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Groups up in arms over artist scheduled to play at Bluebird

Reggae singer acquitted of gay hate crime

By Sarah Core | Indiana Daily Student | Wednesday, September 13, 2006


The IU Hoosier Rights Campaign and OUT are up in arms over a Jamaican artist a local club has booked to perform this week, calling him a "blatant and unapologetic" gay-basher.

Buju Banton, a performer in the dancehall genre of reggae, is well-known in the musical community for a controversial song he wrote in the '90s advocating killing gay people. Banton, who last sang at the Bluebird, 216 N Walnut St., in 2003, is scheduled to perform there again this Thursday evening.

"It's a degree of violence that you don't see in American culture," senior Morgan Tilleman, the president of the HRC, said in reference to Banton's song. The HRC and OUT are currently organizing a community response effort, hoping to educate and inform concert attendees about Banton's stance.

Bluebird manager Dave Kubiak said that he will not cancel the performance Thursday, citing Banton's previous concert as a positive, well-liked event with no derogatory remarks made.

"I met him personally, and he seemed like a very cordial, well-mannered young man," Kubiak said. "We don't anticipate any negative feedback this time, either."

Kubiak said that as the owner of both the Bluebird and Jake's, formerly Axis, a nightclub that hosted Miss Gay Bloomington and Eroticon, performances held at his businesses in no way reflect the bar's personal stance on issues.

Banton's anti-homosexual song "Boom Bye Bye," was written in 1992, and according to the lyrics, in it he sings about lighting gay people on fire and throwing acid on them. This song, which he has refused to apologize for and still performs on occasion, is one of the things HRC sees that is wrong with support of Banton.

In addition, the group is upset about Banton's recent run-in with the law in Jamaica, where he was acquitted in a case involving a brutal assault on three gay men this January.

"He has not only called for violence against gay people, he's committed violence against gay people," Tilleman said.

In Chicago today, Banton is scheduled to perform at the House of Blues, where the Gay Liberation Network and Black LGBT & Allies for Equality plan to protest. Tilleman is still uncertain whether there will be protesting here in Bloomington, as well.

A Facebook group has been formed in an attempt to stop Banton from performing in Bloomington this week. It currently has about 200 members.


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