Nobody knows the story of survival and resilience better than the gay man: more so today the gay man from Africa.
As I sit here, in my skinny pants and tiny vest, my heart cannot help but break for all gay men in Kenya. One might ask, why just the gay man? The answer is simple yet so overbearingly heart wrenching. From what I see and know only too well, it is easier for a lesbian woman to blend in, they are after all women, and women are naturally accepted in our society, so two women dancing close or sharing a moment is assumed to be ‘nothing serious’. An embrace between two women is even celebrated and encouraged as an un-nerving form of erotica.
Transgender women and men on the other hand are perceived to be ‘just another boy or girl’ in Kenya, few if any bother to look beneath the veneers’, as it should be. After all, we all deserve the right to privacy and freedom of choice.
As for the gay man; he cannot blend in, if he does it means that he has been forced to make the choice to hide in order to shield and protect himself, from involuntary scrutiny, condemnation and further discrimination. All because of his sexual orientation and gender identity, a part of his being that he has no choice or control over. We either have to make the brave decision to jump and pay the ultimate price, or sink in the restricting closet of denial and shame.
Such is the case in Kenya and almost every African country today, even those whose laws have been progressive enough to accord the LGBT community the recognition and right to exist, protected by their constitutions. I once faced such frightening hate crime on Rocky Street in Johannesburg, the one place in Africa, where a gay man would expect freedom and peace.
The situation as it stands creates a damning picture for the gay man residing in Africa today. We are vilified for just being, right from our sense of expression, to the places we choose to go to, to the careers our passions lead us to, to the very people we choose to love. It is very dangerous to be gay in this part of the world, and as is the case in many tragic scenarios this year, even life threatening.
We desperately pray and hope for the support and love we require to be able to see a day of freedom and the right to live. We cannot go it alone however, we need the voices and the actions from our brethren and allies from all over the world. Nobody who claims to be a humanist will sit back and watch. Not if you lay claim to the dream of seeing a true and present world of peace and harmonious human co-existence.