Drawing from the work of Jamaica’s Gay Freedom Movement (1977–84), this essay uses the term gaydren to consider the basis for activism around same-sex desire in Jamaica in the 1970s and 1980s. Gaydren is a combination of gay, a North Atlantic reference to subjects of same-sex desire, and bredren, a word initially constructed in Rastafarian lexicon as a masculinist expression of collective solidarity. Examining the construction of gaydren highlights the cultural work of Jamaican activists as they transform North Atlantic political discourses to align with the particular contingencies of sexual politics in Jamaica. As a form of political practice, gaydren challenges normative configurations of bredren and gay that emerge from political contexts that oppose white imperial domination to consider more nuanced approaches to both Jamaican and North Atlantic cultural influences.
Constructing “Gaydren”: The Transnational Politics of Same-Sex Desire in 1970s and 1980s Jamaica
Matthew Chin is an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Social Service at Ford-ham University. He received his PhD in anthropology and social work from the University of Michigan. He is currently conducting a historical ethnography on the transnational politics of same-sex desire in late-twentieth-century Jamaica.
Matthew Chin; Constructing “Gaydren”: The Transnational Politics of Same-Sex Desire in 1970s and 1980s Jamaica. Small Axe 1 July 2019; 23 (2 (2)): 17–33. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-7703253
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