As part of our project entitled “Human Rights and Sexuality in Jamaica,” my fellow researchers and I worked with three organizations to get a sense of LGBTQ+ advocacy in Jamaica in both the legal and social spheres: Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ); Jamaican Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (JFLAG); and the University of West Indies Rights Advocacy Project (U-RAP).
As JFJ provides legal assistance to people who’ve experienced police violence, we assisted in taking witness statements for LGBTQ+ people who were arrested under the Mona Security Act, which allows law enforcement to discriminately police the campus space. Our work with U-RAP centered around this act and more broadly explored legal advocacy that seeks to challenge the laws themselves. As part of this, we conducted research on the relationship between the campus and the surrounding communities to inform U-RAP’s opinion on the Act.
JFLAG, as the only organization with mostly LGBTQ+ members and the main organizer of Pride, allowed us to take part in the more social aspects of community and advocacy. In addition to brainstorming campaign ideas, we participated in the majority of the events during pride week.
Beyond the research material, the experience gave me valuable insight into how fieldwork/ethnography, anthropology’s embodied way of producing knowledge, works on a day-to-day level, giving me a greater amount of confidence in pursuing further research.