Gay-slurring performer pulled from concert

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Gay-slurring performer pulled from concert

Jason Miller
Staff Reporter

One of Jamaica's premier dancehall artists will not get the chance to "log on" at one of Toronto's biggest Caribana events, after the local gay community complained about his lyrics.

Controversial performer O'Neil Bryan, also known as Elephant Man, was pulled from the lineup of the Sunday-night concert, dubbed Caribana Celebrity Ball, scheduled at Circa nightclub in the Entertainment District.

Kim Montgomery, a spokesperson for Circa, said members of Toronto's gay community found his music offensive, so they asked the promoter to remove him from the bill, which also includes rapper Fabolous and R&B sensation Trey Songz.

"The second that we heard that he was considered offensive we decided that we should back away from promoting him as an artist," she said.

This is not the first time Elephant Man has had a run-in with the gay community, both in Toronto and his native Jamaica. In 2007, despite protest from human rights groups, Bryan was issued a visa to perform in Canada, prompting police officers from Toronto's hate crimes unit to monitor his songs for any utterance of anti-gay lyrics at his show at the Kool Haus. He was also monitored at shows in Winnipeg and Victoria.

Last year, gay rights activist groups advocated for a nationwide ban on what they called "murder music" being recorded and performed by artists like Elephant Man. They alleged that songs promoting gay-bashing, such as Elephant Man's "Log On," have motivated brutal attacks by mobs on Jamaican gays.

Montgomery said the event was set up by an outside promoter that did all the booking for the show and she had no clue that the artist in question had slanderous lyrics in his songs.

"The promoter totally understands," she said. "We knew that it was a no-brainer and something that we had to make a decision upon."