On May 23, 2014, Queens Councilman, Daniel Dromm, lead a 200 person rally outside of Amazura Night Club, in an effort to cancel tonight’s stage show, “Invasion of the Queens.” The all-female line up, feauring live performances from dancehall reggae stars Queen I-frica, Lady Saw, Etana, Spice, Sister Carol, Junie Ranks, Sister Nancy and Lady Ann, faced opposition from the Councilman and LGBT groups concerned about Queen I-frica headlining the show: More After The Jump…
The activists released the following statement: “Today, unfortunately we are outside this club, because one of the main oppressors of LGBT people in Jamaica is coming to this club in Queens and we want to make sure that our voice of opposition to this oppressor of LGBT people is heard. What she says and what she does is offensive. It is hate speech and it needs to end. Her [Queen I-frica] coming to Queens, the borough of nations, where we pride ourselves in our diversity is also offensive to us. This type of hatred has to end. This is hate speech not free speech and people need to realize the difference between the two.”
Picture of Daniel Dromm and Activists Outside Amazura Night Club In Queens NYC (Photo Credit: Paula Duran)
In 2013, Queen I-frica’s priviledge to perform at a Canadian stage show, Rastafest International Reggae Concert, was automatically forfeited after Canadian based gay rights advocacy groups lobbied to shut down the concert at Downsview Park.
The same tactics were successful in 2014 to silence this artist, with today’s annoucement that Queen I-frica has been officially removed from the Amazura show, continuing a series of cancellations of her performances. This forceful taping of Queen I-frica’s lips, stems from public reproach from the Jamaica Culture Minister, Lisa Hanna and Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays (JFLAG) following her performance at the Grand Gala in Kingston, Jamaica. The Grand Gala was held on Jamaica Independence Day, August 5, 2013 and during an interlude in her performance, Queen I-frica called for legalization of marijuana and made the call and response, “All straight people put up unna hand in di air.”
While, Queen I-frica seems to be the latest scapegoat for what really is a national issue, contradictions are beginning to surface in her defense. Jamaica’s own Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, backpedaled on her campaign promise to repeal the country’s, Offense Against the Person Law, which makes anal sex and any form of indecency between two men in public or private, a criminal offense. The world watches closely as Jamaican homosexual advocacy groups gain momentum in the battle for increase tolerance and confront the challenge of reforming the nation’s current laws.
When music contains social commentary, some will be receptive, while others may be offended. In the case of the latter, it is quite common for artists to receive pressure from public advocacy groups for offensive lyrics. However, some believe that reggae artists are particularly targeted for censorship and are more likely to be harshly reprimanded, which is not seen in other genres of music. In the ambiguity of it all, where is the line drawn between ensuring that music is listener-friendly and non offensive versus penalizing an artist for personal beliefs in music expression?
Queen I-frica at NYC Airport This Morning