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Straight pride parade to hit New York City

by Nick Langewis

UPDATE: Gay human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell responds.

A group of reggae artists, backed by their record label, will openly embrace their heterosexuality this upcoming Labor Day weekend.

"Although reggae is known for its militancy and its resistance to injustice," TCOOO Productions proclaimed, "the reggae community has remained calm throughout the attack on the music by Peter Tatchell and other Gay activists (sic) groups."

Frequent reports of kidnappings, harassment and mob beatings of gays, particularly in Jamaica, provide the backdrop for the lyrics of reggae and dancehall artists such as Beenie Man and Buju Banton, assailed by OutRage! founder Peter Tatchell as part of his Stop Murder Music campaign, which spans two decades. One example of a song that has gained notoriety in its mentions of violence against gays is Buju Banton's "Boom Bye Bye," released in the early 1990s and cited as the catalyst to the campaign's birth.

"The Straight Pride Parade is a chance for Heterosexuals to gather together and proudly embrace their sexuality," said reggae artist Jango Fresh. "The Parade will also allow reggae and dancehall fans who are in New York City for the Labor Day celebrations to get together and celebrate reggae, dancehall and family in love and unity."

"Hit Them Hard," a song by TCOOO artist Stapler, is one recent example of a song the label laments as a chart-climbing "pro-family" hit taken down by Tatchell's campaigning.

The chorus is:

Jah Jah gonna hit them hard
All the men who visit men backyard
Leaving all the women to starve
One thunder ball and all of them pause

"I sat quietly and watched as they cancelled artists like Buju Banton, Sizzla Kalonji and Capleton," said the president of TCOOO, "but when the gay community went after TCOOO artists like Vineyard the Rebel Priest, Stapler and Jango Fresh we decided that we must make a show of strength."

On the heels of frequent cancellations and interruption of radio play, Buju Banton, Sizzla Kalonji, Beenie Man and Capleton have signed the Reggae Compassionate Act, acknowledging their music's historical use as an agent of influence, activism and positive change and pledging to temper hatred and prejudice in their music.

The event is planned for August 31, 2008 in Brooklyn, on the same route as the Caribbean Labor Day parade.


Originally published on Monday July 7, 2008.

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