Jamaica's Underground Gays

Channel 4: Unreported World

Reporter Ade Adepitan and Director Andrew Carter travel to Kingston to meet a group of gay and transgender Jamaicans who've been swept out of society and have ended up living in a storm drain - just because of their sexuality. 


Jamaica has a reputation for intolerance of homosexuality. Male gay sex is punishable by 10 years’ hard labour and violent hostility is entrenched in the island’s culture. Unreported World meets one group of gay and transgender people who are now living in a gully, which is usually designed to carry floodwater and rubbish from the city.


It’s hot, crowded, infested and filthy. But it’s the only place these twenty-five people are able to call home. There are no facilities: cooking and washing-up are done in the gutter. Water comes from a broken pipe under a road bridge. And it’s not in a poor part of town, but in the middle of New Kingston, the capital’s business district.


Most homosexuals in Jamaica work hard to hide their sexuality. Those who are openly ‘out’ are in the firing line. The team meets 21-year-old Krissy who was born male but believes her true gender is female. She says she didn’t feel safe expressing this at home - and so she’s lived on the streets on and off since she was 12. Apart from her sister, she hasn’t seen most of her family for years.


Krissy tells Adepitan that together with other homeless gay and transgender friends, she initially lived in a squat. But under pressure from the neighbours, the site’s owner chased the group away and levelled the place. They went from squat to squat, being moved on each time by police or landlords - and eventually ended up at the gully.


Many of those living in the gully didn’t finish school, and without an address it’s difficult to get a job. Sachaberry, who has been homeless for the last two years, says the only way she can make a living is by selling her body. But it’s a very risky business. She tells Adepitan that one night she went to meet a client and was ambushed by a gang. She suffered multiple stabbings and only just survived. 

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Jamaica's Underground Gays, Channel 4: Unreported World | Quicksilver Media