It has always been the policy of this publication to not comment on the happenings at private lymes/events. This is because whilst here at PINK we value information sharing, we have no intention of becoming The Star, Chat Magazine or 876 Grapevine blog for that matter. Rather it is our desire to become a socially responsible publication serving the needs of the Jamaican and by extension wider Caribbean Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgendered (LGBT) community.
Yet notwithstanding the above, given the nature of the attack and unwarranted assault on my guests, my partner and myself who were gathered to celebrate my birthday, one must comment.
At approximately 12:30 a.m. on the morning of Sunday, July 11 my guests and I were thrown out of, the Experience Lounge on 9 Merrick Ave. Given the fact that we were not given the opportunity to gracefully leave the venue with even a modicum or shred of dignity, kicked out would seem a more appropriate description of the occurrence. Our food was relocated to the ground and I only managed to escape with my cake and a deflated and emotionally wounded partner.
The truth is that I literally felt like the Nigger in the Liquor Store and I have no doubt that many of my guests felt that way as well. What is worse; is the feeling of feeling less than human without power and without rights or even recourse to justice. In such a situation, to stand up would be to encourage a physical confrontation, which would be a loose lose scenario and so retreat like a hapless dog was the only recourse for all in attendance.
Since that evening, both my partner and I have reviewed the process that we used to select the location and we are still at a loss for what we could have done differently. On pure aesthetics not only was the location central, but literally a tucked away garden paradise. Further we were always open and honest about the issue of our homosexuality. That the location is actually owned by the Neita family under management by his son (a man with the nickname Chu Chu) only serves to illustrate how out of left field the whole situation is.
Yet in spite of everything, it would be easy to describe the situation as a homophobic assault, BUT IT WAS NOT. It was your typical run of the mill extortion racquet NEITA STYLE. Prior to being KICKED OUT, Mr. Neita had requested we pay him J$15,000 or encourage my guests to purchase more drinks for him to continue playing music and keep his bar open. I agreed and complied with encouraging the guests to purchase more liquor but refused to pay the Extortion amount of J$15,000 on the grounds that this was at variance with the terms of the agreement worked out between his entity and my partner.
Subsequently the request for J$15,000 became a demand and a condition of further use of the venue. In spite of the willingness of my partner to pay the demanded amount, I indicated that I would proceed to end the night’s festivities. Please note that we in no way had requested that the venue become exclusively ours and that it did become that was in no way related to our function.
As a consequence, the incident was a direct result of my refusal to be extorted and not because it was a gay function. In fact I am of the opinion that if it was a big gay party and I had invited everyone he would have been a very JOLLY FELLOW.
This whole incident holds valuable lessons for me, the most important of which is that one must at all times ensure not to cry wolf and label everything a HATE CRIME. This is a clear consumer rights situation and it is my partner’s call as to what he plans to do regarding the incident. However, I must apologize again to my guests for the behaviour of Mr. Neita and thank all who were in attendance. It was indeed a memorable event in more ways than one.