Skip to content

Like Butter in the Sun: Jude Dawson’s Journey to Freedom

Like Butter in the Sun: Jude Dawson’s Journey to F... Like Butter in the Sun: Jude Dawson’s Journey to F...

Jude Dawson is a gay man who uses the pronouns he, him, and handsome. He speaks about his experience resettling in France from Jamaica in vivid terms. “My experience resettling is like butter in the sun,” he says; it was extremely difficult to stay whole and survive. 

For many of the people Rainbow Railroad helps, leaving their home country is a last resort option, because of the immense challenges posed by resettling in another country. Because of operational constraints like visa availability, state surveillance, and changing laws, the number of resettlement countries is limited, and even when relocation is possible there can be major language, financial, and cultural barriers. 

This was the case with Jude. He didn’t speak French, and he experienced intense culture shock. By far the biggest challenge was an emotional one: letting go of the need to hide his true self. Day by day, he internalized the fact that being a gay man in France — a country with strong legal protections for LGBTQI+ people — was okay, and that he could live his life authentically. Starting to live authentically meant that he could also start processing the traumatic experiences he endured while living as a gay man in Jamaica. For the first time in his life, he was able to start planning a real long-term future for himself instead of just surviving from day to day. 

Jude first reached out to Rainbow Railroad in 2021 when he was attacked in public for living his life as a gay man. The attack left him hospitalized for weeks and was a turning point in his life, leading him to the realization that he could no longer stay in his country of birth. This was not the first time he’d suffered abuse either, and he came to the sad realization that he had a choice: continue running, hiding, and being attacked, or leave Jamaica and face all of the challenges of resettling in a new country.

Rebuilding & Reconnecting: Finding Faith & Community in France

With the help of Rainbow Railroad, he is now safer in France, and rebuilding his life. Part of rebuilding his life has been reconnecting with his faith and making space for being both a Christian and a gay man. These days, he’s building community with the Unity Fellowship Church Global and, of course, continuing to be fabulous.

When asked about Rainbow Railroad’sPride theme Solidarity in Pride, Jude shared: “To me, Solidarity in Pride means recognizing that our struggles and victories are interconnected, and standing together to uplift and protect one another, regardless of our differences. It’s about amplifying the voices of those most marginalized and working collectively towards a more inclusive and equitable world.” 

Jude continues to do the painstaking work of resettling in France. It’s only been a few years and much of his early resettlement was during the COVID-19 pandemic, when opportunities to socialize and find community were limited. Despite the difficulties of having to resettle across the world to live an ordinary life as his true fabulous self, he remains positive and has a hopeful message to all those struggling.

“You are not alone,” he says. “Your identity is valid, and you deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. There is a community that stands with you in solidarity and supports you. Stay strong, and know that brighter days are ahead. You are worthy of love, acceptance, and equality. I am proof of that.”

This year, Rainbow Railroad will receive more than 15,000 requests for help from LGBTQI+ people around the world experiencing persecution and violence simply because of who they are or who they love. Be a part of their journey from Persecution to Pride by making a donation and supporting our work.