His name is Dexter Pottinger. He was a model, fashion designer, LGBT activist, photographer, makeup artist, the face of Jamaica Pride and judging from the multitude of condolences from people he’s touched, a brilliantly kind, creative and devoted human being. “Never apologize for being yourself”, he said, “they should apologize to you for asking you to be someone else”. He was murdered in his home last week in Jamaica. As a gay black man from the Caribbean, this hits uncomfortably close to home.
Known under the moniker Dexter ‘3D’ Pottinger, one of many heart felt sentiments on Facebook profile describes him as a hope to fallen boys, dimensionally unmatched. Others a motivator, innovator and unrepeatable expression of life. He was reportedly stabbed to death during early morning hours last week and cries of “help” and “murder” went ignored by a neighbour. His car was stolen but has since been located and a suspect is in custody pending charges, according to Jamaica news outlets. While the horrific story circulates through the Caribbean, North America, Europe and many other countries, its left me with a sense of duty to shine a light on the accomplishments of this beautiful, inspirational black brother who should be remembered as a visionary and not merely a statistic in a known homophobic society. His impact must be felt.
As the face of Pride week 2016 in Jamaica he hoped his participation would show members of the Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays – J-FLAG that it was okay to come out in a non-violent atmosphere and be a part of permanent change. A heartbreaking irony. Even though the homicide hasn’t been labelled a hate crime with reports hinting at robbery as motive, the coincidence is startling. Not just that, but the fact that no one alerted police even after screams of help and murder were heard, is a stark reminder of the depth of homophobia in the Caribbean. That you can know someone’s life might be in danger and not lift a finger to help regardless of your personal views says just that. Given my own brushes with this brand of island homophobia I’m not so sure the outcome would be the same if he was straight.
It speaks volumes that just from a couple days scanning his social media accounts and not only seeing, but feeling the outpouring of grief and admiration from the many that knew him, I felt inspired by his light. I feel despair and cultural outrage. I feel hopeful that this tragedy triggers some kind of change. Too many of us view acts of violence against black LGBTs as a norm, something synonymous with black communities, especially in the Caribbean.
So say his name, share his story and support in any way possible the movement for change- precious lives depend on it.
“I think there is beauty in everything. What ‘normal’ people would perceive as ugly, I can usually see something of beauty” — Dexter ‘3D’ Pottinger
Visit jflag.org for more info on LGBT advocacy in Jamaica