Gun-toting gays drive fear in citizens of garrison communities
DESPITE claims from local and international gay rights activists that Jamaica is a fiercely homophobic country, recent evidence is suggesting that homosexuals are living openly in some of the country's notoriously tough garrisons without hassle or intimidation.
Police have confirmed that gay men are left alone, either because they have heartless thugs as their lovers or their relatives.
The Jamaica Observer came face-to-face with the situation recently while gathering information at a crime scene in the Gem Road/Texton Road area of South St Andrew.
As a group of residents stood behind the police yellow tape watching intensely while scene-of-crime detectives processed the area where Tashoy Lawrence and another man identified only as 'Roland' where shot dead and two others injured, an effeminate man came on the scene.
He was dressed in a tight pair of knickers and an equally tight sleeveless T-shirt. When he started speaking it was hard to believe that he was male as he displayed all the attributes of a woman, down to the gesticulations.
A member of the news team noticed him and wondered aloud if he was gay.
A woman who was in earshot answered his question without flinching.
"A b...man dat. Nuh look pan him too hard," the woman said, "a pure bad man him tek."
As the man engaged in conversation with some of the women present, no one even flinched or displayed any sign of antagonism toward him.
One of the women even joked that he was boasting a 'hickey' on his neck.
"But you have hickey, man?" the woman said.
"How you mean? You no see rain a fall an' me haffi get me hickey," the man said.
The Sunday Observer was on the scene for about an hour and for the entire time the man traipsed freely through the crowd.
"Nobody nuh business wid him," the woman said.
Assistant Superintendent Omar Morris is a career cop and has spent years beating back criminality.
Now in charge of operations at the St Andrew South division, Morris has seen it all.
In that police division there are more than two dozen troubled communities and according to Morris, the police have knowledge of persons who are said to be homosexual who live openly and are not mobbed, beaten or heckled.
"I know of at least one person who is rumoured to be diverse and he is living in one of those communities and nobody has ever attempted to use violence against him. That is because he has relatives who have fearsome reputations," Morris said.
One homosexual man who is wanted by the St Andrew Central Police for a string of robberies in the New Kingston area is known to hang out in a tough downtown Kingston community.
"We have information that he lives there and is always there in the days. We know he has relatives there and that no one in that community would dare to bring violence to him. As a matter of fact, we have been hearing that he may very well be a gunslinger, but in time we will bring him to book," a policeman told the Sunday Observer.
One resident of the community spoke to the newspaper on condition of anonymity.
"The people get used to him. Nobody don't trouble him and, worse, the woman dem love the almshouse. The boy dem might run him but nobody nuh beat him and, worse, dem look up to him father when him was alive," the woman said.
Weeks ago, the police reported that they received information that a man, who appeared to be homosexual, was brandishing a gun inside a car park in New Kingston. The police said that they chased him but he eluded them until he was nearly caught at an area close to a gully on Trafalgar Road that has been a known hangout for gays.
The man, the police said, then opened fire at them before escaping in the gully.
A reliable police source said that it is common knowledge in the constabulary that some of the top names in the criminal underworld were homosexual and had relations with multiple gay partners.
However, because of their fearsome reputations, many persons who know of their lifestyle keep their mouths tightly shut in fear for
"You would be surprised at some of the names. This is not new. However, in law enforcement, sometimes it is not what you know but what you can prove. A lot of them pose as thugs but behind closed doors they are different characters," one senior cop said.
"On the other hand, those who act feminine are living in some bad communities and living freely. We know this for a long time," he added.
In September 2006, the Jamaica Observer visited a crime scene in St Andrew where a man was killed. The victim was stabbed 17 times and his penis was severed and shoved in his mouth.
On that scene was a young man who was behaving 'ladylike' and after being chastised by a cop began to tell of his experiences.
The man admitted to being a prostitute and said that his "best" client was a leading member of a popular gang.
"When him come him rent big hotel room and him just take out him gun put it pan the dresser and deal with me. If yu see him the next day and call him b... man yu dead," said the man who gave his name as 'Emily'.
Murdered People's National Party (PNP) activist in Montego Bay, Kenley 'Bebe' Stephens, was a known member of the homosexual community and one of the western city's prominent cross-dressers, who was also connected with the criminal underworld, police said.
Stephens was fingered in the illegal lotto scam, the stealing of electricity, among other illegal activities. He had strong connections in the ruling PNP, as he was one of the main fund-raisers in that part of Jamaica, and was recently elected vice-chairman of the party's West Central St James constituency, headed by state minister for industry, commerce and investment, Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams, who is also MP for the constituency.