Kenya's LGBTIQ and Sex Work Magazine 'Gay, Straight or on The Rocks'
SOPHOMORE ISSUE NOVEMBER 2011 Identity Gay, Straight or on The Rocks DANCING QUEENS Nairobi Bars With A Gay Connection Since The ‘80s It was the grenade attack on Mwaura’s Bar in Nairobi at the end of October that brought it all back to me. I read a news story on the online website Behind the Mask in which Denis Nzioka (Editor of this August publication) said that Mwaura’s was a gay-friendly bar frequented by men who have sex with men (MSMs) of all ages. It got me thinking about the my experience in Nairobi’s gay friendly bars and how some changed through the years and in others only those with a gaydar as sharp as a bat’s sonic hearing knew what was going on beneath the surface. I started visiting bars in Nairobi as an under-age teenage drinker, but it wasn’t until I was about 20 years old and working in the CBD that I began to tentatively explore bars where I could meet other gay men. In 1989, for a seriously closeted guy who was not out to his colleagues and other drinking cronies, this seemed like mission impossible. Of course growing up one had heard about the Thorn Tree at the then New Stanley hotel where if you wore white trousers while sitting at the terrace café, you were signalling that you were gay. The problem for me was that even in those days when the price of alcohol was controlled by the government and hotels, clubs and restaurants were divided into classes based on cost a drink at the New Stanley could not be a regular option on the crap salary I was earning then. For that matter neither was a drink at the other supposedly discreetly gay friendly bar, the Delamare Terrace at the Norfolk. HIGHLIGHTS CONTINUED ON PAGE 24 Mungiki Assault Gays 3 Score Card 8 Adoption 10 Uncommon Calling 17 Sex Work Saves Love 19 ICASA 25 Gays And GOD 31 CJ Mutunga ‘Refuses’ Mention in Gay Book Kenya’s Chief Justice, Willy Mutunga is alleged to have ordered that a quote he gave for a gay book published in Kenya not mention him as the Chief Justice. Sources say that he ordered the title of ‘Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya’ be replaced with his old job title – that of Ford Foundation Representative. The book, by gay group Gay Kenya is titled, ‘My Way, Your Way or the RIGHTS Way’ and published by Story Moja, is a domestication of the Yogyakarta Principles which are human rights applied in the context of sexual orientation and gender identity. CONTINUED ON PAGE 12 Identity EDITOR’S LETTER ‘A story is said of a saint who once prayed, ‘Lord, at the end of my days, may I come to you with my wildest dream—to bring the whole world to you.’’ I was reading this in the Butler’s Lives of Saints (yes, I still maintain some Catholic trappings) and it got me thinking how ‘bringing the whole world’ through Identity can be achieved. What was my wildest dream? From the time we published the first issue, the response has been massive. In the first two minutes of launching Identity online, my first thoughts were scary - Gosh, I have the November issue to do, and December and January and February…! Scarcely had the October issue been out than I was thinking and worried over the next issue. I guess its part of the job. Reception of Identity to the larger Kenyan community and nation was positive and encouraging. The Star newspaper dedicated a whole page on Identity and for this we are forever grateful. The comments and responses I have received are also very supportive. However, I am aware, all to acutely, that this magazine will face hostility from some quarters, especially the homophobes and religious right who may see it as a ‘gay agenda’ In fact, one of the comments I have received is that Identity is a tool for recruiting people in homosexuality! Some friends of mine in political office have hinted that talk is around that Identity be shut down and investigated! However, I am confident that Identity will be successful and will indeed be a household name in Kenya. My motivation in founding Identity was only one – Give voice to the voiceless. It has debuted amid the ‘I was surprised by the backdrop of controversy over the gay community’s place on Kenya’s society. Not only that, sex workers too have no voice and place and this magazine will address these two communities. large number of persons asking to contribute to Identity. This shows there was a gap’ But in order to give a voice to the voiceless, I saw a need – In fact, there were two needs. One, there was nowhere in Africa where sex work and LGBT issues were articulated in one forum/medium. Identity serves that purpose. The other need was that there was mushrooming of pro-sex work, and pro-LGBT voices, both from within and without the sex work and gay community whose opinion and thoughts are considered not publishable or will scarcely be printed by any other magazine or paper. Any opinion, piece or article that is even seen as likely supportive of these two communities is likely to be ignored by main stream media. Now, Identity is here to ensure their voices are heard. I have also seen a remarkable rise in persons writing and asking to volunteer articles, stories and items for subsequent issues and this shows that Identity is filling a gap where these contributors and writers can have their works published. The number of persons subscribing has also risen. So far, since the debut of Identity a month back, I have subscribed more than three hundred e-mail addresses to the mailing list. More are welcome. We are in the process of having the Identity website up and running and through the concerted efforts of readers and well wishers (special mention to Angus Parkinson for his generous gift) , we hope this dream will be achieved. This website will your one-stop for news on LGBT, sex work, HIV and AIDS, health, human rights, Africa and abroad. This is my wildest dream. Page 2 SOPHOMORE ISSUE MSM & LGBT Fundraising Toolkit Launched amfAR MSM Initiative has launched a new handbook (inset) for MSM and LGBT led groups in Africa and other low income countries. The new handbook was launched to help in fundraising efforts for groups that target gay, bisexual and MSMS as well as Transgender individuals. According to a communiqué from amfAR’s MSM Initiative, the toolkit answers some key questions and helps groups know what grants are available, contacts of donors as well as application processes. In addition, ‘The guide offers information about who is funding MSM/LGBT groups, snapshots of what those grant programs look like, how to approach funders, and which projects those grant makers have supported in the past.’ Furthermore, ‘This toolkit goes beyond traditional funders, such as private foundations, and offers information and ideas about other organizations that provide funding to, or partner with, MSM/LGBT groups.’ The guide also ‘offers general tips on fundraising, from networking to proposal writing, and includes templates to help organizations and activists get started.’ To access the toolkit, please paste the following link to your browser—http://www.amfar.org/world/msm/article.aspx?id=10456 CONTINUED ON PAGE 5 Mungiki Assault, Evict Gay Man In Dandora late, I gave a man Sh20 to accompany me to the gate of our building since its risky to walk alone. He was in no way my date or partner and neither was he Mungiki members brandishing weapons gay.’ A gay man who works for a clinic that caters to Men who have Sex with other Men (MSM) has been assaulted and forcefully evicted from Dandora Estate, Eastlands of Nairobi. The victim, Justus Wambua* identifies as gay and told Identity that the incident happened on October 29th when he was accosted by several men who claimed he was gay. Justus, who was in the company of another male companion says the men mistook this to be that the two were gay. ‘I had left a club and since it was Page 3 Justus says he found the unnamed companion near the bar and engaged him. However, a few meters to his home, they were confronted by a crowd of youths. He got into an argument with them and one of the attackers slapped him prompting the others to rain blows on him. He suffered cuts and bruises. Wambua says that he managed to escape but the attackers warned that they will come after him. The next morning , according to Justus, some youth had surrounded his house saying he was gay and claiming that he had ‘… claims the youth defiled someone. They deare members of the manded him to move or be outlawed Mungiki sect killed. The youth numbered that has gained around twenty. The youth gained entry to his house before assaulting him again and took him to an abandoned building within Dandora where they continued with the beating and threats. control of transport and businesses in Nairobi’s Eastland area’ ‘They told me to give them Sh5000 ($500) so that they can forget the issue of me being gay. I only had Sh500 ($5) which I gave them and told them to release me so that I go and look for money for them.’ Justus claims the youth are members of the outlawed Mungiki sect that has gained control of transport and businesses in Nairobi’s Eastland area. He managed to contact Ishtar MSM, a group that advocates for the health rights of MSMs in Nairobi who promised to investigate the case. Peter Njane, Director of Ishtar, said they are looking for alternative places to move Justus for safety. Justus is currently staying with a friend. Identity CONTRIBUTORS NICHOLAS OTIENO’s journey of selfdiscovery has taken him from his home village in Kenya to a monastery to the midst of South African politics to the Yale Divinity School. A noted Kenyan philosopher, his search for those answers has led him to a Benedictine monastery; stirred him to political activism in Africa and now runs CRIC Africa, an innovative new organization for social change and justice. He has authored several books and multiple publications Drug abuse is a prevalent vice in the Coastal town of Malindi. So, when UMRA OMAR travelled there to cover stories of women whose lives were impacted by the use of heroin, she discovered that nothing was being done to help the victims in dealing with the abuse. She met and interacted with women who sold their bodies to get drugs, exposing themselves to health risks and mental anguish. Umra is passionate for human rights, women liberation and freedom. ‘More than one in every 2000 people are born with some sort of intersex condition, but you would never know it’ says BARBRA WANGARE in her article this month that tries to de-mystify those persons who are referred to as intersex whom she has particularly met and interacted with. Her piece recalls the case of RM v/s State who petitioned the Court of Appeal for a third gender to be recognized. What do you get when you cross cross-dressing Ask Harriet and ever-so-wise but bitchy Aunty Betty? AL GREY is the gay men’s answer to the many Arcus Foundation Correspondent Aunty Agony columns only this in Kenya, MELISSA WAINA- time his audience and questions INA traverses Kenya to bring are from the gay community. you up to date news on the He doses out advice with a LGBT and sex work community sense of humor and ’keeping it on themes such as health, human real’ attitude on how to deal rights, media, politics and enviwith life, love, sex, relationship ronment. and break-ups. Page 4 An advocate of the High Court in Kenya, MONICA MBARU, is a noted human rights lawyer, author and advocate with vast experience in taking on cases regarding LGBT in Kenya. Described as ‘well-learned’ ‘approachable’ and ‘affable’ Monica will answer our readers questions on LGBT and the law, marriage, inheritance and other aspects. She sees in the new Bill of Rights of the Constitution of Kenya a strong case to advocate for marriage equality, nondiscrimination and protection of minorities. RELIC CHEDY is a hidden passion writer and a poet with Young, fresh, urbanite intense ability in the world of and with a penchant for romance. His writings often censaying it as it is, COLE ter on male eroticism, sex and MUTAHI is a legal mind. love. His signature poems, short He is also a good purand graphic, reveal his free spirit veyor of minds having and aim to have the readers apstudied psychology. He preciate eroticism as an expreswrites on gay men, well sion that is innately human. He being and mental wellstudies and lives in Nairobi. ness. He is a life coach and motivation speaker. SOPHOMORE ISSUE Ugandan Police Arrest Kenyan Pro-Gay Activist A Kenyan pro-gay activist, Nicholas Otieno, was last month harassed and arrested by Ugandan police in the border town of Malaba (inset) between Kenya and Uganda. Nicholas was on his way to Kampala, Uganda to facilitate in an expert consultation meeting when he was arrested. Mr. Nicholas was carrying materials on human sexuality and human rights at the time of his arrest. ‘I had one suitcase which I checked in containing mainly my personal effects, several books, some documents on human rights and correspondence print out. I also carried my laptop and a box of materials some of which contained pamphlets and few CDs on human rights, social justice and in particular, human sexuality.’ During his two-day ordeal, Mr. Nicholas was routinely interrogated and threatened by Ugandan police officers. According to Otieno, ‘I was removed from the cells periodically for interrogation and then taken to another room for questioning by the same CID officers and policemen. The main content of the interrogation was who I was, where did I get the materials in the box and what was I coming to do in Kampala Uganda.’ Nicholas was forced to sign a paper alleging he had ‘obstructed justice’ and was ‘rude to police officers’; crimes which are punishable according to Ugandan law. Some of the allegations included being in possession of ‘suspicious’ materials and refusal to cooperate with the police. ‘I was told that I would be taken to court and be tried for not cooperating with investigation officers on a sensitive matter. That I was found in possession of suspicious materials for distribution in Uganda.’ ‘I was told that I ought to apologize for being rude and abusive to the police and only then I could be allowed to leave for Kampala, otherwise I was to be remanded and this time I would be charged and not leave until the trial date’ Nicholas added. CONTINUED ON PAGE 25 ‘The police warned him that they have a right to intercept and interrogate anyone deemed suspicious based on propaganda motives on issues of sexuality’ ‘This Toolkit Will Aid In Sustainable Funding’ Kent According to Kent Klindera, the Director of the MSM initiative at amfAR, ‘The purpose is to assist MSM/LGBT-led projects and organizations be able to fund raise better, offering strategies to approach private and public donors (and intermediaries), contact details on donors, as well as other 'outside the box' strategies such as corporate social responsibility.’ He added ‘amfAR's MSM Initiative is by nature a catalyst for other more sustainable funding, hence this toolkit is another part of that process. We don't have a lot of resources, however, there are a lot more donors out there. Typically, we are only able to fund about 10 percent of the applications sent to us, so the toolkit was developed in an attempt to meet that unmet need. Finally, as mentioned in the methodology section, we have listed donors who were mentioned multiple times amongst those organizations applying to amfAR, thus it is not necessarily a comprehensive list but captures most, if not all of the information necessary.’ ‘We are currently working to secure funding for a French, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian version. I also hope to at some point put this online on a format that allows for updating and additions’ added Kent.—DENIS NZIOKA Page 5 Identity ERIK WISE is the founder and Senior Pastor Of High Praises International Ministries in Chicago, Illinois USA. He is also the Bishop/Director of World Missions for the Affirming Pentecostal Church International an Open, Affirming and Inclusive organization of churches and Ministers around the world. He oversees ministries in the US, Nigeria, Ghana, Wales, Brazil, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Kenya, Uganda, Portugal, Kosovo, Mexico and Albania. He writes on dialogue and openness of the Christian faith to LGBT persons. Philosophical, private and probing, KENNE KWIKYA, is a Kenyan queer blogger and commentator. Often combining in-depth analysis, wit and philosophical intrusions to situations, events and people, Kenne’s writings have been described as ‘deep’ ‘rooted’ and ‘intellectual wrestling’ He is a member of Kenya Writers. ‘The concept of the “Other Sheep” is derived from John 10:16 which emphasizes the Biblical notion of inclusion and affirmation without discrimination of any person’ A pastor with a mission to preach Christ’s open and unconditional love for all men, the Rev, JOHN MAKOKHA studied Mission at the Nairobi Evangelical School of Theology. He pastors at Riruta Methodist Church and is married with children. He runs Other Sheep Afrika-Kenya, the only church in Kenya to welcome LGBT persons. Page 6 CONTRIBUTORS Heading Minority Women in Action (MWA), Kenya’s premier lesbian group, AKINYI OCHOLLA writes on legal issues, discussions around law, and personal experiences as a tool of advocacy. She is a Board member of Other Sheep Afrika-Kenya, a Kenyan based affirming and inclusive ministry for LGBT Christians. Her passion is fighting for sex workers in Kenya and across Africa. DAUGHTIE OGUTU, who blogs under the pen name, Amarula Gal, is a well-known feature when sex work is mentioned. An inactive sex worker, she has taken the wave from the streets to offices as she pushes for the rights of sex workers to access health and other basic rights. Daughtie is a Board member of the African Sex Workers Alliance (ASWA) and the Kenya Sex Workers Alliance (KeSWA), both of which she is a founding member. Bars are a great place to watch people and the world go by and boy, did BARFLY see the world from his stool! He is a gay Kenyan who over the last twenty two years has probably spent more time in bars than he did everywhere else. Arguably the ‘face of lesbians’ in Kenya, KATE KAMUNDE, is a lesbian activist, queer feminist and artist. Combining passion with paint, music and method, Kate tires to represent life in the eyes of lesbians living in Kenya. Using pose and lines, Kate’s artistic talent has changed the land‘That being said, this review takes the scape of lesbian activism. form of a score card and in a very blunt and unapologetic way critiques (positively and negatively) existing Kenyan LGBT groups, their strategies, leadership and engagement methodologies’ QUEER WATCHTOWER is an author of unmeasured genius, brutal pen-manship and a queer eye that sees things underneath. Often seen as intellectually arrogant and brutish, Watchtower, takes no prisoners. SOPHOMORE ISSUE 1 In Every 2000 People Is Intersex In Kenya, and most parts of the world, we only know of two sexes: male and female. There are no ‘ifs’ and no ‘buts’. But, there are people who identify as something other than male or female. Now, I am no guru in this nor am I an expert. But, I will give my five cents (adjusted for inflation) worth. I have had the privilege of meeting and interacting with intersex people and I somehow have some idea about their issues. Before anything else, lets get some of the definitions clear. According to Wikipedia, ‘’Intersex in humans refers to ‘intermediate or atypical combinations of physical features that usually distinguish female from male. This is usually understood to be congenital, involving chromosomal, morphologic, genital and/or gonadal anomalies, such as diversion from typical XX-female or XY -male presentations, e.g., sex reversal (XY-female, XX-male), genital ambiguity, sex developmental differences. An intersex individual may have biological characteristics of both the male and female sexes. Intersexuality as a term was adopted by medicine during the 20th century, and applied to human beings whose biological sex cannot be classified as clearly male or female. Intersex was initially adopted by intersex activists who criticize traditional medical approaches to sex assignment and seek to be heard in the construction of new approaches.’’’ Thus, we see that intersex persons are persons born with atypical or ambiguous genitalia. So that we can be at par, let’s break that down further. Atypical means: “Not usual in a normal condition; opposite of typical”. Intersex conditions are varied. But one thing is clear; the gender marker here (because of the ‘Intersex persons are viewed as a curse in male or female one, then it’s atypical. Ambiguous means: “Open to multiple interpretations; Vague and many societies… unclear”. If the genitalia do not resemble that of either male or female and looks like either, or, both, because “they don’t fit none, mixed, varied – you get my drift? - Then it’s ambiguous. It’s not clear. It’s vague. in”’ way we are socially brought up and taught) is the genitalia. Now if the genitalia do not look like the usual The above basically points out the onset of intersex condition. Such children born intersex face a plethora of difficulties, some of which I will cite here in no order or form. Imagine a kid who is born with genitalia that resembles more of male than of female but under further scrutiny it is discovered that the kid passes urine through an opening under that which is supposed to be the penis? Parents freak out and wonder what to do. The doctor prescribes that an operation be performed on it immediately because “we don’t want it to be a social pariah”. The kid is assigned a female identity and the small penis is trimmed down to look like a clitoris and then what would have been the scrotum is opened up to look like a vagina. They cannot create a vaginal canal since the kid is too young. The said kid grows up and begins to socialize. In due course, it begins displaying more male characteristics than female. But since the parents want “a perfect family” and don’t want any embarrassment (considering intersex persons are viewed as a curse in many societies), they don’t disclose to anyone about the kid’s intersex condition and brush off the kids behaviour as ‘wanja kihii’ (in Kikuyu) or tom boyish behavior, a “phase that will pass”. CONTINUED ON PAGE 14 Page 7 Identity The Score Card: Kenyan Queer Groups Since the inception of ISHTAR MSM in 1997, the queer movement in Kenya has in the last decade, organized and structured itself in a remarkably expansionist manner. Besides the formation of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya, which is a Nairobi secretariat of seven (7) lesbian, gay, MSM, WSW and Transgender groups, there are other vibrant groups in many other parts of Kenya, registered or otherwise but organized all the same. As such, it cannot be denied that there is no visible movement, or that the liberation struggle has not been started. For the gains that the movement has had are many, and must be savored and celebrated. There have been considerable achievements in the areas of health- both in advocacy and availability of well researched data Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya to inform dialogue, as well as in terms of opening up social and other safe spaces for organizing and advocacy. There have been positive debates regarding decriminalization strategies and other litigation avenues to stout equality in the advent of a new constitutional dispensation, judicial and other governance reforms. All splendid trajectories! That being said in a perambulatory way, this review takes the form of a score card and in a very frank and unapologetic way critiques (positively and negatively) existing groups, their strategies, leadership and engagement methodologies. The review does not pretend to have substantive knowledge of the inner workings of the groups nor does it base its assessment methodology on empirical quantitative data; the assessment is mainly qualitative and anchored on key result areas as articulated in the groups manifestos and strategic plans, peer reviews by some of the beneficiaries who the author has conversed with and the impact and visibility of the output/results towards the overall goal of liberation. This is the first of a three part series in the Identity magazine reviewing different groups within the LGBTQ organizing in Kenya. The Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK), as its name suggests, is purely a coalition, a secretariat whose mandate is limited to facilitation and technical oversight with little, if any, programmatic powers. With much regard to its limitation, GALCK has made immense strides in health advocacy, albeit, three years ago. The context ‘The position that within which these efforts were made must be understood and appreciated in terms of the heightened hoGALCK is now taking, mophobia and ignorance that surrounded the epidemiological concerns of LGBT Kenyans. With the conof wait and see, of we certed efforts of the LVCT’s well documented and vital data which was groundbreaking in many ways, are going to court to GALCK, LVCT, SWOP and ISHTAR MSM weighed in heavily on state agencies for the inclusion of decriminalize and all MSM issues into the HIV programming by the state agencies, which efforts eventually bore fruits. As rights will soon be such, they proved the utility in unity for the movement, the wisdom in institutional fronts vis a vis self ours, is un-strategic, seeking individualized ventures and the expediency at which gains can be made when petty politics within the movement are discarded for a common goal. hinges on folly and is non integrative within the broader scope of fully functional citizenship’ On the flip side, once this was achieved and the movement secured a sit in the government’s HIV discussion table, there was a kick back mode by GALCK and the trajectory went down to personalized politics and petty board room wrangles. Beyond the HIV entry point, GALCK must see sense in reviving the human rights entry point it had during it active partnership with the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC). While excuses are rife as to why this died, GALCK must understand that the liberation struggle is indeed a struggle not a strut. They must actively and aggressively make overtures, build bridges over and again with such mainstream civil society organization seeking to root under their clout as they did during the successful 2010 IDAHO at the national museums, the defense towards Hon Murugi and others. There is a growing number of mainstream civil society organizations either curious, warming up or actually doing LGBT work. As a pioneer, GALCK should be aiming arrows, hunting in hot pursuit. The position that GALCK is now taking, of wait and see, of we are going to court to decriminalize and all rights will soon be ours, is un-strategic, hinges on folly and is non integrative within the broader scope of fully functional citizenship. GALCK must also bite its lemons for being presumably transphobic. While the secretariat wills to realize all rights for all LGBTI persons, the transgender and intersex persons are often ignored. The flavour of the month by GALCK has been decriminalization, which has been fervent for more than a year– yet decriminalization ignores transgender and intersex persons who are not criminalized. While the flavor has been fervent, trans persons have been struggling to get their particulars changed and acquire new documents with the Ministry of Immigration and Registration of Persons; efforts that have been independent of GALCK, devoid of the alleged technical oversight they are meant to provide and lacking in legal expertise although GALCK does have a Legal and Human Rights Officer. Page 8 SOPHOMORE ISSUE Such trans groups have been left to hire consultants and other experts in a move that has placed them in a much strategic fore in their advocacy. So much fore than GALCK is now. There is also a patriarchal system evidenced in the leadership and executive hierarchy that has often been male dominated and that often is caricatured by Gay Kenya and Ishtar MSM – both male exclusive groups. It is nothing but pure bigotry for GALCK to seek equality for all yet have priorities within the LGBTI clusters. The domination of the leadership and board politics by gay and MSM persons are short sighted and simply foolish and defeat the equality for all speak. Gay Kenya While this is not representative of the entire GALCK leadership, the movement must be aware of the gate keepers, the self seeking chauvinists who run the risk of drowning an entire secretariat. Without any expedient and reliable shelters to cushion its members from socio economic as well as civil political dens, without any evident recruitment drive or an encouragement to its constituents groups to do so, without any enhanced overtures to other civil society and state ministries and organs, without making use of simple days like the day of tolerance, human rights day, coming out day, and other important and strategic calendar events that would legitimize advocacy platforms, without even daring its members to even conceptualize a Nairobi pride, with a closeted frightful unimaginative methodology; as such, GALCK would get a less than average score (4) by vide of its constant leadership wrangles that have stifled its creativity and advocacy efforts and blinded its sight to only stop at decriminalization. When history tides will silt, the Board of GALCK will be scribed as infamous and lacking of humanistic interests. They will be tasked with queries as to why with so much potential at hand, with such a great legal infrastructure and a hands off government, they steeped on a downwards trajectory of personal politics, self seeking ventures, international travel and advocacy at the expense of domestic advo‘There is also a cacy and had little room for creativity and fresh yet brave ideas to move the equality agenda. patriarchal system While the secretariat in Nairobi is in disarray, song is found when we turn to Kisumu where Kisumu Initiative for Positive Empowerment (KIPE) is doing an excellent work. With robust movement building and recruitment efforts, socio economic and welfare activities, increased visibility and internalized pride as well as wellness, social and health programmes, KIPE gets an excellent score (8). KIPE might however want to make stronger connections with other groups within Kenya and share its strategies and methodologies with other actors in the liberation struggle. evidenced in the leadership and executive hierarchy that has often been male dominated and that often is caricatured by Gay Kenya and Ishtar MSM –both male exclusive groups’ NYAWEK had its launch this year. Although institutional participants had to pay to seat at the launching ceremony (bad idea) and the day events were disorganized, it has a somewhat promising wider network of groups and increasingly positive and regular members meetings that are stouting the movement in Western and Nyanza Kenya. As a new kid on the block, this review wants to observe NYAWEK more before pen communes deeply with paper on the score card. However, its leadership might however want to buttress the management further and review some of its partnership approaches with other institutions to remove the approach from the dangers of rivalry and competition. They get a score of 6. Nyawek Coalition In the next issue of Identity, the score card moves to Ishtar MSM, AFRA, MWA and Gay Kenya. It promises to exalt, to rebuke, to suggest, recommending but most importantly, to seek a common understanding on our way forward as a movement. © The Queer Watchtower Ishtar MSM Page 9 Identity End Gay Discrimination In Commonwealth In an historic move and on the eve of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth, the Secretary General of the Commonwealth called for each of the member nations to end the discrimination and criminalization of gay people Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma A large majority of Commonwealth states still have laws making gay acts a criminal offence, long after homosexual law reform in Britain. and understanding,” he told the group. Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma has told several hundred people at the Commonwealth People’s Forum in Perth that the Commonwealth is about democracy, development and diversity. “This means we embrace difference, and that includes sexual identity. Discrimination and criminalization on the grounds of sexual orientation is opposed to our values and I have had occasion to refer to this in the context of our law-related conferences,” he added. “This includes a clear commitment to tolerance, respect Groundbreaking UN Report On LGBT In Iran The United Nations Human Rights Committee issued a groundbreaking report that puts LGBT human rights abuses in Iran in the spotlight for the first time and recommends that the government make changes. The document, which carries legal weight in the international system, could become a powerful tool for advocates working to improve conditions in the country and other parts of the world. "For years, Iranian authorities have committed acts of terror against LGBT people, incited violence by others, and refused even to admit that LGBT Irani- ans exist," said Hossein Alizadeh, regional coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa for the International Gay and Lesbian Hu- Two gay Iranians, Ayaz Mahroni man Rights Commission and Mahmous Asgari fitted with noses and hanged (IGLHRC), in a statement. African Countries React To UK Cut Aid Threat African nations are responding with anger after UK Prime Minister David Cameron threatened to cut aid to anti-gay countries. Commonwealth flag; Most African countries are former British colonies Page 10 A Ugandan presidential official, John Nagenda, said Uganda was “tired of these lectures” and that the UK should not treat countries like “children”. Ghana's President John Atta Mills has rejected the threat saying the UK could not impose its values on Ghana and he would never legalize homosexuality. Malawi government spokesperson Patricia Kaliati said it was “unfortunate” for Britain to have “pro-gay strings” to aid. Tanzania’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Bernard Membe said “We cannot be directed by the United Kingdom to do things that are against our set laws, culture and regulations.” SOPHOMORE ISSUE Gay Male Escort Company Launched in Nigeria A Nigerian gay man has opened a new company that offers escort services for gay clients in Nigeria. Gay Entertainment provides gay dancers and entertainment services for private parties, business functions and more. Okechukwu Kingsley Uba is not only proud but has gone a step further in opening a gay entertainment company in Abia Sate, Nigeria. However, this announcement was not taken lightly. An internet frenzy was created at Nollywood Gossip, a Nigerian based tabloid website. Okechukwu, who argues that Jesus Christ is gay, said that the company named Men O n e c o n t r i b u to r s a i d ‘madness has started, the governor should start to construct more psychiatric hospitals.’ Another remarked, ‘This is rubbish and very shameful (nonsense).’ Some commentators seemed open to the idea with one Some of the Nigerian male models saying, ‘Keep up the fabulous in the ad for a gay escort service work, Uba! I fully support and endorse this initiative.’ Lady Gaga Launches Born This Way Foundation Lady Gaga has announced the upcoming launch of the Born This Way Foundation, named after her hit single and album that will focus on issues such as anti-bullying. Lady Gaga’s in ‘Born This Way’ cover In a statement, Lady Gaga said, ‘The foundation will work towards “youth empowerment and equality by ad- dressing issues like selfconfidence, well-being, antibullying, mentoring and career development and will utilize digital mobilization as one of the means to create positive change.” The bisexual pop star has been a staunch supporter of LGBT persons and this has led to her recognition and accolades from many LGBT groups. The Born This Way Foundation will launch next year, its website allows visitors to declare that they “were born this way”. ‘Gays Are From The Devil’ Author Resigns The author of an article suggesting the devil may be responsible for homosexuality has resigned from his job with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. A spokeswoman said that Daniel Avila offered to step down and his resignation was Page 11 accepted. Avila had worked on policy and research for the bishops. that there's evidence suggesting the devil is responsible for same-sex attraction. Avila's column, "Some fundamental questions on samesex attraction" appeared in The Pilot, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston. Avila had written "Scientific evidence of how same-sex attraction most likely may be created provides a credible basis for a spiritual explanation that indicts the Devil." Illustration depicting the Devil Identity Caroline Mutoko Can Adopt, But We Can’t? Recently, I was privileged to participate in an interview at one of the radio stations. My colleague and I were there to discuss human rights and sexual and gender minorities. We were called after the launch of Freedom in Speech website which is managed by Artists for Recognition and Acceptance (AFRA-Kenya) and Gay Kenya, both LGBT groups in Kenya. Before the talk show began, we had a chit chat with one of the radio presenters who arrogantly expressed her thoughts on adoption especially for homosexuals. She quipped, ‘I cannot understand why gay couples or individuals for that matter would be allowed to adopt children’. The fact that well-known KISS FM presenter Ms. Caroline Mutoko has adopted a child singlehandedly made little sense to her. The show host said she believed that for a child to grow up normally and develop as they should, then they have to be brought up by a mother and a father. I was shocked. This assumption meant a lot of other things to me; that every other grown up brought up by a single parent is, even at adulthood, an all-round malfunctioning, incomplete child, including myself. Maybe those are the children that turn out to do all the wrong things including engaging in drug and substance abuse, pedophilia, rape and so on and so forth. To her, being gay is also a result of bad parenting. Page 12 The Children Act No 8 of 2001 part XII makes provisions for adoption. The Children (Adoption) Regulations that were gazetted on May 20, 2005, provides detailed guidelines on the adoption process. Among the people not allowed to adopt children are those previously charged or convicted of child abuse offenses ‘or homosexuals,’ which come second on the list. This has clearly and discriminatively categorizes or equates homosexuals to criminals from the use of the word ‘or.’ Having excluded the gay persons or couples from adopting children within the Child Act has not stopped the gay community from trying to beat the existing restrictions within the legislative system. Gay couples have explored taking over bringing up children whose parents are mostly poor relatives. There are bold ones that have managed to convince young expectant mothers not to procure abortions and offer to bring the children up instead. Others have friends we know that have had too many children and particularly experience financial hurdles in bringing them up. What about those homosexual men and women that have had to go to bed with other heterosexual men and women besides one another for the sole purpose of having children then later bring them up together with partners of their same-sex? Each of these ways is not always smooth because of the fact that such ‘adoptions’ are not legal meaning there are many problems encountered in raising the child. For example, if such a child needs medical attention the parent has to be involved. It is the same in education and other welfare matters of the child. And this multiplies the problem as the child grows up say in case there were to be property or any legal tuss l e s a n d i n h e r i ta n c e . Pushing for the repealing of the Penal Code and other discriminatory laws will be one way to correct the situation in addition to others. I believe the justification in denying capable gay and lesbian persons and couples the right to adopt/bring up children reinforces stereotypes. There are no proof lesbians or gay men are bad parents. Such stereotypes are because we are judged from a sexual point and not from a human one -- that we are no sane minds, we are never career people and all we do is hide in the confines of our homes and have sex 24 hours a day 7 times a week, 365 days a year! This is not truth. I wonder how being raised by a gay or a lesbian couple affects a child. There have been a lot of studies on gay and lesbian parenting. One of those is by Dr Abbie Goldberg, Lesbian and Gay Parents and Their Children: Research on the Family Life Cycle. A careful flipping of the American psychologist’s work show homosexual parents do as well as their heterosexual counterparts in raising children. She hopes that her book, which analyzes on the studies of gay and lesbian parenting and puts their findings in one place, will be used to influence public policy and allow for changes in adoption policies. And since quoting this and equating it to the Kenyan concept will mean importing Western cultures to a sufficiently ‘loyal’ traditional African society, I hope we can review our limiting laws. Maybe this will begin our long awaited journey to a proper and strategized approach to pursue decriminalization of homosexuality and repeal other discriminatory law.—KATE KAMUNDE SOPHOMORE ISSUE Call For Media Contacts—Pan Africa ILGA Pan Africa ILGA is looking for media contacts in the digital, print and online sectors inn Africa. In a communiqué from ILGA, these contacts are ‘in an effort to ensure that LGBTI regional news are receiving the coverage they deserve’ The communiqué also added, ‘We fully understand that sharing of media contacts comes with some level of discomfort and we would like to assure you that the communication officers will use these solely to communicate press statements by the Pan Africa ILGA board or by its members.’ Pan Africa ILGA is the African region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association. Founded in 1978, ILGA is a world-wide network of local, national and international groups from every continent and representing 110 countries. ILGA is dedicated to achieving equal rights and ending all forms of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex. Pan Africa ILGA The contacts can be sent to Apinda Mpako on firstname.lastname@example.org ‘Do Not Quote Me’ Says Mutunga Of two copies of the book obtained during the StoryMoja Hay Festival, one copy has the quote on the ‘Gay rights are human cover page reading as ‘Gay rights are human rights. Human rights movements must never use the sorights. Human rights called 'moral' argument to subvert the promotion and protection of gay rights. Gay rights must march with other movements in the journey of progressive change in the world' Dr. Willy Mutunga, Chief Jus- movements must never tice, Republic of Kenya. use the so-called The other copy which is sold at Sh 350 reads the following: 'Gay rights are human rights. Human rights movements must never use the so-called 'moral' argument to subvert the promotion and protection of gay rights. Gay rights must march with other movements in the journey of progressive change in the world' Dr. Willy Mutunga, Senior Counsel, Ford Foundation 'moral' argument to subvert the promotion and protection of gay right’ However, on close scrutiny, a sticker with the name ‘Senior Counsel, Ford Foundation’ had been added on top of the copy that cites Mutungas as CJ. Below that is what appears to be a black marker blotching the title ‘Chief Justice, Republic of Kenya.’ Investigations reveal that StoryMoja had printed close to 3000 copies of the book with the Dr Willy Mutunga cited as Chief Justice on the front cover. However, Mutunga instructed Gay Kenya to remove his title as Chief Justice for the Ford Foundation one. This he said was because the blurb was given when he was at Ford Foundation. Gay Kenya it is alleged to have been caught in a fix since they could not return the books to the printers for correction due to the high cost. They then decided to mark out the title of Chief Justice with black pen and put a sticker with saying Ford Foundation on it. Willy Mutunga recently in Uganda used almost the exact wording of this blurb in a speech he gave that caused a stir. During his nomination and interview process, his siding with the gay community and revelations that his law firm assisted a gay group to register were brought to limelight causing a debate over his suitability. This was more exacerbated by his wearing a stud, a mark often misconstrued to mean one is homosexual. The book is set to be launched in December though its readily available in bookstores at according to the Gay Kenya newsletter released this month.—SHOGA KUCHU Willy Mutunga, Chief Page 13 Justice of Kenya Identity ‘Rape Was Removed Since ‘He’ Was Intersex’ As the kid grows, she indeed develops breasts because she had some estrogen in her body but is now even more of a ‘boy’ than ever. She even knows (inside) that she is different but cannot pin point what the issue is. And the parents still don’t disclose this to her. When she grows older she learns of her intersex condition and reprimands her parents for deciding her fate for her. She tells them that she has never felt as being a girl and she wants to be who she really is, a boy. Now, by this time, she already has gotten an Identity Card that shows a female name. But even looking at her, she looks a whole lot like a boy than a girl, her mannerisms, speech, character, and even her likings and desires are inclined towards male than female. One could deduce that she is just Tom boy but she knows this isn’t so. She knows she is and has always been a boy. What would you do? How would you help her/him? Gender-Symbol Intersex Infinity This is but an example of what goes on in the intersex community. I liken this short story to that of Richard Muasya. He is an intersex inmate at Kamiti Prison who seeks special recognition of the fact that he is neither male nor female, despite the fact that he identifies as male. I understand when some people say that its not a big issue and that the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) and others could concentrate on more pressing matters but I beg to differ, albeit not entirely. ‘It is imperative that Kenya considers such persons and make a ruling such as that of India which recognizes the unique identities of intersex and transsexual individuals’ There are many issues that need tackling and that are being tackled. Not all of us do the same thing. We each have something we go for, we do, we fight for, we want to achieve. This is a human rights issue and Richard Muasya is but one of the many intersex people we have in Kenya. He is brave enough to come forward and say outright that gender binary is and has always made intersex people be discriminated against and ostracized by society simply because “they don’t fit in”. Such are the kinds of issues faced by such people. Consider one who has a proper functioning penis and testes. Because at first it didn’t look like a penis and the testes were un-descended, it was decided that it’s a she. Only later to discover, as the above story, that she can not only impregnate a woman, but is also menstruating! Furthermore, her true identity is he. Thus, this man is forced to live a life of female-hood and worse, endure the pain of menses like women! Imagine that! Again, since he was raised as a girl, all his documents including identification ones, have a female name and bear an “F”. Considering he looks nothing like a woman (this is an assumption based on what I’ve read/heard) it is very difficult to convince people ‘he’ is the ‘she’ indicated in his ID card. This is why such a case is important. It is imperative that the government considers such persons and make a ruling such as that of India which recognizes the unique identities of intersex and transsexual individuals. By having an “O” for ‘Other’, it paves way for covering issues surrounding ambiguous and/or unique gender identities. I shall find out more and share. I am very passionate about these matters and it pains me to know that society still regards them as social misfits, freaks of nature, taboos to be killed at birth and many other gross violations of their human right.—BARBRA WANGARE Page 14 SOPHOMORE ISSUE Position Vacant: Programs Officer, SMUG Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) is now in the process of becoming network of close to seven LGBT organizations dedicated to ending violence and discrimination against LGBT people in Uganda. SMUG is looking for a Program Officer with experience in human rights work focusing on using international human rights instruments to protect the rights of LGBT people. Based in Kampala Uganda, the program officer’s prime responsibility will be to: · Develop a clear plan and strategy for programs management to ensure effective implementation. · Monitor programs budgets and prepare budget modifications when necessary · Lead in proposal development for programs growth. · Disseminate programs information by preparing timely and regular reports. · Develop and lead research and advocacy activities integrated in the overall program. · Develop and maintain solid working relationships with relevant stakeholders. · Lead and manage programs trend analysis for continuous improvement. · Assess level of risks associated with programs implementation and suggest mitigation strategies. · Develop guidelines, and toolkits for effective programs implementation. · Manage staff development through performance based management and leadership. · Undertakes other programs related duties as may be assigned by the supervisor Requirements: 1. Preferably a bachelor’s degree. 2. Three years experience in working on human rights issues or working with the LGBT movements regionally. 3. Experience in extensive policy work and coordination of national or regional networks or coalitions 4. Knowledge of the African human rights system, the African Union and human rights violations against LGBT people especially in Uganda 5. Fluent in English both written and spoken 6. Ability to work effectively within a team 7. Excellent analytical, conceptual, writing and editing skills and use of computer software 8. Excellent communication and advocacy skills. Competitive salary commensurate with qualifications and experience will be offered. TO APPLY: Please send resume and cover letter to: The Coordinator CSCHRCL Kampala Uganda Email: email@example.com Applications must reach SMUG by 18th NOVEMBER 2011. SMUG will only be able to respond to short-listed candidates. Sex On The Beach With ease, you teased my peace, by your hand, you held my chest, restless, I breathed like a drowning cat, your lips on mine, as the stars watched. Page 15 With easy strokes, as your body rubbed mine, the glory was unforgivable, your rhythm told it all, moves well trained, as the strokes raised in speed, our body covered with sand, as the moon witnessed. Your last scream, made my heart skip a bit, your face asked for more, but my body was weak, as you rolled on me again, I was quick to respond, as the sea water touched our feet, it was a night to remember. Identity Sex, Faith And Science “Do you want children?” was the question directed at me by a pastor in Naivasha town recently, where I went with the Other Sheep Africa – Kenya to sensitize a group of pastors on sexual orientation and gender identity. ‘Do I want children?’ I thought to myself. ‘Perhaps; though they are noisy’. Beware, what you tell Pastors. “Hmm, they are kinda noisy” I said in half jest. “Aha!” the pastor said as though somehow I had confirmed something he had been thinking long about - probably that all lesbians are child-haters. ‘Oh dear’ I thought to myself and quickly mentioned that lesbians are like a lot of other women around the world – loving mothers who are sensitive to the needs of their children and who also want their children to grow up well balanced and able to relate with people of the opposite sex – which is the truth. Have you tried talking to religious leaders about science and sexual orientation? It isn’t easy. I am tempted to think that science to the conservative religious leader is almost as foreign to them as the desert is to fish. “Do you believe in evolution?” was the next question posed to me by the same pastor. ‘A trick question,’ I mused. ‘I’m not going to answer that one’ I thought and quickly responded that that was a completely different topic for another discussion. Its funny how people can believe in God and do not want to acknowledge nature for what it is – science, pure and simple except perhaps the sticky issue of the soul, and how it came about. I personally believe that whatever divine power ‘Lesbians are like a lot exists has bestowed science on humans as a gift, and it is our responsibility to try to understand it and use of other women around it for the betterment of humanity. the world – loving mothers who are sensitive to the needs of their children and who want their children to grow up well balanced and able to relate with people of the opposite sex’ Why would people want to be so selective about what they choose to understand with regards to science? They don’t mind trying to be engineers and electricians to be able to make cell-phones, or TV’s. They don’t mind becoming doctors so they can stitch people up when they’re wounded, or remove cancers that grow inside them. They don’t even mind becoming counsellors and learning about depression, trauma and chemical imbalances in the brain. But sexuality baffles people. And sexual orientation is no-go zone! Well, homosexuality at least most of the time. Explaining gender identity seems easier than sexual orientation. How does one, for instance, explain that at the age of eight or ten, a child may start feeling attracted to children of the same sex, when everyone else (or so it would seem) is having feelings for people of the opposite sex? It is puzzling. But for the eight year-old it feels perfectly natural. In fact they never even question themselves about it. That is the beauty of innocent childhood. How do you explain that the same child will grow up and fall in love with her best friend (a person of the same sex) and go for months, or years, feeling like someone have been squeezing her heart because she can’t tell her how she’s feeling? The world is a harsh place and not all feelings should be accepted let alone voiced aloud. How do we explain that there is a special combination of chemicals in a brain, a special way a human heart works, and how a human eye relays images and the nose relays smells to the brain which then interprets these in a certain way and we end up liking some people and not others? Even straight people cannot explain that. I posed the question to the pastors, as to whether they understood their own sexual orientation i.e. being heterosexual. Most of them were quiet. One said “It is ‘the natural way’. God made us like this”. For homosexuals and bisexuals too it is ‘the natural way’, I thought to myself and left it at that.—AKINYI M. OCHOLLA Page 16 SOPHOMORE ISSUE Stop The Drama! The other day I was sipping a mug of something English but had it slightly ‘poisoned’ so as to make it a little bit exciting. For purposes of my credibility, may the record bear me straight (No offence) that I don’t get high on anything cheap! Let’s carry on. I was taking a mental note of everything around me until a text message came in. ‘Hey, Cole all is set for the evening. Kindly come even if it will be one of your technical appearances coz I had serious stuff I needed your thoughts on’. See, I love dinners. Not because I dread cooking in my dungeon but there’s a lot of things to learn when people converge around a well laid table. When you are a relationship enthusiast like yours truly, you get to be invited into lots of those because people use is as a perfect veneer for free professional opinion on their love lives… if they have any that is. I solicited a lift from one of those random guys who always expects to execute any of my wishes. I know it’s manipulative but ‘cest la vie’. Of course, as the norm, is I arrived fashionably late. There were a few guys already present, lots of fine wine, juices, snacks and of course, food! I was ushered to my seat at the dining area by some tall athletic man. White shirt, some tetron pants. The kind of chap you instantly like, the one who is quite interesting, quite good-looking yet oddly diffuse. Look, I love preferential treatment but pulling seats doesn’t qualify you as a gentleman... that is if they still exist. Over dinner there were lots of jokes, mature and shallow ones that got everyone happy. Dessert was perfect; making conversations liven up more before guys sectioned themselves in different points as they sipped their drinks. Then some bit of drama ensued. You never miss these in any local gay scene. ‘Jokes aside… Gay guys need a complete mind overhaul!’ My host had organized this dinner for the sole purpose of introducing his new partner to his inner circle of friends. The ex apparently had got wind of it and attended. I’d been sceptical about this while we were having dinner because of the strong non verbal cues between my host and his ex but I chose to keep my clogs off the ice. I don’t get this vibe of guys introducing their new love to the ex but I find it very intriguing. The ex was apparently getting out of hand at the garden table where they were seated, spilling drinks while serving himself and all the while fidgety and staring at his replacement contemptuously. He was literally behaving like the loud and proud lot who place themselves above the rules of etiquette and common decency. ‘So, this is the bitch you replaced me with? You could have done better John*’. Now, John* is a very modest man by all standards and it is basically a symbol of good upbringing. He isn’t street but very firm. ‘Steve*, in the kitchen!’ said a disgusted John. Reluctantly, Steve* followed him to the kitchen muttering something unprintable in some absurd English. I motioned everyone to continue enjoying the evening. CONTINUED ON PAGE 18 Page 17 Identity ‘There Is More To Life Than Bitch Talk’ Despite this bit of drama, something really impressed me. Someone was so put together sipping his dirty martini and taking a special interest in everyone’s (seated next to him) occupation. Now that’s what I call class. I don’t know whether it was stage managed but Austin* the subject of the recent tussle was modern at it. Steve* came from the kitchen muttering some few more unprintable matter, took his undersize brown leather coat and banged the door behind him. Just then my phone beckoned and I had to excuse myself to leave since my drinking buddies were up in arms. John* promised to get back to me the following day for the serious talk but I guess I had a drift of what to expect. On my way to the CBD in some otherwise slow cab, my thinking cap went on active mode and I noted a few things I’ve learnt in the scene: Rejection When romance wanes, we must learn how to leave honourably. Being clingy to a love gone badly just makes us needy and this isn’t good to an already bruised ego of any man. There’s more to life than bitch talk Before you refer to someone as a bitch, make sure the person is beautiful or pretty. That’s how they come and yes, we hate them because they make us look bad. I long for the day we can discuss stuff way beyond our orientation that is geared at sharpening us mu- ‘Before you refer to someone as a bitch, make sure the person is beautiful or pretty. That’s how they come and yes, we hate them because they make us look bad’ tually—education, professional life, and ambitions you know. Looking beyond the genitals! Top, Bottom, Versatile...C’mon these are just labels So where and on what forum was it decided that one has to be submissive and live in the dreams of another man? I live in a society where a man must fend for the rest of humanity so being a sexual minority doesn’t mean I have to forget that I’m a man. In my view the aforementioned labels are just roles...they don’t define anyone as a man. ‘I love you’ comes in two parts Ricky* called me just when I was leaving John’s compound saying that the guy from the weekend hasn’t called him yet he had told him that he loves him. My views? Forget him guy friend he got what he wanted! There’s the ‘I want to get into your pants I love you’ and the ‘I love you’ that someone can actually wait and see how it unfolds. Guys always know when they have been duped but it takes confidence to forge ahead! While I was still working out some pep thoughts the cab driver interrupted my thoughts ‘Boss, tumefika, nikushukishe wapi?’ (Boss, we have reached, where do I drop you?) I got into the local tavern where an interesting football match was in progress (I’ve reserved the names of the teams that were playing for patriotic reasons). I was ready for a night of sin. I joined the young guys on the floor after talking a mental record of the time and how many hours I had there. Deep in mind I concluded to myself, this life is not about some quick, random bend over romp or charges per shot...all jokes aside, the local gay scene needs a complete mind overhaul...I’m just saying! COLE MUTAHI Page 18 SOPHOMORE ISSUE Uncommon Calling: A Gay Christian Struggle To Serve Christ I was blessed to be raised in a wonderful church. GOD was the center of everything that I wanted from as early as I can remember. One of my earliest church memories was of me on a crate standing behind the pulpit singing in church at four years old. I was on that journey full-steam-ahead; all the while fighting an internal battle that I truly thought I was winning. From the time I was 9 years old, I knew that there was something different about me. Something that was internal, yet something that had to be kept silent; yet I didn't know why at that age. So, like every other young man that has grown up in a ‘spirit-filled’ Pentecostal church and has a calling into ministry on his life, I did exactly what I was expected to do – I committed myself to doing whatever I needed to do to fulfill my calling. That meant marrying a nice girl, preferably one who could sing or play the piano; have kids and pastor a church or evangelize. I loved GOD with all my heart. All I ever wanted to do was serve Him. The missionaries would come to the church and show their slides. I would cry my eyes out and empty my little bank to make sure that they could preach the gospel to the people wherever GOD had sent them. I knew that that was what GOD wanted me to do too; that this was His plan for me. I had to say yes to this calling, this voice within me calling me to do great things. I was so depressed and was convinced that GOD hated me and that I was going to hell because I couldn't change what I was. I hit such a low that on three different occasions I planned to take my own life. I knew that suicide was an immediate ticket to hell, but since I was going there already because I was gay, then what difference did it make if I went now or later? I was hurting the people that I loved so much, so they would be better off without me. But, no matter what I tried to do; no matter how hard I tried, there was no changing what was BORN in me. I was GAY. I was ‘How could GOD born GAY. I couldn't change that. possibly have made a I married a beautiful woman that I loved, and still love in my own way, with all of my heart. I just knew mistake and called a that this was going to "cure" me. And for many years I though it had. We gave birth to a gorgeous baby gay man in to His girl and life was sweet. We ministered throughout the country and around the world, founded and pastored three churches and recorded gospel CD's. We were doing amazing things for the Kingdom of GOD! ministry? Fact is this – Surely GOD had "delivered" me from this "evil" thing. The older that I got the more I realized what that GOD doesn't make "difference" was. I was drawn and attracted to men... not women. Because of the environment that I was mistakes!��� raised in all I knew was that these feelings were wrong and that I needed to be delivered from them. So, that is what I tried to do. I loved GOD so much that I was willing to give up anything in order to serve and please Him. The older I got however, the more difficult it was to suppress what I was feeling. I found out that I can be saved and be gay. I am not a mistake nor am I less than any other child of GOD! I am an anointed, appointed, called and powerful Man of GOD! I started studying the Word. I took it back to the original Greek and Hebrew to acquire accurate interpretations of the Scripture that had been used to bash gays and lesbians for years. As I began to study them, GOD began to show me what I needed to know to reconcile my heart and orientation with his Word. In the midst of all that confusion I still knew that I was anointed and called. That was the great contradiction. How could GOD possibly have made a mistake and called a gay man in to His ministry? Fact is this – GOD doesn't make mistakes! That was my first wake-up call. GOD made me perfectly. "I am fearfully and wonderfully made" I have a beautiful family (including my ex-wife) that loves me and supports me completely. It may not look typical, but it works. My ministry is re-energized, on fire and growing even greater than it was before I came out. There is a clear direction from Heaven to reach everyone for the cause of Christ and to build a church that is a true depiction of the Kingdom of GOD and one where no one is excluded and no one is turned away; where all persons can feel welcome, appreciated , listened to, cared for and loved with the love that Christ has loved us with ever. CONTINUED ON PAGE 21 Page 19 Identity Sex Workers Are The New Messiahs It is said to be the oldest profession. So, why wouldn’t society allow the people practicing in this industry to work freely? They have been named and shamed, called everything from ‘prostitutes’ to ‘whores’ to ‘sluts’, from ‘home wreckers’ to ‘husband snatchers’; so, what is about this particular group of people that ticks people and society at large off? Is it because they refuse to have their sexual drive dictated by society? Or is that they play a major role in maintaining the marriage institution and families? Or is it because they bear society’s dirty little secrets? Sex work is a thriving industry not only in our Kenya, but also across the globe. Millions of men and women traverse the world in the name of “tourism” only to satisfy their sexual needs or better yet to fill empty voids from their unfulfilled lives, jobs and marriages. Sex workers on the other hand, are hardly ever recognized for the role they play in society. A female sex worker with a In a continent like Africa, sex work is illegal and it is a crime against the so called ‘morality’ Morality? Is there such a thing as morality? How about the man who rapes a 2 year old baby? Correction, it client; most men also visit was a 2 day old infant; where were his moral values? How about that man that raped a 90 year old sex workers for emotional grandmother? Isn’t that immoral? What about daughters molested by their own fathers or brothers? satisfaction Isn’t that immoral? And yet people feel justified in condemning that woman or man, standing on the streets or waiting in bar for a client who not only is going to have a wonderful time, but maybe just maybe, save their marriage. ‘I know by now you are rolling your eyes wondering, how does sleeping with a ‘cheap, filthy slut’ save one’s marriage?’ I know by now you are rolling your eyes wondering, how does sleeping with a ‘cheap, filthy slut’ save one’s marriage? Well, here is the answer to that. Not all sex work transactions are penetrative. I, for one consider myself as a therapist, a sex therapist. I recently learnt that the correct term is actually ‘Sex Surrogate’. Many men visit sex workers just to talk and chat and share their lives with someone who will listen, someone who will care, and someone who will offer even a flitting minute of happiness. Sex work is dynamic; it takes various shapes and forms. However, we have chosen to live in this stereotype world where sex workers are the cause of the ever increasing divorce rates or the rapid HIV infections in the world to the extent of labeling them as ‘most at risk populations’; at risk of what? Isn’t life a risk? Every single day we take risks, every profession has its risks—firemen, police offers, construction workers, miners, housewives; all these are jobs that put lives at risk. So are sex workers; every time a sex worker goes out to work, looking to earn a living, they put their lives at risk. At the risk of rape, murder, violence and all forms of abuse from the very people they service including you and me. Some human rights activists would disagree with me on that, and say that sex work is degrading! But I ask, is domestic work or toilet cleaning degrading? These are just but some of the prejudices that society has against sex workers and by extension, sexual liberation! A female sex worker in Nairobi streets Page 20 Most of the laws put in place are there to dictate whom we are to have sex with, how, where and when to have sex? We say we fight for human rights and we live in a free world, but the truth is that the world is not free, not when sex workers are being raped and abused day in day out by law enforcement officers who are meant to serve and protect the people and especially not when society feels justified to insult and abuse sex workers because they are not afraid to embrace their sexual selves.—DAUGHTIE OGUTU SOPHOMORE ISSUE Vacant Position: Communications Officer FREEDOM AND ROAM UGANDA (FARUG) is a lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex human rights organization established to empower, lobby and press for the recognition of same sex relationships. It was established in 2003 by a group of lesbians who were constantly harassed, insulted and discriminated against by a misinformed society and who were touched by the plight of their sisters and brothers. FARUG seeks to recruit a dynamic, self-motivated, upward mobile individual to fill the position of a Communications officer. send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org The deadline for applications is 30 November 2011. Freedom and Roam Uganda For more information, please Martin Ennals Award: Call For Nominations 2011 The goal of the MARTIN ENNALS AWARD for Human Rights Defenders is to extend recognition and protective publicity to those who are currently involved in front line work for the promotion and protection of human rights. The Award aims to encour- age individuals and - exceptionally - organizations who are currently working for the rights of others in conditions hostile to fundamental human rights and who are in need of protection. Special account is taken of those who have demonstrated an active record of combating human rights violations by courageous and innovative means. The selection of the winning candidates is made by the Jury of the Martin Ennals Foundation. Deadline for nominations: December 9, 2011. ‘I Found Out I Can Be Saved… And Gay!’ Erik Soon, yes very soon, every nation and every major city will have a ministry that is inclusive, open and affirming of all mankind. Even in Africa. Don't look at what it is now; look beyond the now to what will be! Does it mean that GOD will accept any old thing? Absolutely not. It does mean submission of one's life to the holiness of Jesus Christ. Given the climate of the stereotypical LGBT community, there are innate challenges. But Christ is able. A gay man or woman can live holy before the Lord. They can have a loving, caring, committed relationship that GOD will use for his glory. The true Church of Christ will be demonstrated when black, white, Hispanic and Asian, gay, lesbian, transgender, straight and bisexual, male, female, poor, wealthy, educated, uneducated, old and young can all come together as one and worship Christ the King.—ERIK D. WISE Page 21 Identity Same Sex Unions Are Permissible In Kenya Can Kenyan same sex couples get married? If not, why? What can they enter into to 'recognize' their relationships? Civil unions? Partnerships? Is polygamy allowed? Can same sex couples be polygamous? This is an ongoing discussion in Kenya that need judicial interpretation of what exactly the current constitutional provisions mean. Reading between the lines of Article 45 of the Constitution, ‘…every adult has the right to marry a person of the opposite sex, based on the free consent of the parties’ which in essence does not outlaw marriage between same sex couples but only gives the general provisions of this ‘right’. Arguably, this can be contrasted with other Articles of the same Constitution that specifically outlaw discrimination or that create inequality. This Article read together with other principles of equality and non-discrimination would mean that nobody should be discriminated against on any ground, the right to marry and the right to association inclusive and the exception created under Article 45 (2) should therefore be a nullity in the face of these two fundamental principles. Reading through the Committee of Experts on the Constitution many reports, the main agitators for the passing of this section were largely drawn from faith based organizations, coming into the process with the ‘morality’ argument against same-sex marriage as being un-African or being non-religious. The underlying philosophy of marriage law is captured in Article 45 of the Constitution. The family is recorgnised as the natural and fundamental unit of society and the necessary basis of social order. The consequence is explicitly stated, "The family... shall enjoy the recognition and protection of the State." Meaning that same-sex couples denied the right to marry could state a claim for sex discrimination. Sex discrimination argument is based on two interconnected arguments: first, those restrictive marriage statutes facially discriminate on the basis of sex, and second that the rationales offered as justifications for the sex-based classifications in these statutes rely upon sex stereotypes that may not be the basis for government action. ‘Inheritance is a ‘birthright’ that is due to every child, male, female, transgender, intersex...any child’ If the intention of the Constitution was to create a ‘restriction’ on same-sex marriages, there was no hindrance and should have been stated as such. A progressive judiciary that is invited to expand the grounds upon which same-sex relations are part of the grounds upon which somebody cannot be discriminated against, would be a worthy endeavor. Further to the above, the Marriage Bill, which sets out the conceptual framework that interprets Article 45 of the Constitution, is under review and discussions are ongoing. It will be useful to engage in this process to help define what ‘family’ vis-à-vis ‘marriage’ does encompass especially for same-sex couples of those keen on getting into same-sex relationships and the possible benefits that go with this union. Where it concerns same-sex unions, I would add the next level of discussion to include the place and morality behind polygamy, which if allowed would entrench the argument for equality in all unions without distinction for all adults. Indeed any adult that is capable to enter into any contract, should be allowed this same free will to choose and by law be facilitated to enter into the desired union, be it polygamy or same-sex union. The purpose of the law here would be to ensure that each party’s intentions and rights in the union are protected and when any one party desires to get out of such a union [polygamy or same-sex or persons of the opposite sex] there is a legal framework that can be equally used without discriminating any such unions. Our traditions have already confirmed that same-sex unions are permissible [see the case of Monica Jesang Katam and Cherotich Kimong’ony Kibserea]. The Christian concept of marriage where opposite sex unions are encouraged should not be the basis for discriminating other minority choice of unions which has been the case in Kenya for permit a religious exemption for Islamic polygamy, "to the extent strictly necessary for the application of Muslim law before the Kadhis’ courts.” Can same sex partners or LGBT identifying persons adopt? If not, what are some of the ways same sex couples can have kids/ children in their lives/relationships? The current legal framework does not permit male Same-sex couples to adopt children. The law is silent on female, transgender or intersex persons. Page 22 SOPHOMORE ISSUE There is the assumption that being a parent is synonymous to being able to bear children. The fact that a female is biologically able to bear children or a male is able to father a child does not scientifically indicate that are able to create ‘a good family that ‘…the natural and fundamental unit of society and the necessary basis of social order, and shall enjoy the recognition and protection of the State.’ Indeed all citizens have the responsibility of ‘create social order’ and should ‘enjoy the recognition and protection of the state’. Parenthood can be achieved by anybody endowed and capable of raising children and nobody male or female should be denied this simplify because they are not the biological father or mother. However our laws need to change and become progress to help citizens achieve their desires and intentions. The laws will remain restrictive of same-sex male unions to adopt or be parents unless the Constitution is used as a tool to positively interpret these retrogressive practices. Are gays entitled to inheritance? Inheritance is a ‘birthright’ that is due to every child, male, female, transgender, intersex... any child. Succession on the other hand is the process of administering the estate [property and liabilities] of a diseased person to ensure all those who should have their birthright, do indeed enjoy their share. Historically, each community has had its own rules to regulate matters of inheritance. Colonization introduced western rules (for example, they could choose to write wills). Africans who did not opt to be governed by Western rules were regulated by applicable traditions and customs. The enactment of The Law of Succession Act in ‘The current legal 1972 changed and consolidated the law of succession and inheritance applicable to Kenyans as a whole. It became operational in 1981.While the right to choose to be governed by either traditional or statutory framework does not rules was retained; the law nevertheless introduced some mandatory changes to customary rules on suc- permit male Same-sex cession. On the other hand you can die testate or intestate. Testate succession occurs where a person makes arrangements while he or she is alive about how his or her property should be disposed of after he or she dies. These arrangements are made in a document known as a will. Any document made in accordance with the law may take effect as a will so long as it is shown that it was intended to take effect after the death of the maker. couples to adopt children. The law is silent on female, transgender or intersex persons’ Intestate succession arises where someone dies without making arrangements on how his or her property will be disposed of after his or her death. It may be partial, where a person fails to include all or his or her property in a will, or full in the case of a person who does not make a will at all. In the case of partial intestacy, the property not covered by the will should be governed by the provisions of the law relating to intestate succession. The bottom-line here is that all children brought up by a biological mother or father, adopted by either or parented within any union should legally be able to inherit from their parents. The law recognizes adopted children in succession and inheritance as well as children who are not your biologically or being parented by yourself but are dependent on you. A ‘dependant’ in law is somebody whose upkeep and sustenance is on you. The intention of the law is to ensure that person, who was under your support in your lifetime, should continue to enjoy similar benefits even in your death! What about recognition in legal documents? E.g. Can a lesbian write down her partners name in the spouse box in forms e.g. NSSF, NHIF, e.t.c. This is possible as in NSSF and NHIF the next of kin or beneficiary stated on these documents is absolutely at the pleasure of the main contributor to the scheme. One may wish to share the beneficiary percentages between several persons according to their wishes.—MONICA MBARU Page 23 Identity Bars Loved By Homosexuals Also, unaware of any other gay guys my age, in those days and feeling as if I might bump into friends of my parents and the parents of my friends while on a cruising mission, I decided not to be too adventurous just yet. That said, I tended to work late hours and occasionally I would wander into venues such as The Pub at the 680 Hotel. The venue no longer exists but somehow along the way I had heard people say it was a gay hang out. I visited it a few times and though there were some people there, other than accosting them to ask if they were gay, there was no way of knowing for sure. Also, this being Nairobi such an approach could lead to getting beaten up if you spoke to the wrong guy. Or so I thought, perhaps naively and certainly with hindsight, I realise now, a closet’s sense of self-preservation or cowardice. Meanwhile, as I was trying to figure out if there was a gay Nairobi nightlife and where it was in the early 1990s, I was also trying to fit in with the straight crowd at work and so my forays into “gay Nairobi” were few, far-between and terribly tentative. One of the conspicuous bar signs in Years later, I came to understand that “gay Nairobi” was going on right under my nose all the a bar in Nairobi popular with gays time but I just did not know how to spot it. Life had been easier in Europe where at least there were gay bars where everyone knew the score. Slowly but surely I began to meet a few other gay people in Nairobi and while these friends of mine tended to do the house party circuit more than going to bars cruising, I soon found out that while there were no overtly gay bars around, there were certain gay friendly corners in mainstream bars. ‘This place was a lesson in how straight men in Nairobi can be so blind to the activities of gay men right under their noses’ The first couple of places these friends of mine took me to were the aptly named Princess Hotel and its neighbour the Hotel Mercury (not to be confused with the modern lounge bar at the ABC Place on Waiyaki Way). These two budget hotels were based on Tom Mboya Street and both appeared fairly similar to me. A few gay men and others who would rather die than be called gay but might be classed by sociologists as Men who have Sex with other Men would hang around here but unless you were attuned to them and their ways, there would have been no way of distinguishing the bar at the Princess from any other noisy downtown Nairobi bar. It was hardly glamorous. If you were looking for a little more flamboyance and flair in Nairobi in the early to mid-1990s the place to go was the Cactus Pub above the Green Corner restaurant next to the Nairobi Cinema. This place was a lesson in how straight men in Nairobi can be so blind to the activities of gay men right under their noses. Many of my straight friends who frequented the Cactus Pub had absolutely no idea that it was a safe space for gay men to meet and have dates and generally enjoy a drink after work. There was even a karaoke section where all the gays would hang out once a week while the heterosexuals around them would be completely oblivious. Of course in those days there were also certain nightclubs or discotheques where if you knew who to look for, you might find the gay corner. For instance, at the Carnivore it seemed to be at the bar closest to the dining area, just behind the DJ box. Of course, whenever a new bar opened in Nairobi everybody would go there to see and be seen and the glamour gay crowd, were not to be left behind. This is what happened when in 1994 the Westlands area saw the opening of a number of trendy new bars attracting a different crowd from that seen in the city centre bars.— BARFLY (Inset) Mwaura’s pub that was frequented by gays Page 24 SOPHOMORE ISSUE ‘I Was Arrested For Possession of Sexuality Materials’ Things took a turn when the head of intelligence inquired on Mr Nicholas’ arrest and sought more information from him regarding his visit to Uganda. ‘He then asked why I had not been charged to which his juniors replied that they were waiting for him since I had refused to cooperate with them in explaining the nature of my business in the country and that I might be a security threat’ said Nicholas. Malaba town The police warned him that they have a right to intercept and interrogate anyone deemed suspicious based on security concerns or propaganda motives on issues of sexuality. Nicholas was able to make contacts to the host organization who began to seek legal aid to secure his release. ‘Henceforth the event was completely transformed. I was requested to sign a simplified version of earlier statements which gave a brief sequence of events leading to my arrest. The OCS asked for me and then announced that I was now released and was free to leave.’ In the end, Nicholas was released and escorted to the bus terminus to Kampala with armed escorts from the police station. On arriving in Kampala, he recorded another statement in one of the police stations before proceeding to his hotel room.—NICHOLAS OTIENO Vacancy: Head Of Communications & Development, AMSHeR The AFRICAN MEN FOR SEXUAL HEALTH AND RIGHTS [AMSHeR] is looking to employ a Communications Officer as from 01 January 2012. The position is based at AMSHeR Secretariat in Johannesburg, South Africa. AMSHeR is a coalition of 15 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex and Men who have Sex with Men [MSM] led organizations in 13 Afr ican co untr ies. Founded in 2009, AMSHeR works to increase the protection of the sexual and health rights of gay men and other Page 25 MSM, strengthen the capacity of member organizations, contribute to the development of effective HIV programming and facilitate research on gay men and other MSM. The incumbent is responsible for the development and production of communications materials for all AMSHeR initiatives. They will work closely with members of the Law and Human rights Unit, the Health Unit and the Francophone programme to edit, proofread and publish AMSHeR publications, including reports, booklets, info sheet, press releases, newsletters, brochures, media advisories and briefing papers. In addition, they will edit and prepare manuscripts on two levels: Copy editing; and substantive editing; coordinate AMSHeR’s “The Voices” Project, that aims at increasing knowledge on same-sex sexuality through digital material and writing on samesex sexuality in Africa To apply, please forward a cover letter, detailed curriculum vitae, and a writing sample to email@example.com by 10 December 2011. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. ‘The police warned him that they have a right to intercept and interrogate anyone deemed suspicious based on security concerns or propaganda motives on issues of sexuality’ AMSHeR Identity Human Rights Watch Film Festival, Nov 14-17, 2011 Now in its 22nd year, the 2011 Human Rights Watch Film Festival makes its debut in Nairobi, Kenya with an extraordinary program of films set to inspire, inform and spark debate. The films will demonstrate the power of traditional and new media to influence filmmaking and impact human rights, according to a communiqué from Human Rights Watch. “By incorporating many forms of media, human rights filmmakers are increasing their impact, advancing the art of filmmaking, and bringing human rights stories to a broader audience,” John Biaggi, Human Rights Watch Film Festival director in New York said. “This year we are excited to bring the festival to Nairobi, Kenya for the first time, in conjunction with the opening of our new Nairobi Human Rights Watch office.” The festival ran over 4 days from November 14 to 17, 2011 at the Alliance Française de Nairobi. The films are co-sponsored by the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), Media Focus on Africa, and the Muslim Human Rights Forum For more information and media contacts, please see below: ‘The film festival brings to life human rights abuses through storytelling in a way that challenges each individual to empathize and demand justice for all people’ Zahid Rajan: Tel: 0722344900: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Neela Ghoshal: Tel 0729466685: Email: email@example.com http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/11/08/film-festival-debuts-kenya Gay Kenya Trust To Hold AGM, Elect Officials Gay Kenya Trust (GKT) have announced that its Annual General Meeting (AGM) will be held in December 2011, at a date to be confirmed later. The agenda of the AGM will include among others, election of new office bearers and assess GKT’s financial report by members. The current Chairman, Mr. Elphas Naivasha, and the Secretary, Mr. Robert Ndungu Josephine, are due for re-election to office. However the treasurer’s position is currently open following the resignation of Mr. Ali H. Yusuf Ali. Members will also elect ordinary board members who retire on rotation; therefore Mr. David Kuria will not be eligible for re-election to the board in the coming year. The AGM will be followed by an Extraordinary General Meeting (the “EGM”), which will seek to map the way forward on resolutions that will be raised and passed by members.—GAY KENYA Page 26 SOPHOMORE ISSUE Transgender Day Of Remembrance—Nov 20th The Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) is a day to memorialize those who have been killed as a result of transphobia, or the hatred or fear of transgender and gender non-conforming people, and acts to bring attention to the continued violence endured by the transgender community. It was founded in 1998 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender graphic designer, columnist, and activist, to memorialize the murder of Rita Hester in Allston Massachusettes. Since its inception, it has been held annually on November 20th, and has slowly evolved from the web-based project started by Smith into an international day of action. In 2010, TDoR was observed in over 185 cities throughout more than 20 countries. Typically, a TDoR memorial includes a reading of the names of those who lost their lives during the previous year and may include other actions, such as candlelight vigils, art shows, food drives, film screenings, and marches, among others. The TDoR is the culmination of Transgender Awareness Week. ICASA: Pre-Conference & Training By AMSHeR The African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR) is gearing up for the 16thInternational Conference on Aids and STIs in Africa (ICASA) set for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from December 4-8, 2011. ‘The aim of this PreConference is to In preparation for the event AMSHeR will be hosting the Claim, Scale-up, and Sustain MSM and HIV pre -conference on December 3, 2011, at the Jupiter International Hotel in Addis Ababa. increase attention on MSM/LGBTI and HIV According to AMSHeR, “The aim of this Pre-Conference is to increase attention on MSM/LGBTI and related issues in HIV related issues in Africa, to reflect on the state of the response in MSM communities on the continent, and to identify ways forward for scaling up MSM and HIV interventions.” Africa’ A communication from AMSHeR said, “AMSHeR has partnered with its members, several community and donor organizations, as well as UN institutions to offer a range of topics that highlight a wide array of the most pressing health and human rights issues facing sexual minorities today, including the criminalization of consensual samesex practices, new biomedical approaches to HIV prevention, the AU African Commission’s Committee for the Protection of the rights of PLHIV [People Living With HIV] and those most at risk, the Global Fund’s Equity Assessment, and the recently adopted Political Declaration on Aids.” AMSHeR indicated that various speakers will participate at the pre-conference. These speakers include Michel Sidibe, the Executive Director of UNAids; Dr Debrework Zewdie, the Deputy Executive Director of the GFATM [The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria]; Ambassador Eric Goosby, the United States Global Aids Coordinator; Reine Alapini –Gansou, the former chairperson of the ACHPR[African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights] and current Chairperson of the Committee for the Protection of the rights of PLHIV and MARPS [Most-at-Risk Populations], and a Representative of the ICASA Conference. For more information on the AMSHeR Claim, scale-up, and Sustain MSM and HIV pre-conference, contact Tendai Thondhlana – firstname.lastname@example.org—BEHIND THE MASK Page 27 Identity Kenya’s Invisible Women Malindi, Kenya, sits on the Indian Ocean coast, hugged by pristine beaches and a history that is charming and rich in diversity. The town of more than 100,000 residents is popularly known as “Little Milano,” thanks to booming tourism and the Italians who never left. Here you are guaranteed to find the best pasta in the country. In this same town, however, you will find some of the most invisible women in Kenya. In Malindi is where Halima, for one, started using heroin. “There is something about this place,” she says. “It’s a curse.” Halima wants to stop. On the morning we spoke, Halima had spent more than two thousand shillings ($20) to relieve her withdrawal symptoms. Now she was looking for a mere 20 shillings to fend for food for her empty stomach. Some of the women from Malindi who use drugs Halima is not alone. In recent months, my colleagues and I have regularly met with ten women who use drugs in Malindi. Our interviews were conducted in order to gather information on how to improve access to services specifically aimed at women drug users, including health, legal and social assistance—all services to which we as Kenyans are entitled. These conversations have yielded a close look into the world these women live in, and it is imperative to share their stories. Four of the ten women we spoke with never anticipated they’d end up using heroin—they’d started off using marijuana but at some point it was not just marijuana, it had been intentionally laced with heroin ‘Without guidance on either by a male friend or a dealer. Then they suffered withdrawal, leading them to use again. Others a community level or started using heroin, not knowing the side effects. Unfortunately, the law—and society—does not distinlocal ownership, the guish. nets didn’t go to preventing malaria but instead were used to catch fish’ Drug criminalization and drug-related crime means Kenya’s prisons are filled with people who use drugs and the majority of the women we spoke to who had spent time in prison spoke of having access to drugs in prison. Police extortion is rampant, while legal representation is in short supply if not nonexistent. In many cases, police even advise defendants to plead guilty to cases of needle possession, something not even illegal. “The police are out to facilitate life sentences to drug users,” one woman, Amina, told us. There is also the issue of being locked out of a national identity. Kenya, for instance, did not recognize mother-to-child transfer of citizenship until our new constitution in 2010. Another of our interviewees, Njeri, moved to Kenya from Tanzania and has lived in Malindi for more than a decade yet still has no identification papers. Her child was born here but is not recognized as Kenyan because the father is not present. As both mother and child are stateless, Njeri’s child might not be able to sit for national high school entrance exams, leaving her future in peril as well. Good medical care is likewise hard to find. Women who use drugs are often in the hands of health care providers who do not understand the complexity of addiction. Where other patients receive care, they receive judgment and scrutiny. As a result, many of them only go to the hospital as a last resort, even in child birth. Consider the harrowing story one woman, Monica, told us. ‘I pushed so hard I thought I was going to die. Nothing was coming out. I explained to the doctor that there was no way I was going to be able to deliver without getting a fix. I called my boyfriend, went downstairs and he gave me a shot. Right there I felt as if the baby was leaking out of me. I rushed back upstairs and gave birth.’ Page 28 SOPHOMORE ISSUE ‘There Was No Way I Could Deliver Without A Fix’ (Inset, a drug addict holds his daily fix of heroin wrapped in tin foil) All of the women we spoke report knowing about safe practices: using a condom to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, sharing needles is dangerous. They also know they can get condoms, HIV testing and counseling at the local NGO Omari Project. Still, for sex workers, some clients will pay more for sex without a condom. And more than 25 percent of drug users on the coast of Kenya report sharing needles. An anecdote we heard from one user, Betty, is not unfamiliar. ‘I now live in Majengo with my boyfriend. He is also a user. We sleep together with no protection. He does not know that I am a sex worker. I have never gotten pregnant and I don’t use any family planning.’ People who inject drugs do so in the shadows of shame because of the stigma and legal repercussions—a dilemma that these conversations show to lead more towards retaliation than it does maintenance or rehabilitation. Consequently, our mothers, our sisters and daughters have been left in the fringes of an already marginalized population. And we must acknowledge that our own neighbors are sometimes the most brutal police. Consider again the words of Betty, ‘This is not a life of choice. The stigma towards drug users here is at another level – no one trusts us, everyone thinks that we are all thieves. I have been beaten on several occasions by youth that call themselves community police, about fifty of them; they beat me with electric cables.’ ‘Halima had spent So something must be done. Let harm reduction initiatives, however, not end up like the anti-malaria cam- more than Sh2000 to paign in Kenya that handed out mosquito nets. Without guidance on a community level or local owner- relieve her withdrawal ship, the nets didn’t go to preventing malaria but instead were used to catch fish. symptoms. Now she was looking for a mere To avoid this fate, we must intervene through the community collective to ensure the rights of women Sh20 to fend for food who use drugs are not violated. Needle exchange and medically-assisted drug treatments such as metha- for her empty stomach’ done and buprenorphine should be available through community mechanisms, but we have to also ensure the voices of women themselves are heard in determining what interventions will best help them. Indeed, these community voices must be the strongest component of the equation—or else we might as well all pack up our bags and go fishing.—UMRA OMAR Panel Discussion on LGBT in Sub-Saharan Africa The Human Rights Working Group, GLIPA, Human Rights Concentration, Gender Policy Working Group, and SIPA Pan-African Network present Pride and Prejudice: Perspectives on Homophobia and LGBTQI Rights in Sub-Saharan AfPage 29 rica on Nov 22, 2011 at Columbia University, NY. This panel discussion brings together speakers from leading international advocacy organizations and the UN to discuss these key questions about LGBTQI rights in SubSaharan Africa. Speakers include Ifeanyi Orazulike, Executive Director, International Center on Advocacy for the Right to Health, Dr. Cheikh Traore, Senior Policy Advisor, HIV & Sexual Diversity, UNDP, Jessica Stern, Director of Programs, IGLHRC. The panel will be moderated by Betsy Apple, Legal Director/General Counsel, AIDSFree World, and Adjunct Professor, SIPA. For more information about the event, contact Kristen Thompson at email@example.com Identity One-Ness, Same-Ness and Queer Africa In this post, I try in bringing in how same-ness in the struggle for queer rights is being misconstrued as unity. I will try to elaborate, in my own way, how this goes on to affect the queers, especially from non-western countries. I will highlight some of the causes of this glaring challenge to the articulation of queer African identity and give my own solution to the problems. Countries like the United States and Britain, have fundamentally changed the way the rights struggles by queers, of queers and for queers are conducted. Concepts such as gay pride, coming out and the interaction between the personal and the political have been directly influenced by what happens in these areas. When we have little to run to when it comes to information about queer especially in terms of the queer political and queer theory, topics which haven’t been fully articulated or deeply researched in Africa, we run to already researched upon studies based in the west and the daring among us go on to place such studies within the context in which they are most familiar with which in my case is Africa, Kenya. But I’m afraid this is as far as the articulation of queer identities based in the West should take us- by implying that we be wise enough to find out what the queer African identity is, about how queer should interact with the social and the political and so forth. In the every day intricacies of LGBTQ activism, in trying to live through fear and so on, we ignore the The common excuse is fact that articulation of what queer means, of what queer should mean when one is African, is intrinsic to that all queers face more the who we are and how we identify (out, closeted, religious, questioning, class, race etc). or less the same problems; Studies and thinking on queer persons based in the West are only wholly good in the West where they discrimination, prejudice were formed, discussed upon, polished and continuously enriched. The fact that Africans, queer Africans, and hate crimes against would rather dwell on that which is not ours because we are too busy trying to figure out what we should them based on their call ours astounds me. I am especially wary of the fact that some queers write of the West and discuss sexuality but I would like issues facing queers from the West while we have so much happening in Africa. The common excuse is to counter, should queer that all queers face more or less the same problems; discrimination, prejudice and hate crimes against be all about same-ness or one-ness? them based on their sexuality but I would like to counter, should queer be all about same-ness or oneness? I don’t like the belief that all queers are bound by their experiences of coming to sexuality, especially those of abuse and discrimination. This implies the fact that we should all be bound by the same ideology and (cringe) identity. Most will agree that Africa does not really have a completely evolved sense of queer pride and concepts such as coming out in most societies are not very well articulated- this is our responsibility, this is our job. Thinking that the western model of queer can be appropriated as the universal acceptance of togetherness is counterproductive. As the west changes from the fight against discrimination and crimes of hate to focus on marriage equality laws, so does much of the ideals which are used from day to day in the African contextual articulation of such things as activism and personal identification. I am not saying that strategies for the fight full menu of rights accorded to queers should be undercut to satisfy the current systems of law and society but to question-queer questions. Page 30 SOPHOMORE ISSUE Same-ness calls for us to fully identify with things like the ‘It Gets Better’ Project (which in my view leads the un-familiar queer teen into believing that once grown up, things will change and years of bullying and abuse will be erased by the simple fact of being.) Does it really get better or do we really get stronger or do we just get by with some kind of cynicism and interludes of sex and desire which try to make it better? Same-ness makes us conflate what is happening in the west with what is happening in Africa- two very different scenarios and while I agree that we owe a lot to what the west has done for queer and in extension us, I believe it is time we started finding out what queer Africa should stand for. I am against same-ness because it promotes lethargy, it only compels us to articulate queers in ways not new to what has already been said, discussed and recorded. Again, queer questions. Unity- the fact that we are queer and not our experiences should be the guiding factor of how we articulate ourselves in this day and age. The fight for egalitarian laws is unique in that it transcends belief and goes beyond borders and speaks beyond language but we need different blue prints, different ways in which we define ourselves and ways in the spaces in which we occupy. Its time to question, to discuss and to articulate with enough leg space for enrichment- queer identities and spaces in Kenya, in Africa.—KENNE MWIKYA The Gay Kamasutra ‘If a guy doesn't lay stake on you after Famed comedian Steve Harvey has written a book. And guess what it is about? Dating! I was slightly you've been together a shocked since I never imagined him to be the relationship expert type (with the divorce from his former considerable while, wife and everything), but hey, who am I to judge? Anyway, the book is conveniently titled: "Think like a Woman, but Act like a Man". Okay. I was confused as well at first but apparently the book targets women he's simply just taking and he did have some really good advice in there too. you for a ride that will end with you at the So, I thought I should share a couple of highlights - which I think cut across the board when it comes to men; whether gay or straight. "Heart-Break Hotel"‘ Within are some personal experiences (I tell you the best teacher!), some observations and a couple of pointers from another piece of literature that had women in America and all around the world going crazy - "He's just Not that into YOU". So to all the "ladies", herein lies the Gay "Kama Sutra" to get your man in check and make you happy: If he's not calling you… he simply doesn't want to call If you're like me, I guess you have been out with a guy whom you thought that the date went so well. At the end of it all, you part ways and he promises to call. You're so excited, you can't wait. There begins the road that leads to no return. For hours starting from the next day, you sit on the phone, staring at the wallpaper on your screen. Waiting! You take it to the phone to the shower with you in the hope that in case he calls you can get to it faster when you’re in there. And every time it rings, your heart skips a beat, as you lunge for it, only to discover that it's a text message from ‘Safaricom’ reminding you of the ongoing ‘Bonga’ points promotion! Your heart sinks as you drag your wet, soapy behind back into the shower, violently drawing the shower curtain behind you. Finally, after a week of waiting, you're practically at the precipice of a mental breakdown! You've been totally obsessed checking at least half a dozen times every minute at the screen, just to make sure that you still have your network signal on. You've even gone as far as to switch the damn device off and back on again, just to be certain that it's working properly. Sounds familiar? Grey's Advice: If he doesn't call, child, count your losses and move on. You'll live to obsess another day. What you must keep in mind is never call him! It will only get ugly, especially if he blows you off over the phone. Trust me. Page 31 Identity If he's not committing to you...You need to drop his Ass like its H.O.T.! Otherwise, he's going to dump your ass and girlfriend, it won't be pretty! Now Steve Harvey said this, that if a guy doesn't lay stake on you after you've been together a considerable while, honey, he's simply just taking you for a ride that will end with you at the "Heart-Break Hotel" (I feel you Whitney!). Hear me out. The male species lays claim to whatever it deems to be its property, in order to drive away the rest of the hungry pack. If this guy isn't letting others know that you are his, you have got to run faster than the wind because to him you are of no value, interest or importance! Secondly, the male alpha role adheres to what are referred to as the three 'P's, that is, Profess, Protect and Provide. So, no. 1 - he must profess his love and commitment to you, no two ways about it! No.2 - he must protect you, that is, your man should be ready to defend you when the need arises. No.3 - He should provide, please and I better be clear here, I'm not talking about expensive dinners whilst showering you with gifts and money left, right and center (is that the spelling?), but, even at the most meager budget he should be able to pay the bill! Please, when you go out with a guy that asks you to “Go Dutch” i.e. split the bill (and he is the one who asked you out) child, that is a straight "See ya and wouldn't wanna be ya" kinda dude! A man provides for his man. Period. If he only Facebooks you...aha, boy, was my ex fond of this Ouch! I know about that one very well. So you think you've met someone nice. You give then your mobile number, but instead he asks you out via a message on facebook in-box! Two words for that: "Booty Call". Oh, and mind you that exact same message has been forwarded to several other booty callees. Grey says: Send me to Madame Guillotine, but that, hunies is the truth! If I'm not sleeping with him…then who am I doing it with? ‘It is thus, the author of this note’s opinion that sleeping with a guy you just met for the first time is plain old STUPID’ Now, now, got to slow down a bit here for a minute. This is not about him, but me. In every growing relationship, there is need for what Mr. Steve Harvey, refers to as a probation period, wherein the two parties get to know each other. It is thus, the author of this note’s opinion that sleeping with a guy you just met for the first time is plain old STUPID! Case in point, when I was recruited as an employee at my place of work, I was put under a period of probation, the time in which I was paid less and received no company benefits. This was in order for the management to observe me and thereafter decide whether I was worthy to be given the benefits of an employee's package: vacation, allowances, medical cover e.t.c. So here I pose the greatest benefit of all, the ultimate package: My Body - and I go opening up the cookie jar and letting all and sundry put in their dirty hands to sample the cookie! It's low! Soon enough, the cookie will be all over town and there will be nothing good about it any longer. However, if you have reached a sensible point in your relationship, the benefit package will definitely be released. Because, seriously, if I'm not sleeping with him, then who am I doing it with? If he's sleeping with someone else… DUMP his sorry ass, wipe your tears, kill those picket fences dreams and move on! Finally, to crown it all, we are always afraid of setting a standard for men because we are afraid that it will appear to be too high and as a result, we will not have as many guys chasing after us. Well, you end up setting such a low standard that allows everyone to just walk into your yard and get all up in there, because your standards resemble the curb off the street where anybody can just step off. But, if a guy really likes you and wants to be with you, he will strive to get up that eight foot wall to get to you because what is the use of the game without the chase? So gentlemen, set some standards! - AL GREY Page 32 SOPHOMORE ISSUE Being Gay Is Part Of GOD’s Plan It is important to note that throughout history, gay spirituality has always been between the hard rock and hard surface. This has been due to spiritual and physical violence that has always been witnessed to be perpetuated by religious fundamentalists-religious homophobia and transphobia. This has led to genuine pastoral and emotional needs of the LGBTI religious persons to be simply ignored, leave alone their fundamental basic human rights and human dignity being abused. I deplore this kind of situation when there is an element of judging and discriminating people on the basis of their sexual orientation which they have no choice/control over. Scientific research has already proved that sexual orientation is not chosen, but innate. In my religious life and pastoral career, I have witnessed the literal Bible being quoted to justify racial segregation, sexist oppression of women, slavery and perpetuating homophobia and transphobia in our respective communities. History records that the Bible was quoted to condemn and incarcerate Copernicus, who affirmed that the sun did not occupy the centre of the universe, and Galileo who said that the sun did not rotate around the earth. Recently, I have witnessed in Kenya when persons are being interviewed for senior positions in the government, they are asked by some interviewers to confirm whether they are gay. What a homophobic question! My understanding is that one’s sexual orientation has nothing to do with intelligence, competence and integrity. There is no doubt, the Bible is the inspired Word of God but we need to interpret the same Bible with the historical-critical and contextual reading but not literal reading per se. It is a big worry that the Biblical fundamentalism has been using the approach of literary reading. This has caused much suffering and persecution for the gay community in the world with total disregard to God’s social justice mission. We need to understand deeply ‘Scientific research how scripture informs our lives today. has already proved Bible religion has always played a key role in allowing some nasty things to happen-justify cruelty, hatred that sexual orientation is not chosen, but and rejection of gay persons on the basis of being religiously right. It is known that bigotry can claim to have God on its side. Prejudices can equally mold our own view of the Bible. innate’ The story of Sodom is an appropriate text to mention, as it has taken a central role in the preaching and dialogue on homosexuality. I wish to state that the focus of the story of Sodom is not on homosexuality as a sexual orientation. The contextual and historical-critical interpretation shows that God destroyed Sodom because her people lived immoral and unjust lives, misused their power and did not practice the hospitality rules of the time. It could be possible that the story of Sodom refers to heterosexual men who wanted to commit a sexual misdeed through gang rape to prove their power over Lot’s visitors. The sins of these men of Sodom were emphasized through this planned gang rape-showing hostility. History proves that Sodom was destroyed because the men showed no hospitality towards visitors in their area. It is evident that today God still wants us to show hospitality and open-hearts to other people as a sign of respect for what God values in our lives. It is crystal clear that the church as usual carries prejudices, bigotry and fear of homosexuality into the story of Sodom. It has to be noted that Sodom was destroyed because of greedy, hostile and sexually violent men who used gang rape, to humiliate the visitors of Lot and failed to listen to the voice God’s messengers. According to faith and grace, it is God who creates us and our sexual diversity is part of God’s loving plan for us-heterosexual and homosexual. God embraces us all. We have no right at all to criticize God. The church should express the all-encompassing love of God, a love of acceptance and affirmation to the gay brothers and sisters without conditionality of any kind. The sin of heterosexism has to be done a way with. The church needs an inclusiveness doctrine that is against judgment of persons who are different and yet loved by God. Will the church in the 21st century reverse its unconsciousness conservatism, fundamentalism and injustice toward LGBTI community? - JOHN MAKOKHA Page 33 Identity New Kenyan Made Lube For Gay Men, MSMs Glide, a new locally made personal lubricant is set to hit the K e n y a n market and it is aimed particularly at the LGBTI market, is set to launch in Nairobi soon. Personal lubricant, or lube, is a specialized product used during sexual acts such as intercourse and masturbation to reduce friction with the vagina, anus, penis or other body parts. Lube can also be used for medical purposes. Behind The Mask’s Arcus Correspondent in Nairobi, Melissa Wainaina, spoke to Angus Parkinson about Glide. Angus has been an active supporter of the LGBTI rights movement in Kenya since 2005 when he initiated the first formal HIV and sexual health programmes for gay, bi and other MSM at Liverpool VCT in Nairobi. Whilst working with LVCT, he also established the first toll-free, confidential, peer-to-peer youth sexuality hotline, ‘One-2One’, and a comprehensive HIV programme for male prisoners. Since 2008, he has been working independently and has supported the work of the GALCK, the Elton John Aids Foundation (UK), UHAI (EASHRI), amfAR, and the UNDP, amongst others. He is a qualified nurse and holds an LLM from the University of Keele. Please, tell us a bit about GLIDE and its history to where it is now. Glide is a 100% condom-safe, non-toxic, non-sticky, water-based lubricant made in Kenya. It's been in development for almost two years and having just received approval from the Kenya Bureau of Standards, we've begun providing samples to local NGOs and CBOs. The need for a locally produced waterbased lube has been apparent to all of us working with gay, bi and other MSM since HIV programmes started (for us and by us) some 5 years ago in Nairobi. We were telling guys ‘You must use water-based lubes with condoms when having anal sex’ but in reality, whilst condoms were available, affordable waterbased lubes weren't, so organizations, such as Liverpool VCT, were spending large amounts of money importing lubes from South Africa and the UK. Conversations then began about creating a local lube. A Nairobi based cosmetics producer, EPCC, began 'experimenting' with various formulations, packaging and so on until we hit on formula number 7! Longlasting, non-sticky and pleasant smelling! Thus, Glide was born! Whilst I've personally taken the lead on this project, in truth this is essentially a community initiative - the community recognized the need early on and pushed for a local solution. What quantity does it come in? How much is the product? Is it cheaper than other imported lubes? Glide is currently packaged in sachets containing 12ml; more than the imported sachets. Each sachet costs slightly less than 0.1 US$; so with the added volume and no import duty or shipping/ freight costs, it makes Glide the cheapest lube on the market!! And of course we'll be doing lots of special 'first time order' offers, bulk-order offers and so on. In your opinion, what impact does Glide have especially in grassroots MSM initiatives? How can they access it? Further, using the existing distribution channels that our manufacturer has, we'll be able to reach all of Kenya - and beyond - not just the cities. Right now, Glide is only accessible through the manufacturer. However, we'll be working on collaborative relationships with organization GALCK, Liverpool VCT and hopefully the National AIDS Control Council to ensure Glide gets to those who need it. Do you seek to gain entry into the mainstream market with the product? Absolutely! As mentioned, our manufacturer already has existing distribution channels all through Kenya - into the main supermarkets as well as smaller retailers. We'll be using these distribution channels as much as possible. There is talk of a launch? Any details on that? Are there samples? Indeed! We were hoping to hold an official launch party just before World AIDS Day on December 1st, 2011. However, we're now aiming for the end of January! Currently, there are a small number of samples available at GALCK, the SASA clinic and LVCT in Nairobi. Organizations based in East Africa can get hold of free samples by emailing me directly. Samples will be made available during the ICASA pre-conference and conference in Addis through a Glide ambassador. Requests for samples, costing, orders and any other information can be sent to me directly on firstname.lastname@example.org—MELISSA WAINAINA First published in Behind The Mask I believe Glide will have a massive impact on grass-roots gay, bi and other MSM initiatives. We're able to produce up to 10,000 sachets per day and a very affordable price. This means even very small groups and organizations will be able to procure Glide for their clients and members. Past, Present And Possible Future They say “The past is history, the future is a mystery, but today is a gift—that’s why they call it ‘the present”. This saying, whose origins are indeterminate, can be applied very effectively in the context of sexual orientation and gender identity in Kenya today. Despite years of study and research, I cannot purport to accurately map out the past of the gay rights movement in Kenya and indeed everyone’s individual past in relation to their journey towards discovery of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. What I do know with utmost conviction, however, is that there exists a past riddled with gross human rights violations, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and even death meted out to persons who conform to other ways of life that are not in line with the heteronormative status of society. I believe that this past, despite the lack of solid documentary evidence has shaped the community as it exists today. I posit that the movement is akin to a cactus…very bristly, barbed and heavily guarded on the outside, but full of life on the inside. There are a numerous instances where the gay community have moved past their protective exterior and tried to educate the society on their existence, challenges and institutions such as social justice, equality and equitable treatment. These efforts have been met with unnecessary violence and use of force, hostile attacks, deprivation of liberty, condemnation and general antagonistic behavior from state actors and the society. These responses are systemic in that they originate from ignorance, intolerance, belief and faith based prejudices and un documented evidence of our traditional origins. It is also evidentiary that the general conception of sexual orientation and gender identity has been misconstrued over the ages and few instances of pervasion that have been sensationalized and provide as the norm rather than the exception. Further premise of the negative association and intolerance are provided by the negative aspects of colonization that have led to adoption of laws that view traditional practices as ‘repugnant to justice and morality’ and introduction of homophobic legislation reflective of a society that developed and existed well before the genesis of ‘civilization’ of African states. All this, however, has only served to strengthen the resolve of the gay community and has in time garnered allies willing to join the movement and fight the ‘good fight’ towards social tolerance. It seems that the more resistance that is met, the stronger the resolve of the gay community. We are presently, stronger and more determined to create free and open spaces for our existence. There are stronger and more strategic initiatives towards breaking down this institutional barriers and bridge the ignorance evidenced in society. We however have to acknowledge that this is no small feat to be won in a few days, months or indeed years or by individual person or institutions. This has to be a concerted effort by everyone whose sexual orientation and gender identity is challenged by societal norms and prejudices. Consider this a call to arms towards encouraging the community. Let us unite in these efforts, get educated, get aware, and get proactive. Let us move from a passive existence to one that enables us to not just survive and exist but LIVE! You only live once, so let’s make it count. Much would be the pity if you looked back on your life and regretted not having explored any and all opportunities availed to you due to your passive nature.—MONA KAREITHI Founder/ Chief Editor/ Distributor / Publisher | Denis Nzioka Assistant Editor | Thomas McHale Contributors | BarFly | Barbra Wangare | Akinyi Ocholla | Daughtie Ogutu | Erik Wise | Cole Mutahi | Umra Omar | Monica Mbaru | Al Grey | Nicholas Otieno | Relic Chedy | John Makokha | Kate Kamunde | Kenne Mwikya | Queer Watchtower | Melissa Wainana Photos/Logos/Images | Angus Parkinson | Monica Mbaru | Umra Omar | IPRO Designs | Daughtie Ogutu | Akinyi Ocholla | Human Rights Watch | amfAR | SMUG | FARUG | International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) | Freedom in Speech | Sources Identity © is founded, edited, published and distributed by Denis Nzioka. All rights reserved. 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