This collection of stories portrays different aspects of the LGBTQ+ experiences, their childhood struggles in understanding sex, gender roles, sexuality, and gender identity.
In these deeply moving and empowering stories of LGBTQ+ persons in Kenya, readers will understand the lives of LGBTQ+ people growing up, from the beginning of their childhood experience to their young adult lives they tell these remarkable and under-told stories. The stories of love, hope, equality, and pride will open our eyes to how children who know that they have “alternative” sexual orientations or gender identities understand this component of their personality as they grow up and the impact of this on relationships with their families and peers. You will see firsthand how children with alternative sexual orientations and gender identities feel included and excluded from their various communities; their school communities, peer groups, religious groups, healthcare, and others. Forms of support that they indicate would have been helpful to them and how they view their own health and well-being.
This collection of stories started out as a research project because we realized that there is a major gap in research and stories being told about LGBTIQ+ childhoods that cannot be overlooked. Nearly all of the research/stories that have been produced come from the west, only a fraction of studies come from countries outside of those regions. Individual experiences with gender and sexuality are different in every region and country of the world, and this collection of stories aims to expand the understanding of LGBTIQ+ childhoods in Kenya. In order to gain a broader knowledge on the Kenyan LGBTIQ+ experience, the geographic coverage of the collection focused on five different locations in Kenya; Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa, Eldoret and Lordwar. Due to ethical considerations, everyone who contributed to this collection of stories was 18 years or older.
LGBTQ+ stories are captured here because of the strength and struggle of diverse individuals, cultures, and communities that have been considered nonnormative in the context of Kenyan perspectives and norms. They are stories of discovery, first moments, finding self, talking to younger selves, coming out, moments of triumph and tragedy that LGBTQ+ people have faced growing up and often continue to face in their daily lives. We envision that this collection of stories will strengthen overall material on gender and sexuality minorities in Kenya and to increase the capacity of The Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK) and other LGBTIQ+ organisations and service providing institutions targeted for this specific community. We also want to add to add to the ongoing conversations about what it means to grow up Queer in Kenya with LGBTIQ+ people themselves contributing to this discourse. We hope that you will indulge our contributors as they go through their own journeys through storytelling and that this will also provide the reader with an opportunity for introspection.
We want to deeply thank the contributors who trusted us with their stories that at times came with a lot of pain, we are deeply grateful. We also want to thank Kevin Mwachiro for working with us to ensure that this collection of stories is what it now is. And finally, we want to thank Columbia University for trusting us with this project and allowing us to see it through.
Brian Macharia, Jeffery Walimbwa, Sandra Angel, Yvonne Oduor, Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya.