Advocating for the rights of sexual minorities is and continues to be a long and challenging battle in Africa and especially in Kenya. I am referring to the lesbians, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities. These are people that have been marginalised in an all round way it terms of access to basic rights accorded to every other human being.
Access to health services for instance has been one of the difficult areas. Why is it that the medical/health practitioners are so discriminative while dealing with homosexual individuals and couples? This has led to preference to over the counter self prescribed medication. How will we win the battle against HIV/AIDS when we intentionally abandon the gay community in Kenya? There is no consideration of the heterosexual men and women, married and single that engage in sexual relations with members of the homosexual community therefore increasing the risk of infection on their other partners! The statistics are simply alarming!
When it comes to mental health or emotional well being then we handle issues such as 'coming out' to oneself, family and friends. When members of the community come out to those who matter most in their lives, the first response is being referred to church elders and psychological counselors who do their best to counsel the LGBTI persons in their bid to correct their 'abnormalities' or 'unnatural behavior!' This is very wrong.
Coming out in itself is distressing and a time when they experience all sorts of reactions from the people they come out to. It is a time when they get to deal with who they are (coming out to themselves). During this process and due to stress, anxiety and so on, most of them end up spending most of their time in bars, engaging in unprotected sex and abusing drugs. When we talk about Intravenous Drug Users (IDU's) this section of the society carries large numbers of drug abusers.
Our main aim here is to identify friendly health institutions where we could refer the LGBTI community to enable and encourage them to be frequent visitors in hospitals and in getting to know their HIV status by getting tested.
Marriage between the same-sex community in Kenya is NOT a priority at the moment...HEALTH is!
As a woman who is a former educator turned activist, performing artist, writer and administrator who has been brought up by a single mother, her passion is driven around by issues such as these...eventually hoping that with recognition and acceptance the LGBTI community will be visible and looked at in a different perspective. As human beings, citizens, our sons and daughters - not sex addicts! Our doctors, lawyers, nurses, journalists, farmers, musicians and all.
This is her call...one that comes with so much personal insecurity and branding for taking a path that few have dared step! One that has created more enemies than friends, but one that is worth the while!