First Kenyan gay gospel singer Joji Baro – real name George Barasa – has for the first time spoken about living positively with HIV.
In an article published by POZ magazine – an award-winning print and online brand for people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS – Joji says that what drives his is “Death. I’m afraid that I might die before I see change, so I try to bring change myself.”
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In the article Joji details how he was chased away from home because of his sexual orientation.
“My family ejected me from home for being gay, and I had to drop out of school due to lack of money. That’s how I became an activist and artist. I have been evicted and arrested countless times for being gay. Against all odds, I have successfully built my niche in the entertainment and human rights sector. What breaks my heart is that I cannot achieve simple things in life, such as finding the love of my life. People avoid me either because I’m openly gay or HIV positive,” Joji wrote in the opinion piece.
Joji added that for 5 years he has been living positively with HIV.
“I was the first person to come out on national television in Kenya as both gay and HIV positive.”
He narrated how life has not been smooth even after his music video “Same Love” (Remix) by Art Attack, which was banned by the government.
“Sometimes I sit down and think I’m not a good singer, but each time I try to make an effort to sing better, institutionalized hate tries to stop me. Am I that bad that no one would like to hear me out?”
But that has not put him down. He has held his head high.
“I’ve learned about humanity from being HIV positive. I learned to love everyone. I learned to overcome my suicidal thoughts, learned to be a changemaker. I run a shelter that hosts LGBTI refugees from more than 13 countries. I feed them, clothe them and house them. I believe I’m the gay version of Mother Teresa. “