Yesterday, Buju Banton made a positive step forward in his controversial career by meeting with four leaders of the San Francisco GLBT community. The 40-minute meeting was the first between noted homophobe Banton and the GLBT, and seemed largely ornamental. After all, nothing distracts some of us like glitter, a Lady Gaga song or two and the appearance of allegiance (a certain leader of the free world's speech over the weekend comes to mind).
Michael Petralis, an activist in SF who met with Banton yesterday, recalls the event.
The meeting was very civil and productive, even though at times I had to play the "bad cop" activist, especially when Buju was dominating the discussion, and we made several suggestions for him to consider, in order to start to undo some of the problems he has in the gay community because of his past anti-gay lyrics.
We proposed that he think about making statements in Jamaica calling for love toward gays, donating to the JFLAG group, hold a town hall meeting in Kingston about the need to respect gays, and sing about loving gay people. All the suggestions were rejected, frustrating us.
It was explained by us that American gays are not singling him out, as we advocate for gay tolerance in Jamaica, but that we have also applied pressure on the government and business leaders to affect change that benefits gays across the island nation.
While there certainly was little movement on his part, and we didn't agree to tell any other gays to stop protesting his concert tour or suggesting he do more to confront the terrible, and sometimes deadly, anti-gay violence in Jamaica, we felt it was a very positive step forward that the meeting took place.
Is anyone skeptical and worried that this is all a PR stunt in the wake of Banton's string of cancelled concerts? Whatever the catalyst, it'd certainly be nice to see Banton conduct more reparaive meetings and turn what he learns from them into action.
What do you think of the awkward meeting? PR stunt or genuine attempt to make amends?