Sunday, April 19, 2009

Jamaica Boycott Expands In San Francisco;
Gay Pol Dufty Replies to JFLAG

This past week, an open letter from the gay Jamaican group JFLAG was issued, heavily the boycott of Jamaican liquor and beer in San Francisco's gay bars.

I believe the letter received great editorial and distribution assistance from Scott Long, the gatekeeper of all global gay issues, who operates from a plush office on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

The letter contains the usual Long fingerprints of demanding all international activism immediately halt, while offering absolutely no alternative course of action, such as a letter writing campaign.

In response to a brief email I circulated to JFLAG and others, Jason McFarlane, wrote a reply, which received a response from gay SF Supervisor Bevan Dufty, a key supporter of the boycott.

Since a few readers have complained about the length of my blog posts, I'm going to try breaking up my posts, and putting things like the correspondence mentioned above, in the comments section.

I've also made a second comment, this one containing the letter Supervisor Dufty has sent to all of the gay bars in San Francisco.

His letter mentions bars that were not on the original list of participating bars at the boycott's launch, and Dufty has emailed me the names of other bars joining the boycott.

An updated list of the expanded number of local bars boycotting Jamaica rum and Red Stripe beer will be released in a few days.

In the meantime, check out the letters and all in the comments.


Unknown said...

My letter to JFLAG:

Many activists in USA are starting to wonder if Human Rights Watch's Scott
Long was the ghostwriter behind JFLAG's recent anti boycott statement.

Why? Because the JFLAG statement is very similar to statements Scott Long
anonymously penned for gay Iranians a few years back.

I sure would like to know who really wrote the JFLAG statement.


The JFLAG reply:


This is just another bit of evidence that you have scant regard for the
intelligence of the Jamaican People.
This statement comes from the the heart of J-FLAG and its local leaders. It
is clear by your actions that you are treating us and our views with great
disrespect and you present yourself as careless and are using this boycott
as an opportune moment for you and your partners to benefit at the expense
of others.

Jason McFarlane
Programmes Manager

Then came the reply from Supervisor Dufty:


Thank you for including me on your response.

Let me speak to you personally. I serve in the seat held by Harvey Milk on
the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

What you might not know is that during the period from 1979-1984 I served
as a Legislative Aide to Congressman Julian Dixon, an African American
Member of Congress, who served on the Appropriations Subcommittee on
Foreign Assistance.

My mentor and boss, Congressman Dixon focused extensively on issues
affecting the Caribbean and Africa. I have traveled to Jamaica six times
for congressional business, with the Congressman, and also for pleasure
when I lived in Washington, D.C. I was incredibly active as a staff member
working to blunt the legislative efforts by Congressional Republicans to
reduce aid to Jamaica because of the election of PM Manley. Over many
years I visited USAID projects in Jamaica and sought stronger ties between
our countries. So my actions supporting a boycott do not come easily --
because of my love and affection for the people of Jamaica, your proud
history and beautiful country.

At the same time, I have been deeply troubled that in recent years Jamaican
politics and culture have become increasingly homophobic and the acts of
violence against members of the LGBT community have gone unchecked by
police and government institutions.

If there are reasons to consider a positive record with respect to Red
Stripe, I am willing to consider that and would like to meet with any
U.S.-based representatives for Red Stripe.

Michael Petrelis is an amazingly effective activist. Without title,
organization or wealth, Michael champions causes that many of us were
slower to embrace. In recent weeks, Michael sparked worldwide attention on
the murders that have taken place in Iraq affecting Gay men. He has also
challenged us to harness the economic clout of America's LGBT community to
wake up Jamaican manufacturers and tourism sector that passivity in the
face of violence and murder against LGBT Jamaicans cannot be met with

I welcome any opportunity to build bridges and build positive change in
Jamaica. If I can be of service, please call upon me. I am seeking to
meet soon with Jamaica's Honorary Consul General, Dr. Newton Gordon.

Bevan Dufty
Member, San Francisco Board of Supervisors
City Hall, Room 268
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 554-5646

Unknown said...

Dear LGBT Bar Owners of San Francisco

I am working with Michael Petrelis and other community activists in SF and
NYC to encourage a bar and restaurant boycott of Jamaican products, Myers's
rum and Red Stripe beer, to protest violence against the LGBT community in
that country.

During the past two years, there have been 140 reported acts of violence
including murders of individuals who are Gay, Lesbian or Transgendered.
The Jamaican government has not taken a stance to protect the rights and
safety of these individuals.

Enclosed is an opinion article, authored by Michael, that appeared in the
Bay Area Reporter.

Before even making this formal request, I have heard from a number of
establishments, including Cafe Flore, The Midnight Sun, Buck Tavern, Lime,
Catch and BOC, among others -- that they will not serve these products
until significant actions are taken by the government of Jamaica to end
violence against their LGBT Community.

We are producing a list of participating establishments, so please let me
know if we can add you to our list. In the coming weeks I am also hoping
to create events promoting alternative rums from countries that recognize
the importance of protecting their LGBT citizens.

It should be noted that the Jamaican LGBT organization, J-FLAG has written
to say it has a positive relationship with Red Stripe. We are pursuing
discussions with their distributor and if they can be determined to play a
positive role we will certainly advise you and consider our approach.

Feel free to give me a call (415) 554-6968.


San Francisco Board of Supervisors