Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month is celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. The Stonewall riots served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement and led to the creation of various gay activist groups in the United States and around the world. Memorials are held during this month for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. Pride Month has been celebrated since 1970, even though it’s only been observed in the recent years here in Kenya.

A lot went through my mind when I texted *Sarah to ask if she could share her journey with us. I’d found out after about six years of being friends with her that she identified as a part of the LGBT community. I cannot even begin to describe how devastated I had been in the beginning. We shared scriptures together, sang together, prayed together…what changed and how did we get here? I started preaching at her, and sending scriptures and songs and verses, trying to break down her walls like they did in Berlin. But no matter how genuine my concern was, how much I desired that she would change, my efforts only made her walls stronger than the Wall of China.

So, I stopped. I quit preaching at her. I did not send verses from Leviticus or Romans anymore. There weren’t songs to remind her that she was a sinner. It was greetings, compliments and me genuinely wanting to know how my darling friend was doing. We’ve had random conversations about women and the rape culture, and Penn Badgley (wink). I engage with her as an intelligent person with reason, wits and ravishing beauty, not as some God forsaken sinner who needs fixing. I know some might not agree to this way of ‘doing things’, but she trusted me enough to share her story with you and me. That’s something, if you ask me. And where, oh where, fellow human, can we go without stories that spark real conversations.

Whether you’re reading this as a bigot, who thinks ‘those people’ do not deserve to be heard or given chances, or a homophobe who is disgusted and sickened by the mere sight of a homosexual, or you’re an indifferent person who doesn’t really care, or a believer who has compassion and prays that all may come to the knowledge of the absolute truth of God, I need you to go through Sarah’s story with an open mind, or not go through it at all.

I hope this sparks conversation in your circles, and I hope you begin to see the human behind the labels. But most importantly I hope your heart is filled with compassion.

As written by Sarah;

I am not sure when exactly this started. The realisation that I am different and that I love differently. A series of mild changes in my heart quietly took place that ultimately led to me waking up one morning and thinking about women differently. A perfect life didn’t have a husband in it. My future blurred with visions of my friend Daisy holding my hand and smiling at me the way my boyfriend should have. I wanted her to listen to romantic songs and think of me, God knows I did. In the cover of darkness at night with my journal on my chest and the declaration of my love on my lips, I pictured my life with her as my wife.

That, however,  wasn’t the beginning of my now fairy-tale.The love I felt for other people, the love for my siblings, the love for my dearest aunts and most of all the love I had for God fought with this new found love I had for women. I couldn’t see a world where all this would exist, there was an unspoken consensus that I had to pick one side. I felt so ashamed that I was somehow broken. Where is the reset button? How can I fix this? All of these questions met with stone cold silence. I felt anger. Why do I have to love this way? Why can’t I be normal? Why can’t you fix me? I banged my fists and kicked mentally every time I went to church. This mixture of shame and anger was nauseating. I felt fear. I realized that God wasn’t the only being I had to justify myself to.

Strangers who didn’t even know my name were angry at my existence. These strangers were so disgusted that they wanted to wipe me off the face of the earth. They wanted to beat me until my eyes couldn’t look at my lover nor my lips whisper her name. The strangers claimed that their love was better, more fulfilling, more comfortable and yet all they spewed was hate. At times I agreed with them, nodding with envy. No one would ever judge them for whom they chose to spend forever with. I clawed at my skin and begged my heart to stop. I wanted to be a stranger too. I wanted to sit on a high horse and thank the Lord that I was not Sodom and Gomorrah’s incarnate.

Then, one day she kissed me. She looked at me fondly and rubbed my face. I felt myself breathing again. Her eyes sung safety, her skin smelled like warm toast on a Sunday morning that only a mother’s love could master. My lover gently stroked my heart and mind with appreciation and overwhelming love. The sound of her voice made the noise in my head quite down every time I was around her. It wasn’t wrong, not at all. Despite the protests of the frantic voices screaming in my head at night, no buildings collapsed. The world did not explode into nothingness. For the first time in a while I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be and I greedily lapped up every mesmerising minute of it. This love was pure, this love felt like home. We weren’t holding hands by the fire in the woods chanting spells, we were eating and dancing like the strangers ‘who judged me’ did. That was when I felt acceptance. In the giggles and laughter of my friends. In the faces of those like me who weren’t allowed to love like the strangers.

I felt acceptance in the tears of those who cried with me when she broke my heart. I felt acceptance in the hugs of those who congratulated me when the strangers couldn’t look past my disease. I felt loved. Pure, honest, fulfilling love. I felt like myself.

[PS. Listen to Relate by For King and Country, Human by Jon Bellion, Loving Me by Jonathan Mcreynolds]

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