Gareth Henry is a Jamaican badminton player. He competed at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, as well as the Pan American Games in 2011 and 2015. In August of this year, Henry and his partner won the men’s doubles gold at the Central American and Caribbean Games. They were the only team from Jamaica to feature in the finals.
Aside from his successful badminton career, Gareth Henry is a gay rights activist who seeks social justice for the LGBTQ community. Henry was in his teens when he discovered his attraction to other men but found it very hard to come out to anyone, because Jamaica remains a country where consensual same-sex relationships are criminalized. There has been some progress in recent years, however, many still face homophobic threats and violence. As was the case for Gareth Henry.
He began volunteering for the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals, and Gays (J-FLAG), but in 2004 when the co-founder was murdered, Henry found himself in the role as new director for J-FLAG. Over the next four years, he pushed to create change while also suffering the loss of 13 friends who were killed in homophobic attacks. Gareth Henry’s activism made him a target of law enforcement where he was attacked on three different occasions, including one incident in which four police officers beat him with their guns. In 2008, Henry fled to Canada to seek refuge and was granted asylum because he feared for his life.
Gareth Henry now lives in Toronto, with his family who eventually had to seek refuge for supporting him. Today, he works at the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation and volunteers for Rainbow Railroad in an effort to help relocate LGBTQ people who live in fear of their lives around the world.