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Make LIFEBeat do the right thing

More on LIFEBeat, which continues to publicly defend its decision to allow homobigoted recording artists Beenie Man and TOK to perform at its HIV/AIDS education and information benefit concert. These performers have called for the killing of gays and lesbians in their lyrics. Remember, executive director John Cannelli knew about the artists and their lyrics but booked them anyway, citing that he wanted to reach out to that segment of the community by using artists who could “connect with them.”

LIFEBeat and its supporters are continuing to spin in this AP story. Particularly amusing is the comment from VIBE magazine’s Rob Kenner, who suggests it’s simply a translation issue, a misunderstanding…

John Canelli, LIFEbeat’s executive director, said he felt strongly that the performers’ presence would “create dialogue around AIDS and the Caribbean-American community” and an “opportunity for groundbreaking change and good to come from it.” The artists aren’t being paid, he said.

…Rob Kenner, editor-at-large at Vibe magazine, said dancehall lyrics suffer from “quick and sloppy translations” by detractors. The lyrics, Kenner said, go beyond homosexuality and address issues of spirituality, empowerment and family unity. [Yes, it goes on, after they call for the murder of fags and dykes. How is that a mitigating factor?]

“When you become versed in the music form that they practice then you start to understand what the words they’re saying really mean,” Kenner said. “If Beenie Man and T.O.K. were really the monsters the protesters portray them to be, their music careers would’ve ended long ago and they would’ve been locked up long ago.”

The protests come less than a week after scheduled concerts by Beenie Man and Buju Banton, another dancehall performer, were canceled in Britain after activists said the artists had reneged on an agreement they made last year to stop using anti-gay lyrics.

Guess what? Gay activists have died from the homophobia fomented by these folks. The Brits canceled those abovementioned concerts — did they have a problem with translation of the dance hall lyrics? In fact, U.K. activists are supporting the effort to drop the performers from the LIFEBeat concert:

In a separate email sent from London, British black gay activists Topher Campbell and Ajamu wrote to LIFEbeat, “We stand with our U.S. Black Gay Cousins and strongly urge you to either ask the artists to make a statment supporting the gay community or cancel their appearance at the concerts.” The email continued, “Whilst we support a person’s right to express anti-gay views we cannot and do not support the right of anybody to advocate the death and beating of gay and lesbian people.”

Caribbean nations such as Jamaica have the highest incidence of HIV infection outside of Sub-Saharan Africa. We should care about this, and the culturally ingrained homophobia and denial that helps the virus spread. LIFEBeat cannot understand that the two cannot be separated.

Human Rights Watch released a report, Hated to Death: Homophobia, Violence, and Jamaica’s HIV/AIDS Epidemic, that suggests Jamaica cannot win the battle against AIDS until it confronts the virulent forms of anti-gay bigotry that runs through the country’s popular culture, its police force and much of its medical system. The report concludes that a pervasive anti-gay bias is driving the epidemic by forcing people at risk to avoid hospitals, and by making it difficult for them to acquire condoms and other things that would help them remain free of the infection.

Jamaican dancehall music, a powerful cultural force in Jamaican society, reflects and reinforces popular prejudices against lesbians and gay men. Many dancehall musicians perform songs that glorify brutal violence and killing of men and women who do not conform to stereotypical gender roles, and celebrate their social cleansing from Jamaica.

High-level political leaders foster an atmosphere of violence toward men who have sex with men. During the 2001 elections, for example, the Jamaican Labour Party (the main opposition party) adopted “Chi Chi Man,” which celebrates burning and killing gay men, as its theme song. The ruling People’s National Party responded by adopting as its campaign slogan for the 2002 national elections “Log On to Progress,” a reference to a popular song and dance (“log on”) involving kicking or stomping on gay men.

Take a look at some of the “mainstream” views of gays in Jamaican media, from Ian Boyne in the Jamaica Gleaner — it makes you sick.

If culture, custom and the democratic will of the people stand opposed to homosexuality, by what moral authority does the homosexual assert the inviolability of his sexual practice? If the majority of Jamaicans want homosexuality to remain criminalised, on what philosophical or political ground do you as a gay person demand its repealing? The natural world (human and animal) is overwhelmingly heterosexual. Civilisations and cultures throughout history have been universally heterosexual (in terms of being predominant). So what gives you, the gay person, the inalienable right to the expression of a sexual orientation which the majority deems unacceptable?

…Gays just want to have sex and lots of it like most of us heterosexuals. They feel it’s unfair that we should have it and they should have none. When you really press them (oops!), they have no intellectually unassailable defence. It goes back to the sovereignty of their irresistible desires. They are just helpless slaves to their passions. Their reasoning violates every rule in even naturalistic ethical construction.

What more does LIFEBeat need to know to inform them that its decision to keep these homobigots in the lineup is a mistake?

Blogger and activist Jasmyne Cannick did an interview on Access Hollywood last year on the anti-gay dance hall and reggae genres. See that video here. The LIFEBeat folks might want to take a look at that as well.

Mike Tidmus has a post up, Death beat, which sums it up well.

As a gay man who has been deeply involved in the “AIDS community” for 25 years, I take tremendous offense at LIFEbeat’s inclusion of murder music perpetrators Beenie Man and TOK in their upcoming fundraiser.

…Allowing scum like Beenie Man and TOK to perform is condoning and promoting their disgusting, deadly and unrepentant homophobia. This isn’t about dialogue opening doors or looking to the future. That is bullshit rhetoric to mask LIFEbeat’s lack of sensitivity, self-serving greed, or, more probably, their own homophobia. There can be no solidarity with those who advocate the murder of GLBT people nor with the organizations that enable them.

See Mike’s other posts (from back in 2004 — this is not a new issue about these artists), stop jamaican hate now ! and jamaican hate update; these performers called a truce back then to stop performing songs with anti-gay lyrics, when faced with a boycott in the UK. They later broke that
truce and began performing the same old hate-filled music calling for the deaths of gays all over again

The spin won’t work, LIFEBeat. The homobigot paper trail on these guys is a mile long.


Keith Boykin, other LGBT bloggers, and concerned citizens will be holding a press conference in front of LIFEBeat’s offices in Manhattan (630 9th Avenue, between 44th & 45th Streets) at 10 AM on Thursday to demand that these two musicians are dropped from the performers slated at the Hearts and Voices Benefit Concert.

LIFEbeat Board of Directors

Mitch Slater
Board President
Senior Executive VP / Chief Operating Officer, CKX, Inc.
650 Madison Avenue, 16th Floor
New York, New York 10022
Tel. No.: (212) 838-3100
Send email through company website

Daniel Glass
Founding Board President
CEO and President, Artemis Records
130 5th Avenue, 7th Flr.
NY, NY 10011
Direct: 212-624-1458
Phone: 212-433-1800
Fax: 212-414-1703

Robert Reicher, Esq.
Board Secretary
50 E 42nd St Fl 17
New York, NY 10017
917-365-4600 cell
212-697-8777 home

Emil Wilbekin
(Openly Gay)
Former Editor-In-Chief, VIBE Magazine
(917) 593-4538

Jerry Blair
Partner, The Fuerte Group
73 Spring St, Suite 406
New York, NY 10012
(t) 212.219.2525
(f) 212.219.8915

Mel Cheren
President, The Colonial House
318 W. 22nd Street
New York, NY 10011

Gary Dell’Abate
Producer, The Howard Stern Show/SIRIUS
1221 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
888-927-7465 (Call In Number for “Howard Stern Show”)

Lisa Ellis
General Manager, SONY Urban Music
Sony Music Entertainment Inc.
550 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10022-3211
212-833-8000 – General number for SONY BMG
212-833-5047 – SONY BMG Corporate Press

Bruno del Granado
Maverick Entertainment
Arthur Fogel
(Madonna’s Tour Promoter)

President, The Next Adventure
President, Live Nation
Global Music Division
9348 Civic Center Drive
Beverly Hills, CA, 90210
(310) 867-7000 phone
(310) 867-7001 fax

Donna Futterman, M.D.
(Openly Gay)
Department of Pediatrics
Division of Adolescent Medicine
3514 Wayne Avenue
Bronx, NY
718 882-0322

Burton Goldstein
(Contributes to Democratic Party candidates)
Burton Goldstein & Co.
Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP)
156 W 56th Street #1803
New York NY 10019
212-582-7622 Phone
212-582-8273 Fax

Stephen Hill
Senior Vice President, Music Programming, BET
1515 Broadway Fl 46
New York, NY 10036
(212) 697-1060

Vince Pellegrino
Pellegrino Entertainment Group, Inc.
Street Information Network/S.I.N.
1674 Broadway, Suite 7C
New York, NY 10019
212-956-2188 work
212-956-2632 fax

Denise Rich
(Big contributor to DNC; Ex-husband Marc Rich was pardoned by President Clinton)
(Wrote hit song “Don’t Waste Your Time” sung by Aretha Franklin and Mary J. Blige)
Songwriter, Denise Rich Songs
785 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10022

Tim Rosta
(Openly gay; former executive director of LIFEbeat)
Senior Vice President of Strategic Marketing, MTV
1515 Broadway, New York, 10036
(212) 258-8000

Paul Schindler Esq.
Partner, Greenberg Traurig
MetLife Building
200 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10166
(212) 801-6785 phone
(212) 805-9254 fax
Send email to Paul Schindler

John Shea
Senior Vice President, Strategic Programming, MTV Networks
1515 Broadway, New York, 10036
(212) 258-8000

Van Toffler
(Executive producer, “Get Rich or Die Tryin'”)
President, MTV: Music Television & MTV2
1515 Broadway, New York, 10036
(212) 258-8000

Veronica Webb
Ross Zapin
Vice President of Promotions, SIRIUS Satellite Radio
1221 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
(212) 584-5100

LIFEbeat Board of Advisors

Hilary Rosen
(Openly gay; former head of the Human Rights Campaign)
Berman Rosen Strategies
607 14th Street NW
Suite 500
Washington, DC 20005
202.354.8210 work
202.354.8201 fax

LIFEbeat Contributors

To see the U.S. Tax Returns, Schedule B, Form 990, click here (PDF file)

Denise Rich
785 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10021
$15,500 in person

Capitol Records Group
1750 N. Vine Street, 8th Flr
Hollywood, CA 90028
$26,000 in person

Infinity Broadcasting
40 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019
$15,000 in person

Universal Music Group
2220 Colorado Ave., 6th Fl
Santa Monica, CA 90404
$24,000 in person

Warner Music Group
75 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10019
$27,750 in person

Irving Plaza Concerts
17 Irving Place
New York, NY 10003
$41,625 in person

Delsener Slater Enterprises
650 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 100022
$18,500 in person

1445 Washington LP
1445 Washington Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139
$14,030 in person

Remote Productions, Inc.
1515 Broadway
New York, NY 10036
$67,275 in person

Sony Music Entertainment
550 Madison A
New York, NY 100022-3211
$20,000 in person

Trojan Brand Group
Church & Dwight Co., Inc.
Princeton, NJ 08543-7744
$174,080 in noncash (condoms)

LIFEbeat Staff

John Cannelli, Executive Director, x101,
Sarah Peters, Manager, Operations, x119,
Aly Panichi, Coordinator, Hearts & Voices, x109,

Ben Godwin, Program Assistant, Hearts & Voices, x112,

LIFEbeat, Inc.
630 Ninth Avenue (between 44th and 45th Streets)
Suite 1010
New York, NY 10036
Telephone: 212.459.2590
Toll-free: 800.AIDS.411
Fax: 212.459.2892

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Pam Spaulding

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