I'm two different people
A mother who hopes that her daughter “recovers her health”, a lifelong lie and a society that still isn’t open to homosexuality. This is the everyday life for the 25-year old Kenyan Carliste, who is lesbian
Around 200 blue plastic chairs are placed in rows, turning towards the altar of the church.
“I think that we should choose another place to talk”, 25-year old Carliste says while smiling. It is not illegal to be gay in Kenya, but there are only very few who accept and understand homosexuality in the East African country.
The blue eyeshadow is glinting and a pair of long earrings rattles a bit. In fact, her real name isn’t Carliste, but neither the communion, her father or the rest of her siblings know that she is lesbian.
The Global Platforms deliver capacity building to LGBT groups and movements around the world. At the Global Platform in Kenya we gather LGBT activists from Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria. Here the participants are getting ideas and concrete tools to create creative campaigns about LGBT rights. Moreover, we are trying to strengthen networks and create solidarity across national borders.
Our work with LGBT rights is done together with All Out and is funded by Det Obelske Familiefond. Read more
When Carliste looks back, she can see the signs that she wasn’t like all the other girls at her boarding school. She collected price labels from the girls’ panties and put them in a note book.
“Are you into girls? my mother asked me with a very severe mine when she one day found the note book” Carliste tells, and for a moment it gets quiet.
“It was not until I turned 17-18 years, that I shut out all the noise around me and started to listen.”
Once again, when she was 18, her mother asked her the same question. And around a year ago, when she got a job in an organization working for the rights of homosexual people, the question was raised once more.
“There are so many misunderstandings about homosexuals in Kenya. In some places they preach against it in the churches, and it gets to you because it’s about a part of yourself,” Carliste says and ads that she forgives her mother for her reaction.
“At first she forbad me to see my four siblings. But then I asked her how she would explain them that I disappeared.”
She smiles thoughtfully and tells that her mother hopes that Carliste soon recovers and gets married.
Living two different lives
A car drives by. One time at first, then two times. Three times. Carliste is watching it. She doesn’t feel comfortable that one of the passengers seems to be holding his cell phone.
“I feel very unsafe and I’m always very aware what is going on around me.”
As her alter ego Carliste, she is very active both on Facebook and Twitter, while she also runs the blog www.realreadrebel.wordpress.com. But there is no linkage between these activities and who the girl, who lives downstairs in her family’s property, is.
“I am two persons. But I’m working on coming out to my dad.”
Both through her work, her participations in events at the Global Platform in Nairobi and by her presence on social media, Carliste hopes that she can get to break down some of the many prejudices and misperceptions, Kenyan people have against homosexuals.
“Next generation will be a better place to be. Not a utopia, but I believe that it will get better”.
By Marie Torp Christensen