Best News & Current Affairs Blog (2011 & 2012) and Jamaican Blogger of the Year (2011) at The Jamaica Blog Awards.

Gays and Bacch-Anal (Part 2) : Fact and Fiction‏


I’m starting to think that my inspiration to write comes to me whenever I’m in a JUTC A/C yellow bus. I’m somehow calm and my creative juices flow. Anyhow, I digress; on to the matter at hand. You didn’t click this link to be subject to an advertisement of JUTC’s bus service.

A few weeks ago I was privy to a conversation between three individuals which prompted me to write Gays and Bacch-Anal. The post attracted a considerable amount of interest and commentary and raised several questions, some of which remain unanswered. My readers, I feel so important saying that, appeared split down the middle on what kind of behaviour was appropriate for bacchanal and whether the spotlight should only be on gays, since; as one comment phrased it, “straight people carry on bad too.” Additionally, is Jamaica’s society moving to a place where the open expression of homosexuality is acceptable? And if this is true, what does that mean for the soca culture and the society at large?

Reading the comments on the first post, I became interested in the origins of bacchanal. What does it all mean? And where does it come from?

In Greek and Roman mythology there is a god of wine, theatre and ecstasy. To the Greeks, this god is named “Dionysius” and to the Romans he is named “Bacchus”. Does this word look familiar to anyone? Yes. The word “bacchanal” has it’s roots in Roman mythology. The god Bacchus was known for wild parties and excesses of wine, orgies and general revelry. All of this would be considered “loose” and “brukking out” by present day society but in the era of the Romans, it was accepted and even mandatory behaviour. My question then is, since this festival or party of “bacchanal” has it’s origins in a lewd and outlandish ‘cult’, is the behaviour displayed at Mas Camp inappropriate? Isn’t it merely in keeping with the origins of the event? And aren’t those who “bruck out” doing justice to the memory of Bacchus? Think on these things.

Now, if straight people are allowed to “dash out” and behave bad, why shouldn’t gays? Is it that we assume that only straight people are expected to let go and have fun? Still, there were relevant comments relating to the fact that gays ought to be more conscious about their surroundings and understand that their behaviour is offensive to the general society. I firmly believe that if your behaviour offends the general conscience of the society, you should not force it on other people. It should be confined to a setting where it doesn’t infringe on anyone else’s conscience. On the flip side, I am still maintaining that there should be no advocacy of violence against gays who opt to let loose. Surely they must have some right to do so.

Finally, if the soca culture gives it’s silent approval to gays letting go and enjoying themselves in that setting, will this spill over into other settings? Will we be faced with a situation where gays decide to go “wild” wherever and whenever? Or am I just exaggerating the situation? It is a fact that bacchanal has it’s origins in wild un-tamed fun. The idea that only straight people have the right to “get whe” is fiction. I believe it is fictional to believe that the society is moving to a place of accepting homosexual expression. But what of the argument that this behaviour may spill over into the larger society? Is that fact or fiction? You decide.

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11 responses

  1. Thanks for the history lesson. Are you saying they pay for what they get? lol

    April 30, 2011 at 10:56 am

  2. @DaProngs

    Quite an interesting post. I however do believe that on some level people have, if not, accepted or are getting to a place of tolerance where homosexual behaviour is concerned in some settings. I do agree though that in general setting, whether you are a homo or heterosexual one should try not to offend those around you. This, as I’ve always said marks the very thin line with freedom of expression (not sure entirely how Jamaica law dictates this). So something as simple as playing music from a music player loudly in a building or on a bus (other than the driver) annoys me. I don’t want to hear what you are listening to and I would never subject the other passengers or persons around me to what I’m listening to. With that said, Bacchanal is a place where freedom of expression is supposed to be allowed. I’ve been to Bacchanal several times and I’ve seen and experienced other things I don’t agree with. Like throwing and spraying other person with alcohol (really your mouth water touching me? Or worse getting into my eye? That name new pair of contacts…). But these are things I have to deal with because as stated persons are allowed to express themselves. If you don’t like it then my advice is just find somewhere else. But my solution is, why should someone ruin your fun? Enjoy yourself and forget everyone else.

    April 30, 2011 at 11:07 am

    • Enjoy yourself and forget everyone else, isn’t that easier said than done?

      April 30, 2011 at 11:50 am

  3. TinyDivaNas

    With this article, u said that if one’s actions offends the conscience of the general public, they should not force it on other people. This sounds like u’re sayin they shud ‘keep their behaviour in check’. However, w the Gaga post, u said that it’s not enough that she’s offending people’s conscience, to want to silence her. Is it due to ur wanting to toe the line n not exactly take a set stance on issues such as these? I argued w myself that maybe u think it’s ezr to ignore Gaga than the gays bn that the manner in which they are ‘forced upon us’ varies greatly in regards to proximity. While no-one forces us to listen to Gaga in our own space, when we go out, her music is often played as she is very popular. While we are aware this is a risk we take when going out, couldn’t it then be argued that witnessing the gays ‘bruk out’ is the same risk?

    April 30, 2011 at 11:09 am

    • No Miss Nas! Firstly, I try not to take a stance on these issues since I do not want it said that I’m forcing my views on anyone. I’d like these posts to be more conversational, room for disagreement and debate.
      Regarding the Gaga issue, it comes down to freedom of expression. She has a right to free speech and her lyrics. If it offends the GENERAL conscience, then that general conscience must react. A single Christian denomination, that is not representative of the larger society, cannot dictate whether she should be allowed to produce music.
      In the case of homos, they are going into a largely heterosexual environment and culture and forcing their behaviour on those patrons. Gaga forces no one to listen. If she’s played at a party, go home. I suppose similarly, str8 people may leave Mas Camp too, but would that be fair? Since they are in the majority? I think minority expression shouldn’t supercede the preference of the majority. It’s a thin line to toe but if you live in a culture which does not approve of your behaviour, you should curtail it and be mindful.

      April 30, 2011 at 11:44 am

  4. TinyDivaNas

    And this is where another debate starts. The ways of the majority are not always ‘correct’. And being a part of a minority does not afford you a lesser right of expression than being in the majority. Lemme get real dramatic and ask ‘Were the blacks in the civil rights movement supposed to curtail their behaviour as well and continue using lesser and more hidden facilities?’ I believe many a majority was once a minority as it relates to culture. As it stands, we are all born into this world as equals (class etc aside) and, as such, one’s rights and comforts should not be placed above another simply because one’s actions are more popular and imitated.
    As it relates to the law and morality, (an earlier comment mentioned it) it is and will likely to continue to be an ongoing debate. The courts constantly face the task of balancing affording someone their freedom of expression and enjoyment with having to be mindful of the public good. Alas, these decisions are made based on the moral conscience present at the time. What we are witnessing with the homosexuals may just be the beginning of a change which may or may not be deemed necessary. We won’t know until we see the end result.
    This general culture you speak of has caused homosexual men or men who engage in that behaviour to operate on ‘the down low’ and, as such, many lives have been put at risk due to sexually transmitted disease. The ‘down low’ culture is more popular, I am being brought to believe, than the openly homosexual culture. Am I to take it then, that the openly gay men should curtail their actions and conform to the practises of the men on the DL?

    April 30, 2011 at 11:57 am

  5. Ashane

    Because an act is deemed acceptable that does not make it right Mr Brooks.

    April 30, 2011 at 1:04 pm

  6. Scott

    lol… lubbb it lol

    April 30, 2011 at 1:46 pm

  7. Ricardo

    I have to agree with TinyDiva here, if we were a more open society, not many people would be put at risk when it comes to their health sexually. And yes just because the majority likes something does not mean that it is right.
    Where it pertains to bacchanal though, well in my opinion to each is his own. We go there to have a good time. Why watch other people enjoying themselves and criticize? Aint like we gonna see them again!
    One thing i learned about the caribbean when i go abroad is how loving and welcoming we are to different people. And thats why foteigners love our culture. But if we keep trying to find a reason to divide ourselves we will get nowhere. So why not let the gays enjoy bacchanal!

    April 30, 2011 at 3:01 pm

  8. Pingback: Gays and Bacch-Anal « Veritas

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