Tagged: support

A Note from Faith, in Nairobi, Kenya…

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,

“Minister’s Son Stabs His Lesbian Girlfriend At USIU After Shocking Revelations”

“Three Lesbians Beaten, Assaulted In Nairobi CBD”

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.

For My Son, Kevin

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong

This story is just for Kevin, my son, because he asked me to write about my opinion of him being a gay man. This is a difficult subject for me and very sensitive to Kevin. However, to make him happy, I agreed to write a short story for him

Kevin was born as a beautiful boy in a refugee camp in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur in a hot summer of 1982, after I had escaped Vietnam in a fishing boat with my two small daughters. We later were transported to a camp in the Philippines when he was a few months old. He was so cute and chubby looking, so every time I carried him outside, the neighbors in the refugee camp would ask me if they could hold him. He was such a precious boy to me and his young two sisters. In those days, I was a young woman with my three small children and lived peacefully in a refugee camp after beating the odds of survival in the open sea. Kevin was taken care of by his 10 year-old sister in the refugee camp while I attended daily a half day of classes about the new culture in our soon to be new country of America. This was a requirement by the US government, as a culture shock might occur to us if we did not prepare for that.

We arrived to the USA in Feb 19th 1983, and Kevin was only eight months old, along with his two sisters, each of them were separated by five years of age respectively. It was not easy for me as a single mom with three small children in a new country. Being busy with schedules of work, ESL school, school homework, shopping, driving classes etc. I did not pay attention or have much time for my children, because I was always tired or exhausted from work and chores. They very much grew up by themselves, and their behaviors were influenced by their peers. Kevin grew up surrounded by three woman, me and his two sisters. There was not a figure of a man as a father to him. No man there to teach him to play sport or teach him how to grow up to be a man. I always thought that my son would be normal like every one else when he grew up. Never in my mind did it occur that he would be different. He always came with friends who were beautiful teenage girls in the neighborhood or from his school. I always saw him with beautiful girl friends.

Until one fall day when he was at home after serving in the Americorp Volunteer program in Orange County, CA when he was twenty-five. He told me, “Mom I have something to tell you, but you have to be calm.” So I started to get nervous, and asked him what was it about. Then he told me that he was gay. I could not believe what I heard, had I heard wrong? Or maybe he tried to pull my leg. But he already spilled it out, and his face was serious. His words were clear, and I had never had a problem of hearing before. So my son stood tall because he did not want to hide from his mother. He wanted to come out of a closet. I did not recall what my feelings were at that moment. Yes, I was disappointed, and was in fear of him being different. I had read news one time of a guy named Matthew who was killed by a hatred group. I knew that the society was prejudiced towards the gay group, and religion condemned their sins.

For me my mind went blank. What is gay? Does it make any difference, as he is always my son, and he is still the same Kevin by look, his body did not shrink an inch, his mind is still smart, his talent is still there. I just tried to forget what he told me and went on with my daily routine. I thought to myself whatever made him happy, that’s what mattered.

He has only one life to live, as not many people would live past 100 years. So what Kevin is gay? To calm myself I theorized that at least he would not fuss around with women, then impregnate them and then have to pay child support, or get married then get a divorce, and have children that would suffer. That eased my mind a little, however, I still was disappointed. Who would not want their son to be normal, under the eyes of one’s society?

Sometimes when I lied in bed and thought about Kevin, I would blame myself for not raising him up right. The mystery of Kevin being a gay man was never solved in my mind. I still did not understand what element had made him gay. I remember when he was 15 years old and used to hang out with two pretty teen girls in my neighborhood, and went to the prom with a beautiful young Filipino girl, and had a picture taken with her that was in his room all the time. A few years later, sometimes I saw that girl at the church and she would always ask about Kevin. She liked him so much. I always wished that Kevin would marry that charming Filipino girl. God did not grant me that blessing. There must be a reason. I had many theories about why he became gay. The first one was maybe when I was two months pregnant with Kevin and escaping out of Vietnam in a fishing boat, I may not have had enough nutrients to feed the fetus. Or maybe because Kevin grew up without a man around him, or maybe he hung out with a wrong group. Or there was a curse in my family. So many theories, but I knew I would never find the answers as to the reason. Kevin being a gay man would always be a mystery and maybe it is God’s will.

Today, he asked me, “Mom tell me honestly how do you feel about me being gay.” So I told him, “Why do you want to stir that up, the surface of the lake was flat and smooth, now you want to throw a rock and make bubbles.” I told him that I did not want him to stand up for gay groups, in fear for my son being jeopardized. He said it was important to him, he had a blog site, and people discussed about that, but he is safe.

I told Kevin that if you want my honest opinion, I would tell him that if everyone in the planet was gay then it would be the end because no one would have children. However, God didn’t create it that way, because your group is a small group, and they are like a group of the same type of trees standing strong together under this universe, and they are no different than the other trees. All the trees need the same basic needs for survival. They need water to nutrient them and they want to be recognized by other groups because they were also creations from the same Lord and in the same planet.

I told Kevin that the gay group is harmless to other peoples. You want to live happiness among the same type, for me it should be acceptable. The Lord had his opinion to create this universe. I just hope that society should leave them alone, and not be prejudiced about your group or ever harm them. Like many times I have heard, all men are created equal, so should you be. You should be treated like others. It doesn’t matter if you are gay or not.

I wish that my son should have a happy life and there will not be any obstacle on his career or hatred wherever he wants to go or whatever he wants to do to accomplish the things that he wants to do in his life. As long as he does good things for a society, whatever his private life people should not judge him, let it be the Lord at the day he is called home.

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong