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Akinyi Ocholla
On Pastors, Sexual Orientation, Children, and Science – Akinyi M. Ocholla

in KENYA, 10/11/2011

A personal experience of my advocacy visit in Naivasha Town, Kenya

 “ Do you want children?” was the question directed at me by a pastor in Naivasha town recently, where I went with the Other Sheep Africa – Kenya to sensitize a group of pastors on sexual orientation and gender identity. ‘Do I want children?’ I thought to myself. ‘Perhaps.. though they are kinda noisy’. Beware, what you tell Pastors. “Hmm, they are kinda noisy” I said in half jest. “Aha!” the pastor said as though somehow I had confirmed something he had been thinking long about - probably that all lesbians are child-haters. ‘Oh dear’ I thought to myself and quickly mentioned that lesbians are like a lot of other women around the world – loving mothers who are sensitive to the needs of their children and who also want their children to grow up well balanced and able to relate with people of the opposite sex. Which is the truth.

Have you tried talking to religious leaders about science and sexual orientation? It isn’t easy. I am tempted to think that science to the conservative religious leader is almost as foreign to them as the desert is to fish. “ Do you believe in evolution?” was the next question posed to me by the same pastor. ‘A trick question! I’m not going to answer that one’, I thought and quickly responded that that was a completely different topic for another discussion.

Funny how people can believe in God and not want to acknowledge nature for what it is – science pure and simple. Except perhaps the sticky issue of the soul, and how it came about. I personally believe that whatever divine power exists has bestowed science on humans as a gift, and it is our responsibility to try to understand it and use it for the betterment of humanity. Why would people want to be so selective about what they choose to understand with regards to science? They don’t mind trying to be engineers and electricians to be able to make cell-phones, or tv’s. They don’t mind becoming doctors so they can stitch people up when they’re wounded, or remove cancers that grow inside them. They don’t even mind becoming counsellors and learning about depression, trauma and chemical imbalances in the brain. But sexuality baffles people. And OMG (Oh my God)! Sexual orientation is no-go zone! Well homosexuality at least most of the time.

Explaining gender identity seems easier than sexual orientation. How does one, for instance, explain that at the age of eight or ten, a child may start feeling attracted to children of the same sex, when everyone else (or so it would seem) is having feelings for people of the opposite sex? It is puzzling. But for the eight year-old it feels perfectly natural. In fact they never even question themselves about it. That is the beauty of innocent childhood. How do you explain that the same child will grow up and fall in love with her best friend (a person of the same sex) and go for months, or years, feeling like someone has been squeezing her heart because she can’t tell her how she’s feeling? The world is a harsh place and not all feelings should be accepted let alone voiced aloud. How do we explain that there is a special combination of chemicals in a brain, a special way a human heart works, and how a human eye relays images and the nose relays smells to the brain which then interpretes these in a certain way and we end up liking some people and not others? Hell, even straight people cannot explain that. I posed the question to the pastors, as to whether they understood their own sexual orientation i.e. being heterosexual. Most of them were quiet. One said “It is ‘the natural way’. God made us like this”. ‘Hmm. For homosexuals and bisexuals too it is ‘the natural way’’, I thought to myself and left it at that.




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