My name is Faith, 21 years old and currently studying Travel and tourism management. I am Kenyan living in Nairobi. Being gay in Kenya is not an easy thing especially with homophobic attacks currently being rampant. I could say I am in the most ‘gay friendly’ city because I can meet other lesbians and gays. Where I was born is a very small town and I do not think there is a grand chance anyone will be coming out publicly, unless I go back and be the first!
Very few people are fully out of the closet and one can only hope for the best for them. I am not fully out yet, but I may be in the near future. Only a few close friends know that I am gay. In the past 5 years after high school I dated guys but I always knew it did not feel satisfying. I had dated my high school mate and I still did not want to admit that I was a lesbian. It remained like that until I began identifying as a bisexual. I could comfortably tell people I was interested in I was bisexual. I was okay with that. However, my attraction for girls became stronger and stronger and I just could not hide it. So I told my best friends. I could say I am blessed with heaven-sent friends. They were very okay with it but worried at the same time. We all know how homosexuality is perceived in the country. Lesbians are raped, assaulted and beaten up if identified by the wrong kind of people. I told them I will be fine. I have not yet experienced verbal insults or any homophobic behavior and I pray it be like that for a long time to come.
This year 2012 I joined a local lesbian and bisexual women organization named AFRA-Artists for Recognition and Acceptance. I had to because I did not know any lesbians near me. I needed people whose sexual orientation is similar to mine so that I could know what goes on in our world, be informed. The first time I went for the registration I was in awe. Everybody at the center was like me, men and women; it was like a rainbow heaven to me! It was my first time to meet people who would not judge me. At least right now I can say I have some gay friends and we talk about anything and have fun together. There are few night clubs where we go to. However, we are not allowed to be intimate or to do stuff. You will be kicked out! Some of the clubs ban homosexuals from entering the premises. Talk of rejection.
After this I decided to come out to some of my relatives and that would be my brother and male cousin. I am not exactly close to my brother but he is someone I can confide in. This is actually interesting because I planned for the three of us to meet at my brother’s apartment one evening. I told them I had news for them and they got into listening positions and all faced me. I was really nervous but I knew I had to. “Umm,….I am gay” It was as if I was outside my body watching myself talking. I could not believe I had said that. I felt relieved. My cousin said as long as I am happy he is happy for me. Well, my brother said he does not have a stand on homosexuality but I am still his sister so all is cool. He wondered how I would tell our parents. I said that would be after some years when I am ready. He opted out when that time comes because he hates confrontation.
Honestly I do not know how I will come out to my parents. I am a daddy’s girl and lately quite close to my mum. I usually look at them and try to imagine what their reactions would be. I am completely clueless. I feel like I need to spare my mum the lectures on unplanned pregnancy, contraceptives and boys who will only use me. I am very sure my mum and dad have never met a gay guy or lesbian and only see them on television. I only hope for their understanding when I do tell them.
Anyway, it has gotten quite scary in the past few months with lesbian attacks. For example,
People are ignorant and insecure. Most say homosexuality is un-African. It is really unfortunate what happens and what the authorities do to put a restraint on such attackers. This scares most lesbians and it makes them hide even deeper into the closet. Personally it makes me think about the people I come out to. My safety sure does come first. There is an organization GALCK, Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya. It offers a safe and enabling environment for LGBTI organizations and individuals in Kenya. They promote recognition, acceptance and defend the interests and rights of LGBTI organizations and their members including their health rights.
I pray for my community to stop being ignorant and try to be more accepting of homosexuals. We are here to stay and we do not have a disease that makes us repulsive or that we need a cure. Anyone can be gay, your brother, sister, cousin or best friend. There are better things to do than rejecting us.