We might as well bleat on the way to work as we shuffle into matatus every morning and join the rest of the herd on the way to work. We are essentially sheep as evidenced by how many of us jumped at the opportunity to add the celebrate pride flag to our profile pictures. 26 million people (and counting) all over the world have changed their profile pictures in a show of solidarity with LGBT men, women and gender nonconforming people in the states. This however is not such a great thing, because most people aren’t changing it in support but to look cool. To get that little extra bit of validation that comes with looking like you support the right cause and that you’re one of the enlightened ones.
It may sound harsh but essentially changing your profile picture because of the US Supreme Court decision is really not doing much. At least 17 other countries have legalised same sex marriage the last of which was Luxembourg where the prime minister married his life long partner Gauthier Destenay a few weeks ago. Why didn’t you change your profile picture then? Was it because Luxemborg’s gay people aren’t important? No, it’s because it wasn’t cool then. Kenyans and in fact the rest of the world is guilty of bandwagon activism. We ‘hashtagged’ about #StopXenophobia in South Africa and we changed our profile pictures in solidarity with #SupportGaza but in all honesty we never really gave a damn.
I look at my news feed and I see no one actually calling for the legalisation of same-sex mariage in Kenya or in fact a repealing of the penal code that makes homosexuality a crime. There are no hashtags for LGBT rights in Kenya, nor are there any against statements by Guinea’s president in which he says he will slit the throat of any homosexual. Why aren’t we taking this opportunity to call for freedoms for those in our own society who are marginalised? Why aren’t we hashtaggin #GayPrideKenya, #StopTheAbuse or #GayLivesMatterKenya? Is it because we are afraid of prosecution from the government? No it’s because essentially you don’t care. In fact marriage is the least of the issues LGBT community in Kenya is facing. The years of injustice, abuse, sexual harassment, murder and homelessness should be the reason you change your profile picture. Not because in America the LGBT community can now marry yet so many are dying in Africa in silence.
By all means change your profile picture and help lend a voice to those who have suffered in silence for years and years but for the love of all that is good don’t do it if you really don’t understand why or don’t really give a sh!t.
This first appeared on UP Nairobi.