Wednesday, July 12, 2006

LIFEbeat Cancels Anti-Gay AIDS Concert

For Immediate Release

Media Contact:
Jasmyne Cannick,
Colin Robinson, 917-482-9014
Keith Boykin,

Black Gay Bloggers Win Victory; LIFEbeat Cancels Anti-Gay AIDS Concert

Los Angeles/New York (July 12, 2006) –Black lesbian and gay bloggers are declaring a small victory in the fight against homophobia today.

After a 48 hour protest against LIFEbeat, the music industry’s AIDS organization, and its decision to use homophobic reggae artists Beenie Man and TOK, LIFEbeat today released a statement that it is canceling its concert. LIFEbeat cited “the possibility of violence” as the reason for canceling the concert and not the use of anti-gay reggae artists.

“While we are extremely pleased that our efforts paid off, we want to make it perfectly clear to LIFEbeat and others, that no threats of violence were ever made against LIFEbeat’s staff and board of directors, nor the concert,” commented Jasmyne Cannick, activist and blogger. “Our campaign was simply to educate LIFEbeat about the history of the performers that they choose and to make them aware of the recent murders of gay people in the Caribbean. We did this through emails, blogging, phone calls, and faxes from all over the world.”

Author Keith Boykin added, “LIFEbeat still fails to address the issue of homophobia and its connection to the spread of HIV/AIDS.” He continues, “While we support the mission of LIFEbeat to educate our youth about the dangers of HIV/AIDS, we cannot support the use of blatantly homophobic recording artists to achieve that mission.”

“LIFEbeat has basically chosen to cop-out and blame us for their ill-considered decision to use these artists in the first place,” commented D.C. blogger Terrence Heath.

The concert was scheduled to take place at New York’s Webster Hall on July 18. Activists are now calling on LIFEbeat to move on with a new concert using gay-friendly artists and to donate the proceeds to J-FLAG, The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays founded by the late Brian Williamson who was murdered for being gay in 2004.

"This would be the first time a protest of these artists raised money for us,” said Karlene, co-chair of J-FLAG. “The international protests have helped build awareness and accountability back here. Artists who perform homophobic or hate songs must be sent a strong message that their acts are inhumane and will not be tolerated. But it’s even better when this can result in support for our difficult and under-financed work to counter this hatred where these musicians live.”

A complete list of the Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender bloggers who participated in the campaign against LIFEbeat appears below.

Bejata link
Keith Boykin link
Republic of T link
Pandagon link
Clay Cane link
Jasmyne Cannick link
Journey Into Light link
Frank Leon Roberts link
A Burst of Light link
Blabbeando link
J's Theater link
FemmeNoir link
AnziDesign link
PlanetOut's Politics and News link
GreasyGuide link
Troy Notorious link link
Woubi-Yossi Collective link
Just My Thoughts link
Obsidianbear link
The 7 Magazine link
The Larry Lyons Experience link
Simply Fred Smith link
Every Shut Eye Ain't Sleep link
Novaslim link
Front Porch Storytellin link
Taylor Siluwé link
Bialogue link

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Black LGBT Bloggers Launch Protest

Target is Music Industry's Anti-Gay AIDS Concert
LIFEbeat AIDS Concert to Feature Performances by Homophobic Reggae Artists Beenie Man and TOK

A coalition of Black lesbian and gay bloggers have launched a worldwide online campaign against a music industry groups decision to ignore requests to cancel performances by homophobic reggae artists Beenie Man and TOK at their July 18 reggae concert.

The concert, scheduled to take place in New York, is being used as a benefit to reach American youth about the dangers of HIV and AIDS. The coalition of activists is calling on LIFEbeat, the music industrys non-profit organization AIDS organization, to either rescind the invitation to Beenie Man and TOK or demand that the two artists make a public statement prior to the concert disavowing their homophobic music and remarks.

In Beenie Man's song Han Up Deh, he sings, Hang chi chi gal wid a long piece of rope. The term chi chi is a Jamaican reference to homosexuality. The term is often used to refer to chi chi men but can also refer to lesbians (chi chi women or chi chi girls). Loosely translated, the lyrics mean, Hang lesbians with a long piece of rope. Similarly, in TOKs Chi Chi Man, they encourage the burning and killing of gay men.

Gays of Caribbean descent continue to be targets of hate crimes, including murder. It has only been a little over two years since Brian Williamson, a Jamaican gay activist and founder of Jamaicas gay civil rights group J-FLAG was found murdered, his body mutilated by multiple knife wounds, simply because he was gay. LIFEbeat needs to understand that Jamaicas growing HIV/AIDS epidemic has led to widespread violence and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS and gay men, Cannick continues. Many Jamaicans still believe that HIV/AIDS is a disease of gays for moral impurity. Its commonplace to see violent acts against gays in Jamaica. Through these artists lyrics, they encourage this behavior and we here in the United States should not do the same by allowing them the platform.

Keith Boykin, author and host of the BET J series MY TWO CENTS spoke to LIFEbeat executive director John Canelli Monday morning. Canelli admitted that his organization knew that Beenie Man and TOK were homophobic artists but decided to do the concert anyway. We didn't make the decision blindly and we knew there would be controversy, Canelli told Boykin.

While we support the mission of LIFEbeat to educate our youth about the dangers of HIV/AIDS, we cannot support the use of blatantly homophobic recording artists to achieve that mission, Boykin said. In fact, to provide a forum for these musicians actually contradicts the mission of LIFEbeat in that the artists promote homophobia that contributes to AIDS.

Other performers during the concert include reggae artists Wayne Wonder, Sasha and Kulcha and a special performance by rapper Foxy Brown. The concert is being supported by BET, Vibe Magazine, Music Choice and New Yorks Power 105.1 FM.

A partial listing of the bloggers included in the online campaign include:
Donald Agarrat:
Derrick L. Briggs:
Keith Boykin:
Clay Cane:
Jasmyne Cannick:
Terrance Heath:
Larry D. Lyons II:
Frank Roberts:
Pam Spaulding:
Bernard Tarver: