Scroll To Top
Arts & Entertainment

Antigay reggae
artists scheduled for upcoming HIV/AIDS benefit draw
outrage

Antigay reggae
artists scheduled for upcoming HIV/AIDS benefit draw
outrage

Lifebeat

An upcoming HIV/AIDS benefit concert in New York is coming under fire for including two performers known to be antigay.

An upcoming HIV/AIDS benefit concert in New York is coming under fire for including two performers known to be antigay. Among the artists scheduled to perform at the July 18 show at Webster Hall, organized by LIFEbeat: The Music Industry Fights AIDS, are popular Jamaican dancehall artists Beenie Man and T.O.K., whose song lyrics have encouraged violence against gays, the Associated Press reports. "The idea that they would invite artists who encourage murdering gays and lesbians is so outrageous, insulting, and unbelievable," activist Keith Boykin told the AP. Added blogger Jasmyne Cannick: "If it was an artist with a history of Jew-bashing or slurs against African-Americans, would you keep the artists in the show? They never would've been invited. For some reason with gays it's acceptable." But while LIFEbeat's executive director, John Canelli, condemned the antigay lyrics of Beenie Man and T.O.K.--and explained that both acts agreed before the protests began not to use any offensive lyrics in the show--he said that including them was an important opportunity to "create dialogue around AIDS and the Caribbean-American community." "By both artists agreeing to perform at an HIV/AIDS prevention concert in 2006 shows they have recognized the devastation this disease has had on their communities and that they want to effect some positive change," Canelli told the AP. He added that the presence of the artists, who are donating their time, gives LIFEbeat a chance to reach out to their fans, whom they might not otherwise connect with. According to the AP, both Beenie Man and T.O.K. have released songs that are antigay, including a track by the former called "Han Up Deh," which calls for a lesbian to be hanged, and "Chi Chi Man" by the latter, which encourages the burning of gay men. Last week, scheduled concerts by Beenie Man and Buju Banton, another dancehall artist, were canceled in the United Kingdom because of such antigay songs. But in statements, the artists sounded a more conciliatory note. "T.O.K. has definitely matured over the years, and our music and its subject matter reflects that," the group said according to the AP, while Beenie Man said, "AIDS is an epidemic that doesn't discriminate. It's not a gay or a straight thing, it is a fight for life, and I'm proud to stand with LIFEbeat in the fight against a disease that exists regardless of one's sex, race, or sexual orientation." (The Advocate)

Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Magazine - Gus Kenworthy

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories