Buju Banton’s Tour, GLBT Protests, Continue

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday September 18, 2009

Reggae artist Buju Banton tours on despite pressure from GLBT groups who have rallied against Banton's U.S. tour due to his song about killing gays, "Boom Bye Bye."

A Sept. 18 article in the Jamaica Observer read, "In [the] face of fierce opposition to his current US tour from the gay community, Buju Banton, no stranger to controversy, no doubt is reaching for the Inna Heights of his Unchained Spirit (in the vein of two of his finest albums), is determined not to be outdone by his detractors."

Citing "threats by strong arm thugs from the gay community," the article reported that Banton would not be appearing at The National for his Sept. 26 Richmond, VA concert, but would instead perform at The Hat Factory.

Several appearances by Banton in other U.S. cities were canceled after GLBT groups, citing Banton's anti-gay anthem, a song that celebrates shooting gay men and then incinerating their bodies, put pressure on promoters.

The song's lyrics, as rendered into American standard English, declare:

"Get an automatic or an Uzi instead
Shoot them now
When Buju Banton arrives
Faggots have to run
Or get a bullet in the head
Bang-bang in a faggot's head
Homeboys don't condone nasty men
They must die."

Banton is touring the United States on his "Rasta Got Soul" tour.

The article said that Banton's "struggle" with "gay lynch mobs" was "far from over."

An unnamed source was quoted as saying, "It seems as if the gays are definitely out to get Buju this year; all his shows at the House of Blues and all venues which are under the Live Nation/AEG Live, are canceled."

The source continued, "Another show, this one in Virginia has also been canceled, but the promoter, whose pet name is Buju and whose company is called Lionheart Promotions, is determined not to be outdone by the gay community, so he found another venue."

The article claimed that GLBTs opposed to Banton's tour threatened violence should the artist perform in Richmond.

The article also noted that a planned Oct. 3 performance in Columbus, Ohio, had been scrubbed.

The article quoted from a release issued by Banton's label, Gargamel Music, which was sent out under the title "The voice of Jamaica will not be silenced."

The release referenced a desire to correct what it called "the grossly inaccurate portrait of Buju being painted by certain organizations and systematically relayed to the masses and the media."

Explained the release, "Buju Banton was all of 15 years old when he wrote 'Boom Bye Bye' in response to widely publicized man/boy rape case in Jamaica. It was not a call to violence.

"The song was released on a popular dancehall rhythm in 1992 and caused a huge uproar after receiving commercial radio play in the States," the release continued.

"Following much public debate back then, prominent gay rights leaders and Buju decidedly moved on.

"For the record, it is the only song he ever made on the subject--and he does not perform it today."

GLBT rights organizations are not convinced, citing Banton's allegedly having signed on to a pact against violence and then distanced himself from that agreement.

Banton reportedly continues to perform the song, which has allegedly been sung by anti-gay mobs in his home country.

Moreover, anti-gay violence in Jamaica has drawn headlines in recent years, with gangs breaking into houses to attack gay men.

Banton himself reportedly faced charges in connection with just such a housebreaking and assault.

Jamaica has one of the highest murder rates in the world, and gay men are frequent targets. In one high-profile incident, a British diplomat was recently found strangeld to death in his Kingston, Jamaica home.

Honorary consul John Terry, 65, was found with a cord tied around his neck; his body was accompanied by a note that called him a "batty," or gay, man, and threatened, "This is what will happen to ALL gays."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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