Jamaica Needs Gay Tourism

Jamaica doesn’t have the best same-sex track record.

Who could forget when Prime Minister Bruce Golding insisted there’s no place for gays in his government? And, of course, there’s the sick history of homophobic attacks, like when a mob attacked a transvestite last year.

Though many Jamaicans hope to keep their island clear of queers, scholar Dr Donna Chambers insists the nation needs to clean up its act, particularly in terms of tourism:

Tourism stakeholders, the lecturer declared, must determine if they could continue to ignore this market estimated at US$65 billion, or five per cent of the annual US$1.3 trillion global tourism market.

“Can Jamaica afford not to market itself to lucrative gay travel in an increasingly competitive global tourism market?” Chambers [asked].

Obviously that’s rhetorical.

Chambers went on to say that Jamaica can only foster gay tourism if it creates a queer-inclusive space. She then begged the question, “Can the economic imperative precipitate cultural change?” Considering that the colonial economy helped engender Jamaica and others’ anti-gay attitudes, we’d say “yes.” Can they in today’s cultural environment – and without subjugation? Probably not as easily.