Queen Ifrica says that Reggae artistes who delivered anti-gay sentiments on stage did so to get applause from the crowd.The Lioness On The Rise hitmaker believes that the homophobic slurs that were uttered by some dancehall artists, were never intended to incite violence against gay people, but simply to elicit cheers from the audience.
“A lot of these reggae artistes who were using homophobic lyrics, were never about inciting violence,” says the singer born Ventrice Morgan. “It was about getting a forward – an applause – from the crowd.
“A lot of artists would perform on stage and if they weren’t getting a response, they’d turn to that medium because they knew that it would get a reaction,” continued the Jamaican songstress. “And a lot of di time, some ah di people applauding in the audience were homosexuals themselves!
“If you really study the culture of Jamaica, you’ll understand that this is long how we’ve gone about approaching this issue.”
Herself branded by some as homophobic artist, Ifrica was pulled as the headline act of a reggae show in New York couple years ago, due to protests from the gay community.
Asked if she thinks Jamaicans have been bullied into silence when it comes to expressing their views on homosexuality, she says: “Bullied sounds strong, but I would say yes.”
“Jamaica is known as a very religious island. We’re known to have more churches per square mile than any other country – which speaks as to where we are with religion. We were raised – using the Bible – to believe that homosexuality is wrong.
She continues: “Fast-forward to the 21st Century and we’ve seen a drastic change, not only in how the gay community defends themselves, but also how the world perceives homosexuality.
“Now, throughout the media, Jamaica is often portrayed as a nation that is cruel and wicked towards homosexuals, and a picture is often painted that if you’re gay and you walk the streets of Jamaica, you’re likely to be killed.
“I must say, very clearly, that is very far from the truth.”
While the singer believes Jamaica has “come a long way” with its thinking about homosexuality, she believes open dialogue is the only way to continue moving forward.
“There are gay people throughout Jamaica and I think the island has come a long way in terms of accepting gay people,” Ifrica reasons. “However, it is going to take a little bit longer before the general population can accept that homosexuality can be perceived as a normal behavior.
“Until such time, should we seek to punish those who don’t accept homosexuality? I don’t think that’s the right approach. What we need is open dialogue so that we can learn to co-exist.”