Dancehall artiste Shenseea posted a pair of pictures (see below) to her IG account on May 17. The speculation is that the pictures are teasers from the filming of an upcoming music video for her song “Temptation Overdrive.” But, after 20,700+ comments to date, does it matter what the source of the images is?
In response to the images, the IG page was battered with comments that ranged from eager eyes to those hell-bent on damning the dancehall darling. Some “ShenYeng” women lamented not being the one wrapped in the embrace, and some male followers regretted the same. Footahype attracted some negative attention and Konshens put him in his place, publicly. IG user “mar.lon8992” was met with “That’s what’s wrong with Jamaicans today!” when he posted concerns about what Shenseea’s photos are teaching the school girls of the nation (see below). I tell you though, we are in a bad state if a young person’s sexuality is no longer biologically determined, but is decided based on what their favorite singer posts on social media. As I read through the comments about Shenseea’s “lesbian gesture,” many raised the point that a male artiste could never “get away” with such a publicity stunt in Jamaica. Truer words were never spoken. That would be a definite “no-no,” to use the “Trending Gyal” lyrics. As she stirs up the sex-pot, I wonder if Shenseea is aware of the gendered inequality. I also wonder if she is aware that her status as “professionally sexy artiste” offers her a certain privilege to perform lesbian even in an anti-homosexual country. Don’t believe me?
Maybe you recall a photo that became front page news last year. Remember Dalton Harris? Remember the male-to-male embrace seen across the Jamaican diaspora? Jamaican singer Dalton Harris’s November 2018 hug from a fellow X-Factor contestant nearly broke the Caribbean internet and set off a firestorm of potentially career-damaging “gay” rumors. I’m bringing this up not to drag Dalton Harris. I’m bringing this up because the double-standard for how men and women can be seen in public (or how they can share their private encounters) is the unaddressed part of the discussion that Shenseea’s post raises. You can, perhaps, file this post as comment 20,999 on Shenseea’s page. But, there’s more.
As Kingston’s housing market increases with apartment buildings popping up across the capital’s congested business district, homeless homosexual Jamaicans burrow further underground for safety. In Jamaica, we don’t talk about the undisclosed number of individuals who live in the sewers/ gullies so that they can avoid abuse and murder. But, the world has been able to see and hear their stories via documentaries like the exposé “Young and Gay: Jamaica’s Gully Queens” (see below) that was aired on Vice in 2014 and lives permanently on the internet.
In Jamaica, the J-FLAG human rights office in Kingston burned to a suspicious crisp in 2018. I have not yet seen a cause listed for this fire. Thankfully no individuals were hurt in the fire, but think of all the individuals who were burned by the symbolism of this building’s destruction. But there’s more.
We live in a country where the Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton has had to re-make a PSA campaign because viewers were slandering the actress in the original ad. Wait. Let me try to re-phrase this in case it is unclear. An actress was paid to play a person living HIV positive. In the PSA the actress is shown exercising and giving herself a pep-talk to keep herself healthy and active and, of course, she is shown reminding herself to take her retroviral HIV medications daily in order to maintain her wellness. Well, the public actually believed the actress in this PSA campaign was actually HIV positive! After the airing of the PSA, the actress faced so much discrimination from the public that an amendment was made to the PSA where the Minister of Heath and Wellness stood beside the actress and publicly declared her HIV negative and reminded viewers that she was an actress playing a role. This updated PSA has been running on local television for the last couple of weeks. Unbelievable, right? So, I suppose it is no wonder why commentators are declaring Shenseea to be a lesbian based on her IG photos. It seems that it is quite difficult for some members of our public to differentiate between fact and acting and are willing to burn you, chop you, or even kill you if they believe what they see is homosexual.
Just last night, on Sunday, May 19, 2019 the U.S. news program 60 Minutes did a full investigative report about the Rainbow Railroad and the dangers of living as an LGBTQI individual in Jamaica (see below). This report seems to be a follow-up to the Vice report I mentioned above, but this one spoke of hope because some individuals have been able to escape. Some is not all. And those that escape are certainly traumatized.
So, Shenseea, big up on your music video. I suspect that we will all soon discover that it’s you kissing yourself in that bed and many homosexual women and many heterosexual men will continue to lust after you. As your team puts the finishing edits on the four or five minute footage, please know that there are thousands of Jamaicans who wish they could wrap-up in their lover’s embrace freely on the street, freely in a restaurant, freely on IG. They wish this, but they know that that is not a real possibility for them in Jamaica. There are thousands who would have to board the Rainbow Railroad if a picture like yours surfaced of them online.
What a thing when even love is a privilege.