Teenager Dwayne Jones had always been different, his life always brutally painful because of it.
In high school, he was mercilessly mocked because he was effeminate. Ultimately, he dropped out.
His father kicked him out of the house at age 14 -- but didn't stop there. He and some others who lived in the same slum in Jamaica banished him from the whole neighborhood. Dwayne's own dad turned on him in the ultimate act of betrayal.
Dwayne's short life ended a few weeks ago when he was just 16 years old at the hands of a vicious, cruel mob. He'd been shot, stabbed, beaten, and run over by a car. He'd dressed as a woman for a "straight" block party and would probably have gone unnoticed except for one fatal mistake: he told a girl from church he ran into there who he really was beneath the clothes.
Dwayne Jones was murdered because he was transgender, the victim of an unimaginably violent hate crime.
"When I saw Dwayne's body, I started shaking and crying," said one of the boy's transgender roommates Khloe, who declined to give her last name to protect herself. "It was horrible. It was so, so painful to see him like that."
Jamaica has been identified by Human Rights Watch and other advocacy groups as the worst and most intolerant country in the West for gay and transgender people, with violence against that population far too common and their ostracization from society even more frequent. There hasn't been a single arrest in Jones' killing, even though there were 300 people at the party and numerous witnesses to the crime.
There was also little information about Dwayne's mother or the rest of his family, other than the devastating part his dad played in abandoning him and leaving him homeless. What is known is that they have refused to even claim his body, let alone speak of the fact that he was transgender.
How could anyone treat their own child or relative -- their own flesh and blood -- this way? It's sad and sickening beyond words. It's a hideous mix of ignorance, fear, and raw hatred that would compel parents to do this to their little boy, no matter what he turns out to be like when he grows up.
It may come from a lack of education or from peer pressure or from the absence of knowledge and understanding. It obviously comes from prejudice and fear of "differences." More than likely, it comes from all of the above. But any way you look at it, it's disgusting.
There is no hope for Dwayne anymore. But maybe one day, his vicious killing because of sexual orientation will be avenged somehow and justice will be served. Our hearts go out to this poor child and the few who did truly love him.
What do you think about this horrifying case?
Image via Rennett Stowe/Flickr