Today GLAAD, the LA Gay and Lesbian Center and a coalition of more than 20 organizations released an open letter that is running as an ad in the Grammy edition of Variety. The letter is to the Recording Academy and protests the nomination of Buju Banton in the Best Reggae Album Category. Letter is live at www.lagaycenter.org and will be at www.glaad.org.
The letter asks the Recording Academy to denounce all music that advocates violence against a group of people during the telecast. They are also issuing a press release (below) aiming to raise awareness of the dangers of homophobia in music.
In December after his nomination was announced GLAAD launched an online petition: http://www.glaad.org/Page.aspx?pid=1149 and had other gay advocacy groups join the protest: http://www.glaad.org/Page.aspx?pid=1155. The LA Center has for years protested concert dates as well as this Grammy nomination.
Dear Mr. Portnow:
When the Recording Academy nominated Buju Banton for a Grammy in the category of Best Reggae Album, it honored someone who has promoted the murder of gay people throughout his career.
In "Boom, Bye Bye," which Banton wrote as a youth and continues to perform, he sings that "batty bwoy" and "batty man" (slurs equivalent to "fa--ot") "have to die" and he will "shoot them in the head" or "burn them." As recently as three months ago, he refused requests to stop performing the song.
Another song, "Batty Rider" from Banton's 1993 record, "Mr. Mention," glorifies the shooting of gay men. And in October 2009, Banton was quoted in news reports as saying: "This is a fight, and as I said in one of my songs 'there is no end to the war between me and fa--ots.'"
This type of music has fueled anti-gay violence here and especially in Banton's home country of Jamaica, where hate crimes against gay men and lesbians--including murder--are common and sometimes celebrated. It is why we opposed his nomination in a letter to you. Your response--that "artists of a variety of political or cultural perspectives have been nominated or featured on the telecast, despite protests and backlash"--is surprising, as is your defense that the Grammy Awards honor musical achievement "regardless of politics."
Performers who glorify the murder of gay people through their music aren't reflecting a "political or cultural perspective," or "politics," they're reflecting their hatred and promoting brutal and illegal violence against a group of innocent people. And to honor an artist such as Buju Banton, honors his extraordinarily hateful work.
The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the signatories below, strongly urge you to use the televised Grammy show to denounce all music that promotes or celebrates violence against any group of people, and the artists who perform such music.
L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation National Black Justice Coalition People For the American Way New York LGBT Community Center New York City Anti-Violence Project The San Diego LGBT Community Center Equality California (EQCA) BiNet USA New York Area Bisexual Network (NYABN) CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers International Federation of Black Prides, Inc. Gay and Lesbian Medical Association Gay Men of African Descent International Foundation for Gender Education Queers for Economic Justice OutRage! Stop Murder Music Campaign The Maryland Black Family Alliance The American Institute of Bisexuality (AIB) Bisexual Resource Center Immigration Equality Gay Liberation Network New England GLBT Veterans, Inc.