They’re straight, they’re proud and they want to beat up gay people.
Such is the mixed messages sent by the Reggae record label TCOOO (Taking Care Of Our Own) who announced this week that they’re planning a “Straight Pride Parade” in Brooklyn for late August.
The announcement came via a blog post, although the group hasn’t apparently taken any steps to make this dream a reality.
But the announcement alone may have given them exactly what they wanted – press for their album “18 Karat Reggae 2008: Global Warming.” They have also ruffled the feathers of area Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender (LGBT) residents who have lashed out against the violent lyrics against homosexuals in their ditty “Hit Them Hard.”
The not-so cheery chestnut, written by Stapler – the Reggae rapper, not the piece of office equipment – encourages listeners to attack “all men who visit men backyard and leave all the women to starve,” according to the lyrics.
Officials from the independent record label defended the lyrics, claiming that the song is not homophobic, but “pro-family.”
Their parade is also going to be pro-family as well, they claim.
“The Straight Pride Parade is a chance for heterosexuals to gather together and proudly embrace their sexuality,” according to a statement sent out by the record label, who claims that the album has suffered financially due to criticism from the LGBT community. “Adults are encouraged to bring their children along for the celebrations, as the event will be family oriented,” the statement read.
Organizers said that the parade will celebrate “reggae, dancehall and family in love and unity.”
“I sat quietly and watched as they cancelled artists like Buju Banton, Sizzla Kalonji and Capleton,” TCOOO’s president explained. “But when the gay community went after TCOOO artists like Vineyard the Rebel Priest, Stapler and Jango Fresh we decided that we must make a show of strength.”
“The Straight Pride Parade is a great idea,” said rapper Jango Fresh, who identifies himself as a “dancehall sensation.”
“When a song like ‘Hit Them Hard’ by my label-mate Stapler can be banned just because it stresses the importance of a male and a female in every family, it is a sign that heterosexuals need to wake up,” he said.
Organizers said that the parade will take place on August 31 along Eastern Parkway, the same route as the West Indian Day Parade.
The West Indian Day Parade is scheduled for September 1.
There is no word of a Straight Pride Parade included in the carnival festivities leading up to the parade, which brings thousands of people to Eastern Parkway annually.
Calls to the West Indian-American Day Carnival Association to determine if they were aware of this so-called late addition to their festivities were not returned by press time.
Officials at the Borough President’s office said that they were not aware of a Straight Pride Parade taking place.
But, once he learned about it, the Beep was outraged.
“Brooklyn’s diversity is one of our greatest strengths, and Brooklynites—whether gay or straight—should never be shy about expressing their pride,” Borough President Marty Markowitz said in a statement. “But while I support the right to peacefully gather and celebrate all that makes our borough and city proud, we must denounce homophobia in any form, including hate speech and music.”
“Because Brooklyn is home to America’s largest Caribbean-American population, we know firsthand that homosexuals often face discrimination and even violence or death in their home countries, and therefore we must be especially vigilant in condemning homophobia directed at members of this community not only here in Brooklyn, but around the world,” he added.
“[The march] almost seems like this story is coming right out of ‘The Onion’,” said Park Slope Democratic District Leader Alan Fleishman, referring to the spoof newspaper. “About 25 years ago, I may have believed it, but with all the progress the LGBT community has made, this is surreal at best.”
Terrance Knox, co-president of the Lambda Independent Democrats, the borough’s leading LGBT political club, said that the “so-called parade is nothing to be proud of.”
“My whole thing is that whoever you are, be proud about it,” said Knox. “But this Reggae song is steeped in homophobic rhetoric.”
“If anybody else had a straight pride march, I would say ‘fantastic’,” he said. “But with all of the problems going on in the Caribbean with the economy and the poverty, they believe that gay people are the problem? It just speaks to how out of touch they are to their reality.”
Lambda co-president Daniel Willson called upon members of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association to “put a stop to this hate march that is threatening to hijack the entire event.”
“This anti-gay record label needs to know that they are not a part of Carnival and cannot use this celebratory community event to promote violence against gay people,” he said.
Knox added that the anti-gay obsession of some reggae groups like Stapler raises the question of their own sexuality.
“The more these so-called artists obsess about gay men, the more they sound like tortured guys on the down low,” he said.
©2008 Community News Group
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