I want to be free and happy. I want to love and be loved. Life is too short to deny yourself this. I want to live in a tolerant society. Gay people are our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and cousins. We aren’t a separate group of people but are part and parcel of the communities we live in. We hustle alongside everyone else and simply want the same rights. Like every other person, we hope to be loved and included by people in the locations we find ourselves in.
For a long time I walked around tortured. I denied myself love in order to fit into my immediate society and feel safe. This denial was too brutal to my psyche. I became depressed and entertained suicidal ideations. I had no one to share my struggles with and it destroyed me. I carried a dark depressing weight around and it was so heavy and exhausting to my spirit and mind. When I finally came out to my family, I was rejected at first. But life has its unexpected blessings and surprises. By being true to myself and choosing to love Alex, I brought him close to them, and in turn, he brought a much-needed cheer to their lives. My family began to see and accept me for who I was. Eventually they concluded I was their son, whom they truly loved and would always love. Not everyone is as lucky as I am. Many gay people live a life of silence and obscurity because they know they will be ostracized by their families if they dare show up as they are. This pains me. To me, being gay is ordinary, normal, a part of human nature. I hope everyone begins to see it this way. Human beings have always loved and have always loved differently.
In Sweden no one cares that I am gay. People ask if I have a partner, a husband, a boyfriend… it is a non-issue. The only discomforts I now tackle are those that come with being an immigrant and an African in Europe. Sweden is a very expensive country, with long gloomy winters. I miss the food back at home and the sunny open skies. I miss the generosity and friendliness of Kenyans, how easy it is to knock on a neighbor’s door and sit down for a meal. I feel anxious knowing my decision to relocate is irreversible. I can never go back to Kenya. But I am deeply grateful for the opportunities that have showed up for my life here in Sweden: I am a part of Netball Sweden and on the board of Netball Europe. I am contributing to the country I live in, in spite of my sexuality. How I love doesn’t stop me from being a fully responsible person working towards the building of a nation.
I am still struggling with the conflicts I faced in Kenya when I came out. I carry the trauma from all the lies I invented around myself to hide my identity. I am learning to be comfortable in my own skin, to speak up. There’s a tolerance for speech here that’s restricted back home. In my village, there was an implicit requirement to keep silent, to never challenge the dictated way of living life.
I am gay because of how I prefer to love and be loved. It doesn’t make me less of a person. It isn’t the beginning and end of who I am. It doesn’t hold me back from being a Christian. I go to church to pray and meditate, knowing I was created with love, and that I am a loving being. I am slowly learning to feel this way as a person. The good thing is I can now openly date. I can’t wait to start life with my new boyfriend. I am excited to see my daughter grow and become a self-assured young woman. I now trust myself to be the father she can rely on as she goes through life.
I have fought my battles and earned my stripes. No one can come at me anymore for being gay. My boundaries are clear and firm. I have had all the tough conversations with my family and community and no longer see the need to keep defending my sexuality. Now, I walk unencumbered.