In Summary
  • This generation is a much braver group of individuals trying to ensure other Kenyans learn to love, live and accept themselves for who they are.
  • But there are many individuals from the community who have experienced physical and verbal violence and various forms of discrimination.
  • It was in 2016 that campaigners filed a case in Kenya's High Court calling for the decriminalisation of gay sex.
  • There will also be a movement championing the rights of our community, and demanding a more inclusive Kenya.

Kenya's High Court has ruled against campaigners seeking to overturn a law banning gay sex. But there is much to be proud of in the fight for equality despite this setback, writes Kevin Mwachiro.

Thirteen years ago, I would never have thought that Kenya could get to this point - that our LGBTQ community would go to court and fight for our rights. We have come a long way.

This generation is a much braver group of individuals trying to ensure other Kenyans learn to love, live and accept themselves for who they are. Our community is also trying to help other Kenyans understand our lives.

Thirteen years ago, I told myself that I would not live a life that panders to societal approval. I was not going to put myself in a sham, straight relationship or marriage so as to keep my relatives happy.

I wanted to be happy for myself, the way I am.

THE EXPERIENCE

Some of my friends say that I'm brave to be publicly out. It took me a long time to understand what they meant, because I was just being myself, there was no bravery.

I am lucky that I live in a part of town where people really don't bother you about your life.

I've worked with organisations that respect sexual orientation. I have not experienced any form of violence or overt discrimination.

I have not been denied access to a home, work or services because of my orientation. Maybe a few stares and whispers here and there, but that's as far it has gone. I am lucky.

But there are many individuals from the community who have experienced physical and verbal violence and various forms of discrimination.

Gay sex ruling

Members of the public are pictured outside the High Court on May 25, 2019, during a ruling on the decriminalisation of consensual same sex. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

SAFE SPACES

I recognise that there is the potential for violence. That threat is real to me too.

But as members of the community, we've learnt to create or manoeuvre into and around spaces that let us be ourselves.

Here our love is proud yet guarded. Almost free, but cautious.

I was a teenager when I started grappling with my own same-sex feelings and I thought I was alone. There was no one I could turn to in order to help me understand what I felt. It was a lonely place.

Today, there are communities of gay, lesbian, trans men and women, and non-binary individuals across the country who support, encourage and love one another.

'GAY GENIE'

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