Written by K8 Qamunde Thursday, 14 July 2011 13:34
My name is Lucette*, I am a 23 year old Kenyan who works at a local bank. I identify as a lesbian African woman. I am in the closet because I stand so much to lose if I come out bearing in mind that I still live with my parents who are also assisting me in paying fees for my further studies. I come from a large family of 7; three girls and four boys.
I'm currently dating a 47 year old lady who runs an IT company in Mombasa. She has two grown up sons and daughters my age. She lives with her husband who she's been married to for about 25 years. She knows she is gay but would not risk losing her family name at the expense of coming out.
At times I have issues balancing dating her while I know that she has a husband who she sleeps besides every night, travels to holidays with and so on and so forth. I feel like I got myself into a predicament but the truth is that I love my girlfriend very much. We have vowed to keep our sexual orientation under wraps until a time that she finally manages to divorce her husband. I keep wondering when this will happen since she sounds so fond of her husband, despite her assurance that she is in love with me and wants to spend her life with me.
My girlfriends' daughter knows of our 'secretive but intimate' relationship and I imagine she somehow likes me, not for loving her mother without her father's knowledge but because her mother seems genuinely happy around me. I have feared that I may one day annoy her mother and the young girl will spurt the truth all out to her father. They will hunt for me and have me arrested and jailed, but what for? The relationship was consensual right from the start, we are both over 18 years of age. I would never forgive myself for outing my girlfriend. That is one reason that I have to protect my identity.
I have heard, Googled and read about gay organizations and gay friendly allies working together with women and men that identify as either gay and lesbian if not bisexual. My desire to meet them has been thwarted by the fact that I would be associated to be one of them if am seen around them. I long to hook up with grown up men and women who feel as I do and laugh over those little silly girl crushes we've had in primary, high school and college! But I realize that I also have to make a sacrifice in containing myself in the closet, if only for the sake of those that I love. I feel trapped and shattered to silence, I pity the person I have become.
I am in the process of coming out to myself and the emotional turmoil I at times have to go through are destabilizing and affecting my work. I will for example serve a very pretty lady at the counter and want to let her know that she is very pretty but I'm afraid of what she'll think about me. May be she will scream and alert customers and my bosses at my branch, then that will be talk for the next few centuries, probably I'd lose my job, my parents would eventually find out and kick me out of home, my girlfriend will imagine that I was on a hit and run spree and dump me! Oh! Why can't I be me without having to worry about all these things?
I come across female tomboys walking on the streets, proud and out and enjoying the little time they have on earth with their friends and partners, I cry to imagine that my life will one day come to an abrupt end before I get to meet them and also enjoy myself.
I have now become an alcoholic. I have no one to talk to besides my girlfriend who is busy and very far away from here. I will wrap bottles of whisky with newspapers and drop them in my bag when am going home. I lock myself up in my room and drink and only come to my early morning alarm to prepare me to work the following day. I constantly lie to my parents that I came home tired and blacked out on my bed. Inside it kills me to know I lied, but am left with no option.
I got to contact the Gay Kenya site through Google and it led me to the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK). I got a land line contact that I called weeks later and managed to speak to this calm, cool, collected lady who is a well known queer human rights activist in Nairobi. I was not really sure about why I made the call but I did anyway. This lady invited me to the community center but I am not sure I want to be seen walking into that building just yet. She did not judge me, she said she'd been there, done that too! I was besides myself with relief... I was not the only one going through this. She asked me to retain her number in case I had any questions about my sexual orientation and health but made it clear that the communication would be strictly confidential and I shouldn't mistake that for something else.
She thanked me for calling the center, how many times are you thanked for calling, emailing and visiting an office? I must say that I was impressed. A week later, she sent me an email explaining the role of group she had founded and the projects they had going on. I was interested in this particular one where the members of the group were trained in human rights reporting and journalism. They have this brilliant website that I visited and began smiling again. The site has real stories by men and women who identify to be gay and lesbian, just like me.
I wish I had the guts to write a story and tag my name to it. She said I could.
I put this tiny one here, so you know that I exist. I am glad I met you through the freedom in speech website!
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