The brutal attack of Dutch national and male model Michael Brantjes during a photo shoot in Blanchisseuse, reported in the Thursday 4th January issue of the Guardian raises a lot of pertinent issues that need some deeper examination. According to the report, I quote, “The beating, he (Michael Brantjes) said, might have stemmed from “how people might view a male model.” In addition the report went stated, “Cosmetologist Kirk Thomas, who was also with Brantjes when the attack occurred, described the incident as unfortunate. Describing what happened as a “hate crime,” Thomas said: “I definitely know that it was that, a hate crime because in Trinidad male models are stereotyped in a particular way. People need to change their attitude.” cosmotologist at the photo shoot added,”.
I will loudly declare, what some are afraid to say, it was a homophobic attack by a group of ignorant ruff necks who saw a ‘pretty’ foreigner and his artsy entourage and fell into a fit of dance-hall fueled, ‘chi-chi man’ fury. The visitors were doing nothing to them, just going about their business and these insecure, young men, who have issues with their own sexuality somehow felt their “maleness” and “blackness” threatened and made the first move in dishing out the usual ‘Fire bun! Kill all bullerman!” rant. The foreigners, who are accustomed to being treated with respect and tolerance in their own developed countries, did not cower and stood up for themselves, which of course means the attack will escalate from verbal to physical violence. This kind of hateful attack has happened to me and to friends of mine who are either gay or mistaken to be gay and it will continue to happen. It was embarrassing and heartbreaking to read of the attack and see how it totally ruined the opinion of our country in the eyes of those visitors, who will be spreading the news of Trinidad’s homophobia to everyone they meet back home.
I wonder if the promoters of the Tobago Jazz festival have fully informed open and outspoken gay, prospective performer Elton John and his entourage exactly what kind of hateful, intolerant place this can be. If a male model is being bashed for exhibiting male beauty because it is perceived as gay, what would these ignorant homophobes make of someone as flamboyant as Elton? If he accompanied by his partner, will they be treated with respect by our people? This remains to be seen. My friends and I all want to go to see the concert. I grew up on my dad’s old Elton records before he tossed them out when he got all super religious and intolerable. It would be highly embarrassing if during this visit from one of music’s most eclectic and electrifying talents that we allow people who cannot see past what other people do with their own genitalia within the rightful freedom of their own adult relationship with another consenting adult, to ruin it for the true fans, gay and straight. The press swept the attack of the Dutch model under the carpet but I guarantee that if ANYTHING homophobic is directed at Elton, it will not be buried so easily.