I live in Botswana. Last year I started working for a health care centre working as a lay counselor for LGBTIs and I told my workmates that I am a lesbian because I didn’t want them guessing or wondering about it since I was going to be seeing LGBTI people every day. The workmates didn’t know how to address me and what to pronoun they should use talking to me. They were confused about what exactly being a part of the LGBTI community is, what LGBTI stands for and how one becomes an LGBTI person. I explained to the best of my knowledge about the LGBTI acronyms, my experiences with discovering my sexual orientation, how I had come out to family members and friends.
After that conversation I was worried that I would be judged and shunned but they started inviting me to each lunch together and to weekend outings. They ask me questions to further understand the depth of homosexuality, what the media says about homosexuality in Botswana, the constitution and what the society is saying as well. We have further discussed stigma and discrimination, human rights violations and gender based violence on key populations and what we as a health care centre can do to protect LGBTI people. Their interest of offering advice on how to protect myself and feel free around them was another way to make me feel welcome in their space.