They roam the streets at night because they have been kicked out of their communities and homes. They often need medical attention but are afraid to seek help for fear of discrimination. They are shot at, have rocks are thrown at them, have their belongings set on fire, are chased out of wherever they settle and are stabbed. They do not feel safe anywhere and they travel in groups to protect one another. Or they “kotch” on sofas of sympathetic friends and family. And prior to being kicked out by authorities, they lived in an underground drain, where they would be flooded out when it rained.
This is a fraction of Jamaica’s population- gay men, men who have sex with men, bisexual men, lesbians or transgender individuals. And while there are shelters in Jamaica, these individuals do not feel safe there, and they are often overcrowded.
This population has gained international attention in the past- VICE did a feature, as well as several other media outlets. But nothing usually comes of it. These individuals complain that the media talks to them, takes their time but never helps them. And they don’t see much, if any help, from government. So of course it is left to the NGO community- J-FLAG and the Colour Pink Foundation.
CPF is now spearheading a Gofundme campaign, which is aimed at raising money for clothing, food, shelter and medical care. CPF has already done some wonderful things in terms of skills training, and in fact dozens of beneficiaries are now working full time. I can attest to the efficacy of CPF, having sat in on several training sessions and graduation ceremonies. The young men, before your eyes, transformed into people with a sense of self esteem and agency.
So how can you help? CPF is embarking on a Gofundme campaign. Check it out here.