Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Wednesday | October 14, 2009
Home : Entertainment
Buju meets gay group in San Francisco
Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer

Buju Banton - File

After being dogged by gay rights advocates for the past two months, singjay Buju Banton reportedly met with members of a local group in San Francisco on Monday.

The local CBS television affiliate said members of the group spoke to Banton at the hotel he was staying, ahead of his show at the Rockit Room.

"It was a good meeting today. It was cathartic, I think for the artiste because he had never met with representatives of gay organisations. Not in America, not in Jamaica," said Bevan Dufty, one of two San Francisco city supervisors who attended the meeting.

Aggressive cyber campaign

Gay groups have launched an aggressive cyber campaign calling for a boycott of Banton's United States tour, which is in support of his Rasta Got Soul album. It has been effective, with dates cancelled in major cities like Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Richmond, Virginia.

Gay rights activist, Michael Petrelis, also attended Monday's meeting.

"He made some awful anti-gay mistakes when he was younger," Petrelis told CBS. "I was encouraging him to explain that this was his past and that now would be a good time for him to call for love and tolerance of gay people in America."

Jonathan Mack, promoter of Monday's show, said Banton listened to the concerns, but made no promises. He believes the artiste has been unfairly targeted.

"In Jamaica it's illegal to have homosexual activities in public, it's a crime," Mack said. "It's not about lyrics to a song, it's about changing a societal view."

Gay capital

San Francisco is recognised by many as the gay capital of the world. The city was the centre of the hippie movement of the 1960s.

The uproar over Banton's tour has been getting attention from major media in the US, including NBC News, the New York Times and Miami Herald. In September, the Herald reported that gay groups in Miami have already launched a campaign to have the October 30 Reggae Bash show in that city cancelled if Banton is allowed to perform.

Global Vybz, promoters of Reggae Bash, told The Gleaner that they have arranged a meeting with the groups this week. Efforts to contact Global Vybz staff yesterday were unsuccessful. Tracii McGregor, Buju's manager, also could not be reached.

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