Now Reading
Jamaica’s underground gays caught on film

Jamaica’s underground gays caught on film

A new documentary shows how a group of LGBTI youngsters in Jamaica live in a sewer, forced there after being expelled or escaping from their homes for being gay.

Unreported World, a documentary series on Channel 4 in the UK, spent 12 days in Jamaica filming like Krissy who is forced to live in a storm drain, spending her days dodging stones and broken bottles thrown at her because she lives as an openly transgender person.

In March, Gay Star News reported a Kingston judge challenged police who were looking to expel Krissy and other youngsters who had found some refuge in the sewers.

Police had repeatedly tried to evict the youngsters from the sewers and gullies, on the pretext they ‘attract criminals’.

Toward the end of April, police violated the court order and informed the youngsters they had until 1 April to evict the area.

Director Andrew Carter, who was in Kingston filming the documentary from 24 March to 4 April, told Gay Star News police told the youngsters they were being evicted because a waste management authority was going to come and clean the place up.

‘They said anything found that day would be treated as garbage.’

Carter and his team were present on the day of the eviction, and spent their time speaking with LGBTI youngsters and activists about the dire situation for sexual and gender minorities in Jamaica.

According to producers, the documentary aims to present: ‘The harrowing issues that the LGBT community in Jamaica face on a daily basis, often exacerbated by dancehall music and religion openly preaching homophobia and active violence against the LGBT community.’

It was homophobia in music that most stuck out for Carter throughout the filming.

‘I was pretty shocked when we had a couple of hours to go to Kingston on our time off, in the nicer end of town, and the song Boom Bye Bye by Buju Banton came on. It’s still a pretty popular despite the violence lyrics.’

Boom Bye Bye is notorious anti-gay song where Banton encourages shooting ‘faggots’ in the head and saying they must die.

‘To hear locals cheering when it came on and filling the dance floor, after seeing the abuse these teens were suffering, it really brought home to me the insidiousness of homophobic attitudes, or the fact that people understand this is about gay people and cheer berating them on.’

‘When we heard about LGBTIs in Jamaica, the situation seemed to be so medieval, with people being run out and clinging to the underground with rubbish and dirty water. Their last resort in Jamaica in the middle of Kingston’s business district seemed surreal. How on earth these humans ended up living like rats seemed worth investigating.’

‘These guys have no friends, and the series Unreported World really tries to give a voice to people who don’t get heard.’

This installment of Unreported World premiers in the UK on Channel 4 at 7.30pm on 23 May. The episode will not be geo-blocked in other countries and will be available to view online via the Unreported World website.