Dwayne Jones was kicked around and harassed for much of his young life. His father booted him from his house at age 14 for being effeminate, and along with neighbors, ran Dwayne out of the Jamaican slum in which he was raised.
He was teased to the point where he dropped out of school. And Dwayne’s tortured existence ended at age 16 last month, when his battered body was found after being beaten, stabbed, shot, and run over by a car—after the transgendered teen made the fatal error of attending a street party dressed as a woman. “When I saw Dwayne’s body, I started shaking and crying,” says a transgender friend who would only give a first name. “It was horrible. It was so, so painful to see him like that.”
The case underscores the dangerous reality of being homosexual or transgendered in Jamaica, which some advocates say is the Americas’ most hostile country toward gays. That hostility is due in part to a 150-year-old anti-sodomy law on the country’s books, and rampant anti-gay attitudes, which have driven the gay community way underground for fear of mobs like the one that killed Dwayne.
But one gay-rights advocate sees “pockets of tolerance” emerging, thanks in part “because of people like Dwayne who have helped push the envelope.” But though the case may be raising awareness, justice is proving elusive: No one has thus far been charged in Dwayne’s murder.
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