Queer Spotlight on Jovanté Anderson: Academic, Queer Activist and Instagram Hot Gyal.

By: Andre Cooper, Communications & Engagement Officer, Equality for All Foundation.

When Jovanté Anderson started to expressed his true identity and truth while living in Jamaica, the microaggressions he endured catapulted his interest to become a voice for those who shared similar experiences. Using his writing abilities, he participated in a series of creative writing competitions that provided him with a platform to highlight and raise awareness around societal issues that impacted the Jamaican LGBT community and communities in the wider Anglophone Caribbean.

Jovanté’s upward trajectory started long before he earned international recognition for his work. However, becoming the recipient of the Lafayette-Jamaica Scholarship provided him with up to four years of financial support. This has definitely been one of the catalysts propelling his impending greatness. Further, in 2018, he won the Young Writers’ Prize for Poetry at the inaugural celebration of World Poetry Day.

Contributed.

Jovanté who aptly dubs himself as an “Instagram hot-girl” currently resides in the U.S.A where he is enrolled as a second-year PhD student at the University of Miami. His studies is focused on English with a concentration in Caribbean studies. However, his research focuses on queerness in Jamaica from the late nineteenth century to present. Jovanté is also a tutor in the states who works closely with LGBT activist groups.

Unlike other forms of queer activism, Jovanté uniquely morphs his personal, social and academic commitment to advance LGBT presence in research and academia.

Using education as a leverage point to foster change in societies, cultures and economies, Anderson envisions queer studies as an institutional framework that has the propensity to shape perspectives and attitudes, ultimately lending itself as a tool to advance the work of LGBTQ activists. A kind of advocacy resource toolkit, he packages information in a historical context and narrates the stories and histories of LGBT people that have been bequeathed to him. His motivation comes from the fact that he is optimistic that, in the near future people, Caribbean will be more open and tolerant towards LGBT people.

“….An integral part of that for me is helping people to understand the histories of our resistance in the region and I want people to know that queerness is not foreign to Jamaica or to the Caribbean. Queerness arrived in the belly of the ship. We loved in the cane-field as we love now and there is something beautiful and perhaps devastating about that, knowing that others have come before you, but also knowing the terror that structured their lives,” the scholar shared with J-FLAG in an interview.

The brilliance he exudes as a queer studies practitioner belies the struggles he encountered while growing up in a country where representation of LGBT Jamaicans is oftentimes relegated to negative stereotypes and discrimination.

“My aspiration for queer Jamaican and queer Caribbean people is full and unconditional liberation. That might not be something we live to see, but it is something that I am committed to working towards,” he said.

Contributed.

His online campaign to galvanize support for vulnerable LGBT people began after a friend of his who identifies as trans was in need of financial support after experiencing assault. “I posted on Twitter asking for help and was overwhelmed by the support,” Jovanté shared of the experience. “Even after that, I didn’t think of it as something that I could do to help until people started coming to me because they had seen what I had done and wanted help. That’s when I realized, oh, maybe I can make something out of this.” Jovanté has since then amassed an overwhelming support from people all over who wanted to help and raise awareness.

In describing his contributions, he says his beliefs are deeply entrenched in the idea that colonialism and capitalism underly the issues LGBT people face and it is important for him to continue the work he has been doing to fight against the forms of social injustices that they produce. “I would describe [my work] as deeply informed by my intellectual and political beliefs in addressing the ongoing harms that colonialism and capitalism have done and continue to do to queer people on the island. I think it has been important for me to imagine ways to address this violence outside of bureaucracy and institutionalization.”

 

Contributed.

 

0 - 0

Thank You For Your Vote!

Sorry You have Already Voted!