Gareth Henry: Free from the shackles of impunity

What does it take to be free? Would you consider putting your accolades on the line to live a free life? Once considered a champion of the great badminton game, Gareth Henry status has changed to public enemy number 1 in Jamaica. Why? Well, born in 1977, Gareth was raised from a tightly knit family with the exception of his father. At the age of ten, Henry began attending high school, and during this period, he realized that he was different from the normal boys in school. In 2010, Gareth Henry became a household name among the badminton community for his outstanding performance in the pitch.

Aged 15 years, he realized that he had a strong affection for boys; this created fear since he knew by being outspoken he would invite the wrath of people who held a different view with him. This ultimately caused him to be a loner among his peers. Realizing that he was dying from the inside, he arranged to leave his family with the help of an uncle. Miles away he felt free and began being an outspoken gay rights activist.

After high school, Gareth Henry left for Kingston Jamaica where he received his Bachelor honors in the field of social work. Later, he attended the University of West Indies where he graduated with an advanced degree in behavioral change. Upon graduation, he began volunteering for JASL – an activist group that seeks to create awareness on HIV/AIDS. While working at this organization, he came across individuals who influenced him to become openly gay. In 1998, he and other individuals decided to start a rights group that helps promote the LGBTQ community rights – JFLAG. In 2004, the group’s leader Brian Williamson was stabbed to death in what most thought it was a homophobic attack. With nobody willing to pick the mantle as the leader, Gareth Henry decided to lead the group at a young age.

His naïve nature as a leader for the J-FLAG was quickly thwarted when he constantly came across people who hated his views on gayism. It was baffling to him that most people hated him just because he was gay and not because he was a bad person. During his tenure as the J-flag leader, he lost over 13 friends due to homophobic attacks. This took a toll on him, and he eventually decided to seek asylum in Canada.

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Gareth Henry: Free from the shackles of impunity

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