Transgender Day of Rememberance 2013: Gully Queen, Barbie Love & Britney Boudashious gone too soon

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the venue of the gig where the attack took place
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empty room of Dwayne/Gully Queen at the captured house where she once lived with her friends

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Dwayne Jones (Gully Queen) in good times

As news spread of Gully Queen’s death it became apparent to me that another young transwoman had not been allowed the chance to fulfil her female cisgender imperative and was too inexperienced to realise that it was important to choose wisely who one shares certain information with.

Dwayne Jones was relentlessly teased in high school for being effeminate until he dropped out. His father not only kicked him out of the house at the age of 14 but also helped jeering neighbours push the youngster from the rough Jamaican slum where he grew up.

By age 16, the teenager was dead — beaten, stabbed, shot and run over by a car when he showed up at a street party dressed as a woman. His mistake: confiding to a friend that he was attending a “straight” party as a girl for the first time in his life.

“When I saw Dwayne’s body, I started shaking and crying,” said Khloe, one of three friends who shared a derelict house with the teenager in the hills above the north coast city of Montego Bay. Like many transgender and gay people in Jamaica, Khloe wouldn’t give a full name out of fear. Pity as well as homelessness which has been ignored for years in the LGBT advocacy structure featured most prominently in this case and to think after the furore and public cynicism the house where the guys remained was firebombed with very little proactive measures taken by JFLAG and the others handling the case file so more victims ended up being made instead of redress and closure. Thankfully no one was badly hurt after that ordeal but the aforementioned agencies failure over the years to properly provide programs and interventions for LGBT youth is telling and many incidents could have been avoided.

Even though some 300 people were at the dance party in the small riverside community of Irwin, police have yet to make a single arrest in Dwayne’s murder. Police say witnesses have said they couldn’t see the attackers’ faces.

Dwayne was the centre of attraction shortly after arriving in a taxi at 2 am with his two 23-year-old housemates, Khloe and Keke. Dwayne’s expert dance moves, long legs and high cheekbones quickly made him the one that the guys were trying to get next to.

Like many Jamaican homosexuals, Dwayne was careful about confiding in others about his sexual orientation. But when he saw a girl he had known from church, he told her he was attending the party in drag.

Minutes later, according to Khloe and Keke, the girl’s male friends gathered around Dwayne in the dimly-lit street asking: “Are you a woman or a man?” One man waved a lighter’s flame near Dwayne’s sneakers, asking whether a girl could have such big feet.

Then, his friends said, another man grabbed a lantern from an outdoor bar and walked over to Dwayne, shining the bright light over him from head to toe. “It’s a man,” he concluded, while the others hissed “batty boy” and other anti-gay epithets.

Khloe says she tried to steer him away from the crowd, whispering in Dwayne’s ear: “Walk with me, walk with me.” But Dwayne pulled away, loudly insisting to partygoers that he was a girl. When someone behind him snapped his bra strap, the teen panicked and raced down the street.

But he couldn’t run fast enough to escape the mob.

The teenager was viciously assaulted and apparently half-conscious for some two hours before another sustained attack finished him off, according to Khloe, who was also beaten and nearly raped. She hid in a nearby church and then the surrounding woods, unable to call for help because she didn’t have her mobile phone.

Dwayne’s father in the Montego Bay slum of North Gully didn’t want to talk about his son’s life or death. The teen’s family wouldn’t even claim the body, according to Dwayne’s friends.

They remembered him as a spirited boy with a contagious laugh who dreamt of becoming a performer like Lady Gaga. He was also a street-smart hustler who resorted to sleeping in the bushes or on beaches when he became homeless. He won a local dancing competition during his time on the streets and was affectionately nicknamed “Gully Queen.”

“He was the youngest of us but he was a diva,” Khloe said. “He was always very feisty and joking around.”

Inside their squatter house, Khloe and Keke said, they still talk to their dead friend.

“I’ll be cooking in the kitchen and I’ll say, ‘Dwayne, you hungry?’ or something like that,” said Keke while sitting on the old mattress in her bedroom, flinching as neighbourhood dogs barked outside. “We just miss him all the time. Sometimes I think I see him.”

But down the hall, Dwayne’s room is empty except for pink window curtains decorated with roses, his favourite flower

Dwayne Jones (Gully Queen) Last Appearance prior to his murder notice the reporter said he was gay hence the other issue with crisis reporting of LGBT matters and this has always affected the credibility of the lobby’s voice

also this month we lost Britney Boudashious the reigning Miss LGBT World who was murdered in November, she was to hand over the crown at this year’s gala event but she did not make it, no clear motive has been established for her demise.

Britney’s Crowning in 2012
her glorious moment after such hard work and practice to get there

rest in peace daaaaahlin’

see more here on Gay Jamaica Watch

Barbie making front page news on the now defunct XNEWS

also see: Disturbed by Xnews Story on Drag Queen and Gay Cop or HERE

also flashback to: International Day of Transgender Remembrance 2011

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Good times at Diva Kerry’s Bday bash in 2011
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fierceness

then the other shocker in August as the popular socialite Barbie Love passed after a brief illness, you may remember her public appearances that were not so positive but she brought visibility to the cross dressing and transwoman communities in 2009 as photo shows below when the XNews published a sensationalistic article and the on Television where she was arrested after a cruising hookup went bad then public, subsequently she sealed her fame by granting an exclusive interview on Ragashanti live

see: Ragga Shanti Interviews Jamaican Drag Queen Part 1 & 2 !

To all three ladies REST IN PEACE and we will miss you.

Peace and tolerance

H

Former Miss LGBT World on being Transgender in Jamaica

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The following is a post done earlier this year with Miss LGBT World 2009 and dancehall queen winner Tiana Miller who granted an interview. Also see other posts for the week:

Transgender Awareness Week 2013

Transgender Awareness Week 2013: Internalized Transphobia

Tiana Miller. (Photos courtesy of Tiana Miller)

Last week, in Montego Bay, Jamaica, 16-year-old Dwayne Jones was shot and stabbed multiple times for turning up to a party in women’s clothing. Jones was reportedly transgender and the murder has once again highlighted the awful reality of life for Jamaica’s LGBT community. And it really is fucking awful.

In 2006, TIME magazine called Jamaica “the most homophobic place on Earth,” and the anti-gay sentiment prevalent in the country’s media and most popular musical genre, dancehall, has been well-documented. The Jamaica Gleaner, one of the country’s largest newspapers, regularly publishes stories about the gay community with a homophobic slant. Last month, it referred to a group of men who were evicted from an abandoned house as a “gay clan” and ran an op-ed (in the year 2013) that rubbished the idea of being born gay, saying people who are attracted to the same sex actively decide to do so, in much the same way that they decide to “eat snails (like the French)” or “like the taste of jackfruit.”

In the wake of Jones’ death, I got in touch with Tiana Miller, a transgender Jamaican, who hopes that her openness about her gender and sexuality will inspire others to display similar levels of bravery.

VICE: Hi Tiana. So, back to the start—at what age did you first realize that you were transgender?
Tiana Miller: It was at around age five when I first started thinking like a female. Then I gradually came to the realization that I felt more comfortable in a female skin. It was difficult. Because of the social norms of my country, I really felt as if I was doing something wrong.

Were your family and friends supportive?
Yes, they were, especially my dad.

That’s good. What about Jamaican society as a whole? Do you agree with the description of the country as, “the most homophobic place on Earth”?
Yes, I do. The challenges that we face are difficulties in surviving, as they relate to jobs, education, and housing. High school was OK for me because I hadn’t transformed yet, but it’s hard now education-wise because I would love to get a college degree, but can’t because they won’t allow me in college.

That’s awful. I’d imagine gay people in Jamaica are quite economically disadvantaged if they are unable to get a decent education or find work.
Yes, they are forced to be poor. The lucky ones are those who find rich partners and dedicate their lives to them.

There have been a few high-profile cases of police brutality towards gay people in Jamaica. Do you feel that the police give transgender people the protection they deserve?
No, they definitely don’t. Homeless transgenders are on the street, and the police—who should be their protectors—have literally run them down and chased them because of their lifestyle.

Is homelessness a common problem for transgender people?
Yes, and they are homeless because they have difficulties in sourcing income to rent houses or locate safe houses to live in.

Have you been physically attacked due to your gender?
Yes, I have been attacked before. I ran, so I didn’t suffer much harm. But naturally this had a traumatising effect on me.

So I take it there are a lot of areas that are out of bounds for gay and transgender people.
Naturally there are. This applies to anywhere where there are slums.

Some of the homophobic attacks over there have been horrific. I remember hearing about a gay rights activist who was killed before people celebrated over his body. Doesn’t stuff like that make you fear for your safety?
Yes, it does. I put myself out there, but I’m still aware of how vicious these homophobic homosapiens are.

Are there many people who dare to be open about their sexuality?
The gay and transgender communities aren’t united, as people fear for their lives, so not many people actually identify themselves with the communities.

So do you consider yourself brave for being so open about your gender and sexuality?
Yes, I am brave. If I wish to see a change, I myself have to inspire it. I had to put myself out there and make myself seen so that people know that transgenders do exist and see that we are normal people trying to live our everyday lives like human beings. We need people like myself who are willing to challenge this country and its government.

The media often hold dancehall culture responsible for the homophobia in Jamaica—what’s your view on that?
I think the main contribution comes from the church and their social ethics concerning what is right and wrong. It puzzles me how cruel human beings can be and how biased they are because the church claims that we are demons and bashes us instead of trying to counsel us.

Yeah, it seems a little illogical.
I know, right? But, like, seriously—I care zero.

So I take it there isn’t much of an LGBT nightlife scene where you are? 
Well, there was, but there’s nothing now—just regular venues that they rent to us.

Do you think Jamaica will ever get round to changing its anti-sodomy laws and modernizing its stance on homosexuality?
Well, it actually seems to be on the verge of doing this.

Because gay culture is growing or because of pressure from other countries?
Both. But time will tell, and I don’t wish to make predictions.

Where do you see yourself in that battle?
I see myself as being the first transgender to be an ambassador for the country. I want to advocate for human rights, be a feminist choreographer and also be a whole lot of other things.

Great. Thanks, Tiana.