By Henry Ominde
“If you have a voice and a space to speak, then you are authentic”
I love the opening quote that explains what LILO Identity is all about: “The hardest journey after all, is becoming less of what others want you to be, and more of what makes you the person you are. It is the most important journey you will embark on: the journey of becoming a person,” it states.
This quote speaks deeply to me as a human being, an activist, is a great tool towards self-discovery and linking one with their past, present and future. This process has helped me to unpack a lot of my inner most reserved feelings allowing me improve on my mental health, relationships and even helped me adjust my language giving me a positive outlook towards life in general.
The LILO Identity experience has been an eye opener and a life changer that has enabled me to reconcile with my family, understand myself more and take better care of myself. Often, we feel as if we have everything in place, sometimes we feel as if we have everything all figured out and that our perspective is the truth. But, LILO Identity teaches you to understand the difference between perspective and reality. It gives participants a clear view to approach life with a sensitive and calmer way.
Unlike other methodologies, the LILO methodology is not only practical but also relatable and this is what makes it unique and very valid. It also creates an environment that enables participants to bond and network. I believe that this will be of great use to lots of members of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) community help them improve their lifestyles and relationships giving them an improved outlook on reality and building them in so many ways.
What stands out the most about the experience is how it is based on reality and practicality. It helps one to maximize their full potential. That is what LILO is all about. It does not just leave you with knowledge but empowers you to exist in fullness by bettering one’s potential causing them to excel in fullness and become whom they strive to be.
I take great pride to have gone through the process to be a LILO facilitator.
What is LILO?
LILO stands for Looking In, Looking out (LILO). It is a series of curricula and methods designed to support people from marginalized and vulnerable groups.
Generally, LILO is about building self-advocacy, agency and voice. It is important to realize if you have a voice and space to speak, then you are authentic. It is based on positive psychology and a personalized process that seeks to start with self. “If I speak about myself, I talk authentically.”
“The LILO Identity workshop is a personalized approach to exploring identity and sexual orientation. It responds to high levels of self-stigma in Key Populations, working therapeutically with individuals to raise awareness of the self, to reclaim and change the personal narrative and promote self-acceptance of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. The workshop aims to move individuals towards a positive identity, a strong self-concept, and a high regard for themselves as individuals. Participants are encouraged to integrate their identity with their other qualities and roles – and to see themselves as complex, multifaceted human beings with many strengths and skills. Topics cover language, the emergent development process of exploring sexual orientation and gender identity, relationship skills, creating a circle of positive support, skills for coming out and understanding the impact of prejudice and discrimination. The process allows for individuals to start addressing discrimination. Importantly, as the roll-out of the workshop programme will be facilitated by local partners, it builds the organisations, as it engages the membership in a focused activity, adds to service provision and helps build a ‘consciousness’ among Key Populations to formulate joint approaches to address discrimination,’’ a reflective description of LILO from Positive Vibes
The LILO Identity workshops, that are to be rolled out this year for the Strong in Diversity project are about LGBTIQ individuals coming together in one space, to speak and ask about the past with reflection such as: ‘’What does it mean?’’
It is an intense process and potentially uses language to identify oneself, ultimately, to make people feel comfortable in their skins.
Through the Strong in Diversity Program, Hivos East Africa focuses on building the resilience of LGBTIQ communities, supporting alliances with societal leaders on LGBTI and changing the media narrative on LGBTI stories, persons and bodies. We strongly believe a free, fair and sustainable world is necessary for sexual and gender minorities to freely express themselves and enjoy their sexuality without facing stigma and discrimination.
With contributions from Denis Nzioka.
About guest blogger
Henry Ominde is a member of PEMA Kenya, and one of the LILO Facilitators. He is an LGBTIQ activist with a focus on those who use and inject drugs in Coastal Kenya.