There are only 80 days left before the midterms. Make a voting plan.

 Guest post submitted by Jonah Chinga of None On Record, a digital media organization that works with LGBT and sex-worker communities across the African continent and in the diaspora. 

Living in a traditionally homophobic or transphobic society can make it increasingly difficult for LGBT individuals to come out to their family, friends and community.  Despite these challenges, many LGBT Africans bravely live as their true, authentic selves daily. Unfortunately, too often their stories go untold.

Earlier this year during IDAHOT 2015, as part of our digital media and documentation project, my organization, None On Record, reached out to LGBT people working or living in Kenya to ask them to participate in a video series. 

The series was a collection of powerful messages intended to promote and encourage LGBT advocates working in Africa to advance conversations about sexual orientation and gender identity. During the series, lawyers, chefs, scientists and activists shared their coming out experiences and reflected on what it felt like to come out in Africa. 

Kendi Magiri, a chef from Kenya, explained, “When I finally became honest with myself and with those around me, those that I love, […] it was just like a whole load was lifted off my shoulders.” 

Legal Officer at the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission Kenya Njeri Gateru decided to come out early in her life. “If I am going to be a lesbian, let me be a lesbian that changes the world,” she said. 

Participants also took a moment to share messages of hope with African LGBTQ youth. 

Magiri sent an encouraging message, urging others to, “Be who you are. Stay true to who you are.”

Similarly, Lorna Dias, Executive Coordinator of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya, reminded the LGBTQ youth of Africa and the diaspora, “You are not alone.”

As more and more people come out across the world, HRC Global hopes to continue to provide a platform and resources to help elevate voices such as these, as we recognize the importance of visibility, particularly in regions of the world where LGBT rights continue to face challenges. 

For more information about None On Record, please visit their webpage.

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