EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Beenie Man Apologizes

The king of dancehall music is sorry for his past homophobic lyrics and says his view on LGBT equality has evolved.



So does the negative reaction in your homeland of Jamaica concern you at all?
I live in Jamaica. I can’t be concerned about Jamaica and small-minded and one-track, ya understand? You have intelligent people in my island, people who understand everything. The reaction in the media was a good thing for dancehall music. Everybody who supposed to respond [positively], respond great so you know you not get all good response. A few man say this and a few man say that, but what a few men say is nothing to what the majority say.

Do you believe there will ever be a time when gays and lesbians will be accepted in Jamaica?
Well I don’t know that. That is not my thing. Me cannot tell you that. You would have to talk to the government cause I am not government.

So laws would have to be passed?
You have place in the Caribbean where gay and lesbian is legal like Barbados and a few more places. But Jamaica is a place where it’s just bent one way because gay in Jamaica is not like it is in America. It’s mostly big men with money going down in the ghetto and turning the local youths so you call that statutory (rape) or child molestation. They convince the youth that they are this way…and me know enough youth this way. That’s why when it comes to gay murder in Jamaica, it’s so vicious. With local youth, they can’t go back to their life that they used to know. And then (the rich men) use them and go find the next youth to use. So people need to understand that in Jamaica it’s a different lifestyle. It’s not like two men come together and say I like (to date men). That’s not the way it is in Jamaica. So right now until that finished and the youth stop getting kidnapped and found raped and thrown in a bush…until that stops and gays and lesbians speak out against child rapists and all of these things, then the government will see where they’re coming from. You can’t beat up on the government when you don’t understand what the government is fighting for. They’re not fighting against (gays). In the government in Jamaica right now, me sure you can find a few gay people. But the whole Caribbean needs support because the (rapes) have to stop.

You appeared on The RuPaul Show back in 1996. Did you receive backlash for making that appearance?
Of course, I live in Jamaica. But from then I don’t care, music is music. Promotion is promotion. TV is TV. I sing “Dancehall Queen.” RuPaul is a drag queen. Him love the song. Him invite me and Chevelle Franklin to do the show. What am I gonna say? No? Are you crazy?

One of the biggest trepidations straight people tend to have about supporting gay rights is that the public will then think he or she must also be gay.
Yeah, this is already going on because of the video I did. But, ya see, gay lifestyle is not what I am because I’m a straight man. But it’s not for me to condemn it cause every man have a right to decide their destiny. And it’s not for you to (then) condemn me. Some straight people make the same mistake some gay people make. Jamaican people are afraid of what they don’t know like every (other) people in the world.

Tags: Music