The controversial Dancehall Reggae artist was dropped due to his history of homophobic slurs, according to Californian newspaper, Times Standard.
High Times and the Redway-based Mateel Community Centre, which has hosted Reggae On The River for the past 35 years, arrived at the decision to removed from Sizzla from the concert’s lineup after heavy backlash from the local lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ) community.
“Reggae on the River is an important community institution,” said Sue Hilton, editor of The L-Word newsletter aimed at the LGBTQ community in Humboldt County.
“Many of us really love the music and the lyrics are so often about community and caring about each other, but it’s important for you to care about the whole community and not just the people you approve of.”
Hilton also stated that she is pleased with the organisers’ choice for “recognising the importance of honouring everyone, supporting all of our community and resisting violence in all its forms.”
Last year, the Community Centre cancelled a Sizzla’s performance after pressure from gay rights group. Cailfornia’s LGBTQ organizations expressed their support for the organizers’ decision to cancel the artist’s performance again this year.
Twelve years ago, Sizzla Kalonji, whose real name is Miguel Collins, was among several artists, who signed the Reggae Compassionate Act that rejected homophobia and pledged to drop homophobic lyrics from Dancehall and Reggae music.
However, during an interview at the Rebel Salute Festival 2015 in Jamaica, Sizzla reportedly continued to condemn homosexuality by described gay men as “sodomy “and “corruption”.
“That’s sodomy. That’s corruption,” Sizzla reportedly stated in the interview.
Todd Larsen, founder of the non-profit Queer Humboldt, also expressed satisfaction with High Times to “make the right decision to cancel” Sizzla’s performance.
“It’s good that they listened to community feedback and took action,” Larsen said.
Reggae On The River, which is slated for August 2 to 4 at French’s Camp in Garberville, California, will feature Damian “Junior Gong” Marley and Toots and The Maytals.
In recent years, the LGBTQ community has revived their opposition to Reggae acts who they consider hostile to their cause.
Queen Ifrica, in May 2014, was pulled as headliner of an event at Amazura Concert Hall in Queens, New York, after mounting pressure from the gay rights groups. The day before the concert, a 200-strong group of protesters launched a demonstration at the club.
Organisers of that protest called for a halt of the show, which they said contributed to violence against lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals, and transgenders.
Other Reggae musicians including Buju Banton and Capleton had their performances axed and tour schedules altered following heavy pressure from gay rights advocates.