Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ending Anti-Gay Violence in Jamaica - Oslo Freedom Forum - Thomas Glave and Brian Williamson

My cousin, Brian Williamson, was a prominent human rights and gay rights activist in our birth place of Jamaica. Sadly, Brian was murdered in June 2004 and his death was attributed to his outspoken efforts to bring about an end to homophobia in Jamaica. Known and mourned around the world, Brian’s death elicited this response from Amnesty International: “Brian Williamson was a courageous individual prepared to speak out for one of the most marginalized and persecuted communities in Jamaica: the gay and lesbian community. The loss of such a fearless champion of human rights is to be regretted; he will be sorely missed.”

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.

Brian Williamson

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.


  1. Thx for posting video of Thomas Glave at Oslo Freedom Forum and the beautifully well written article about your cousin. Let us spread his message together so that this may never happen again in Jamaica or anywhere in the world!

  2. Thanks Pedro. Appreciate the work that you do!

  3. Best wishes, Kathy Stanley. Thank you for the warm words about what I said and wrote about Brian. I (we, in Jamaica) loved him dearly, and haven't in any way forgotten him. Please contact me via email so that I might send you a copy of the essay I wrote about Brian, "The Death and Life of Brian Williamson" - it is in my book of essays, WORDS TO OUR NOW. You can reach me via the Binghamton University website directory. Thanks - TG

  4. Thank you Thomas. I have emailed you.