Jamaican-style 'Les Mis': Help for LGBTs forced into the sewers?

Click the image for video: Homeless man tries to retrieve his belongings from the fire set by police. (Photo courtesy of Jamaican LGBT News)
Click the image for video: Homeless man tries to retrieve his belongings from a fire set by police. (Photo courtesy of Jamaican LGBT News)

Homeless LGBT men whom Jamaican police burned out of their shelter in a drainage ditch have relocated to the sewers, according to an informed activist.

The men’s plight — evicted from their homes by family, chased out of abandoned houses by police, forced out of a ditch where they huddled, now hiding in the sewers — has touched the hearts of a few charitable souls, who have provided a little food and financial assistance. See the bottom of this post for information about how you can help too.

The men are typically referred to as “unruly gays,”  because their behavior is sometimes obnoxious or abusive.

But the police strategy of driving them out of wherever they live is short-sighted. At this point, a comprehensive, longer-term solution is under discussion, but remains far from reality.

Here’s the latest on the homeless MSM (men who have sex with men):

UPDATE ON HOMELESS MSM BURNED OUT BY JAMAICAN POLICE

A female Jamaican senior citizen and mother was so moved by the plight of these young men who were burned out by the police on Oct. 15 that she started providing them with non-perishable food items and cooking utensils from her own meager resources. Since a  plea went out for assistance last week, several persons have agreed to help her defray some of the costs associated with this venture.

Thanks to this generosity we have been able to provide the youngsters with very basic sustenance and we also collected clothes which we will be sending to replace some of what they lost.

These youngsters (some of whom are just teenagers) have to be very mobile as they have been chased out of every home they occupied. Some of their previous residences were actually torn down after the boys were evicted by armed police. Now they live in sewers and even there they are not safe from police attack.

The gully where the homeless men lived.
The gully in New Kingston, Jamaica, where the homeless men lived.

While we work on meeting their immediate needs, we are also collecting and documenting their stories so we can decide which course of action to pursue in order to provide them with long-term assistance.

It is clear these boys need a dedicated facility as they are harassed and abused when they use the government shelters. This is not surprising as our national revulsion against homosexuality makes homeless LGBT the lowest on the national totem pole of poverty. Any facility for these damaged youth will need to address their physical and emotional needs caused by crushing societal and family rejection.

Jamaicans should care about this issue because “the measure of a nation is how it treats its weakest members.”

Anyone who wants to help these homeless young men should leave a message in the comments section below this post or on the Erasing 76 Crimes page on Facebook.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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