Here, Fishy Fishy

Now you tell me, WHAT is wrong with some Jamaican men seemingly being unable to say “boyshorts” or “Manchester” or – gasp – fish? Yes this is a random post but it’s about something that’s been on my mind for a while and I’ve been provoked by a conversation I’m having with a friend of mine.

HOW homophobic and chupid can you really be, to think that saying these words with “man” or “boy” in them makes you gay or a supporter of gay rights or suspect? And if is hide yuh ah try hide seh yuh gay by forcefully using these words…newsflash: it does not work!  Your only accomplishment is to come across as silly…and not in a good, lighthearted way either.

Set aside the moral and religious arguments about homosexuality for now, I’m not discussing that in this post.  Pushed them aside? Good.

For a while I kept hearing “Gyalchester” and “Gyaldeville” and I paused…what or where was that? Seriously, it didn’t connect in my mind at all.  So I inquired and was enlightened: no man, wi nuh support di battyman ting, straight gyal wi support! Um. Ok. Sure, support your girls, though I don’t see how you’re getting any with that nonsense spewing from your mouth.  But how is simply saying the name of a place with “man” in it mean that you’re supporting men and men? It’s just the name of a place for crying out loud!!

All of this has been on my radar more than often because twitter, glorious, twitter.  First I kept seeing “salt sea creature” in my timeline and I was like, eh? Is this a new fish?  I seriously didn’t get it and had to think about, go back and see the context in which the term was being used to figure out that folks were referring to saltFISH.  Pupah Jesus!! I know not exactly from whence the term ‘fish” came to apply to “gay man” (or is it vagina? I can’t keep up) but ahhm, why when referring to ackee and saltfish must one refrain from saying fish?  Nuh fish weh have scale and fin yuh ah chat bout?!

Then there was the ruption on twitter between Mr. Vegas and DJ Karim about Vegas’ new tune “Boyshorts.”  And what a delightful ruption it was – perfect relief from afternoon boredom.  DJ Karim took exception to the title of the song…because it’s called “BOYshorts.”  Mr. Vegas did not take to this criticism kindly and unleashed his now legendary Twitter Tracing on DJ Karim.  It was entertaining to watch though it did get out of hand after a while.  Some quibble about whether the criticism warranted a response and I understand their points, but I for one was glad Vegas said something because I found the bother about the title “Boyshorts” juvenile.  Yes, yes I know is Vegas and he is a lightning rod but c’mon!!

How homo-sensitive can you be? Is there any wonder that Jamaica and Jamaicans have been branded homophobic (and sometimes by implication backward and ignorant) and dancehall as misogynistic?  And now I’m talking to a bredren who’s relating to me how his bredren had a problem with the name of the song and went on a research bent to find an alternate name…apparently so he wouldn’t have to say BOYshorts.  Kiss mi neck back.

O and there is “Testing 1, 3” because saying 2 also aligns one with being gay (refer to Terror Fabulous’ explanation below but shorthand: 2 = reference to the anus, the 2nd hole and the one that gay men use)

This has got to stop.  Whenever I hear men tongue tie themselves to avoid saying certain words I look askance at them.  HOW am I supposed to take you seriously? Seemingly sensible people trying to prove…what exactly.  Yes, yes it could be about culture but I think it belies deeper insecurities about how you (yes, you men) and masculinity are perceived. As is evident throughout Jamaican culture and music Jamaican men are on a desperate quest to show that they’re men…worthy men (nuff gyal in a bungle, stab it up jack it up dig out di red, nuff cyar, nuff money, blah blah blah).  But this trend really does disturb me because it’s just plain dumb and makes YOU look insecure about your team (which gives me pause) and all of us look astonishingly stupid.

Gentlemen, let me assure you: if you are gay avoiding saying certain words or grabbing at every girl within reach does not help to throw off the gaydar! Believe me, you’re still out and proud in other ways and this language use only gives me – and others – nuff jokes because your attempts to hide are fruitless.  How about you tackle those tight “balls have no room to thrive” pants, shaped eyebrows, eyeliner, and V-neck button down sweaters? Because, gentlemen, wearing those pieces of clothing say nothing about your fashion sense but do scream “I’m gay, flaming even!!” more than anything else you could avoid saying…

That said, I’m going to warm up some FISH for dinner.



mood: just now realizing that I’m hungry

sounds: pitter patter of rain drops + the fan

20 Responses to “Here, Fishy Fishy”
  1. Miss Goodas says:

    What’s wrong these men saying 2? Grown ass men can’t say the number 2. Shaking my head.

  2. Carole-Anne says:

    I agree with EVERY single word in this post and I could not have said it better!

  3. Good points raised. It’s all a show. Methinks some of the ‘men’ doth protest too much. It sounds ‘fishy’ fe true.

  4. shumpynella says:

    Jamaicans have plenty time to focus on foolishness. Ugh.

  5. Jherane says:

    I agree with you 100% Jamaican homphobics can be so bold with their ignorance.

  6. Yes, too much protesting and not enough time spent actually BEING real men – aka responsible human beings who know how to show a girl a good time and to take care of family, be a partner.

    Now if you’re gay just say it out and loud, because last I checked gay men and women were not being beaten on Jamaica’s streets. Then we can ALL deal with “this issue” openly and honestly and quit hiding behind twisted language!

  7. glbtqja says:

    Alot of the same DJs and by extension so called thugs who making noise bout “b-man fi dead” etc if truth be told we would all be surprised, they are themselves switch-hitters but they don’t go for the effeminate types and are also struggling with their own urges and feelings that have. They get involved either by substitutional sex (prison setting) or situational homosexuality usually involving some financial or other reward and then we wonder why certain types get their throats cut within the sanctity of their own homes.

    It’s a vicious cycle I tell you, far more than meets the eye.

    Great article by the way.


  8. Natalie says:

    I totally agree! I couldn’t even wrap my mind around this enough to take it seriously. When a friend in Ja. called me to outline the recent antics of our favourite idiot about the number “2”, I almost peed myself with laughter. This is a man who, for sport, sits and watches (for hours!!!) the comings and goings men that live on the block, and regularly reports to us who he thinks is gay and why, as if we care. Now tell me WHO you think is gay in this story. I see him this weekend; I’m going to print your post and hand it to him, all without saying a single word.

  9. Thanks for the comments!

    GLBTQA: you raise good points about our DJs and about “types” of homosexual behaviour, very interesting indeed…and you’re not to first to hint that many swing the way that they so stridently condemn.

    Natalie: I do believe your male friend needs a talking to and perhaps some help coming out of the closet? Clearly SOMETHING is bothering his brain and he needs to confront it…please let me know how he responds to the post!

    Miss G: grown ass men!! Amazes me.

  10. Ame says:

    I hear you and agree in principle.

    What and how does the antecedents of 1) Rasta speak – over vs. understand, I vs me etc 2) the long time biz of changing words (to aid convolution and confuse outsiders) give legs to this (what you rightly call rubbish)?

    Remember now, this crap is around for more than a decade – when it was preferred to talk about gyal-te-go bay rather than Montego Bay. The Caribbean people all over have always used language in creative ways in artistic expression and everyday interactions. In Jamaica, for the past 4 decades, the issue somehow reduced to gay bashing, and explicit sex more than being subtle. What we now see is a crudity — which was always there depending on your point of view. It seems to be a struggle homophobic people are destined to lose (homophobic by the way is a misnomer, but that is another debate). Let’s not forget that before the gay-bashing, there was the backlash against “bowcats”. That has gone to the back-burner – a lost war.

    So historical and cultural bits aside, the issue I have, is the amount of time spent on trivial things while more important matters like the mastery of English and command over math and sciences, in the pursuit of academic, business and entrepreneurial excellence suffers. blame the home, society and schools. But that is for another debate. Cause if man cya seh 2, then somewhere along the line, the maths nah go work out! Gone a work

    • I agree that for many many years we – and other populations descended from slaves or other oppressed peoples – have used language as a way to fool and work around massah. In fact, I would argue that this is one of the main reasons/foundations of patois and other creole dialects. Yes, we aimed to confuse and convolute oppressors…but that aim requires a goal of being free, if not physically then at least mentally and emotionally. We would have had a cultural and linguistic space to retreat to in spite of and/or during captivity/oppression. We would have also at the same time created a form of expression. Same with (over)understand – which at least makes some kind of sense: one would grasp an idea to the fullest instead of less than since under evokes beneath or less.

      Now? I see no such creativity with this fishy business. I see nothing expressive or indicative of wanting to break free – to struggle and maintain sanity and soul (which is part of how I imagine our ancestors created patois, mento, kumina, bruckins, etc…). Yes, there is a certain crassness and, as you call it, crudity but there’s more to it that I am not yet able to express. I don’t know how or why Jamaicans became so focussed on gay bashing and, moreover, what useful purpose it can or has served. Certainly I understand the moral and religious arguments but this…way of contorting our tongues to avoid a misperceived appearance of alignment with homosexuality merely reveals insecurities. Well perhaps that is a struggle to break free…from the closet?

      And even with the lashing out at bowcats, did we really avoid saying or change certain words? I don’t recall so…do you? This is why this niggles at my brain and consciousness so much: it’s plain ol’ silly and accomplishes NOTHING. No struggle is fought, no new cultural space is created to be occupied. All we’re doing is debasing a language and setting up these false emotional and mental barriers to using words. All we’re left with is contortion of a language that we certainly need to master and utilize.

      As for the triviality of this attempt to show machismo or staunch heterosexuality – I agree with you (and I think Shar, Marcia, and Miss Goodas express a similar sentiment). So many other ways we could be directing out vast cultural and societal energies and we’re stuck on “salt sea creature” and “Gyalchester” (o, thanks for reminding me of Gyaltegobay as well).

      What a stress!

  11. Kristin Fox says:

    True words! Can this article be published in the newpaper or on TV? It need more publicity!

  12. Ame says:

    Alright. Yesterday, I start with cool cucumber and ended up almost late for the date with the pig who supply the bacon! You raise some good points, but the essence of the thing is dat dem young yute ya have no responsibilities and are misled. Dem need fe go add and learn fe use English in its entirety. Otherwise, find some other expression for their creativity that becomes a meaningful force for good.

    I disagree with the religion rationale – cuz dem need fe bun fornicators, adulterers, con-people (not just the con-man/men dem), jealousy and a whole range of other things that are central to how they live. Dem nah do dat. So is time fe further understand dat God alone give life, and he will be the final judge and punisher. dat said, me gone. later

    • I’m sorry are you pointing out inconsistencies with churches and religious leaders in Jamaica (and elsewhere, really)???? I’m shocked.

      • Ame says:

        Nah, inconsistency is too nice. More like hypocrisy and misplaced righteousness. Never really a pick pon d church ppl dem still. Just saying, dem ones who use the bible as a moral compass are way off in their selective interpretation, which renders the rationale for gaybashing null

  13. Ms. Nikks says:

    “Pupah Jesus!!…” Lmao, first of all I haven’t heard this phrase in a long time, so I had a great laugh.

    You are so on point with this post. Being Jamaican, I’m aware of the homophobic behaviors SOME of our people possess and it’s so embarrassing and backwards. I didn’t realize that they actually went out of their way to change the names of Manchester and Mandeville, just to avoid using the word “man”. Absolutely ridiculous.

    • Hehehe….glad that you had a laugh. I’m sure it began playfully enough, just being silly, but it’s now reached a stage of absolute ridiculousness that I just cannot understand or accept. The homophobia of some is startling….

  14. Richie says:

    Its a Jamaican man thing I would not expect you to “overstand”!!

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] My poor ears.  Where did I hear the offending “music”? On Federation Sound‘s weekly podcast, specifically the May 6, 2011 edition (#199). No disrespect at all to Federation Sound — you’re an excellent group of selectors & yuh fly the Dancehall & Reggae flag high — but I was pushed over the edge by whatever trash you mixed in around the 7:30 minute mark. I gave it until 8:30 mark before I had to turn it off.  Wait I just listened to it again before posting.  Is that Busy Signal? What a waste.  I would encourage him and others to check out Here, Fishy Fishy. […]

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