Happy dog with pride scarf, gloves and goggles putting a peace sign

I am gay, disabled, and jolly: Here’s my story

Growing up in rural Kenya, my life was ordinary; until a road accident changed everything. The accident left me with a spinal injury that changed my life entirely. Following rigorous rehabilitation, I was fortunately able to walk again. However, I now depend on a walking aid.

This stage of my life was filled with extreme challenges. The challenges were not only physical but also mental as I was negotiating my sexual orientation. I am a gay man living in a society that often hates LGBTIQA+ people and consciously excludes persons with disability. I am a gay man living with disability so do the math.

The accident led to many difficulties: I lost my job, exacerbating the struggles I was already going through due to my sexual orientation. Accessing basic sexual health services turned out to be quite challenging. The stigma and discrimination connected with being gay in Kenya are intense but adding disability on top of it is overwhelming and almost impossible to overcome.

This intersection of both identities left me feeling alone in a society that preaches love and acceptance. Thankfully, I had the love and support of my mother, sister, and a few close friends.

Love, acceptance, and being on the front line

Discovering love has been an overwhelming task, I laugh at the thought of it. The LGBTIQA+ community in Kenya faces consistent persecution. On top of this, there is a serious lack of awareness about the realities individuals with disabilities encounter; which often gives way to exclusion and misinterpretation in the community and outside it.

Recurrent acceptance struggles became my norm. I was battling to establish that I warranted the same love and respect as others. Despite facing these obstacles, my resilience has grown over time. My varied experiences spurred a wish a desire for a change in the narrative concerning disability and sexual orientation in Kenya.

To mark this year’s IDAHOBIT, I reflected on my journey, where I am today, and the knowledge I’ve gained. The power of advocacy is one thing I’ve recognized as important. Another is the significance of raising awareness around every kind of disability. These disabilities can be both seen and unseen.

Having to raise my voice to create change has become a personal mission. I do public speaking at various events and interact with both the disabled and abled LGBTIQA+ circles. These efforts stem from the need to highlight and seek solutions to, the unique difficulties faced by individuals. My aspiration has always been to foster an environment of enhanced understanding and inclusivity.

Today, I stand proud as a gay man with a disability. This, I embrace wholly and celebrate every part of my existence. The path has been full of challenges. However, it’s also filled with memorable instances of connection and victorious transformation. I continue to deepen my understanding from this journey.

Our differences deserve to be openly celebrated rather than be ignored or suppressed. Diversity is a good thing; it makes us resilient, unique, and strong.

What is your story? Talk to us in the comments section.

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LoveMatters Africa

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