I’ve spoken a bit about my friend Amanda on here, as they are the founder of the Unplug Collective. We went to high school together and not only are they amazing, but they are also one of the few people in my life I can discuss issues like these with. Amanda is a graduating senior at Barnard College double majoring in Africana Studies and Gender Studies. On May 3, Amanda held a Zoom presentation/conversation (accessible here) that wonderfully combined their two majors while being quite close to home.
Amanda, being a native Jamaican, sought to bring the issues of their community to the academic stage. In this conversation, they highlighted a few organizations invested in Black, Queer, and Trans representation, mobilization, protection, and empowerment within Jamaica and the greater Caribbean community. TranswaveJA is an organization that focuses mostly on protecting trans lives and providing asylum in Jamaica, a country known for violent homophobia. ConnekJA is a group invested in creating safe spaces for networking among Queer activists around the Caribbean and providing opportunities for representation and mobilization in queer and trans events. United Trans Creatives is a group specifically interested in bringing together creatives within the LGBTQ+ community and creating spaces for collaboration and free expression.
As someone who identifies as Jamaican and queer, these conversations are so important because the youth of Jamaica are much more accepting now. With a riddled history of homophobic violence, it is quite beautiful to see people still wanting to mobilize and support others within the queer community. It’s so important to consider gender and sexuality outside of the US and how it still contributes to US politics. A lot of times the US is the destination for those seeking asylum. And on the flip side, American tourists and consumerism in general, typically have a huge influence on the economies and livelihoods of smaller nations.
Amanda is both an activist and photographer and a large part of this presentation surrounded images they had taken of the speakers. These images perfectly represent both queer and Jamaican pride in a beautiful way and have the potential to broaden exposure for these organizations. Each of the mentioned organizations can be found on social media just as written and I’ve included the photography and links throughout this post.