the shot

Why Is Buju Banton Bumping Fists With Activist Michael Petrelis?


THE SHOT — Reggae artist Buju Banton sits down with San Francisco-based activist Michael Petrelis, Supervisor Bevan Dufty, Rebecca Rolfe (San Francisco LGBT Community Center executive director), and Andrea Shorter (of Equality California) in what’s billed to be the singer’s first meeting with gay activists.

Notes Petrelis: “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.”