Deejay Buju Banton yesterday met with four members of San Francisco’s gay community in what is being seen as a move to discuss the continued cancellations of the gigs at various points on his Rasta Got Soul tour of the United States, due to pressure from gay rights groups.
This was reportedly Buju’s first meeting ever with gay advocates, to put an end to the controversy that continues to plague him due to his song, Boom Bye Bye, which he recorded years ago while still a teen.
Present at the meeting were gay leaders’ supervisor Bevan Dufty, who arranged the meeting, Rebecca Rolfe, executive director of the San Francisco gay community centre, Andrea Shorter of Equality California and advocate Michael Petrelis. Also present was supervisor Eric Mar, a straight leader in the Asian community, Buju, members of his PR team and president of his music company, Gagamel Music, Tracii McGregor.
Advocate Michael Petrelis, who was part of the meeting, was quoted on his blog as saying, “the meeting was very civil and productive, even though at times I had to play the “bad cop” activist, especially when Buju was dominating the discussion, and we made several suggestions for him to consider, in order to start to undo some of the problems he has in the gay community because of his past anti-gay lyrics.”
Among the items on the list of demands the gay rights lobbyists put forward was that Buju think about making statements in Jamaica calling for love toward gays; donate to the JFLAG group; hold a town hall meeting in Kingston about the need to respect gays and sing about loving gay people. All the suggestions were rejected by Buju, which is said to have infuriated the lobbyists present.
Petrelis also stated that although the meeting was a beneficial first step, the gay community will want more concrete steps taken, before their actions against Buju’s concerts will cease.
The San Francisco Weekly reports that he explained himself to the activists saying,
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Let’s face the reality; whatever is said in a positive light can’t get out. I don’t perform the song anymore. The reality is, I’ve gone past that.”
Banton who is also the founder of the pro-safe sex anti-AIDs organization, Operation Willy, also added,
“I don’t advocate violence, Rastafari is not about that.”
Following the meeting, the concert carried on as usual without protest. Banton and the activists are expected to meet again in the near future to further discuss their issues.