Gay rights activists in Chicago and around the country are claiming victory after a concert promoter decided to cancel a tour by reggae and Jamaican dancehall singer Buju Banton, after protests over the homophobic sentiments in some of his song lyrics.
Banton was scheduled for a seven-city tour this fall that would have brought him to the House of Blues in Chicago on Oct. 1. But promoter and House of Blues owner Live Nation called off all his appearances at their venues, the Windy City Times reported. Another promoter, AEG Live/Goldenvoice, canceled the three concerts they were promoting.
Earlier this month, activists from Chicago’s Gay Liberation Network began a campaign calling for a cancellation of the tour over what they called “murder music.”
“These cancellations show the power of protest to deliver the goods,” said the Gay Liberation Network’s Bob Schwartz.
The group pointed specifically to one 1988 Buju Banton song, “Boom Bye Bye,” which features lyrics about killing or burning gay men. The chorus features the sound of a gunshot accompanied by the lyrics, “Boom, bye bye, in a batty boy’s head.”
“Batty boy” is a derogatory term for gay men used in the Caribbean.
Passport Magazine reported that in 2004, Jamaican gay activist Brian Williamson was brutally murdered, and afterward crowd was seen celebrating the murder outside his apartment by shouting the chorus of “Boom Bye Bye.”
Banton has drawn controversy at other Chicago appearances. A September 2006 concert at the House of Blues and a July 2007 appearance at the International Festival of Life in Washington Park both drew protests from gay rights advocates.
Banton was acquitted of charges that he attacked a group of gay men in Kingston, Jamaica, in 2006. He signed a pledge to stop singing anti-gay lyrics in 2007, but later denied that he had done so, according to Advocate.com.
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