Gareth Henry: The Dangers of Being Gay in Jamaica

After Gareth Henry was savagely beaten by the police in a Kingston, Jamaica pharmacy for being gay, he knew that he was no longer safe in the country that he had grown up in. This was not the first time the man had faced police brutality because of his sexual preference, it had happened twice before. This attack was made in front of a group of 200 people who cheered the police on as they beat him with their guns.

The badminton player fled the country in order to stay alive. Canada granted Gareth Henry asylum in their country where he was able to live his life without persecution. Even though he was able to make it out of Jamaica safe, the same cannot be said for the other gay men on the island of Jamaica. Many feel hopeless with nowhere to go and no chance of survival. These fears are worsened for those who are suffering from HIV.

Grateful for his own experience, Gareth Henry is now helping other members of the LGBTQ community escape from dangerous situations through the Rainbow Railroad. Many of the LGBTQ community were outcasted to the cemeteries and sewers of the island. This situation is dangerous as he told stories of the violence many of the “gully queens” had faced. From acid attacks to sexual assaults and even vicious attacks by dogs, survival is a serious concern for these men and women.

One of the stories that touched Gareth Henry the most was that of a mother who reached out to him asking for help for her son. It isn’t very often that parents in Jamaica stand with their LGBTQ community and try to keep them safe from harm while accepting who they are. If it happened more often, live for these young men and women may be better for them.

While Henry Gareth does not have any pride in the country that treated him as less than human. He has seen the atrocities that have been committed and cannot forget them. These crimes have been hidden and need to be brought to light around the world.

About Gareth Henry: www.olympic.org/gareth-henry