Upon meeting Maurice Tomlinson, one would never guess all that he has been through in his life. His smiling face lights up the room and his laughter is immediately contagious. Nothing about the LGBTI rights advocate’s demeanor reveals that he was forced out of his home country of Jamaica after threats to his life.
Mariela Castro Espin, the daughter of Cuban president Raul Castro and the late former president Fidel Castro, has been creating her own revolution.
The film begins with drive-by scenes of Puerto Rico: blue sky, sun-soaked houses surrounded by greenery, the ocean in the distance. The camera focuses back into the car, a person of ambiguous gender in the driver’s seat, with straight blond hair flying back in the wind.
The cold, mosquito-filled storm drains of Kingston, Jamaica are no place that any human would want to visit, let alone inhabit. Yet, these storm drains are home to over 25 young LGBTI Jamaicans who have been kicked out of their homes and excluded from Jamaican society. These young and vibrant Jamaicans that go by names such as Batman, Beyoncé, Rihanna and Pebbles, have built a community in the storm drains in order to escape the risk of being openly gay[i]. They are the gully queens.
Latin America does not rank well when it comes to transgender protection. In fact, between January 2008 and December 2014, “1,356 killings of trans and gender-diverse people have been reported in Central and South America, which account for 78% of the globally reported murders of trans and gender-diverse people” (Transgender Europe, 2015).
The Bolivian LGBT community celebrated a historic triumph this past November when transgender Bolivians officially gained the right to change their name, sex and gender on legal documents.