21-year-old Jason walks with a swish. He always has. His prominent hips, slight figure and delicate gestures made him the subject of violent bullying and vulgar name-calling in school and his community. After trying unsuccessfully for years to change his walk and mannerisms so that he could “be normal” Jason finally gave up. To compensate he developed a thick skin and a sharp tongue to defend himself. Most times these worked. However, this week they failed miserably, and Jason was nearly slaughtered at the hands of a homophobic mob.
On the evening of January 7, Jason caught a bus to downtown Kingston. However, when he boarded the conductor started grumbling about not wanting any battyman on his bus and ordered Jason off. Jason tried to ignore him and refused to budge. But the bus driver abruptly stopped the bus and with the help of the conductor and some other passengers they hauled Jason off the vehicle and savagely beat him leaving him with a busted lip, swollen eye, bruised back, and several other injuries. This happened in the full view of passersby, but no one stopped to assist. When the bloodlust of Jason’s attackers was satisfied, they causally re-boarded the bus while still hurling threats at Jason as he lay bleeding on the pavement. As the bus drove off Jason noted the licence plate number before limping to the nearby police station where he reported the attack. He then went to the Kingston Public Hospital where he was admitted.
Jason shared his story on social media and although there was sympathy there have been no arrests.
As our Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism tout how safe Jamaica is for gay tourists (as long as they remain behind high resort walls) gay Jamaicans experience this kind of brutality almost daily.
Founder and Development Coordinator
Montego Bay Pride