Gareth Henry, an openly-gay male badminton player from Jamaica, has competed and won medals throughout his career from such world-class competitions as the Commonwealth Games and the Pan American Games. He was crowned with his gold medal at the Central American and Caribbean Games. His sister, Giordine, is also a professional badminton player. They have managed to teamed up over the years and even win the mixed doubles competition at the Jamaican National Badminton Championships not once, but twice.
Gareth Henry learned early on that being openly gay in Jamaica could be life-threatening. He wasn’t raised in a traditional family setting. Without a father figure, his grandmother and aunt took care of him while his mother took care of his sister. He realized, as a child, that he was attracted to men. Gareth Henry realized being gay in Jamaica was dangerous. As a young child, he remembers seeing a gay man being harassed. He kept his sexuality a secret until he turned 16 and was able to move to a new environment with his uncle where he could begin to express his true self to both himself and the world.
It seemed that the more of Jamaica’s culture Gareth Henry was able to experience, the more gay-hate he witnessed. Unfortunately, the hate crimes were from both citizens and law enforcement officials. He decided to involve himself in gay rights activism to raise awareness for the rights of gays and lesbians. As he immersed himself more and more into fighting to raise awareness, he found himself rising in the ranks of the organizations he was involved with, particularly J-Flag. As he vigilantly fought for rights, he witnessed peers and colleagues being abused, tortured and even murdered for their beliefs. He began to fear for his safety as his reputation grew in Jamaica. He felt that he had no choice but to leave.
Gareth Henry is now very active in gay and lesbian rights in Canada, where he sought refuge in 2008. His family would later join him. He is now married and is still heavily involved in gay-rights activism.
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