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feature - issue 375

 

The Batty Boy's Revenge
Troy Jackson refuses to accept hatred of any race, colour or creed. Drew Rowsome talks to the up-and-coming singer and finds an expansive pride set to an infectious rhythm.

Troy Jackson finds it difficult to sit still as there are so many thoughts and musical beats coursing through his veins. His close-shaved mohawk and skin-tight white wifebeater contrast sharply with the heavy hip-hop style bling around his neck. The oversized letters, strung on large links of silver, spell out “love.”

At 19 Jackson fled from Truro, Nova Scotia, a town he claims is known for “the highest tides in the world and the Stanfield’s underwear factory,” to Vancouver in order to come out far from the watchful eyes of his large family. Jackson worked in film doing background and extra work but also began developing his musical performance chops with the help of the House of Venus. “Vancouver is a beautiful city but has a seedy underbelly,” says Jackson. “I was dressed in my red platform pumps going out to dance when a guy asked me for a cigarette and then threatened, ‘Nigger faggot what are you thinking in the last five minutes of your life?’ Fortunately I was rescued by a bouncer I knew from the clubs. I’m from the east coast, I had to fight growing up in a small town but…” Jackson promptly moved to Toronto.

“In Vancouver I was spit on once but Toronto was the first time I was called a batty man,” notes Jackson. Being the recipient of the Jamaican homophobic slur was somewhat offset by witnessing what Jackson calls “a reverse gay bashing” where the gays, with the help of some straight girls, drove away would be bashers by standing up and stating, “This is our neighbourhood.” The events planted the seed for Jackson’s song “Batty Boy’s Revenge.”

Jackson is blunt about the dangers of homophobic music, and he doesn’t excuse dancehall. He remembers riding in a cab on the way to his first recording session, “I had just said to the Jamaican cab driver that it was a ‘great beat’ when the chorus sang ‘kill the batty boy.’ I told him, ‘You’ll have to turn that off. As a proud gay black man I have a problem with that music. And as a black man you have to think that you’re advocating killing your own.’” Jackson doesn’t believe that censorship is an issue as, “There is freedom of speech but when it’s hate speech, we have laws. We don’t allow anti-Semites or white supremacists but we do when it’s hate towards gay people. The government should take a stance but I don’t think they will.” Jackson is utterly disdainful of the excuse that “it’s from that culture.” He believes that is “a colonial attitude and we need to take a look at that culture.”

Jackson is heavily involved in the committee organizing the urban-centric Blockorama festival at Pride. “It’s in a better place this year,” he enthuses about the location in George Hislop Park. “It’s green instead of pavement. Last year people hit the pavement just before my set because of the heat. I had to follow ambulances and medical crews.”

Pride is busy for Jackson as he is also performing on the Pride parade float of his partner and grand marshal El-Farouk, an after-party at Lula Lounge and then is off to Vancouver for its Pride. Jackson admits his music is heavily ’80s influenced which helps account for the upbeat tone and catchy hooks. He also doesn’t flinch when asked if he and El-Farouk’s relationship resembles that of JKF and Marilyn Monroe or JFK Jr and Madonna. It is the ’80s icons that he hopes to emulate.

“And Prince is a genius of course,” Jackson continues. “And Grace Jones. There’s a YouTube video of her singing with Pavarotti. When she comes out the audience boos. Then she performs. At the end they’re not booing.”

Troy Jackson performs at Blockorama at 7pm on Sun June 28 in the George Hislop Park and at the Blockorama after-party that evening at Lula Lounge, 1585 Dundas St W. Info: myspace.com/enjoytroy

Drew Rowsome is an associate editor at
fab and believes that all batty boys should practice reverse gay bashing.

 




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