Why Are So Many LGBTQ Youth Living In Jamaica’s Sewers?
Because they’ve got no where else to go.
“Queer and here” is a mantra so familiar in the US, you can buy a tie-dyed t-shirt with the saying printed across the front at your local Walgreens. But in Jamaica, coming out as homosexual means losing your safety and security. As proof positive, nearly 25 gay and trans youths call the Kingston storm drains home. Rejected from their homes and families, the group of society-deemed misfits took refuge in the city sewers, a place they call the gully.
Daggering, one of the youths living in the gully, describes homosexuality as a completely rejected notion in Jamaican culture.
“Jamaica is a homophobic society. We grow up to dislike homosexuals. We grow up to hate homosexuality,” Daggering said.
The self-described “Gully Queens” exist in the city drains out of necessity—but, as you might imagine, it’s no place any human being should call home. “Right now, we all want to leave the gully because you don’t know what might happen,” said Daggering. “Who will jump down. The gully is cold, mosquitoes bite you. So, in the gully, it’s like hell down there.”
Christo Geoghegan, a London-based documentary photographer and journalist, set out to record the lifestyle of the self-described, “Gully Queens.” The Vice documentary chronicled the horrific abuse their community has encountered.
Through his imagery, Geoghegan hoped to capture the proud personas of his subjects, rather than the image society has attempted to force upon them.
“I wanted to be able to use the photographs and accompanying documentary film as a way for them to display their sexuality and personality the way they wanted to,” Geoghegan said, “and not the way that society had told them that they should.”
According to a recent interview with Feature Shoot, the Gully Queens have been evicted by Jamaican police. Geoghegan hopes to return to Jamaica to follow up on their journey.
Ultimately, Geoghegan does not want his series to force viewers to feel sorry for his subjects. He wants us to admire the individuals portrayed for their strength, their beauty and style.“The photos aim to be a celebration of their spirit amidst the adversity they face each and every day and not purely ‘misery porn’ that only focuses on their hardships, because there is so much more to them than just that,” he said.