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According to a 2007 Jamaican study, almost 100 gays and lesbians were targeted in mob attacks over a six-month period. When Jamaica's leading gay rights activist was murdered in 2004, a crowd gathered at the crime scene to celebrate.

Staceyann Chin is a critically acclaimed poet, playwright, performer and lesbian activist who was born and raised in Jamaica. She says she fled her native home because of the vicious crimes being committed against people like her. She now lives in a small Caribbean neighborhood in New York City. "I like being with people who look like me and sound like me," she says.

Staceyann says she didn't know she was a lesbian until after her late teens. "I grew up in the church in Jamaica, so I grew up knowing that being gay was a bad thing," she says.

Many parts of the Jamaican culture are homophobic, she says. "I grew up listening to these songs like 'Boom Bye-Bye,'" she says. "It really says that, you know, the sound of a gunshot is like boom bye bye, you know, you're shooting a gay man in the head. They have to die. You always have to be looking over your shoulder for your own safety."
FROM: Gay Around the World
Published on January 01, 2006