BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
A Queen Ifrica performance scheduled for last Saturday at Amazura Concert Hall in Jamaica was cancelled after a protest at the venue.
On Friday, Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) joined Caribbean Alliance and Jamaica Anti Homophobia Stand, along with a representative for Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest), in calling for Amazura to remove Queen Ifrica from the concert.
Queen Ifrica is a Jamaican rapper whose lyrics are riddled with homophobic slurs and hate speech. Most infamously, during a 2010 performance, she said, “we not going to legalize any faggotism in Jamaica.”
In August of last year, Canada withdrew a work permit for Queen Ifrica due to her homophobic speech.
“Queen Ifrica’s words help create a climate where human rights violations against LGBT Jamaicans are rampant,” said Dwayne Brown, founder of Jamaica Anti Homophobia Stand. “Such promotion of hate music and its creator Queen Ifrica is unacceptable and not welcome in New York.”
Violence against LGBT Jamaicans in 2013 alone included the murder of teenager Dwayne Long Jones, the mobbing of a gay couple’s household and the fatal stabbing of a 41-year -old and burning of his house, among a slew of other beatings, attacks and murders.
John Rios, manager of Amazura, came outside to speak with the group during the protest. Although Dromm’s office had previously contacted Amazura’s booking agent, Rios said that this protest was the first he was hearing of Queen Ifrica’s homophobia.
Rios was initially wary of losing business. “I have a [lot] of employees I have to pay, and that they rely on this job,” he said. “It’s a business, right? Somebody came to me, they wanted the venue, I rented it out to them.”
However, after several minutes of discussion with the activists, and after Dromm noted that New York State liquor licenses require businesses to protect customers from discrimination, Rios called Queen Ifrica’s promoter to ask for her removal from the concert.
The rapper would “leave a bad taste in Amazura’s mouth,” Rios explained. A decision was not made on the spot.
Rios added, “I’m a straight-up New Yorker, I’m not anti-gay.”
“To me it’s outrageous that we still in 2014 have to show up at a place like this, a club, and condemn one of the artists because of her homophobia,” Dromm said. “This type of hate speech leads to violence against our [LGBT] community … All decent people must stand up against this.”
Amazura and Queen Ifrica’s promoter decided on Saturday morning to remove the rapper from the concert.
As a result of this protest, Rios said that he will reexamine his booking process in the future.
“[There are] questions that I will definitely bring up next time around,” Rios said. “It’s just a matter of me talking to the promoters, figuring out who is coming, and a clearer idea of the types who will be performing.”
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JNStrawbridge.