I remember the last time I saw Brian. He had moved to Toronto for a while where I was living at the time. For the sake of his family, I wish that he had never returned to Jamaica after that. I was helping him to update his resume. I still have his resume on my computer. I keep it as a memento of him. When I did a class in Human Rights Advocacy for my undergrad degree a couple of years ago, I thought about Brian a lot. I knew him as my older, loving, big-brother like cousin who was the life of the party, always cheerful and uplifting - you could not find a bigger heart anywhere. But now, as a result of all of my class work in the world of human rights, I felt like I understood the spirit of who my cousin was and the world of advocacy work that he devoted his life to. I felt like I had come closer to appreciating and understanding the significance of his work while gaining greater resolution with his untimely death.
Now, in a deeply powerful testimony about the horrors of what gay people have to endure in Jamaica, the highly acclaimed Jamaican writer and Binghamton University professor Thomas Glave gives a riveting speech to the Oslo Freedom Forum 2011 in which he includes a tribute to my cousin Brian:
It is beyond time that the appalling homophobia that is a blight on certain parts of Jamaican society come to an end. Beyond time. How many more must suffer. How many more must die. I salute the courage of heroes like Thomas Glave and Brian Williamson who co-founded JFLAG. I join Thomas Glave in his prayer.
From the J-FLAG website:
J-FLAG’s mission is to work towards a Jamaican society in which the Human Rights and Equality of Lesbians, All-Sexuals, and Gays are guaranteed. To foster the acceptance and enrichment of the lives of same-gender-loving persons who have been, and continue to be, an integral part of society. J-FLAG holds the vision to move forward in a spirit of oneness, love, dignity and respect towards the establishment of a Jamaica, and world, devoid of prejudice, injustice, discrimination and oppression. And, furthermore, to ensure the human rights of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays, as set out in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.