A view from the outside: Dalton Harris 'photo' is fair game
With Karyl Walker
Social media platforms have been bursting at the seams with the recent release of a photograph of our latest son of the soil to create waves on the world stage, Dalton Harris, sitting in the lap of fellow X Factor contestant Brendon Murray while being tightly hugged.
The timing of the release of the photograph and others that followed could have mixed results for Harris’ X factor chances and also his future as an entertainer.
One thing is certain, that boy can sing. He is an exceptional talent and it is unfortunate that controversy now swirls in Jamaica over his perceived sexuality instead of his undeniable talent and the great public relations he has so far done on behalf of brand Jamaica.
Harris has since released a video claiming to be a single man and berating those who would taint him as a homosexual because he was hugged by another male. He has also revealed that, as a child, he was physically abused.
The responses to the photographs have been varied but one consistent thread is that some Jamaicans have hit out against him and have all but dropped their fervent support for the same person who one week earlier was their darling.
It is an unfortunate turn of events from all angles.
Another response that has been consistent sees others branding those Jamaicans who have expressed disgust as being ‘bad-minded’ and too concerned with another’s sexuality.
Harris with fellow X Factor contestants in the controversial photo.
The fact that Harris is a public figure and the photograph is in the public domain means that the public has the right to comment on it. It is in no way, shape or form ‘bad-mindedness’ to express disagreement with the pose. That’s what people do. Why it should be so upsetting to those who are cursing out their fellow Jamaicans for expressing their opinions is a bit befuddling. After all, no one invaded the privacy of his bedroom to take those photos.
There is also a school of thought that Dalton Harris was set up, so that Murray could have grabbed him from behind and pulled him into his lap while the shutterbug snapped away in that split second. That argument has been doused with cold water by some who point to the fact that he seemed comfortable with the pose and seemed to be holding Murray’s hands around him. Another photograph where both men seem to be staring at each other lovingly has also been used to prop up the argument that Harris seemed quite at home.
Could it be that Harris was a victim of a gay lobby conspiracy, geared at using him as a guinea pig to push a gay agenda down the throats of the hypocritical Jamaicans who they so love to brand as homophobic? Or is it just that Jamaicans need to come to terms with the reality of other cultures and come out of the cocoon of their misguided sexual prejudices, as it was just a show of affection and nothing else?
Only Dalton can answer those questions and it is totally within his right to ignore them and get on with his life if he so chooses. One can bet that, if and when he wins the X Factor and returns to Jamaica with wealth accumulated from his vocal exploits, there may well be a large entourage hanging on to his coat tails and all will be forgotten.
Some Jamaicans tend to have short memories, especially when opulence is involved.
Even before the release of the photographs, there was talk about his mode of dress, mainly his tight pants and his penchant for crying easily. People will talk and Dalton must sing, he does it so well.
The fact is, Dalton Harris is highly touted to cop the lion’s share of the X factor prizes and, even if those persons who voted for him withdraw their support, it is too late to stop him now. He has displayed his talent to the world and, if he plays his cards right, his future looks bright.
However, there are a lot of men – Jamaicans and others from various parts of the world – who are not comfortable sitting in a next man’s lap. For them, it is not a manly thing to do and goes way overboard in showing affection towards a fellow male. Truth be told, such an act, even between a man and a woman, has sexual connotations and people are rightfully going to gawk.
Whatever happens, Jamaica has now reached a crossroads and must decide whether to concentrate on the star’s perceived sexuality or continue to support him as he tries to be much more than a rising star.
As for me, I have finished gawking at the photographs and now throw my support behind Harris as, whatever choices he makes in his personal life, is no business of mine. But I resent that some see it fit to brand me and others who gawked at the photograph and expressed our distaste at sitting in a next man’s lap as bad-minded.
Dalton has his right to choose, and so do the others who choose to lambast him. It cannot be one-sided. Those who cry for him to be left alone must practice what they preach and leave others alone to voice their opinions.
That is my view from the outside.
Karyl Walker is a multi-award-winning journalist who has worked for Loop Jamaica, the Jamaica Observer, the RJR Communications Group and Nationwide Radio among other media entities. He now resides in South Florida.