Out Came Diana King, Jamaican Superstar

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AUGUST 2012 marked the fiftieth anniversary of independence for two Caribbean nations, Jamaica and Trinidad. As Caribbeans everywhere celebrated these two milestones, let us use this occasion to reflect on the struggles of sexual minorities in the two countries. Emancipation from personal fears and the vestiges of former colonial mores are paramount as we move forward in the new millennium. Far too often the voices of GLBT people go unheard, especially in a region where homophobia is woven into the cultural fabric. The Caribbean has its share of sexual minorities and, by right, must be protected under law.

    Most indie music fans can recall the sultry, soulful sounds of Diana King when she débuted her hit single “Shy Guy” on the movie soundtrack for Bad Boys. Diana King’s musical style embodies a fusion of dance, reggae, pop, and soul.

    Jamaica has long held the reputation as the most homophobic nation in the western hemisphere; but Diana King’s arrival has permanently altered the anti-gay image, and to some extent the reality, of Jamaica. The moment of drama came when King shared a note on her Facebook page titled “Yes I Am Lesbian.” Her coming out is changing the attitude toward homosexuality throughout the Caribbean and above all in her native Jamaica. Her announcement was the single most momentous event in recent memory in Jamaica, comparable to legendary Bob Marley’s “One Love Peace” concert at which he closed his set by joining hands with then Prime Minister Manley and Jamaica’s Labor Party leader Edward Seaga. Diana KingDiana King’s “celebration of her lesbianism” has altered the sociopolitical dynamics of Jamaica and given an identity to Caribbean GLBT people everywhere. They, in turn, are petitioning the government for legal recognition of their status and for the repeal of anti-sodomy laws that criminalize homosexual behavior.

    Ths interview was conducted through a series of e-mail exchanges shortly after Ms. King came out on Facebook last year.

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Karen Bobb, originally from Guyana, is an LGBT activist based in Jersey City, NJ.

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