Drew Gachagua /

“I’d like to start my story from the age of 11. When I realized that I couldn’t settle on any corner of the playground like the other kids. I had to move from the boys to the girls, back to the boys, then to the older kids, and so on… and so forth. My presence was too controversial to be permanent, it was only tolerated, and then someone would ask “are you a boy or a girl”— and they’d start running. For a long time, I secluded myself and sat in the dining hall during playtime. This was where you would be sent for detention if you were late for a lesson or talked back to a teacher; this is where I went because I didn’t belong.

Church was the same, Functions were the same. Everyone is so nice until they get a whiff of what you are. I was so alone. I starved myself because I thought that would make people like me. If I wasn’t scrutinizing my body then I was thinking of the variety of ways I could end my life before it got too far. 

The only place I felt happy was on the stage, but puberty stole my voice, and competition ran me out. The summer before high school, I thought I’d never see the stage again. I settled on the couch in front of the TV, and I’d just rot beneath a blanket. 

Alas! a reason to live. A prestigious school in Nairobi recognized my passion for the stage, and offered me a Drama scholarship I couldn’t refuse. The change was exactly what I needed. I discovered new things, photography, painting, fashion, stitching and after less than 6 months at my new school, I garnered the courage to come out of the closet. 

At home, I was received horrendously. So I set up camp in the boarding house at school, then the summer came and that’s when they realized how ‘bad’ it was. The next two years was conversion of all sorts. There were breaches of trust that have never been amended, so many nasty words, prayers, so many threats. They shoved me back into the closet and broke my heart in the process. 

So I no longer belonged on the couch in front of the TV, and although my school was literally the best thing that happened to me, time passed, and living there seemed to be a fight from the moment I woke up. 

Where did I belong? 

Where did I belong? 

Where did I belong? 

I discovered writing when I was 14. It began with a couple random notebooks where I would pour everything that went through my mind onto the pages, and go on to burn them or tear the paper to shreds. It was euphoric. So… I wrote. And I was pretty good at that. I never thought my work would ever have an audience. I just thought my poetry would be an attachment to my suicide note.

I am now the author of a published poetry anthology, Late October-what I’d like to call “the essence of my adolescence” because it literally saved my life.

I’m happy to say that I found my voice again, I’m back on that stage, I’ve found my peace in creating, and I found myself through writing. 

So. Where do I belong?

I still don’t know, I’m only 17. But for now, I know that if I have a pen, my journal, and a little space to create- 

I’ll survive <3″

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