For Queen Ifrica, who is known for her homophobic lyrics and public hate speech, this is not the first concert that has been cancelled due to protests from the LGBT community. She was also removed from the line-up of the Rastafesta International Reggae Concert in Canada last August after harsh criticism from a Canadian gay rights group.
The protest in Jamaica, Queens, was made up of members of the Caribbean Alliance for Equality (CAFE) and the Jamaica Anti-Homophobia Stand (JAHS), as well as Councilman Daniel Dromm and a representative from Councilman Rory Lancman’s office.
Antonio Brown, a 26-year-old gay man from Jamaica, recently came to the U.S. to escape the violence of his home country.
“My own brother came to kill me in 2006. My own brother. Because of me being gay,” he said. “I’ve witnessed several deaths of close friends because of their sexual orientation.”
He explained at the protest that Queen Ifrica’s lyrics were used against him when he was growing up.
“I don’t want her here. Period,” Brown said. “She has a song I remember growing up and having problems, because when I was younger, I used to wear my mother’s heels and skirts and these things. One of her songs, my mother used to sing that song to me to help show me, ‘Listen, what you’re doing is wrong.’”
The song Brown is referring to is called “Keep it to Yourself,” in which Queen Ifrica says, “Mi nuh want si mi brother dress up inna no skirt.”
Michael Forbes, chief operations officer of JAHS and organizer of the protest, explained that giving Queen Ifrica a voice and stage presence in America would contribute to the murders of members of the LGBT community in Jamaica.
“We’re giving them the opportunity to continue to do their hate music,” Forbes said. “Promoters here in the United States are giving them the opportunity to kill more gays. Everyone who contributes to a performance of an artist who does hate music, they are contributing to one less life of a Jamaican.”
In Jamaica, Forbes was mobbed by over 40 people, including his family members, when his landlord kicked him out because he discovered Forbes is gay.
Dromm stood with the activists as they discussed the possibility of canceling the concert with the manager of Amazura.
“We can’t allow people to promote hate speech, no matter where it is,” Dromm said. “We have to speak out against it.
“It’s disgusting that in this day and age, 2014, we still have to do this. It’s amazing,” he added. “I mean, we have two openly gay elected officials in the borough and they’re still going to promote this stuff. I just don’t get it.”
As the small group stood outside of Amazura with posters and flags, venue manager John Rios approached to find out what was going on.
“I didn’t know she was a red flag,” Rios said after listening to the protestors’ message and calls to remove Queen Ifrica from the concert lineup. Rios said he had not listened to Queen Ifrica’s music before signing the agreement with her promoters.
Rios then called the promoters and opened up the discussion about removing her from the lineup. It was eventually decided she would not perform.
Queen Ifrica’s management team released a statement regarding the cancelled show.
“Queen Ifrica expresses that, while she remains grounded in her morals which espouses heterosexuality, she wants to make it abundantly and emphatically clear that she does not condone nor has ever supported or advocated violence against any group or community, whether implicitly or explicitly,” the statement read.
Rios said that he did not want to support discrimination at his venue.
“We’re not prejudiced against anyone,” he said. “I welcome the gay community and we get along with everybody.”