via Bay Area Reporter, by Heather Cassell
Until recently, Kenyan LGBT individuals were isolated, believing they were the only ones in their community; some expressed the desire to take their own lives, said Misedah. Older gay and lesbian individuals were forced to marry people of the opposite sex. Younger queer Kenyans felt comfort from their problems with alcohol, said Misedah, who also felt the cold hand of isolation until he came out.
Coming out liberated Misedah, he no longer suffered from the isolation and instead became a beacon for others.
“I felt sort of obliged in order to speak for those who did not have a voice,” said Misedah. “I just felt that we needed to speak more and let the society know the challenges that LGBTI people were facing.”
He worked first with Ishtar MSM, one of Kenya’s first organizations to provide health services to men who have sex with men. He served as the spokesman for Sexual Minorities Uganda’s first media campaign. Misedah, in collaboration with IGLHRC, drafted the first Declaration on Transgender Rights for Central and East Africa in 2007 and continued to work on capacity building in Africa with IGLHRC. He spoke at the African AIDS conference in 2009.
Misedah, among others, risked the threat of up to 14 years of imprisonment under Kenya’s penal codes sections 162 and 165 for attempted or homosexual behavior under “carnal knowledge against the order of nature.”
Misedah, who came from a well-to-do family, found himself banished from his family and cut off from his educational support at the university, where he eventually obtained his bachelor’s degree in environmental planning and management, he said.
Usually, families look the other way in regards to their LGBT family members who have financial resources and contribute to their families. Poor queer Kenyans, however, often find themselves in “deep trouble,” said Misedah.