Homeless MSM/CSWs in New Kingston rescued by taxi driver

In the early hours of August 7 around 2am the streets of Kingston were still alive as members of the public and patrons were still making their way home from the Independence Day Grand Gala celebrations at the National Stadium while other persons carried out their celebrations at popular night spots, clubs and bars in the business district and the hip strip. Many persons walked from the Stadium to central locations to find transportation to get home while others just gallivanted the time away until they were ready to disperse. Such was a group of men who were apparently walking to Half Way Tree but took the shortcut through New Kingston via the top end of the business district that of Trafalgar Road. The general area is already known to be a commercial nightspot for the would be individual seeking sexual favours from commercial sex workers mostly female but that night the men were in for a shock when they came across a group of cross dressers who were apparently openly soliciting business as the men passed.

They did not take kindly to this and proceeded to chase the cross dressed “ladies of the night” along an avenue where the kind taxi driver was reclined on his front seat after completing several trips earlier so he decided to rest a bit. According to the driver who my main source another taxi driver made contact with on my behalf, I managed to interview him where he said he saw the “ladies” first walking briskly with about five men in pursuit towards his parked vehicle at first he thought it was just friends idling or at worst sex deal going sour and the “ladies” were trying to leave but the walk soon became an all out chase with the men hurling small rocks at them and using the regular curse words at the “divas” who were both wearing tight fitted jeans and high heels with handbags. He started his engine as he wanted to avoid being in the way of any stones hitting his vehicle when he noticed the men stopped and huddled together, he said he realised that something else was about to go down so he beckoned to the “ladies” to enter quickly and they did, he then sped off taking them to the main Oxford Road where he allowed them to disembark. This assistance did not go down well with the men who had initially gave chase as while he was driving away he overheard them protesting bitterly that the taxis in the area were in support of battyman business.

I have since learnt that another set of cross dressers and other MSM who congregate at a spot nearby were also the subject of attempted abuses from passers-by. The taxi driver who I spoke to said the other drivers were discussing the issue over their short wave radios with some saying the men are to die and the usual homophobic rhetoric while others were pondering why are the men putting themselves in danger? He continued by saying that he gave them a stern warning while they exited the vehicle and that he wouldn’t do that again for them and they should find some other activity to occupy their time. The driver who is known to me explained that he has no problem with gay men overall but some of the guys are to open with it and that is why they get into problems “dem too much man, dem nuh noh seh a Jamaica dis? dem lucky seh mi did deh deh” (they are too open and flirt their actions in public, this is Jamaica and there are consequences) he said.
“Dem tank me yu see bossy” (they thanked me you see sir) he continued they fixed themselves on the back seat of the car en route in their escape and retouched their makeup. He started laughing when he saw them doing this, “dem a real oman to rass” he said laughing.
They took another cab some minutes after and he left for another location as he didn’t want the men to possibly turn up recognising his car since he hadn’t driven far from the original location of the chase.

Sadly this is another outcome as a consequence of the lack of proper interventions to steer gay men at risk from trouble and helping them to focus their energies into some other productive area. There is word of funds being raised by Sunshine Cathedral in Miami to build some shelter of sorts but it is not yet known when that will materialise. Among the group of men of course who gather at the various spots in and around Kingston are homeless MSM but it is hard to estimate how many are there now as they are now linking with other men who are allegedly involved in other illegal activities from which they obtain some financial rewards.

This is the third such typed incident on or just after Independence, last year a group of men were chased along Swallowfield Road as they walked passed a group of men who congregated at a wall. Apparently the mannerisms of the passers-by aroused suspicions that they were gay and stones were thrown at the men. They eventually made good their escape not before one of the men fell while he was running away and suffered several blows from his attackers. The year prior in 2008 there was a skirmish in Half Way Tree which died down quickly as police were already patrolling the area and stopped it.

Something has to be done seriously for this group within the LGBT community; there are just too many instances like this dotting our history without any meaningful alternatives or preventative measures. Other concerned persons and myself have tried to speak to those in the group we know personally but we realise that this is not nearly enough as there are other underlined issued that require professional interventions in my estimation.

Thankfully this driver was there and decided to assist normally this kind of action would have been unheard of or probably he would have joined in the throng and maimed the “ladies of the night”
UNCONFIRMED reports suggest that another incident involving a taxi driver of a certain association in New Kingston some weeks ago involving a motorist who was reportedly on a cell phone by a traffic light where the light had changed to green, the motorist apparently did not move upon the signal change and the taxi driver became boisterous, the motorist allegedly responded in a tone suggesting his car was expensive and bought by his man, the taximan did not take kindly to the remarks and allegedly pulled his firearm where the motorist was shot with eyewitnesses allegedly cheering on the shooter. I have since learnt that the motorist is alive but in critical condition and the taximan has since been questioned by the cops under the now defunct state of emergency, no further word since. As we say in Jamaica if it doesn’t go like that well it’s probably close.

It points out however that New Kingston is certainly becoming crime central with MSM suffering the brunt of attacks on the face of it. Just last Saturday an MSM showed me his arm where he says he was chased and hit by the infamous “biker boys” who frequent the hip strip as he accused of being gay after he was seen talking to another man who they suspect, obviously due to his masculine physique and attitude they didn’t take him on but he was threatened and told that if they see him again it’s going to be worse. The young man in question said he went to a certain lgbt group’s offices to ask for some money for transportation to relocate to another parish, his request was not entertained.

There are several reports of this biker boy group being involved in incidents with MSM in and around New Kingston, they had disappeared for a while following a crack down by the police following complaints from female patrons as well from the clubs they frequent and their abrasive behaviours but since the transfers of the tough cops and the removal of the state of emergency they seem to have resurfaced.

I will continue to try to encourage the guys to discontinue congregating on the thoroughfare where it is becoming too dangerous and to avoid these goons but who can’t hear will feel.

Peace and tolerance

H

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Author: GLBTQ Jamaica Moderator

Activist and concerned gay man in Jamaica with over 19 years experience in advocacy and HIV/AIDS prevention work, LGBT DJ since 1996.

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