To celebrate Black History Month, we invited Ruth Miburi, one of our Ambassadors, to write a guest blogpost about her personal history of being a lesbian refugee in the UK. 

It was clear even in my earliest life experiences at home (Uganda) that I was a lesbian, but having been brought up in a very strong Christian family, and community, which was intolerant of my feelings, I ended up living a double life with a lot of insecurity and anxieties.

During my youth, I was educated in a girls only schools with firm religious principles, but this didn’t deter my feelings about same sex relationships. I bonded with a few girls who we shared the same feelings, but all this was done in secrecy.

Both my parents were church elders who highly believed in heterosexual values and norms. After my education, I worked in social services such as women, youth and children organisation, representing them at an international level as well as global affairs tackling climate changes.

My desire to work in this area was due to feeling vulnerable as a lesbian woman and not being honest to myself and family. I wanted to be part of a solution after realising there are people suffering in far more dire situations than me.

As my family expected, I got married with a husband for over 20 years, with whom we had three children. Like many others in my situation, I was unhappy in marriage with doubts about whether I had made the right decision and uncertainties about my sexual orientation. Eventually, I felt like a part of me was missing, then I secretly got affectionate with my colleague and events took their course, leading to divorce from my husband.

Having hidden my feelings from family, I couldn’t deny the truth any longer, but this led to anger, abandonment and being cut off from family. This forced me to flee my home country and sought refuge in the UK.

In the UK, I joined LGBT groups and support groups such as CAGS, RAB, Age UK and ODL, where I have met friends for life and other refuge women who suffered similar experiences as I did.

Everyone I have met in these groups is very nice and non-judgemental. I have now embraced the UK as my own country and my friends have become my new family.

Now that society is more tolerant, especially here in the UK, by meeting other LGBT people of my age, I have embarked on mentorship programmes through ODL and I occasionally volunteer within my area at different LGBT platforms to help others come out and not struggle alone. Am also an ambassador for ODL, as a group we meet with other women groups dedicated to supporting and fundraising for different humanitarian causes.

These support networks have enhanced my self-esteem and confidence of being out and proud as an older lesbian woman, giving me the strength to empower others who are still living in denial. I am exhilarated at the prospects of sharing my skills and experiences with other women suffering globally.