Gerald Hayo is our first cover star!
The 28 year old is the founder of Girls’ Pride Kenya and currently works as the communications and administration officer at Rainbow Women of Kenya, a Lesbian, Bisexual, Intersex organisation that champions for the social, legal and health rights of LBIQ women in the region.
She shared with The Rustin Times her journey and the amazing work she is doing with Girls’ Pride.
TRT: You have a very inspiring story but for those that might not have an idea, can you share with them?
GH: Growing up, I was definitely what you would call a ‘tomboy’, still am. I love who I am now, but I have not always loved the assumptions people made about me when they looked at my clothing or behaviour. My family discriminated me a lot during my teenage years and I was denied sanitary towels, arguing that because I looked like a man, and I shouldn’t be receiving my periods. They went further to call me a devil worshipper. Life wasn’t easy, until I resorted to looking for ways of having this basic need. At the age of 17 years, I moved out of home to stay with an older female partner in order to be able to get these basic needs. Since this wasn’t what I wanted, I opted to look for organisations or individuals that were gay friendly and through some introductions from friends; I managed to affiliate myself with a football club that was quite welcoming. Before long, I was expelled from the club because of my sexuality, which they came to know about through my brother. I moved from town to town trying to find where I would feel accepted and be able to live a normal life like any other citizen. I eventually moved to Mombasa, the coastal part of Kenya, and this is where I joined an LGBTI organisation and became the security chairperson. I still felt there was more I needed to do for women out there who have gone through similar experiences as mine. Later on I joined Rainbow Women of Kenya, a lesbian, bisexual, intersex and queer women led organisation where i volunteer as the administration and communications person and later on after gaining a little capacity, decided to come up with the Girls’ Pride Kenya.
TRT: Tell us a bit about Girls Pride?
GH: Girls’ Pride Kenya is a project that focuses on girls and women from undeserved communities with minimal to limited access to services at the coast of Kenya. The goal is to identify and create visibility for LBIQ at risk young women and girls in the community and through mentoring and peer to peer open discussions help them to discover their individuality, gifts, talents and potential, to believe in oneself and nurture passions and employ every ounce of confidence.
TRT: How has the work been so far?
GH: Sanitation and reproductive health is a major program being undertaken by the organisation. We would wish to undertake once a month but due to unavailability of resources, Girls’ Pride has slowed down the process of its work. The monthly meetings are held also for LBIQ women to freely share their ideas and to seek relationship and reproductive health advice. These meetings create a safe space for LBIQ women and during the sessions we come together to get knowledge on sandals making and bead work; customised rainbow coloured bracelets. Through this, members are able to sell and buy, divide part of the profit and channel some towards buying girls sanitary towels.
TRT: What is your hope for the LGBTIQ community in Africa?
GH: I can only hope for the establishment of a social order in Africa in which sexual orientation will not be a barrier to the enjoyment of all the rights and freedoms that are due to us as human beings irrespective of our gender, age, social class, religion, tribe, and race.
TRT: How can our readers connect with you and the work that you do?
GH: We can be reached through our telephone number – +254-710-795-749, or on Facebook – GIRLS PRIDE Kisauni. You can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.girlspridekenya.com.