Buju Banton Concert Still On, National Not Returning Calls
As of today, the “Cancel Buju Banton” Facebook group is well over 2,200 members. Community leaders and media still have not received word from the National regarding the show.
Last week, Squires sent this open letter to the National:
My name is Jay Squires, and I am President of the Gay Community Center of Richmond. I am one of the people who created the Facebook group, “Cancel Buju Banton ‘Faggots Must Die’ Shows in Virginia.”
GCCR is the largest agency serving Virginia’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people. Our community is understandably concerned that Buju Banton is scheduled to play at the National September 26. Our concern is demonstrated by the 1300 people who have joined that Facebook group in four days.
We congratulate the National for your work creating a first-class performance space in Richmond. Many of us have enjoyed shows there since your opening. It is disappointing to be at odds with the National.
Still, the Buju Banton show must be cancelled.
Banton’s performance on any day would be cause for action, but to have him perform live in Richmond on the same day as the 25th Anniversary Virginia Pride Festival is worse. We cannot abide it. And, should the show go on that day, our community – the thousands that attend the Festival, and others – will take constructive action.
Please write me so that we can discuss the concerns of our community. I hope that when we talk we can develop a plan to move forward from this unfortunate incident.
In addition, the GCCR sent this press release to local media:
RICHMOND LGBT COMMUNITY LEADERS CALL ON THE NATIONAL TO CANCEL PERFORMANCE BY HOMOPHOBIC SINGER BUJU BANTON
Leaders of Richmond’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community today called on the owners of Richmond’s National theater to cancel the scheduled September 26 performance by reggae singer Buju Banton. Banton is infamous for a career spanning twenty years in which his lyrics call for deadly violence against gay men, and his performances have sparked protests in cities across America. The date of this performance coincides with Richmond’s 25th Anniversary Pride Festival which will bring thousands to the Gay Community Center of Richmond to celebrate our community and to demand equality and fair treatment. More than 1,600 online activists have joined the call for the cancellation of this performance through the Facebook group “Cancel Buju Banton ‘Faggots Must Die’ Shows in Virginia.”
Banton’s song Boom Bye Bye proposes pouring acid on gays and shooting them in the head. Other lyrics state “Anytime Buju Banton come, faggots get up and run … they have to die.” Banton has not renounced his homophobic lyrics, nor his explicit calls to violence against gay men. He has performed these songs in various venues recently. He says proudly, “There is no end to the war between me and the faggots.”
Communities across the country have demanded the cancellation of Banton’s performances and in major markets like Los Angeles, promoters complied. Cities like Richmond remain on Banton’s tour schedule, and the Richmond LGBT community demands that Banton’s local promoters show Central Virginia’s residents the same consideration shown by promoters in larger markets.
Those joining this call to action include:
· Jay Squires, President of the Gay Community Center of Richmond
· The Rev. Robin Gorsline, pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Richmond
· Jo Ellen Gaines, Coordinator for the Richmond Chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
· John Leppo, Chair of the Richmond Chapter of the Gay, Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
· Scott Sibley, Director of AIDSWalk Richmond.
These leaders of established Richmond-based organizations call on the National to follow the lead of other venues and cancel the September 26 Buju Banton performance.
“Buju Banton is perfectly plain when he sings about gay men. His lyrics tell us he promotes outrageous violence, including murder, for “faggots” as he call us. Richmond is a welcoming city. Its people believe in equality and fairness. There is no place in our city for this sort of homophobia.” said Squires.
Squires continued. “The National is a wonderful community resource for Richmond that only recently reopened. So early in its new life, this outstanding venue should not be tarnished by a hate-filled performance unworthy of its stage. Richmonders will look to the National to do the right thing.”
It was noted that the 25th Anniversary Pride Festival offers a unique opportunity to organize direct action to address a failure to cancel the performance, should such action be necessary. Since Thursday September 3, more than 1,600 Facebook members have joined the group “Cancel Buju Banton ‘Faggots Must Die’ Shows in Virginia” which collects details about Banton’s career and the local response. LGBT Richmonders, our allies and supporters have become energized by this issue.
Squires said, “Today it’s possible to spread the word about homophobia and hate quickly within our community and to easily call our community and our supporters to action. We are prepared to use all our resources to make certain that people know that Buju Banton is scheduled to perform, and to make certain people know how to constructively express their opposition to his bigotry and calls to violence.” News concerning our community’s efforts to have this performance cancelled, and about any direct actions planned, will be published in the Facebook group. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=124418319671
Efforts have been made to discuss the situation with the owners of the National, without success. Currently, efforts are being made to engage Richmond’s civic and political leaders, who we are proud to say are supportive of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community and who have worked constructively with us in the past.
The controversy of canceled shows in the U.S. has also traveled the globe being picked up by Pink News, a UK-based gay news service.
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