Briefly introduce yourself to us
I am B. A. Odongo, a Trans- Gender Non Conforming human being, feminist, activist, Founder and Director of Coast Women for Women.
What is LGBTIQ+?
LGBTIQ+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex and Gender Non Conforming.
What determines a person’s sexual orientation? Can one become an LGBTIQ+ through interaction/relations (sexual) with members of the community?
What determines one’s sexual orientation is, simply, who you are sexually attracted to. You will never be an LGBTIQ+ just because you have interacted with them. You will also never be disabled because you have interacted with people living with disabilities. Being an LGBTIQ+ is being who you are, even when people can not see who you are.
According to you, has the African society been accomodative of the LGBTIQ+ community?
The LGBTIQ+ community has been a struggle being accommodated and accepted in African community, because we are being stigmatized and discriminated with the African culture, religion and Kenyan Constitution, despite the fact that we do exist.
So, what needs to be done in order to promote inclusivity for all in the society?
We all need to love each other, unconditionally. Look at me as a human being; don’t look at what I am doing in my bedroom with my partner. So long as there is consent between us, it’s none of your business, just as I don’t care what you do with your partner.
Let us be human; humanity is the key. We are all created in God’s image and likeness, the Bible say God knew me before I was conceived in my mama’s womb. Let us not judge each other, because you don’t know what someone is struggling with. Let us accomodate and tolerate one another. You being you and me being me does not make you or me more special than someone else; we are all special. With that, we will live happily as a nation without stigmatising or discriminating anyone.
There are a lot of LGBTIQ+ members out here, who are discriminated and stigmatised by society and don’t know who to lean to. What support system is available to such people? What steps should they take?
The first step even before the system is self acceptance, love yourself for who you are. Second, we have a number of LGBTIQ+ organizations within Coast region who advocate for our existence and rights. An example is Coast Women for Women which deals with LBQ-ITGNC parenting families and advocate for family diversity.
What is your opinion on the ban of Kenyan films that showcase LGBT issues?
To me, this is stigma and discrimination of the highest order. It’s also being selfish by denying people an opportunity to learn. Through these films, the community was going to learn about LGBTIQ issues. The fact remains, we do exist.
Finally, what is your parting shot for us?
An LGBTIQ+ person is just a human being like any other. All we need is love and acceptance. You judge, stigmatize, discriminate and reject me without knowing my struggles. You also have your own struggles. We all need love, so let’s love one another.