One love : Homophobia and the Jamaican press

University essay from Södertörns högskola/Journalistik; Södertörns högskola/Journalistik

Abstract: Jamaica is a beautiful island in the Caribbean well known all over the world for its Reggae music and its message of One love. But it is neither the songs about love nor the striking beauty of the island that awoken our interest. It was the widespread homophobia that can be found both in the Reggae lyrics, as they often promotes violence against homosexuals, the law against buggary and in almost every other corner of the society. We wanted to know if this homophobia also could be found in the press. Therefore the aim of this study is to find how LGBT-persons are being described in the Jamaican press. Do the press reflect or oppose the homophobia in the society? Our theoretical framework is about socialization, identity and the building of a nation, of which in all media is a part. It is also about how alienation is created by the media. Our material contains of all articles from the four main newspapers in Jamaica, The Daily Observer, The Gleaner, The Chat and The Star, that in someway touches LGBT-persons during a two week period, between November 10 and November 23, 2008. We use all of these 27 articles to make a quantitative analysis and four of them are handpicked for a qualitative analysis. As a complement to the articles we use qualitative interviews with the editor in chief of The Daily Observer Vernon Davidson, and the Senior lecturer of Media and Communication at University of West Indies, Canute James. We find that the homophobia in the society is in some ways reflected by the Jamaican press. LGBT-persons, especially homosexual men, are described as different, abnormal and as standing outside the Jamaican society. This strengthens the alienation. The great reggae and dancehall stars are often more defended than criticized for their homophobic lyrics in the press. What we also find is that there is an ongoing debate about the homophobic hatred as being a part of an old society that it is time for Jamaica to grow out of. In other words the proud Jamaican nation of which the homophobia is a part should change according to some, whilst others do not want their nation to adapt itself to other countries views.

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