Patrick, Policy Analyst, Nairobi, Kenya

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Patrick, in his own words: “What does being gay mean to you?

Tough question. Definitely one that a straight person doesn’t face and doesn’t have to answer. In my view, that’s the path I’ll take when faced with this question. It means being Patrick. It means being a person. It means being there for my friends. It means being a source of humour for them. Kevin that’s a really, really difficult question!

(With regards to challenges) Too many to even think of and furthermore, being a really private person makes this a difficult question to answer. I’ve been very lucky academically and professionally and I’m very happy with my career. The biggest challenge was accepting that I’m prone to bouts of depression and having to learn how to deal with it. It probably stems from when I was younger and susceptible to bullies at school. It all happened a very long time ago and I’m glad that I developed skin as thick as a rhino’s. I’m very sure of myself now. Perhaps a tad bit too sure.

There comes a time in your life when you have to make a very personal decision and let your truth come out. I had always known that I was different and it disturbed me. It took me a long time to accept my truth and when I got to that stage in my thinking, it was time to share it with those closest to me. I came out at 22. The first person I told was my sister, and I followed it up by telling our cousin. It wasn’t complicated, lacked drama and was a bit of an anticlimax to be honest. Same thing with my mother. I was expecting fireworks and didn’t get any (my sister will probably insist that I have a penchant for drama even though I categorically deny that I do). Truth is, I still find myself having to come out all the time-to new friends, at work, wherever. I’ve never had to make any major announcements. I just assume that people assume that I’m gay and will always answer in the affirmative if asked.

(The gay community in Nairobi is)Vast and varied. There is a diversity of groups divided along age and class lines. There are multiple scenes. It’s really hard to describe it because I don’t really belong to any of the scenes therefore I’m probably not best placed to answer the question. I do have gay friends in the city, but our interactions are completely merged with experiences with straight friends. With the group of friends I spend a lot of time with, it’s very integrated.

(With regards to advice to my younger self) Another daunting question!

-Make no apologies about being who you are-particularly in your dealings with bullies. It’s quite likely that they’re working through major insecurities and might be projecting these issues on you.

-Do not focus too much on what you think people may be thinking of you. They’re busily wrapped up in their own lives and have their own problems.

-Be happy, smile, be radiant! Do the things that give you pleasure, no matter their opinions of people around you.

-Always remember that your dearest and nearest have your back.

-Most importantly, try not to avoid the rugby pitch!”

3 comments

  1. Jem

    Thank you for sharing your experiences, Patrick. I like your sense of humour too. Lovely to see fellow Africans making it regardless. Your sharing is inspiring to others like me. And thank you, Kevin, once more for making all this possible. I love it.

  2. mike plambeck

    I find it very interesting that gay people all over the world share similar experiences and despite many obstacles find happiness.

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