Brian Macharia recently joined our team as Health GAP’s first-ever Coordinator, Health Justice and Human Rights. Brian has spent their career dedicated to elevating the visibility and agency of LGBTQ+ people across Kenya while challenging systems of power, impunity, and patriarchy. Brian is dedicated to creating a future where diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and expression is not just tolerated or accepted but is celebrated and revered. They are driven by integrity, fairness, and justice, which shapes their contributions to community organizing and LGBTQ+ movement building. We recently sat down with Brian for a brief question and answer session to get to know them a bit better.
Welcome to Health GAP, Brian! You’ve been an activist for a number of years and have an impressive record of accomplishment. What advocacy goal are you still working toward and most passionate about?
There are so many things that I would love to change about our world: from challenging the patriarchal systems to climate change. But my devotion to activism is to contribute to the creation of a world where diversity is not just tolerated or accepted by it is celebrated and revered. A world where we regard each other with respect and dignity. A kinder world. I know it’s a lot and we have made so much progress. But there is so much to do, and I hope everyone can be part of the change.
You are committed to movement building. What piece of advice would you give newer activists as they start out?
Activism is hard. But it can be fun and sexy if you designate time for your activism and for your personal time. Planning is key. Also, acknowledging that you are playing a role to incrementally, positively impacts the lives of others as opposed to being the saviour of the world helps. In so doing, you prioritise what you are able to achieve and within a specified time frame. And find your tribe.
That’s an important point. Can you say more about how that has played a role in your activist journey?
In my activism I met incredible and brilliant humans. Many of them became colleagues, partners, and friends but a chosen few were and still are my tribe. These humans have held me through tough times, lifted me when I didn’t have the strength to carry through. I have gained so much more than I’ve given and I’m so thankful for this.
You’ve shared a lot of wisdom here already. What’s the best advice you’ve gotten with regard to your work?
Entrenching wellness into my work wasn’t something I ever took that seriously for years. I would go about the work as though my life depended on it. And as I wore myself out and it started to physically manifest itself, it became clear that I needed to find “me” time. I needed to acknowledge the contribution I have made and rest a bit while others carry on, and get back to it once I’m ready. I am most grateful that I am learning not to take myself or the work too seriously. I am grateful that I am learning to listen to my body and take time to rejuvenate as needed and when possible.
What inspires you to keep going when things are difficult?
I have always been inspired by the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” There have been so many fond moments over the years. There is such a joy that comes when concerted advocacy efforts yield meaningful results. It’s powerful to witness communities rising and challenging their oppressors, demanding justice, equality, and dignity.
If you weren’t an activist, what work would you choose to do instead?
I love making music. I did a lot of this back when I was a child. There is something about making melodies that is so peaceful and calming for me and makes me happy. I can play the piano, though I’m not professionally trained. And I can play bass guitar as well.
What else do you do to relax?
Netflix always. Though I wish Kenya’s platform had nearly as much diversity as the Western world. (Netflix, kindly). Spending time with friends and family has been healing and rejuvenating, also.