Even though some 300 people were at the dance party in the small riverside community of Irwin, police have yet to make a single arrest in Dwayne’s murder. Police say witnesses have said they couldn’t see the attackers’ faces.
Dwayne was the center of attraction shortly after arriving in a taxi at 2 a.m. with his two 23-year-old housemates, Khloe and Keke. Dwayne’s expert dance moves, long legs and high cheekbones quickly made him the one that the guys were trying to get next to.
Like many Jamaican homosexuals, Dwayne was careful about confiding in others about his sexual orientation. But when he saw a girl he had known from church, he told her he was attending the party in drag.
Minutes later, according to Khloe and Keke, the girl’s male friends gathered around Dwayne in the dimly-lit street asking: “Are you a woman or a man?” One man waved a lighter’s flame near Dwayne’s sneakers, asking whether a girl could have such big feet.
Then, his friends said, another man grabbed a lantern from an outdoor bar and walked over to Dwayne, shining the bright light over him from head to toe. “It’s a man,” he concluded, while the others hissed “batty boy” and other anti-gay epithets.
Khloe says she tried to steer him away from the crowd, whispering in Dwayne’s ear: “Walk with me, walk with me.” But Dwayne pulled away, loudly insisting to partygoers that he was a girl. When someone behind him snapped his bra strap, the teen panicked and raced down the street.
But he couldn’t run fast enough to escape the mob.
The teenager was viciously assaulted and apparently half-conscious for some two hours before another sustained attack finished him off, according to Khloe, who was also beaten and nearly raped. She hid in a nearby church and then the surrounding woods, unable to call for help because she didn’t have her cellphone.
Dwayne’s father in the Montego Bay slum of North Gully didn’t want to talk about his son’s life or death. The teen’s family wouldn’t even claim the body, according to Dwayne’s friends.
They remembered him as a spirited boy with a contagious laugh who dreamt of becoming a performer like Lady Gaga. He was also a street-smart hustler who resorted to sleeping in the bushes or on beaches when he became homeless. He won a local dancing competition during his time on the streets and was affectionately nicknamed “Gully Queen.”
“He was the youngest of us but he was a diva,” Khloe said. “He was always very feisty and joking around.”
Inside their squatter house, Khloe and Keke said, they still talk to their dead friend.
“I’ll be cooking in the kitchen and I’ll say, ‘Dwayne, you hungry?’ or something like that,” said Keke while sitting on the old mattress in her bedroom, flinching as neighborhood dogs barked outside. “We just miss him all the time. Sometimes I think I see him.”
But down the hall, Dwayne’s room is empty except for pink window curtains decorated with roses, his favorite flower.