The first documented gay rights advocacy in Jamaica was in 1977, with the establishing of the Gay Freedom Movement (GFM) in Kingston. Meetings were weekly with an average attendance of 40 gay men and lesbians. The movement published a bi-monthly newsletter (The Jamaica Gaily News), which circulated for about two and half years. The GFM self dissolved a few years later. Over a period of about seven years, however, the GFM made several historical marks. Here is a timeline of some other major highlights in Jamaica’s gay history:
1978 – Jamaica’s first gay and lesbian play “Mix it out” was staged.
1978 – GFM established Jamaica’s first ever gay and lesbian telephone switchboard.
1978 – The dorm room of an allegedly gay student from the social sciences faculty at UWI was blazed with a homemade bomb on February 21.
1978 – Coronation of Miss Jamaica (Gay), during Independence celebrations by the GLBT community on August 6.
1978 – Jamaica’s first gay and lesbian hotel, Lighthouse Park, opened on April 27.
1978 – Gay activist Larry Chang participated in the first public discussion ever in Jamaica about homosexuality on December 23 at the College of Arts, Science and Technology (CAST), now the University of Technology (Utech).
1979 – The Gay Community Health Clinic opened on March 10, offering medical services on Saturdays between 11 Am and 1 Pm.
1980 – A record 7 private gay parties in the Kingston were bombed within one month. The bombs were all homemade and there were no reports of any major injuries.
1984 – The Ministry of Education explored homosexuality in the personal development slot on their Education Broadcasting Service (EBS). The moderator was psychologist Dr Frank Knight of the University Hospital; guests were students of Kingston College and St Hughes High.
1984 - GFM assisted Winston Rowe of UWI with a documentary on the stonewall riot for the advance media programme at the Caribbean Institute of Mass Communication (CARIMAC).
1993 - Rumours of a planned gay march had the “heavy-hats” in frenzy. Scores lined the streets, armed and ready to chop, stab, shot, lynch among others, waiting for any ‘body’ that dared to march for gay rights in Jamaica.
1997 - Sixteen allegedly gay prison inmates were slaughtered and 40 others injured in a riot following an attempt by prison authorities to distribute condoms to warders and inmates to help stem the spread of the HIV/AIDS within the penal system.
1998 - Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays (JFLAG) was established.
1999 - J-FLAG made a submission to parliament to include sexual orientation in the discrimination clause of the proposed Charter of Rights and Freedoms Bill.
2002 – The United Kingdom offered asylum to three Jamaican gay men on the basis that their lives could be fatally compromised if they returned to Jamaica.
2004 – Amnesty international released an urgent appeal on June 1 to the global community to write to the Prime Minister of Jamaica asking him to take urgent steps to protect gay people from violence, and to repeal legislation that criminalizes same sex relations.
2004 – A dark day in Jamaica’s gay history was upon us all. Gay rights activist Brian Williamson was found murdered at his home in New Kingston on June 9.