scared person sitting in a dark room

Chiloba’s death let me know I’m f*cked

Edwin Chiloba’s death was a sad loss, yet what horrified me the most was the public response. The fact that many Kenyans said that he deserved to die just because he is a gay man shocked me to the core. Worse still, a religion that preaches love was used to ‘cement’ such arguments. I am still rearing from what I saw and heard. I knew right there that I am f*cked! A walking target.

The continued violence against the LGBTIQA community has sparked deep feelings of vulnerability, rage, and terror in me. Every news report of a vicious assault or murder in our community is very personal to me and has an impact on the life I’ve laboriously constructed despite all the obstacles I encounter.

 Being HIV-positive adds another level of complexity to my life. The stigma attached to the virus is a tremendous burden, made worse by the widespread prejudice that the LGBTIQA community faces. For me, hearing of the death of another member of our community goes beyond a heartbreaking headline. It serves as a sharp reminder of my vulnerability. I could very well be the next or someone I love.

I’ve always had to exercise caution when navigating the globe. As a gay man, I’ve developed the ability to discern the subtle cues that indicate acceptance or hostility and to assess the safety of my surroundings. With HIV, this vigilance doubles. It’s not just about finding safe spaces where my sexuality is accepted; it’s also about accessing healthcare without prejudice and maintaining my dignity in the face of ignorance and judgment.

When someone from our community is murdered, it amplifies the sense of isolation and danger that already shadows my daily life. It’s a vicious reminder that hate still thrives, that despite our strides towards equality, there’s a persistent undercurrent of violence that can erupt at any moment. This fear isn’t abstract—it’s lived. I feel it in the tense silence that sometimes follows when I disclose my HIV status, in the wary glances from those who don’t understand, and in the subtle discrimination that lingers in places that should be safe havens.

These killings have an effect that goes beyond the immediate loss. It shatters our community and leaves us feeling a constant sense of dread. For individuals who are still in the closet, coming out becomes an even more intimidating idea because exposure may be a hazardous, double-edged sword. It only serves to emphasize the necessity for someone like me, who is already negotiating the stigma associated with HIV, to remain watchful, to protect my identity with greater vigor, and to hide out of the shadows for my safety occasionally.

But in the middle of this terror, I also feel a strong sense of resistance. My resolve to live honestly and freely and to combat biases that aim to eradicate us is strengthened by the memories of those we have lost. Every violent crime committed against our community serves as a wake-up call and a constant reminder that we must keep fighting for equality, justice, and the freedom to live without fear.

Being an LGBTIQA member has taught me the value of solidarity, and living with HIV has taught me resilience. While we grieve our losses as a group, we also stand stronger and demand a society that values our lives and respects our identities. The road is long and fraught with challenges, but with each step, we honor those who can no longer walk beside us, and we reaffirm our commitment to a future free of hate and violence.

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