Karanja, in his own words: “To be gay is to live with valour. It brings with it a host of responsibilities because as a gay man I must help to rewrite a story penned over hundreds of years. Few living creatures are more misunderstood than members of the gay community and as a gay man it is my duty to shake up age old beliefs, world views, stereotypes and miseducation. More importantly, to be gay is to be who I was born into this world to be. It is not a learned identity and the day I accepted this wholly is when I truly begun to live; and boy have I lived. I almost did not want to be gay because my friends from the church talked me into believing life would be better with Jesus and a gay man cannot possibly have Jesus. This was one of the bleakest moments in my life. Not even death has brought me such misery. But now I know who I am and it is nothing I will ever keep secret because to do so is to allow the disgusting, bigoted social construct that is homophobia a victory. I must say though, I hope that one day my children will be able to live in a world where nobody needs to say whether they are gay or not, because it really does not matter.
I’ve met a myriad of challenges on this journey. None important enough to discuss. My greatest success is not being closeted, followed by the friendships and relationships I have built with people from across the globe, across all classes of the social spectrum, from across all races, religions and genders, from across all sexual orientations. With an exception of two stray individuals who are no longer a part of my life, there is not one person that I ever called friend or family that deserted me when I came out.
(My coming out) story is a bit of a legend among my loved ones. I had told two or three very close friends I was gay but when I was 17 mother and I had a ridiculous fight and she threw me out. As it turns out, when she was tossing my shit out the day of my forceful eviction, she found my stash of Gay Times, lube, condoms and some articles I had been writing on being a gay teen in Nairobi. Two weeks later I was summoned before her terrifying presence. She confronted me and asked if I was gay so I came out with it. In the two weeks that I was away, my ninja mum had gathered so much intelligence about where I hang out, with whom etcetera. I have never known how. Coming out was the best thing I have ever done. I become a man and I became independent and more confident than I ever was. Mum and I are now super buddies. She doesn’t directly approach the subject because it is not her thing really but I make sure she is well aware even when she slips and mentions girlfriends to me that I am her beloved GAY son.
Well (the gay community in Nairobi) is gloriously gay, I’ll tell you that much. We have a whole bunch of cross-dressing gays, we have butch gays, professional gays, rural gays, expatriate gays, professional gays, blackmailing gays, thieving gays….the whole ten yards. It is growing rapidly and it is vibrant and getting bolder. I much prefer to stay away from all of it though. Quite a lot of man stealing, backstabbing, hearsay, character assassination and mudslinging. It’s like an animal pen.
(Advice, I’d give my younger self) SLOW THE BLOODY HELL DOWN.”