Gareth Henry’s Fight for the LGBTQ Community

Well known Jamaican badminton player, Gareth Henry has broken ground in risking his life to support the LGBTQ movement. Born in 1977 in St. Mary’s Jamaica, Henry endured a hard life. His sexuality was not accepted well in his small Jamaican town, driving him to Jamaica’s capital, Kingston, Jamaica. There, Gareth Henry began volunteering for Jamaica AIDS Support for Life and the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals, and Gays (J-FLAG). His gay identity had become life-threatening in his native land. After Brian Williamson, co-founder of J-FLAG was murdered it seemed no one was brave enough to fill his chair for fear that they too might be murdered. Henry risked his life to stand up as J-FLAG’s new director, but with this came much more difficulties. Homophobic attacks ran rampant throughout the area. Gareth Henry lost 13 of his friends to these attacks as well as being a victim several times to homophobic attacks committed by the city’s own police officers.

Even after reporting the incidents to officials, his cases were dismissed and ignored. Garehth Henry’s life in Kingston had become increasingly violent and he’d finally reached a crossroads. The next chapter of Henry’s life would begin in Canada, where he sought after safety as a refugee. Even though Henry never returned to Jamaica he continued his support for LGBTQ, working with Rainbow Railroad. Rainbow Railroad is a nonprofit that assists in relocating LGBTQ refugees. He also fights to encourage the community in Jamaica to continue the fight against hate and discrimination. He went on to marry and divorce Aron Charles but now is happily engaged to his fiancee, Patrick Suragdeen. His mother, sister, and other family members also relocated to Toronto after facing threats. Now, Gareth Henry is praised and admired for his courage and determination to bring change to the LGBTQ community all around the globe.