Forced out of everywhere else they have tried to live — their parents’ homes, then abandoned buildings, then an open-air gully — the youths now live in the drainage tunnels of New Kingston, except when police raid and oust them from there.
Concerned citizens who are raising money to provide food, shelter and human services to the youths made an extra effort on their behalf in recognition of the the holiday. In this lightly edited account, Yvonne McCalla-Sobers tells about the event:
“Nevin Powell and others made Christmas special for our homeless LGBT youth living in New Kingston’s sewers by cooking them Christmas dinner. He also brought them Christmas bags with goodies as well as pre-owned clothing and shoes.
“Yesterday [Christmas Eve] I called Fr. Sean Major-Campbell of Christchurch, Vineyard Town in downtown Kingston and mentioned by the way that the youth would be having Christmas Dinner today. He promised to come, and surprised me by arranging to spend at least two hours with the group. He said grace before lunch, and then spoke with the youth after lunch.
“He told them a story about a US$100 bill that still maintained its value as much when it was new as when it was crushed and trodden on. He asked the youth to remind themselves that they were like that hundred-dollar bill, with value despite their present condition. He kept the youths’ attention, and they responded well to what he said. He also told me that, at his Christmas Day service this morning, he told his congregation where he would be today.
“While we were in the gathering, the youths took the opportunity to thank Nevin for providing for them so they could feel reassured that there were people who cared for them. They also expressed their gratitude to me personally.
“The police circled the area, but there were no incidents. Traffic on Trafalgar Road was minimal, and the openness of the location seems to have worked favourably for us. I have heard passersby shout insults at the youth on many previous occasions. But presumably people were in their homes having dinner while we were in the park today.”
To contribute to the effort to establish Dwayne’s House, a permanent shelter for homeless LGBT youths:
- In the United States, make online tax-deductible contributions to Dwayne’s House via the Open Arms Metropolitan Community Church in Rochester, N.Y. (On the church’s PayPal Web pages, on the page for reviewing your donation, write “Dwayne’s House” in the field labeled “Add special instructions to the seller”) before authorizing the donation.)
- In Canada, make online contributions to Dwayne’s House that are eligible for tax credit via the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto. (Write “Dwayne’s House” in the Message/Instructions field of the church’s page at the CanadaHelps.org donation site.)
- In Jamaica, activists can be contacted via the Dwayne’s House Facebook page and a Web site, which is still partially under construction. Work is under way to incorporate Dwayne’s House in Jamaica, which will allow it to do its own fund-raising.