LGBTQ community noted that Sizzla headlined the Mateel’s annual Reggae on the River festival two years ago despite pleas from Humboldt Pride and others to cancel his appearance.
“The board of directors at the Mateel Community Center is very aware of Sizzla’s reputation,” Larsen said in an interview. “There are so many other amazing artistes they could have chosen, but they chose this one, which is a slap in the face of our local queer community here in Humboldt County.”
The Mateel Community Center has hosted the popular Reggae on The River show for years. In 2016, it was headlined by Sizzla and marked his first performance in the United States since 2008, when his visa and work permit were revoked.
In recent years, gay rights groups have revived their opposition to reggae acts who they consider hostile to their cause.
In May 2014, Queen Ifrica was pulled as headliner of an event at Amazura Concert Hall in Queens, New York, due to mounting pressure from the gay community. The day before the concert, a 200-strong group of protesters picketed the club. Organisers of the demonstration called for a halt of the show, which they said contributes to violence against lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals, and transgenders.
Other reggae acts including Buju Banton and Capleton had their performances cancelled and tour schedules altered due to pressure from gay rights advocates.