In 1977, Gareth Henry was born in St. Mary’s, Jamaica. He was raised by his mother, aunt, and grandmother. He went to high school when he was 10, and he realized he was gay when he was a teenager. After seeing a gay man in his town get harassed and called a “batty man,” he decided to hide homosexuality. He moved to his uncle’s house when he was almost 16 and was able to be himself.
He graduated from Titchfield High School and moved to Kingston to attend Excelsior Community College and the University of the West Indies. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree and his master’s degree in Communications for Social and Behavior Change. He volunteered for Jamaica AIDS Support for Life in 1997. He then volunteered for J-FLAG in 1998. In 2004, J-FLAG’s co-founder was murdered. Henry took on the position of director and became the lead advocate for the organization.
Of his 13 friends killed, one was chased to the harbor by a mob. Since he couldn’t swim, everyone just watched him drown. He had to identify the bodies of several of the others that were killed. Last Valentines Day, Gareth Henry was surrounded by an angry mob at a pharmacy and the police did nothing to help. Instead, the police started beating Henry and his friends with their weapons.
Some police even led mob attacks. A police officer showed up at his home with civilians and pointed a gun at his window. The officer said he had to go away or he would kill him. The Jamaican ministry of justice didn’t help either. He was once stopped in traffic to be told by a police officer that he had found him and he was going to kill him. He never forgot that statement.
Gareth Henry went to Canada in 2008 because the country protects human rights. His mother, sister, and nieces also faced threats and had to relocate to Canada. Gareth Henry was granted refuge with the help of Amnesty International, EGALE Canada, and the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto.
Read More: www.olympic.org/gareth-henry