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Family offers no solace when it's the source of pain

How can LGBTIQ people find solace in family or religion when these are the sources of our pain? #HumansofCOVID19

Marylize Biubwa
Marylize Biubwa
7 April 2020
Queer activist Marylize Biubwa
|
Arya Karijo

I am a human rights defender. I am an activist and I am a black, queer, radical, intersectional feminist. I don’t have a job. I have an initiative that I run that is not an organisation that is funded. In fact, I run it by doing crowdfunding and engaging my networks. I hugely rely on facilitating sessions, doing social media activations or coming up with some digital content for someone.

The story of many queer people is that some of them didn’t even manage to go to school so they don’t have papers. I didn’t either, but I’m winging it. You’ve got to wing life somehow.

Many people are not making money. Many people are relying on other people. Many people have had to come out. They stay by themselves. They are struggling. People are using crazy ways you wouldn’t imagine to survive out here.

So, when coronavirus hits, you are destabilized totally. You don’t want to stay at home because it makes your sorry situation of not making money even worse. But you can't go out and look for a job during this time of coronavirus when people are self-distancing and under lockdown.

There are those who are finding solace in religion. There are those who are finding solace in family. LGBTIQ people can hardly find solace in these because these are the sources of our pain.

Many LGBTIQ persons are struggling because coronavirus has come with this sense of family and people travelling to go and be around the people they care about the most: family and everything. If the worst comes to the worst, you would want to die while your family is watching.

But from my experience, and the experience of many LGBTIQ people, family is not something we have in this time and so that is something that is also affecting our mental health and generally just how we function and operate during these times.

There are those who are finding solace in religion. There are those who are finding solace in family. LGBTIQ people can hardly find solace in these because these are the sources of our pain to begin with.

Creeping homophobia

The sad thing about being a queer person in this time is that you don’t feel like you have the upper hand in anything, be it family, be it coronavirus, be it the government, be it systems. You might have to go to the hospital and homophobia can just creep in. It was already bad before coronavirus and it only magnifies during a time like this.

People are associating coronavirus with death a lot. I am not scared of death. Not because death is not scary. When I look back, I know there was time in my life that I thought it was really scary. It is the experiences that I have been through. It is dealing with trauma. It is being suicidal. It is attempting suicide. It is just getting to a point where you are alive but you know for sure if you didn’t want to be alive there is an option. There is a way out of all of this.

The whole time I am thinking: what is the worst thing that can happen if you are infected with coronavirus? Die, right? But that is not that scary after all. I mean we’ll all die at some point, right? Our life experiences, especially traumatic experiences, kill us alive anyway. At some point, we’ve had to live as living beings, but we are dead inside.

[As told to Arya Karijo]

Homosexuality is illegal in Kenya under the colonial-era Penal Code, which describes same sex relationships as “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” and prescribes sentences of up to 14 years' in prison. In 2019, the Kenyan High Court refused to declare these clauses of the Penal Act to be unconstitutional.

This story is part of our Humans of COVID-19 project: lifting up voices from across the world that are not being heard during this crisis. Click here for more of these stories

Peter Geoghegan: dark money and dirty politics

Democracy is in crisis and unaccountable flows of money are helping to destroy it. Peter Geoghegan’s new book, ‘Democracy for Sale: Dark Money and Dirty Politics’, charts how secretive money, lobbying and data has warped our democracy.

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In conversation:

Peter Geoghegan Dark Money Investigations editor at openDemocracy and the author of ‘Democracy for Sale: Dark Money and Dirty Politics’.

Mary Fitzgerald Editor-in-chief, openDemocracy.

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