In a conservative society, the Kenyan LGBTIQA+ community continues to battle homophobia in their families, churches, workplaces, and public spaces.
These openly LGBTIQA+ pastors have come out to confront religious discrimination and hatred.
Pastor Jacinta Nzilani
A mother of three, Nzilani knew her attraction and love for women from when she was 16.
Although she married, Nzilani says that her marriage was unpleasant.
She left her marriage after 25 years and came out openly as a lesbian, leading to her excommunication from her church.
This pushed her to become a pastor and preach in markets, streets, and public transport vehicles to sensitise the public about the love of God and how God wants people to love one another.
Nzilani has become a role model to many lesbians across Kenya, who see her as an inspiration and a fighter for their rights.
She fearlessly calls out religious leaders for excluding the LGBTIQA+ community from attending their churches.
She has been challenging religious leaders to explain why they are chasing away queer people from their places of worship if the will of God is to save them.
Pastor Paul Ochal
For eight years, Pastor Paul Ochal has been leading the Cosmopolitan Affirming Church in Nairobi.
The church is open to congregants of all genders and stands against discrimination.
Ochal decided to open the church ministry after mainstream churches in Kenya openly banned members of the LGBTIQA+ community from attending their services.
Ochal accuses the mainstream churches and their leadership of “preaching water and taking wine”.
“They preach about love, but on the other hand, they are discriminating against people based on their sexuality, and that is against God’s will,” he says.
Apostle Darlan Rukih
Raised as a boy until adolescence, Apostle Darlan Rukih realised they were intersex after experiencing menstruation.
Rukih has endured rejection, humiliation, and mockery.
Coming out openly as intersex helped Rukih cope and confront the conservative society that once rejected them.
Rukih started a church to preach the gospel of tolerance, love, respect, and acceptance.
It came as a big relief to many intersex people and their families who were silently battling rejection.
These three leaders are adding much-needed support to the fight for equal rights for the LGBTIQA+ community in Kenya.