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After hiding their relationship for a decade, Rama and Nic are now getting married

After hiding their relationship for a decade, Rama... After hiding their relationship for a decade, Rama...

Kenya, ten years ago. Rama and Nic, two gay men, found themselves deeply in love. But in Kenya, it simply wasn’t safe for them to share their love openly with their families, communities, and broader society. They found themselves trapped in a web of oppression and secrecy. 

Rama and Nic’s story of perseverance is at the heart of Rainbow Railroad’s 2024 Pride campaign, “Solidarity in Pride.” Without the solidarity of our community of supporters, they would not have been able to access a future free from persecution. 

Growing up as gay men, Rama and Nic faced the harsh reality of living in a society where many people hold overtly homophobic and transphobic views. Everyday life was perilous, fraught with the threat and experience of violence. 

Rama was brought up in a strict religious environment that was rife with homophobia. Nic’s reality wasn’t any better; he endured homophobia too, but it wasn’t cloaked in religion. Because of these pressures, the couple chose to keep their love for each other and their relationship secret, even pretending to be “best friends” from high school.

This closeting took an incredible toll on the couple. “Navigating the challenges of being a serodiscordant gay couple (a couple in which one partner is HIV-positive and one partner is HIV-negative) in a country where same-sex relationships are taboo and unprotected by law meant constant depression, mental health issues, and psychological torture,” Nic recalls today.

Even Rama’s mom was a grave threat. “My mum threatened to kill if she’d ever come to find out one of her sons is gay. It was better to see her son dead than being gay,” she said.

Things got worse before they got better. The couple was outed, which led to a torrent of awful threats as well as the loss of their university scholarships and their jobs. A direct effect of homophobic and transphobic discrimination in so many instances is this loss of livelihood that Nic and Rama experienced. Not being able to afford essentials like food, shelter, and clothing are the most reported health & welfare concerns among those seeking help from Rainbow Railroad. Put simply, homophobia creates economic destitution in countries where it’s illegal to be LGBTQI+. 

A New Horizon: Finding Freedom in Germany

It was this untenable situation which led them to reach out to Rainbow Railroad. In December 2023, they made the courageous decision to leave behind everything they knew in search of safety and acceptance in Germany. 

Leaving Kenya was not without its challenges. The mix of emotions — relief, excitement, and sadness — underscored the gravity of their decision. But the promise of a better future in a more accepting environment propelled them forward. Their resettlement in Germany marked the beginning of a new chapter — one filled with both opportunities and obstacles.

Life in Germany brought with it a newfound sense of freedom and acceptance. They found solace in a community that embraced them for who they are, allowing them to live authentically and openly. Access to resources and support networks improved their overall well-being. However, navigating the asylum process, adapting to a new culture, and finding stable employment posed their own set of challenges. Leaving one’s home country is never an ideal solution. That’s why Rainbow Railroad advocates for systemic change to dismantle laws that criminalize LGBTQI+ people.

Despite hurdles, Rama and Nic remain steadfast in their pursuit of happiness. They are now planning to formalize their decades-long partnership through marriage, something that would have been a far-off dream just a few years ago. They are also considering starting a family and pursuing their careers in mathematics and nursing. All of this — marriage, family, careers — would have been robbed from them if they had not made the courageous choice to flee.  

To LGBTQI+ individuals living in countries where acceptance is not yet realized, Rama and Nic offer a message of hope: “You are not alone. Your identity is valid, and you deserve to live authentically and freely. Reach out for support, stay strong, and never lose faith in yourself.”

This year, Rainbow Railroad will receive more than 15,000 requests for help from LGBTQI+ people around the world experiencing persecution and violence simply because of who they are or who they love. Be a part of their journey from Persecution to Pride by making a donation and supporting our work.