Identity Kenya The Voice of Kenya’s LGBT & Sex Work Community www.identitykenya.com
MUFFLED DUNGEON DEADLY | SEXUAL PROFILING, ABUSE, MISUSE, FAVORITISM RAMPANT IN GALCK SAFE HOUSE BY IDENTITY CORRESPONDENT Emerging reports are raising concerns over the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya‘s (GALCK) safe house. Cases of favoritism, sexual exploitation and misuse of the safe house have emerged and have otherwise left GALCK with an egg in its face. Initially begun in 2009, immediately after the Mtwapa incident where gay persons were attacked, beaten and one almost burned to death, the safe house has offered temporary protection to LGBT persons in danger because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. It seems, however, that it‘s now endangering the same people it‘s meant to protect. An e-mail from Marc van Giessen, a former Director of Kisumu Initiative for Positive Empowerment (KIPE) sent last year to David Kuria and Paul Ogendi, former General Managers of GALCK, reveals the extent of sexual abuse prevalent in the safe house. In it he cites what he calls ‗sex partner recruitment‘ by the administrator of the safe house and security liaison officer for GALCK, Mr Ken Gitonga. ‗‘Another shocking feedback I received, that the services of Ken was extended to get a sex partner in the safe house. I think this is completely out of line and have no good words for this, ‘‘reads the e-mail from Marc. Giessen is referring to a time when three gay men from Kisumu were hosted at the safe house after receiving threats by Muslim leaders. The three were taken into safe custody and spent a week at the safe house. Giessen writes in the e-mail that the abuse is damaging the repute and sanctity of the safe house and asked for investigations to be conducted. ‗This is damaging for the safe house program. I kindly request you to investigate this matter.‘‘ He alluded to the fact that Gitonga may have used this to take advantage of the three men. He said the three me would have been offered safety and accommodation in Kisumu by KIPE. ‗KIPE offered the two a safe place to sleep in Kisumu. That is the Duke of Breeze, or any other hotel they would like but that Ken however, invited them to come to the safe house in Nairobi.‘ In addition to sexual abuse, reports have emerged that the safe house is now playing host to overnight parties and sexual rendezvous that go unreported. A gay student from Thika‘s Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) told Identity Magazine that he has been to the safe house severally to attend parties.
INDEX FEATURES P.6-10 NEWS P. 9, 16, 22 COLUMNISTS P. 10-39 INTERVIEW P. 18-21 SOUL MATES P. 39
INSIDE @IdentityMagKE @GayKenyaTrust Radio Jambo 97.5FM discussing yesterday's raid on a LGB HIV/ AIDS seminar at Likoni Mombasa @Zawadin @IdentityMagK E @Qamunde @TGworldNews RT @IdentityMagKE: Invitation to #Kenyan 'demystifying#transge nder persons' session by TEA and @KenyasLGBTI @winmitch "@Joliea: People! Its SEX WORK not prostitution! @CapitalFM_kenya@Ident ityMagKE" actually COMMERCIAL SEX WORK #HaiyaKwaHeri @Nixriq @wimitch @joliea @capitalfm_k enya @identitymagke And do u charge VAT ? How bout if there was no #Value ? #ThingsThatDontMakeSense @Joliea @abMuchira @CapitalFM_kenya @I dentityMagKE No they don't. The word 'prostitution' is deemed derogatory as opposed to the acceptd "sex work" @ForQueerYouth We LOVE @IdentityMagKE! Amazing contributors, a great read & excellent queer resource from #Kenya! Check it out... @abMuchira RT @Joliea People! Its SEX WORK not prostitution! @CapitalFM_kenya @IdentityMagKE >> I think both words mean the same thing...
1, 6-7 EXPOSÉ: GALCK SAFE HOUSE Investigations have revealed shocking details of sexual profiling and misuse in the GALCK safe house. Stories of overnight parties, sexual peccadilloes and vulnerability of the safe house have shown that it‘s a ticking time bomb. Moreover, officials, it seems, are not keen even when asked, ‗How clean is your house?‘ 10-11 SOCIETY & LIFESTYLE: GAY TOURISM IN THE 80’s It is now clear that gays in Kenya have come from far. Through the eyes of BarFly, hitch a ride as he narrates on when kuchus from Uganda and kuchus from Kenya, with flair, fun and fashion, frequently crossed borders in what has been described as the first ever ‗Kuchu exchange between Kampala & Nairobi‘ Read about a bus ride between the two countries and ‗tasting what each country has to offer‘ 12 IDENTITIES, GENDER AND TAGS Transgender individuals have been often, though unfortunately, grouped together with Men who have Sex with other Men (MSM). The problem with labeling ‗MSM‘ is that it makes things be looked at from an activity which is sex and is not cognizant of emotion, orientation and other innate non-physical, non-sexual aspects of an individual. 18-21 PEOPLE THAT MATTER: KEITH GILGES, US EMBASSY The Consul to Mombasa and the man in charge of the LGBT portfolio at the American Embassy shares with our Editor on his work, life and answers pivotal questions over the recent ‗LGBT are part of US foreign policy‘ issue. He shares and interacts with us in his first ever published interview before he leaves office in four months.
NUMBERS: HOMOSEXUALS IN KENYA ARE ____ IN TOTAL 27, Back Page How many homosexuals are there in Kenya? Whereas 10% has been the figure that most activists say is the composition of homosexuals in Kenya (and usually all populations), perhaps and this is a BIG perhaps, that may not be the true reflection. Sizing populations is hard and its even harder trying to census a ‗hidden‘ community… but we can try! 31 RELIGION: ISLAM & HOMOSEXUALITY From hangings in Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, to arrests and persecutions, Islam is seen as the foremost anti-gay religion. Effectively ‗dealing‘ with homosexuality through killings, torture and discrimination, Islam is a feared entity when it comes to pushing for gay rights of persons who profess the Islam faith. 36 SEX WORK: HUMAN RIGHTS FOR ALL Sex workers are first and foremost human beings deserving of rights and other privilegdes. Yet, sadly this is something not experienced. They often face stigma, discrimination and other gross violations. Sex is a taboo that is often not discussed and anyone seen ‗selling sex‘ is further demeaned. Is it time to ‗pride‘ in sex work? Yes.
EDITOR’S LETTER I will focus on the positive and underlying message that the show - Muffled Killer – had; indeed, key, particular, specific and major lessons as well as revelations came out of the show. Sadly, these were lost in the angry-gays-are-painted-asimmoral-and-full-of-HIV-and-desperate-and-poor melee Early this month, KTN Kenya broadcast a two day feature titled ‗Muffled Killer‘ that detailed the lives of male sex workers (MSW) and the implication their work has on (Kenya‘s) HIV prevalence. Stemming from statistics that show over 15.2% of new HIV infections annually occur in Men who have Sex with other Men (MSM), the feature showed male sex workers share their stories, reveal the intricacies of their work and open up about their clients. Riding on sensationalism, the pre-show trailers glued Kenyans, and the world, to a show that promised to ‗tell all.‘ However, the reactions to the feature were mixed. Whereas I will not focus on what some members of the sex work (and by extension, LGBT community) said about it – that it was non-factual, false, portrayed gays in bad light – or that the show was sensational and only served to whet the editorial appetites of homophobic Editors at KTN Kenya to an otherwise homophobic (and sex-phobic) Kenya, I will rather focus on the positive and underlying message that the show - Muffled Killer – had; indeed, key, particular, specific and major lessons as well as revelations came out of the show. Sadly, these were lost in the angry-gays-are-painted-as-immoraland-full-of-HIV-and-desperate-and-poor melee. One, the show was on male sex workers and not the LGBT community. Those activists, individuals and groups that vented that the show portrayed the ‗LGBT community‘ in bad light misplaced their intentions and did not fully understand the context and content of the show. The persons interviewed, with the exception of one who was there as ‗an authority‘ or ‗expert‘ were all male sex workers. And whereas the three identified as gay, they are not representatives of the Kenyan LGBT community. Secondly, John Mathenge emerged as a role model, leader and symbol of hope and success. No where in Kenya‘s history, and more so sex work or LGBT history, has there been anyone who has come out as living positively with HIV. John‘s openness to declare his status will go down in history as bold, daring and historians will mark that declaration as the key point that changed the history of HIV and gay men and sex workers in Kenya. Despite initial repugnance from even his close friends, John has become a beacon of hope and perseverance. ‗stead of reeling in the fact that no one gay man has ever stood up to declare they are living positively – showing not that they are not there but that they are afraid, even among activists – people were quick to judge and put down and belittle his openness. What a shame! What shortsightedness! Personally, I bow to John and fully appreciate his passion, work and life. Counting him as a close friend and confidante, history will judge us all. Mantully‘s charm, wit, attractive personality was simply endearing and positive. Thirdly, HIV is a major issue especially among the gay and sex work community. If statistics and preliminary studies are anything to go by, unless measures are put in place that address the rise of HIV, both these communities will continue to suffer in silence, be decimated and further increase the prevalence rate of HIV in the country and by extension, affecting all Kenyans. Silence breeds HIV and the more we do not want to talk about HIV – and in regards to Muffled Killer, the how, where, when, what – then we are burying ourselves in the sand. The lives of sex workers and their work and the lives of LGBT persons face the same risks when it comes to HIV. Stigma, discrimination, abuse, lack of services, silence, dangerous self-medication, e.t.c., are all similar and experienced by these two. By opening up and showing all these aspects, we move one step closer to achieving zero infections and zero deaths. Lastly, word has been going round that the persons interviewed were doing it for gain – financial and in pursuit of asylum. Nothing could be further from the truth. It‘s all too clear – yet we do not want to admit it – that there are no leaders, no faces behind the LGBT and sex work movements in Kenya at the moment. Courageous individuals, sex workers and LGBT, and activists risk their lives to articulate issues and offer solutions and speak on behalf of a community that has no voice. Yet, instead of congratulating, supporting and shielding these brave souls, they face further rejection and mistrust. It‘s an offence. Three brave, daring, courageous Kenyans – pushed with a sense of urgency and need to be open; urged on to explain things as they are, daring to be the serialization of humanity with a problem – bared their own lives in Muffled Killer. History will judge them. History will judge also the rest. — DENIS NZIOKA
Identity Kenya ‗One of the advantages of being a committed BARFLY is the time one has at one‘s disposal to study people and their behaviour from the bottom of a half-full glass of beer, wine, whiskey, vodka, gin or whatever‘ Through the years he has conducted his own peculiar, some might say queer, analysis of human activity from the comfort of a bar stool.
Islam has been portrayed as a religious creed that is rabidly homophobic and persecuted gays. Over and over again, stories of beheadings, hangings and torture of gays in Muslim countries that have Sharia Law as the basis of the daily and political life, are ever worrying and shocking. Seasoned lesbian journalist JANE MUTHONI tells us that earlier Islamic teachings and attitudes were not as what we now know and see.
AKINYI OCHOLLA shares with us her ‗coming out‘ to her mother story; the mother‘s reaction and the feelings that a mother has for her daughter who opens up on being gay. Often insightful, composed and relaxed, here is one happy ending story you do not want to miss.
CONTRIBUTORS ERIC GITARI is an eccentric queer activist. He loves to cycles for long distances. He recently held a rainbow flag hosting ceremony outside his apartment gate and caused quite the furor. He lives in a black walled apartment he refers to as 'the theater of dreams' Lastly, he has a penchant for tattoos. NEVILLE TIRIMBA is an aspiring novelist and an advocate for human rights with a passion for telling stories of the invisible, the unseen, and the marginalized in Kenyan society. His gay themed short story, ―Knots‖ won an honorable mention in the recent ―The Kenya I live in‖ short story contest organized by Kwani, a literary magazine for budding Kenyan writers. He lives and studies in Nairobi where he's pursuing a law degree.
ANGUS PARKINSON (whom may be known better by some of you as Sister Urethra D‘Scharge) 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. He now works freelance, is a proud father, sits on the Board of GALCK as an Advisor and is the creative mind behind ‗glide‘ waterbased lube. He is a qualified nurse and holds an LLM from the University of Keele. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
KATE KAMUNDE is a 28 years old human rights defender cum artist who identifies as a woman of color. She is a refined poet and blogs specifically tailored poetry and articles for women who love other women. She is in the process of launching her first poetry book . She is also a skilled vocalist and composer. She lives in Nairobi.
Identity Kenya There is a thin line between MSM and Trans labels and identities. Often though, these two have been mixed, used and mashed together thus blurring this unique line. A former volunteer with Transgender Education and Advocacy and a student at a local University, FRANCIS MUTUA offers us what he considers solutions to this problem. He debuts here at Identity Magazine.
JOHN MAKOKHA and his open and affirming Christian organization—Other Sheep AfrikaKenya—is a trained theologian, pastor and married father. He seeks to bring balance between the Christian faith and homosexuality and at the same time, affirming the beauty of GOD who created each individual different. „If GOD did not love us, he would have created all of us the same.‟
„No level of legislation against the individuals in that category can wipe them out‟ says ANTHONY OLUOCH, the Legal and Human Rights Officer for GALCK. From his legal background, Oluoch writes on our neighbour‘s legislation that has been described as ‗odious‘
Charming, beautiful and with a killer smile, BARBRA MURUGA writes on her understanding of love. From poets to theologians to farmers to lovers, love has been described from lofty to low terms. In the month of love—February—read what this beautiful doll-faced lady has to say on it. Preview? „Many of us often think that love equal sex‟
CONTRIBUTORS Superbly. Matured. Since 1986. That is how COLE MUTAHI describes himself to his readers and viewers. Here is more: „Like all the signs of water I'm deep, mysterious, unfathomable being, sometimes inaccessible and uncontrollable. My conscious is strong and rich.‟ His February article is a sassy, hold-my-two-dollarweave-and-my-poodle piece that combines wit, humor, and I-am-the-queenbitch-so-bow-to-me attitude. Feisty. In his first ever emotive memoir piece, LARRY MISEDAH, writing from Houston, Texas, bares his soul to his fellow LGBT members back here in Kenya. Back in 2007 at the World Social Forum, he became the face of a community that was hidden, maligned, discriminated and hated. With numerous media interviews and shows, Larry was able to pave way to a new generation of activists, who emboldened by his ‗coming out‘ act, now lead the struggle for rights. A former sex worker and now activist, DAUGHTIE OGUTU is now the Program Associate at FAHAMU where she frequently advocates for the rights of sex workers and the LGBT community. Amidst threats to her life and other challenges, she tires in her work to ensure that sex work is decriminalized in Kenya through concerted efforts with other stakeholders. A mother of one, she lives in Nairobi. „Quick pep talk to Gay Kenya: while foreign funding is critical, your execution strategy is wanting; your organizational esteem does not have to be validated by dragging unto the donor and tagging on their hems like a sucker‟ so writes QUEER WATCHTOWER as he scores Gay Kenya Trust, a founder member of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya
Safe House Now A Brothel, Hosts Overnight Parties, Orgies ‗It‘s not like a brothel. It is one. During those parties, people have sex and play music and have a good time. You find that if you go there, you bring a chips funga (slang for one night stand) and of course, given the space and freedom, you usually end up having sex. Now, imagine close to ten people who do this in a three bed roomed house.‘ As recently as last month, the safe house has played host to birthday parties. Last year, another party was held at the safe house; an event that was widely advertised on Facebook. Even though the location given for the party was Juja (where coincidentally the safe house is located), the event organizers, who our investigations established were Ken Gitonga and Kamwana Jeremy, the director of Thika‘s MSM group Minority Empowerment Group (MPEG) whose members are drawn from Thika and its environs, the real location was the safe house but this was not shown in the event information. The Facebook event, it has been established, was ‗cancelled‘ after a high number of people confirmed attendance. It was then replaced with several phone numbers and interested persons were asked to call the numbers for directions and locations. The location, it turned out, was the GALCK safe house. The persons were given directions and told to alight at Juja and proceed on foot or be picked at the bus stage. Eventually, only twenty people were invited personally to the party after being selected by the organizers. In addition to misuse, questions are raised over the moral credentials of the administrator Mr Ken Gitonga. One person interviewed by Identity Magazine said ‗I know Gitonga was hitting on my boyfriend and inviting him to that Juja place as if it‘s his base.‘ Originally funded by UHAI-EASHRI at a tune of USD 25,000 the safe house was located in Nairobi Buruburu estate but then moved to Juja in Thika County in order to enhance its security.
„‟Many persons now claim to know the exact location of the house. Thenumber of persons visiting has increased over the years. Most are casual and do not need the services of the safe house further diluting the security structure of the house‟‟
Another occupant at the safe house, now living in Mombasa, revealed that the former Chairman of Gay Kenya Trust (GKT) used his influence to be sexually involved with an occupant during the time it was based in Buruburu. The Chairman allegedly wrote to GALCK to request to ‗take out‘ the young man since he had ‗fallen for him.‘ GALCK accepted this but on condition he ensures he is safe and returns back to the safe house safely. Apart from allegations of sexual abuse and sexual profiling, the safe house running has now become personal with several persons alleging that it is ran like a personal house by the administrator. ‗He thinks this is his own house and uses it as he likes. He lies to people that this is his house but in reality it‘s a safe house. He is very arrogant and shows it off,‘ said another student who has visited the house. ‗He makes the safe house look like a mansion that you should consider yourself privileged to be invited to,‘ he added.
This, it is alleged, has led to several LGBT persons refused entry to the safe house simply because the administrator does not like them. A well known sex worker activist told Identity Magazine that sex workers who identified as gay were often refused entry to the safe house since they are said to be thieves or are not clean and were held in suspicion. ‗If they see you are dirty or poor, you are not taken to the safe house even when you are in danger. Only if you know the staff of GALCK or a friend to one of them will you be lucky‘ said the activist who cannot be named. He said that unless you are known to either a staff member of GALCK or sleep with one of them, chances of you entering are slim. Furthermore, it is emerging that concerns have been raised over the administration of the safe house that is now a purely GALCK staff role. Proposals have been made that suggest a sub-committee of the different GALCK group representatives be formed that will administer and run the safe house. ‗Since the safe house is a ‗GALCK‘ initiative and GALCK is representative of a constituent, then the same constituents should be the ones who call the shots,‘ said an LGBT legal advisor. Activists and LGBT persons have ‗approached‘ UHAI-EASHRI, the main funder of the safe house, to look into these allegations. However, given UHAI EASHRI‘s ‗hands-off‘ approach, this may not bear fruit or bring the much needed changes.
s | Complaints Often Ignored By Officials, Activists, Donors One such meeting took place at SWOP clinic last year with sex workers and where representatives of UHAI-EASHRI were present. One sex worker raised the issue of the safe house being a turned into a brothel and their being refused to be housed there since they are not members of any GALCK groups or refuse to bow down to sexual overtures. The UHAI representatives said they ‗had received similar reports‘ and ‗would look into it.‘ A much more recent meeting held at UHAI-EASHRI offices also brought this to light when one of the participants asked for clarification from UHAI-EASHRI staff regarding the administration of the safe house as well as these allegations. A lesbian activist present said she had heard about the allegations too. According to Solomon Wambua, Programmes Officer for GALCK, the safe house is open to LGBT persons who are facing violations due to their sexual orientation and gender identity. These include persons who have been evicted, beaten or ‗outed‘ and face danger. However, a sex worker from Nairobi has been refused assistance from the safe house because he was told that his appearance in the media that resulted in backlash was ‗not GALCK‘s fault.‘ ‗They asked me who told me to go to the media?‘ said the sex worker. Originally based in Buruburu in Eastlands of Nairobi, the safe house has relocated to Juja area in Thika County. A short distance from the main Thika Road, its well walled and is a three bed roomed house and has its own compound. Many persons now claim to know the exact location of the house on account of the frequent parties held there. Likewise, the number of persons visiting the safe house has increased over the years. Most of these „Given UHAI are casual and do not need the services of the safe house further diluting the security structure of the EASHRI‟s „hands-off‟ house.
approach, this may not It is also alleged that GALCK staff members ‗frequently‘ visit the safe house to ‗keep it warm‘ They are bear fruit or bring the usually picked from the office or town and head there where they cook lunch and spend time. The reason much needed changes‟ for doing this is, according to a staff who has been present in these visits, is so ‗as to show neighbors that this house has people so that they do not raise questions over why a house is almost empty and has little activity.‘
This has not been taken well by some of the GALCK Board members who have written with personal concerns over this as far back as last year. With questions raised that admission is based on personal whims, a GALCK Board member who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the process of admitting someone is done by the Board members when they receive a case that needs attention. Usually, after the Board reviews the case and the urgency, they recommend relocating to the safe house and then this decision is communicated to the person and they are asked to decide whether or not they want to go to the safe house. From there, and if the person accepts, an e-mail is sent to the administrator who then is charged with picking the affected person and taking him or her to the safe house. The same board member confirmed that close to fifteen people have been hosted by the safe house since it began. The safety of the safe house is being questioned since it‘s now prone to external intrusions. However, this pales in comparison to the mire that is inside it. LGBT persons seem to be in agreement that they do not want to go there when they are in danger. ‗I wouldn‘t want to go there. For what? It‘s no longer a safe house. I would rather go back to my rural home or stay with a friend if I happen to be in danger. I want to go to a ‗safe house‘ not go to a house where you feel unwanted,‘ remarked an LGBT activist with one of the GALCK groups.
THERE IS NO MSM CLINIC IN MOMBSA, HIV HIGH BY IDENTITY COAST CORRESPONDENT Men who have Sex with other Men (MSM) and male sex workers in Mombasa are lacking health care services since there is no MSM clinic or dispensary to serve them, it has emerged. MSM and gay men who suffer from STIs or are living with HIV and AIDS are now forced to go to Coast General Hospital where they face stigma from health care providers and other patients. Juma* a gay sex worker in Mombasa says that they have no MSM friendly clinic in Mombasa even after it has emerged that MSM HIV infection accounts for over 15.2% of new HIV infections annually in Kenya. ‗There is no hospital where we feel comfortable. Many of my friends are getting sick and they are not looking for hospitals.‘ Esther Emily, the Project Coordinator for PEMA-Kenya, Mombasa‘s only LGBT group, says that the lack of an exclusive MSM clinic has forced many MSM not seek health services out of fear and stigma. In a telephone interview with Identity Magazine, Esther revealed that there are two MSM research organizations in Mombasa – International Center for Reproductive Health (ICRH) and Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) – but that these are purely research based and do not offer any MSM health services. ―Unless you are part of the research (in these two), you cannot easily access services. One has to be a participant in the research these two groups are conducting in order to benefit from them,‖ she said. Esther added that there is a clinic called Bomu Medical Clinic that is located in Magongo in Changamwe area that is MSM friendly.
‗MSMs who visit Bomu get a stipend of KSh 100. It‘s not an exclusive MSM clinic but they are trying to be accommodating.‘ Coast General Hospital has served as the last option for gay men, MSMs and sex workers who want to access preventive measures or seek treatment for infections or access ARV treatment. However, most MSM prefer to go to private clinics or self medicate. Juma told Identity Magazine that many sex workers prefer to ask around for medication or borrow left over pills from their friends. ‗I have a friend who had a boil in his arm then he got some capsules but he did not finish taking them. Another friend who also got a boil asked my other friend for the remaining pills.‘ Staying Alive Youth Group based in Mombasa is made of MSM and MSW who are living with HIV and AIDS. Even they are not able to assist their members or clients. They usually refer those with infections or have been diagnosed with HIV to PEMAKenya or Bomu Clinic or KEMRI research center. In 2007, an exploratory study in Mombasa found that the high prevalence of HIV in Kenyan MSM was probably due to unprotected receptive anal sex and low condom use. Up to 60% of male sex workers in Mombasa also have female sexual partners, according to a recent study presented at the 17th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in San Francisco. In addition, a Population Council report showed that less than 25% of MSW in Mombasa had correct knowledge of water based lubricants. This puts them at risk of HIV infection. One reason adduced for this lack of knowledge is that there is no enough provisions for lubricants in Mombasa. KEMRI, it is reported, supplies lubricants to the commu-
nity free of charge and gives it free to participants in their research study. Liverpool VCT based in Nairobi also sends lubes at no extra costs to groups that then give out to members. These lubricants are given in packs of ten and ten condoms and are tracked through a form. Jeff Walimbwa the Health Manager at Ishtar MSM, a Kenyan MSM group, refused to comment that there was a lack of lubricants. This was after Identity Magazine received complaints from the community that there were no lubricants. Makau*, a sex worker from Machakos but who lives and works in Mombasa said that sometimes they are forced to sleep with women for extra income. ―You find that you stand in the streets for long waiting for men and then they do not come. Then you are forced to look for an alternative which is a woman. There are rich women tourists here who do not mind us being gay they just want fun and sex. And they pay well, so we just go and show them a happy time.‖ Makau says that sleeping with women is not fulfilling as he identifies as gay. ‗I am a lover of men; I do not have time for women. But money dictates everything.‘ Esther told Identity Magazine that KEMRI had begun a Comprehensive Care Center (CCC) at the Kilifi District Hospital and though this space is open to the general public, it‘s friendly to MSM and MSWs. However, this is not enough. ‗There is need for an MSM clinic that caters to the MSM and MSW community here where they can get free services and prevention commodities and counseling,‘ Esther remarked. In Nairobi, there is an influx of MSM clinics and centers that cater to an exclusive MSM clientele. These include SWOP clinic, SASA Centers and DISc (Thika).
KENYA IN BRIEF Gay Man Attacked In Gipsy’s Bar, Westlands A gay man was last week attacked at Gipsy's bar in Westlands. The victim was hit on the head with beer bottles by a man who claimed had touched his genitals. Gipsy‘s bar is considered a gay bar and is usually frequented by high class expatriates and non-Kenyan nationals.
The extent of his injuries were severe. He suffered two broken teeth and a cut on his ear. In addition, his lips are swollen. He is now suffering from severe headaches. The victim said he was attacked by the assailant after the assailant alleged he had been ‗touched‘ on his genitals by the victim.
being asked for assistance, threw the victim out. The assailant managed to follow the victim and continued to assault him. He was rescued by overnight guards at a bank near Gipsy‘s. The matter has been reported at Kileleshwa Police station awaiting investigations.
The security at Gipsy‘s, on
David Kuria ‘Steps Down’ From Senate Race In a Facebook post, Mr David Kuria, arguably Kenya‘s first openly gay person to declare interest in political office has stepped down. Citing financial disability, Kuria said ‗It is now quite clear that I shall not have the kind of finances necessary to run a successful campaign.' Kuria, who was eyeing the
Kiambu Senate seat, first declared interest last year when he was the General Manager of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK). His declaration did not sit well with some Kenyans over his sexuality though he tired to explain that his sexuality was not a hindrance to serving people.
Last year, Mr Kuria resigned from 'active LGBT activism' in order to focus on his political career though he still maintained a column with Gay Kenya's website.
New Kenyan Feminist Forum Launched A new Kenyan feminist forum in Nairobi has been launched by a group of young and emerging Kenyan feminists. The forum is working in line with this year‘s International Women‘s Day(IWD) whose theme is ‗Engaging girls, inspiring futures‘ Page 9
Additionally, 2010 to 2020 has been designated at the Decade of African Women by the African Union. ‗Kenya has quite a number of feminists but its surprising that there is no Kenyan feminist forum,‘ said a member who talked to Identity Kenya.
The group, Kenya Feminist Forum, is described as ‗a space where feminists can meet and have dialogue on issue affecting women and society in general like sexual and reproductive health, human rights, patriarchy.‘ Membership is drawn from women from all walks of life.
Like Sand Through The Hour Glass, So Are The Gay BY BARFLY Reading such tales as that of the two Ugandan gay men identified only as John and Paul which was recently published in the Daily Nation (Nairobi) brought the fact of a massive change in circumstances in the lives of Kenyan and Ugandan gays‘ home to me in a very real way. The intro to the story said, and it was true: “Until a new anti-homosexuality bill caused a wave of homophobia in Uganda, John and Paul could hold hands in the streets of the capital Kampala and kiss in night clubs.” Ask any gay man in Nairobi who was part of what I called the Kenya/Uganda-Kuchu exchange programme back in the late 1990s, and they‘ll tell you the story.
One of the bar signs in a bar in Nairobi popular with gays
One of the advantages of being a committed Barfly is the time one has at one‘s disposal to study people and their behaviour from the bottom of a half-full glass of beer, wine, whiskey, vodka, gin or whatever. Through the years I have conducted my own peculiar, some might say queer, analysis of human activity from the comfort of a bar stool. The warm fuzziness in my head has been enough to tell me that such analysis was not scientific on any level, but heck, it kept me occupied on those long lonely nights when there was nobody to cruise and no one to gossip with.
At some point in the late 1990s, like many of the gays who flocked bars such as Gipsy, Cactus and Simmers, I noticed that there seemed to be a twice yearly (at least) influx of our Kuchu brethren „Each Easter, a Kenyan (should that be sisterhood?) from Uganda.
Kuchu delegation would hop onto the Akamba bus, which departed for some years from outside Gipsy bar at the crack of dawn, and make a reciprocal visit to Kampala and paint that city‟s bars and nightclubs the colour of fun‟
In those days Kampala seemed the more exciting and accepting city for gay men when compared to Nairobi and when the Ugandan boys were in town it was party time. Suddenly all the popular spots for Nairobi‘s gays were full of hot Ugandan boys with their sexy dance moves, friendly approachableness as opposed to the usual cliquey Nairobi gay crowd. For a couple of months every year, the Ugandans would be flavour of the month and then they would return to Kampala, which sounded to some of us who had never been, like the proverbial land of milk and honey for gay boys. Forget the exotic sounding San Francisco, Berlin, London and Cape Town; the fleshpots of Kampala were an Akamba Cross-Country bus away. You could literally go for the weekend and it would not cost you an arm and a leg or even require a sugar daddy or a passport.
In the late 1990s as the politicians in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania spoke about reviving the East African Community; the gay communities of Kenya and Uganda were already in the midst of their own revival of intimate relations. When in Kenya, the Uganda hotties seemed to all stay at the house of a European man who lived in a considerably spacious house, complete with outside wet bar (open house most weekends) out in Lower Kabete. I remember one of the jokes that did the rounds at the time was that the house was the ‗unofficial Ugandan High Commission‘ in Kenya at the time. If you had gone out with the Ugandans and wanted to drop them off home, you had to find your way to the house in Lower Kabete which sometimes appeared to operate like a private members bar. At least every Easter, in those years, a Kenyan Kuchu delegation would hop onto the Akamba bus, which departed for some years from outside Gipsy bar at the crack of dawn, and make a reciprocal visit to Kampala and paint that city‘s bars and nightclubs the colour of fun.
ys Of Our Lives | Kampala-Nairobi Kuchu Exchange In those days Kampala was said to be the night life capital of Africa and certainly all the gay men from Nairobi who visited went to experience not the Nile river, not the mountains and not Lake Victoria but the nightlife. When they returned to Nairobi for weeks all they would talk about was the boys at Club Silk or The Rock Gardens or the Sheraton Hotel. Those were the good old days for a generation of Nairobi gays and so it was sad for me to read recently about things in Kampala and Uganda in general have become so bad for gay men that they are now forced into exile in Kenyan refugee camps. * * * * * Meanwhile, I could not let the passing of Whitney Houston go without mention. Like many other divas before her, Whitney appealed to the gay sensibility and her ballads through the 1980s and 1990s were the romantic soundtrack to many of our lives. Though Mercury ABC is not necessarily one of the so called ―gay bars‖ of Nairobi, if you were a fan of Whitney‘s it was certainly the place to be on the Sunday night that she died. I can‘t swear I didn‘t see a few Kuchus shedding a tear or two into their cocktails as DJ De Lite dedicated most of the night to her love songs.
Understanding The Bahati Anti-Gay Bill BY ANTHONY OLUOCH On 13th October 2009, David Bahati, the MP for the constituency of Ndorwa, West of Uganda and a member of the National Resistance Movement introduced a Private Member‘s Bill in Parliament creating the offence of ―aggravated homosexuality‖ whose punishment, according to the bill, is death. Jeff Sharlet, an investigative journalist, recently traveled to Uganda to speak with Bahati, the bill's author. He writes about that meeting in a September 2010 Harper's Magazine magazine piece, "Straight Man's Burden." He describes how gay Ugandans are struggling to survive — and recounts his meetings with Bahati — in a conversation with Terry Gross on Fresh Air. "Bahati said: 'If you come here, you'll see homosexuals from Europe and America are luring our children into homosexuality by distributing cell phones and iPods and things like this,' " Sharlet recounts. "And he said, 'And I can explain to you what I really want to do.' " Sharlet accompanied Bahati to a restaurant and later to his home, where Bahati told Sharlet that he wanted "to kill every last gay person." David Bahati‘s re-introduction of the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda‘s parliament has stirred questions about how far some segments of African society continues to deny the existence of African LGBTI people, and in this instance particularly gay men and their allies. As much as they may not want to accept it, homosexuals, defined in the bill as persons who engage or attempt to engage in same gender sexual activity, are integral members of the society. According to Human Rights Organizations, at least 500,000 gay people live in Uganda out of a total population of 31 million. No level of legislation against the individuals in that category can wipe them out. The bill seeks to create a rhetoric demonising same-sex attraction and implying that it is a learned behaviour. In fact, many members of the LGBTI community feel that their sexuality a natural, inborn and undeniable aspect of their being. Scientific evidence points to the fact that homosexuality cannot be ‗unlearned,‘ and any efforts to do so normally result in human rights violations. CONTINUED ON PAGE 13 Page 11
What Is In A Name: Trans & MSM Labels BY MUTUA FRANCIS
Since MSM is largely attributed to their sex-
first one is physical identity. Someone
What is in a name? A tag for reference, a
ual activity and risks therein, their major pit-
may be quick to call them cross dress-
term to assign class or a cadre of society
fall is as regards sexual and reproductive
ers or drag queens. I would differ with
or a definitive term that espouses personal
health. Most MSMs have reported that they
that opinion since drag and cross dress-
attributes? Whichever the case, we agree
have been denied services due to their being
ing is a matter of choice and is re-
in the importance of having a name. A
MSMs. The key area is synonymous with
stricted to events. The transgender feels
name is unique; it can only be ascribed to
sex; HIV testing, treatments of STIs like anal
trapped in their body and wants to ex-
a person or a group.
gonorrhoea and the likes. The stigma at-
press their-selves in the way they feel
The terms transgender and Men who have
tached to these ailments is immense, with
hence ―gender expression‖. It goes be-
sex with Men - MSM are often substi-
some being out rightly denied audience by
yond the dressing, even change of
tuted, mismatched and parodied for mean-
physical anatomy to fully identify with
ing and motive in different contexts. Di-
For the transgenders, it‘s a whole different
their preferred gender. This process is
versity is the spice of life and these two
ball game altogether. By virtue of not sub-
called sex reassignment surgery (SRS).
groups present the different dynamics of
scribing to the given sex at birth, they suffer
After the surgery, a transgender person
sexuality and gender diversity and must
even at the most basic of health care needs
is said to have fully transitioned.
be appreciated for their differences in
level. For example, if a transgender woman
challenges and needs.
whose documents for insurance still read as
An MSM can easily camouflage and
The term ‗MSM‘ was coined in the 1990s
male, it will cause a conflict. There will be
would not be known in the street or by
to describe certain groups of men whose
need to verify if the two persons are one and
any kind of scrutiny. The transgender
behaviour may increase the risk for HIV
the same. This ends up affecting all their
will usually meet many stumbling
infection. It was, however never meant to
processes let alone health.
blocks what with the difference in per-
supplant the complex range of identities
Moreover, for transgender people, there is the
sonal documents. Picture a transgender
that may accompany sexual practice. Al-
need to access hormones to achieve the nec-
woman checking in to a hotel, or a job
low me to dissect the term transgender;
essary physical development ascribed to their
interview, or a school admissions board
Trans and gender. Trans is Latin for
preferred gender. A close follow up is the
and being asked for their ID and/ or
across, over or beyond and Gender is a
needs for sex reassignment surgery to the
supporting documents. Chances are that
term used to describe the socially con-
preferred gender. These are exclusive issues
they will be regarded a fraud or impos-
tor due to the difference in names and
straints and privileges assigned to either
When it comes to the societal outlook, there
appearance. Given the loopholes in
sex in different locations and customs.
exists a stark schism on what rules and norms
knowledge, it is even harder to con-
As part of a minority group, they both
apply. Whereas the label MSM will only be
vince people of the disorder as it is un-
face challenges. The challenges range
used sparingly, transgender is a label for life.
derstood to be a personal choice.
from stigma in society to alienation from
Therefore, to a name is ascribed differ-
home and friends. However there are
I have witnessed the pains that the trans-
ence and the difference between MSM
some specific issues in their respective
gender community in Kenya undergo and
and transgender should at all times re-
they are quite unlike any other group. The
If Passed, The Anti-Gay Bill, Would Be ‘Unconstitutional’ Bahati, on his memorandum on the bill, talks about sexual rights activists seeking to impose their values of sexual promiscuity on the people of Uganda. Nothing of the sort is being done by sexual rights activists. Rather, Ugandan LGBTI activists are seeking to be recognised as members of the society, and to be accepted by society for who they innately are. They are seeking non-discriminatory policies reinforced by Article 21 of the Constitution of Uganda which states that all persons are equal before and under the law in all spheres of political, economic, social and cultural life and in every other respect and shall enjoy equal protection of the law. Should the Anti-Homosexuality Bill be passed, it would not only be a violation of Ugandan citizens‘ dignity, equality and freedom, but it would run counter to the Ugandan constitution itself. Political autonomy is never a bad thing; however, political autonomy must not result in absolute discrimination against a significant section of the population. This is evident in one of the objectives of the bill, which is to prohibit ratification of any international treaties, conventions, protocols, agreements and declarations which are contrary or inconsistent with the provisions of the bill itself. If this is done, then Uganda will not be signatory to any International Human Rights Instrument thus creating a huge gap in the human rights sector in the country. On February 14th 2012, Fr. Simon Lekodo, Uganda‘s Minister for Ethics and Integrity and a defrocked Catholic priest, shut down a workshop of LGBTI activists and human rights defenders, calling it ‗illegal.‘ However, it is his actions that are illegal, as there is no law in Uganda to prohibit peaceful meetings of human rights activists. The fact that the Bill has once again been proposed in parliament creates a climate in which such discriminatory actions may take place. Finally, I wish to draw attention to the fact that the punitive measures in the bill are incredibly draconian.
UHAI-EASHRI: Travel Sponsorship To International AIDS Conference UHAI will extend support to three (3) active members of the LGBTI and sex worker community who are doing exemplary work in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support. This support is open ONLY to applicants who have submitted an abstract and have been accepted to make presentations at the International AIDS Conference. Page 13
To apply for this travel sponsorship, applicants need to fill out and return the travel application form, on or before the 30th of March 2012 at Midnight EAT. Kindly send the completed application form to email@example.com. Successful applicants will be contacted by UHAI on or before the 6th of April 2012. Please note that only complete applications will be
reviewed.. Applicants need to be actively involved in organizations currently funded by UHAI. Applicants need to be active members of the LGBTI and sex worker community who are working in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support. Priority will be given to individuals who have not received past travel sponsorship from UHAI.
The World Of The First Class Bitch BY COLE MUTAHI I adore sex (we all do) and we‘re not just talking about the usual discounted brief sex in a sports car or some nasty bit of Nairobi you‘ve never been before most of you engage in. It‘s the whole thing: foreplay, touch, rimming and riding until we are all about to get insane then after that we go our separate ways. There is no point in sleeping in his bed until morning. It violates the pretty boys‘ code which states that you never sleep with the men you sleep with (sic). Osteen‘s phone rings and I take a mental note of ‗Bad Things‘ by Jace Everett as his ring tone which confirms his mark of sexual emancipation and maturity. He‘s not an addict though since there are those periods he takes the re-virginizing debate to a whole new level through a self imposed hiatus (man cleanse). He‘s not a slut because he deciphered a while back that once a gay pretty boy passes a certain point in intelligence, it is almost impossible to get a man who‘ll always be available besides it‘s a society where all our active men want to push their meat through anything that has a hole in it. I pause here and wonder why most guys are obsessed with the hole; do you think its dick envy? He‘s also neither affluent nor exactly an old bitch. He‘s 24, pays his own rent and utility bills; buys wine every Tuesday evening at DOD‘s AFCO courtesy of one of the men in uniform in his ‗silly‘ life and always boasts he‘s toiled his fine ass hard to be where he is. He emphatically says that once you are at this level, gay and you are on the receiving end of a cock, you don‘t necessarily have to be nice. In his world, a shag is a journey just meant to empower him sexually not as a means to justify an end. He sees no relationship prospects and says, ‗If I ever get to boyfriend number two, he better have a busy life full of his own hobbies, goals and interests because I will not be someone‘s reason to exhale. I have better things to do than entertain a full grown man when I‘m not getting paid for it.‘ Welcome to the world of the first class bitch! When a pretty boy leaves his house on a Friday evening with the sole purpose of inter alia getting laid, trust me they will get laid! There is a raison d'être why those men carry bags across the city. I also have a small back pack which I carry anytime I‘m not sure I‘ll come back to my dungeon. A bottle of flavoured lube and a pack of condoms must always be contained in the same among other paraphernalia even if I‘ll not really use them! And while I‘m still breathing the same air, guys had better put that condom on - if we're all going to act like a dick we do need to dress like one. I‘ve never fucked anyone that was so good it was worth dying for. Even women not so long ago had been trained to speak softly and carry lip stick. Those days are spent. Look at it this way, If I had a clit I‘d be applauded and called a real woman but then I‘m male (a gay one for that matter) - so the world calls me a fag. I have met a handful of men who have plainly dismissed me as naïve due to my choosy sex schedules, ignorance of sexual advances and safe sex advocacy. See, in my world if you are not the one doing the bleeding, vomiting, or on fire, chill out and stop the tantrums! Just because I don‘t want to fuck anyone anymore doesn‘t make me heterosexual (God Forbid). And of course pretty boys have more opportunities than just mere boys to get laid. I mean, have you looked at the guys complaining that they can't get any?
Namaste—I Bow To You, Bitches They have bad haircuts, don‘t bathe, no concept of how to dress, tuck shirts into pants so that we can see their beer guts hanging out over their belts and Oh! They also try the lamest lines on pretty boys who have just stepped off the future swag pages of this noble magazine (Denis Nzioka I hope you implement this). I mean no insolence but if you think I‘m being a bitch yet all we are talking about here is sex, and I mean raw sexual attraction, let's face it; the bulk of the gay male race is damned ugly. You want to get laid? Try looking half as good as the pretty boy u r drooling over. On relationships: These are like sushi; they are just not for everyone. Save a boyfriend for a rainy day and another in case it doesn‟t rain so the adage goes. I‘ve quoted in another forum that people are wrong: The size of a man's penis is unimportant. What matters is how big his balls are. It‘s not a crime to use size as a tenet to select our partners but then sometimes a big dick is just that! I recently ended a relationship (got into it for experience), almost beat myself at it but then realized that I‘m not one of those pretty boys who pity party that they have been used and dumped after some romps that they equally enjoyed. No winners in such contexts, we both had fun. I‘m single (the unavailable type) and one of the conventions in the pretty boys‘ code states: Thou shall not chase men at the expense of building your life. Men can waste you but you can‟t waste a man. Most hot gay guys around are single, stable (even emotionally), don‘t give a bat‘s shit on anyone‘s actions and are probably getting laid at their own terms! They‘d rather be labeled sluts than be lied to, cheated on and disrespected. That is the ultimate bitch I saw in Osteen.
„When a pretty boy leaves his house on a Friday evening with the sole purpose of inter alia getting laid, trust me they will get laid!‟
Get into a relationship with a heart? That also violates the code of being gay. Leave that to the straight folks. In the queer milieu you get into it with your head and that needs skill and time besides if you are single, there are lots of other single guys in the world that have yet to spontaneously combust due to lack of the presence of a penis or ass and if you drink to this: Namaste (I bow to you) bitches!
Letter From Houston BY LARRY MISEDAH What to many is conjured by the aesthetics, is indeed an overwhelming pain and tear-filled journey that has taken courage and brevity to walk. And even I, whom many still reckon a beckon of hope for 5 years ago, have to admit defeat having been engulfed by the traumas of adolescence and teenage. Sitting here far across the scopes and waters, I am always reminded of how blessed and honored I am Page 15
for having seen through the atrocities over the years to live to contribute to a Kenyan LGBTQ magazine – Identity Magazine. LGBTIQ terminologies to me, that despite the fact that I was struggling to understand why I was being called a homosexual, I had to embrace. And Lord have mercy! Didn‘t it get any better that! Even after identifying as a gay
man, are you top or bottom was thrown on my face! This to some may be brushed off as a nonissue, but are undeniably challenges many have faced throughout the growth of our movement. Are receptive gay men women or are the effeminate males‘ transgender?
CONTINUED ON PAGE 36
AFRICA IN BRIEF Africa Has Four Contestants In Mr Gay World Africa has more finalists in the Mr Gay World competition than ever before this year with representatives from Namibia, South Africa, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe. Coenie Kukkuk, Africa Director for Mr. Gay World told Mambaonline.com: ―It‘s a major development. It‘s the first time that black Africans will participate, which sends
out a powerful message of hope to LGBTI people in Africa. ―A message that there are role models and that one can live as a successful and open LGBTI person.‖ Contestants representing Africa are Robel Gizaw Hailu from Ethiopia, Wendelinus Hamutenya from Namibia,
Lance Weyer from South Africa and Taurai Zhanje from Zimbabwe. Kukkuk added: ―It‘s significant that an Ethiopian delegate is participating. The capital city Addis Ababa is the seat of the African Union, so it sends a strong political message‖.
UG President: Gays Not Persecuted In My Country Uganda‘s President Yoweri Museveni told the BBC that he did not support the persecution of homosexuals despite the reintroduction of a draconian anti gay-bill in parliament last week. According to reports by the French News Agency (AFP) monitored in Kampala, the president told BBC‘s Hard Talk programme that he did not consider homosexuality to
be normal, but that it may be In his TV interview with the tolerated if it was kept behind BBC, the president explained, closed doors. ―Homosexuals — in small numbers — have existed in The president argued ―the nor- our part of black Africa. mal way is to be heterosex―They were never prosecuted, ual… but maybe there are they were never discriminated, some exceptions for some good but the difference between us scientific reasons,‖ urging hoand…Western Europe is the mosexuals to ―just keep your own confidential sexual life to promotion of homosexuality, as if it is something good.‖ yourself.‖
Ten Women Arrested In Cameroon For Lesbianism Ten women have been arrested in Cameroon on suspicion of being lesbians. Consensual same-gender sex is considered criminal in the West African nation and punishable by a jail sentence from six months to five years and a fine. Page 16
founder of the Association for the Defence of Homosexuals, Alice Nkom, says detainees in Cameroon are frequently tortured in police stations to force them confess. It comes as another African country, Liberia, prepares to consider a bill to strengthen
its own existing anti-gay laws. 'It's getting worse,' Cameroon gay rights defender Ms Nkom said of homophobia. 'People accused of homosexuality are put in jail straight away,' she told reporters.
Better Than Chocolate ‘Bold’ ‘Daring’ BY NEVILLE TIRIMBA Viewers looking for that bona fide lesbian flick might be somewhat irate to find out that the options out there are few and far inbetween. Better Than Chocolate is an astounding exception. The main character is Maggie, a young free spirited lesbian woman working in a lesbian-themed adult bookstore that sells lesbian erotica by day, and performer in night-clubs by night. In the early scenes of the movie, a group of skin-heads attack Maggie just because of her sexuality, a beautiful and rather butch young woman, Kim, comes to the aid of the damsel in distress, and chases the skinheads away. Kim is a painter who lives in a brightly painted decrepit minivan which she proudly drives around, even though it threatens to fall apart any moment. For a moment the two free spirits have found what their hearts have always been yearning for, love.
„Its a bold and daring independent film; a gem in the history of lesbian film-making since it avoids the archetype that is rehashed in most typical lesbian movies‟
When Maggie‘s mother, a conservative, irascible, recent divorcée with frayed nerves suddenly decides to visit her daughter, the stage for disaster is set. She is a woman bitter about every aspect of her life. Her only consolation is that her daughter is the ultimate swot in law school, or so she thinks. She‘s unaware that her Maggie has pursued something else. Maggie and Kim move into a seedy, decrepit loft owned by an older lesbian going on holiday. Together with Kim, she renovates the place just as her mother unexpectedly drops in. She has no idea that her daughter is a lesbian, or even that the woman she‘s staying with is her lover.
The atmosphere is steeped with homophobes. The owner of a nearby restaurant tells the pair that they cannot have any public displays of affection in his establishment since it would be bad for his business. Eventually, the blossoming love between Kim and Maggie comes under threat since Kim is upset that Maggie chooses to conceal the nature of their relationship to her mother even though they leave under one roof, and she feels that Maggie is embarrassed of their love and she decides to leave Maggie. But it might be that Maggie is unsure of whether her stern mother will approve when she discovers that she is a lesbian. Maggie‘s boss, a mature lesbian woman is also being relentlessly pursued by a transgender woman, however she spurns her advances since she still feels that she is a man and not a woman, yet they seem to share a great deal in common. Will love prevail? This question is answered towards the end of the film, in an explosive climax as Maggie fights to defend the bookstore against censorship. Better than chocolate, a bold and daring independent film, is a gem in the history of lesbian film-making since it avoids the archetype that is rehashed in most typical lesbian movies. The theme of ―lesbian girl meets a frustrated straight woman who in some cases has boyfriend and falls for her‖ can now be regarded as trite (Imagine Me and You, When Night is Falling Kissing Jessica Stein, Lost and Delirious and Elena Undone). Some might argue that sexuality is fluid and that‘s why film-makers are comfortable portraying lesbian women falling in love with straight women, or that maybe repressed bisexuality in women is the universal reality. The true position however points to vested interests. Film producers are loath to cast a unapologetic lesbian film for fear of negative public reception. RATING: 4/5
KENYA, AMERICA, GAYS AND AID | LGBT RIGHTS From January 2012, Identity Magazine will be featuring a section called ‘People That Matter’ that details the lives, work and contribution of persons who work for LGBT and SW rights but who are not your ‘usual suspects’ These are individuals whose work and contribution is for the betterment and enjoyment of LGBT and SW persons here in Kenya and who ‘get no airtime.’ Their 15 minutes of fame on the stage is here. Q: Please share with us who you are and what work you do. Keith Gilges: I have been in Foreign Service working in consuls for over 10 to 13 years; my current position now is as Consul to Mombasa and Ambassador Representative to Coast province. I also work out of political section when am here in Nairobi because we do not have a Consul in Mombasa though we are working on it. I am the Consul to Mombasa even if am not physically present there. What I tell people and when I go and meet with community groups and business leaders or when am on meetings, is that the reason we want to have somebody down there; the reason that they created the position am in, is to enhance our understanding on what is happening in other parts of Kenya. You see here at the embassy, there is a bunch of people that are supposed to know a lot about Kenya but they work here, play here, get stuck in traffic here, shop here, go out with friends here and as a result we can sometimes be a bit Nairobi focused. There is an effort to try and see that people need to get out of the embassy as much as possible. I have taken this fully „Human rights are one on board and spend as much time as possible down in Mombasa so that when some people says, ‗What is of the pillars of our happening in Kenya?‘ or ‗What is specifically happening in Coast? am not just basing that on what I have read in the newspapers but I have an opportunity to be on the ground two, three, four times a month for an foreign policy. We extended period of time so that I can know ‗Hey, is there is that tensions are increasing?‘ or ‗What is the acknowledge that all MRC?‘ and those sorts of issues.
people are born free and deserve right of dignity and any place that is not going on, we can spotlight‟
Q: How does the LGBT portfolio factor in your current work?
Keith Gilges: As I mentioned I spend maybe half of my time, usually 30 to 40% of my time there. The rest of the time I cover a national portfolio that is not specific to the Coast. I work on drugs and anti narcotics, devolution and again to try and understand and explain to Washington on those issues and most recently we created a new portfolio within a our section that had formally been part of human rights portfolio – LGBT. Its part of the boarder human rights portfolio given the importance of human rights for all persons. Q: Is the LGBT portfolio on here in Kenya? Keith Gilges: Yes, my work is here in Kenya. Each embassy is focused in the country they are in. My job and my colleagues mainly focus on Kenya, so there will be other people doing these jobs in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and throughout East Africa. There will also be a bureau back at the State Department in Washington, the Democracy and Human Rights and Labor Bureau that focuses on these issues globally, and within that there will be people but have a geographical focus on what is happening. Clearly this part of the world is getting much attention on what we see happening like the proposed legislation in Uganda.
ARE A KEY COMPONENT OF US FOREIGN POLICY Q: And when did you start your work? Keith Gilges: In Kenya, I came in March 2010 and have been working here since then. Q: Before your posting, was the LGBT portfolio in place or did you come and start it? Keith Gilges: Since Obama came into administration, LGBT issues have been an important pillar of not only our domestic policy but also of our foreign policy. It is one of the human rights pillars in our foreign policy that include security issues, development issues as well as human rights issues. So that hasn‘t changed; it has just grown. Domestically, President Obama ended the Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell (DADT) policy; you also have Secretary Clinton in December in Geneva giving a speech on human rights for all people including the LGBT community. Without doubt we‘ve increased our portfolio on LGBT the past few years. It has been a component of the broader human right report but there is an increased focus on it now. Q: What happens under LGBT portfolio, are there staff, people under it and what specific projects, activities go on? Keith Gilges: I work on a whole bunch of issues and one of the issues in Kenya is LGBTI. What that means functionally, is that my job is to try and understand what is happening here and explain it to Washington just like we do on devolution, drugs and narcotics and all these issues, that is why we are here. If we could read all these in newspapers, I don‘t think there is need to establish an embassy here. It makes it different to be on the ground. So the idea is to get out and engage in a „I believe that our conversation with civil societies, government; religious leaders foreign policy has on these issues. The idea is not to make them change their mind fundamentally shifted because you can‘t make someone change their belief, but you to include LGBT and can engage them in a dialogue. So, part of my job is to help foster that dialogue, so this is something we want to raise. The have we made Government of US takes it seriously. We are going to start asking people to talk about it. I think it is improgress from where portant to tell people to talk about it; over time, history will determine which folks are on the right or wrong side target and I believe over time people will realize that LGBTI rights are human rights.
we were five, ten years ago‟ Q: One question that activists have been asking is what concrete ways is the American embassy do-
ing for the LGBTI community in Kenya and can you give examples? In addition to that, how has been your response, interaction with the local LGBT community? Keith Gilges: I came here in March 2010 and in May 2010; I attended along with Dutch DCM, IDAHO celebrations at the Museum of Kenya. At one point when one of the people was speaking, we started to clap for a minute and a TV camera pointed at us and on it was relayed on TV and then someone said, ‗Ooh, look, a couple.‖ We can engage these both at senior and grassroots level. I have been to Mombasa to meet group and listen to the people on ground about their experiences. That is important. I want to hear what they are talking about. I have also been to Ishtar MSM and meet with GALCK regularly to start understanding what the issues are. Have we engaged at more senior, political level? Not at this point. Its clear we are not trying to force any issues on anyone but as Clinton said, we want to start talking, and we are paying attention. If there are LGBT who are being persecuted or prosecuted we include that as part of the LGBTI human rights report. We also spotlight these issues. Q: From where you stand, as compared to other East African countries, do you think Kenya is homophobic? Keith Gilges: I can‘t compare Kenya to other East African countries because I have never been there. In can compare my understanding of issues. There is a lot of opposition, misunderstanding as to who LGBT are and who they are not.
Identity Kenya I think in Kenya, and specifically to Nairobi, there is an emerging civil rights movements for LGBT in Nairobi who are helping to homophobia. Change happens slowly and can happen legislatively or in the grassroots. It can happen at home, in the office, at church as people slowly realize that there is a different community and when people have the freedom to express their identity, then you will find that lawyers, doctors, development workers, people in the army, hairdressers, government officials, just to mention a few, are part of this community. Q: When you do your annual country Human Rights report, how do you monitor and document your work especially the LGBT component? Keith Gilges: A lot of that happens in two ways. We do not wait until reports are due. There are newspapers reports and other media sources. But we mainly talk to the activists on the ground, community groups that are working on these issues and then cross check. In other instances, people on the ground do report to me the events that happen on the ground in places they live or work. Q: Does the American embassy have rapid response mechanisms or assistance for the LGBTI community who face challenges or threats? Keith Gilges: We are not the Government of Kenya neither are we the service provider to Kenya. Ultimately, decisions need to be made so that change happens to the people of Kenya not because of us. That is across the whole spectrum of development. We can urge and support and give technical and development aid to help change but process needs to come from Kenyans themselves. On the issue of rapid response, just by making a phone call and informing us on what is happening we can shed a spot light on the issue and say we are paying attention to those involved and we can start a dialogue, for example, on part of the government. We have diplomatic relations (friends are honest with each other) and we can always ask why the government is behaving in such manner and in that way we can make a change or difference. Q: On the issue of sexual orientation ground, can someone be granted asylum sorely on this basis? Keith Gilges: Yes. If someone is going to be prosecuted simply because based sorely on his or her sexual orientation, they can apply for asylum in another country. It has happened. We have a program to do that. This has happened previously for example in Uganda. It is not easy, not quick not a magic pill that will solve everything. Q: There is this question of some Kenyan LGBTI activists going to the media to create awareness and there is cultivation of a strong media presence. What are your thought on the dangers facing them? Are you too out there, or are they not too out there? Keith Gilges: Being quite isn‘t going to change anything, Going to the extreme and being too out makes you look extreme in the eyes of people that are just beginning to understand. Are there people pushing boundaries? I hope so. We just can‘t keep quite because we will not be engaging with others and that isn‘t going to change anything. It doesn‘t help to take a difficult subject and not expect a backlash. It takes brave people to demand rights. That is what is going in here. It‘s very easy, be it a religious, ethnic minority or nationality, to demonize them but putting a human face on them will make the community understand and perhaps change is realized. Q: When you say LGBTI rights are part of the American foreign policy issue, what does it exactly mean? Keith Gilges: Human rights are one of the pillars of our foreign policy. We acknowledge that all people are born free and deserve right of dignity and any place that is not going on, we can spotlight. Clinton made a bold speech. Whenever we talk about human rights, we include women, children, LGBT, elderly, ethnic minorities, e.t.c. They are all human. The speech was meant to say we explicitly include the LGBT in foreign policy. We also meant to start conversation. This does not mean that stiff measures will be taken to those countries that do not embrace the LGBTI rights as this will not encourage dialogue to solve the issue. The issue is to try and urge our governments to respect the rights of each and every individual. Q: Where do you see yourself in the next couple of months and years to come? Keith Gilges: Am only here for four months, I go on to my next position. I will be working oversees somewhere and whether I will be specifically in my portfolio or be a member of community is part of what I do to continue dialogue about LGBTI.I believe that our foreign policy has fundamentally shifted to include this key component and have we made progress from where we were five, ten years ago. I believe all the progresses are in the right direction. Rights, once extended, are something you cannot take away easily.
Keith Gilges In Pictures
Keith Gilges is the Consul to Mombasa and also in charge of the LGBT portfolio at the American Embassy here in Kenya. He was born in Rochester, New York.
WORLD IN BRIEF INDIA: Increasing Acceptance Of Gay Life After De-crim A report from a top law school in India has found there's been greater societal acceptance and a decrease of police harassment of LGBT people since the decriminalization of gay sex in 2009. Delhi's Jindal Global Law School's report said: ‗There is a growing societal acceptance for Gay, MSM and Kothi [trans] men.
Many respondents (LGBT members) stated that the societal perception of homosexuals is changing and people were treating them with respect‘.
that decriminalization of section 377 has led to increased self-confidence and selfacceptance amongst the respondents,‘ the report said.
The report was compiled from face-to-face interviews with 32 LGBT people in Delhi from February to October 2011.
‗Some respondents also reported that they could now argue with the police since they know there is no section 377 in the law books any more‘.
‗It is evident from the study
Oscar Award For Gay Dad Acting Role Christopher Plummer, who plays an older gay man in the film Beginners, won the Best Supporting Actor award at the 84th annual Academy Awards last night in Los Angeles In the film, the veteran actor portrays a gay father who comes out of the closet after his wife's death and displays
a new verve for life, despite loved roles was that of Captain Von Trapp in The Sound being diagnosed with cancer. of Music. His son in the film, who tries to make sense of his father's life, The silent film The Artist was the night's big winner, scoopis played by Ewan McGregor. ing five Academy Awards, At 82, the Canadian-born including Best Picture. Plummer became the oldestever winner of an acting Oscar. Meryl Streep took home her With a career spanning over 50 third Oscar for playing Maryears, one of Plummer's most garet Thatcher in Iron Lady.
Whitney Houston’s Was A Lesbian? British LGBT activist Peter Tatchell has come under fire for reviving rumors that the late Whitney Houston had a lesbian affair with her assistant Robyn Crawford. Tatchell made the claims on Facebook following the tragic death of the 48-yearold star in a Beverly Hills hotel room on Saturday. Page 22
"Whitney Houston RIP. She
was happiest & at her peak with her female partner in the 1980s. They were so joyful together," wrote Tatchell. He also suggested that her attempts to cover up her bisexuality led in part to her downfall. The rumored affair between Houston and Crawford,
whom the star called the "sister I never had," was addressed by the singer in a 1987 interview with Time magazine. Ho usto n‘s ex - husb and , Bobby Brown, commented on the allegations about the affair in his 2008 autobiography Bobby Brown: The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing But.
A Mother’s Fear For Her Lesbian Daughter BY AKINYI M. OCHOLLA I feel extremely fortunate to have a little brother (okay he is bigger than me and actually 29 years old – so perhaps not so little) who is accepting of me as a lesbian and of my work in the human rights world. The day I came out to him, many years ago, on a Sunday afternoon, he simply told me that he already knew. Then he asked me if I was seeing anyone, which I wasn‘t at the time. Since then he has made three statements with regards to my opinions and my work that have given me food for thought. Once, not long after I came out to him, he and I were watching Sadaam Hussein‘s capture, trial and execution on television. I admit to having had double standards with regards to capital punishment*, justifying it on people who have done heinous criminal acts whilst being against it for more ‗innocent‘ people. I voiced my approval of his execution that day. Then my brother turned to me and said something I would never forget. He said that I should be careful how I judge others, because capital punishment is in some countries also used against people like myself. I was temporarily lost for words. He had a point – though at the time it seemed to me that his logic was a little off. His point was of course that whereas some of us may see justice in executing persons charged with numerous human rights violations, other people may feel equally justified in executing gay and lesbian people because of the perceived ‗moral degradation and threat to society‘ that they pose. A moderate, sensible thinking person might see huge differences between crimes against humanity and ‗moral crimes‘ but the main point is the taking of life, which, in a just and ideal world, should not be allowed to take place - ever.
„Perhaps a daughter being bisexual is a softer landing for a mother to digest than the fact that her daughter is an absolute lesbian‟
The second thing that my brother told me was over Christmas in 2008 after our mother had passed away three months earlier (our father had passed away two years before). He complained at my getting involved in this ‗dangerous‘ human rights work – wasn‘t it enough for him to have lost both his parents, he didn‘t want to lose me also. I was deeply touched. The third thing he said to me was when I shared my CV with him not very long ago. He was helping me format and improve it. He was hugely impressed with the contents and he said so - three times. I was very proud and happy. That having been said mothers are a different matter altogether. A mother doesn‘t always understand or accept her daughter being lesbian or bisexual. Neither do all fathers, siblings and extended family for that matter.
When I decided to come out to my mother, it was after my secret had weighed on my mind for a long time. I was in my mid-late- twenties and had decided that I was ready emotionally and psychologically for the consequences of possible rejection and the long challenge ahead trying to make her understand me. How I thought that I could possibly be ready for rejection is beyond me – considering how close I was to her at the time. It would have been crushing. Still I pushed ahead cautiously. I asked her if her love was unconditional. She said it was though perhaps not completely. I wasn‘t sure what she meant. Anyway, I proceeded to ask her to sit with me and then told her that I was gay. She was quiet for a while. Then she asked me if I meant that I was bisexual, to which I nodded. Perhaps a daughter being bisexual is a softer landing for a mother to digest than the fact that her daughter is an absolute lesbian. Somehow is conjures up the image that her daughter is not completely lost to her – that there is a possibility for the young woman to ‗come back‘ or ‗come to her senses‘. That, perhaps, she is only trying to find her way around the sometimes difficult, sometimes confusing, often misunderstood and perplexing phenomena called sexuality. Still it is often a shock to many mothers to hear for the first time that their daughters are lesbian, that they love women or prefer them over men. One of the biggest fears mothers have is that they didn‘t raise their daughters right - that they failed them in the process, in some way. My mother actually asked me later if she had done something wrong in raising me. I was very surprised, of course, considering how well-rounded I felt I had become and how fortunate I was to have had such great parents. I assured her that she had done nothing wrong. Then she asked if my dad had done something wrong in raising me. Again I couldn‘t think of a single thing that he had done. He had been the typical hardworking, kind, gentle and generous father that many daughters have the good fortune of having. CONTINUED ON PAGE 26
GAY KENYA TRUST (GKT) SUFFERS FROM ‘SMALL MAN BY QUEER WATCHTOWER According to the Social Services Department of the Ministry of Gender and Social Service, the KELEGA Youth Empowerment and Education (most of us know it as Gay Kenya or Gay Kenya Trust) is a youth empowerment community based organization whose mandate is among other things, empowering the youth on human rights and development issues. Over the years, Gay Kenya has organized and marshaled its forces with a vision of becoming Kenya‘s premier human rights advocacy group for the LGBTI community and is currently pursuing registration (rather, has been intending to, for the last three years) as an NGO under the name, Gay Kenya Trust. Although Gay Kenya has in the last five years been branding itself as human rights, media and religious advocacy group of gay identifying Kenyan male persons, a recent AGM decision flung open the membership doors to include any LGBTI person, institution and allies. In so doing, Gay Kenya is seeking to expand its membership with a view of attracting a wide cadre of activists, professionals and lay members. In 2010, Gay Kenya launched its premier newsletter for the gay community in Kenya, with stories and articles, health, jobs, news and general information from contributors/columnists. The newsletter was definitive in LGBTQ centered journalism, ground breaking on its own right, revelatory in detailed coverage and analysis of LGBTI issues in Kenya and also acted as a water shed for the Kenyan gay male on relevant issues. As internationally acclaimed and domestically unchallenged as the magazine had become by 2011, its trajectory was soon to dip, propelled by a petty small man syndrome that was ailing the Gay Kenya management and brief case leadership style of its former board. While the small man syndrome and brief case leadership style precipitated the dismissal of the then editor in chief and caused the newsletter to take a brief dunk into the „Their current scummy mud, the GKT newsletter re-surfaced to circulation with a completely new editorial style that we newsletter barely has have in the present: a shallow, pedantic, corporate style of hollow wording, devoid of advocacy value, any current topical with little resource utility but stale as an investment magazine without any credible and visible readership issues facing the among its constituents and beyond-in comparison to its former newsletter.
Kenyan gay male, constantly focuses on business ideas, SACCOs and chamas as if the entire gay population in Kenya is business inclined or is full of peasants surviving on knuckles and handouts and thus needing business sense‟
Started with the brightest of vision and once regarded as a reference point of information on the Kenyan LGBTI movement, the Gay Kenya newsletter now hangs low like a rotten telephone pole in Industrial area. The newsletter barely has any current topical issues facing the Kenyan gay male, constantly focuses on business ideas, SACCOs and chamas as if the entire gay population in Kenya is business inclined or is full of peasants surviving on knuckles and handouts and thus needing business sense.
As a human rights focused group, one would expect that Gay Kenya would use the newsletter platform to tackle or report or educate its constituents on emerging legal issues but no, repeated messages on an almost monthly basis are: Jesus loves you-never mind we have atheist and agnostic gays, or that for the Christians, they have their clergy to remind them so; Vote for Senator Kuria, a brilliant young mind, a brave political shot but half baked strategies such as perennial campaigning on the newsletter as if all readers are from Kiambu county (PS: call for an LGBTQ fund raiser/events of similar nature and constitute a secretariat from the movement-tick tock); and finally, there is that goad of the newsletter featuring personalities and individuals with little or no significance to the Kenyan gay male-whose life has been changed by what the secretary or the treasurer of Gay Kenya feels after being ‗anointed‘ into the board by the old guard. Un-strategic personalities, who have had wasted chances for close to a year to radicalize, galvanize and revolutionalize the movement yet all we have had is verbal jargon spins and an aloof style of operation? Gay Kenya purports to be training gay Kenyans on human right issues. After the publication of its Yogyakarta principles guide (sounds like rocket science or some blue chip UN talk, eh?) Gay Kenya went to a few towns in Kenya teaching on the Yogyakartas using a team of dedicated underpaid staff who were quickly dismissed in a whim after small man syndrome issues came wafting from its management again – that was in 2010. Since then, the trainings creaked slowly on the wheels until finally halting. Putting this into perspective, what were/are the priority issues and topics to be training gay people who barely knew about the Kenyan penal laws and constitution? Should it really be about unbinding Yogyakarta principles? Simple explanation, Gay Kenya is quite apt at sucking up and boot licking the ego of a donor who wanted such done without regard to domestic needs and gaps.
N SYNDROME;’ HAS ‘BRIEF CASE STYLE’ LEADERSHIP To cover for its lack of a creative bone, the Gay Kenya leadership has learnt how to re-invent the wheel by offering platform for international donors to „implement‟ no, run clinical trials using programmes that have little, if any relevance to the local LGBTI persons. Case in point – the Queer Film Festival. In a hurried, unreasoned methodology, Gay Kenya with the Swiss Embassy gathered close to 20 LGBTI Kenyans and more than 100 white expatriates in what is now hailed as ‗Kenya‘s first queer film festival.‘ Never mind that 90% of the queer films shown there were foreign (and you wonder why homophobes claim homosexuality is unAfrican and a Western agenda), and that the purported Gay Kenya documentary was a stench of amateurish shots caricatured and directed by a member of the Gay Kenya Board. One wonders where the line is drawn between professional interests and personal business stakes. The result, a horrible documentary purporting to depict the lives of Kenyan gays but in reality, the documentary is a travesty of history, robs the Kenyan gay male of his story and scripts a narrative that is so doctored to only serve the donor-the western rich homosexual who will listen to the half baked truth in the documentary and wail all the way to the bank to send money to Gay Kenya in order to help in the fight for equality. The Hay Festival sticks out as another thorn which this writer chooses not to draw nigh to, for in content, methodology and e xecution, the donor always shone, the stereotype of homosexuality being a Western agenda stuck sore. Quick pep talk to Gay Kenya: while foreign funding is critical, your execution strategy is wanting; your organizational esteem does not have to be validated by dragging unto the donor and tagging on their hems like a sucker. One wonders who cast the spell on Gay Kenya when they sat and came up with an idea to build a home for old gay men as the most urgent priority for 2012. Any gay man in the village or streets will tell you two things about this idea – the policy behind this old peoples home programme is uninformed by empirical research and - there are other urgent priorities such as civic education to other regions in Kenya, human rights litigation (not decriminalization), urgent action and fact finding missions (like the one Gay Kenya ought to have done in Kilifi February 2012 when a gay couple was charged with unnatural offenses – but no, their staff are busy fundraising for an old gay people home from the comfort of Nairobi – after all, PEMA-KENYA in Mombasa can swipe that, cant they now?) „One wonders who I am certain that Gay Kenya feels so proud to have built the movement so aggressively, conducted civic education in the grass roots, launched many incremental litigation suits on human rights violations, pubcast the spell on Gay lished many books about human right of LGBTI persons, released empirical human rights and shadow Kenya when they sat reports of human rights conditions of LGBTI persons in Kenya, trained the police and other duty bearers and came up with an on facets of equality inclusive of gay … and such other important work. Yes, Gay Kenya has exceeded the above activities and now its time to build a nice retirement home for old people. As if! Yes, as if! idea to build a home This idea is a perfect mirror of the youth being ignored by policy makers regardless of the youth being a for old gay men as the major minority and if you like – the future of the movement and country. The old people‘s home idea is akin to that of building a multibillion nuclear power plant when we have free unharnessed solar and wind most urgent priority energy in the country. for 2012‟ Free advice on this – Use the already collected money to initiate programs that will ensure that people don‘t end up homeless and destitute. That anyone who violates the rights of an ‗out-ted‘ person is brought to book – that way we will reduce the number of homeless gay youths by deterrence. Use that money to fight for equal rights in marriages/finding families – that way your argument that most old gay men have no families will be cured. Use that money to improve the civic awareness of your members, that way, if a landlord comes with a one day eviction notice; someone will know that they can go to court to block it without fearing that they are a criminal. In short, get creative and stop fire fighting. For now, while such an old people‘s home would be brilliant for the future, competing priorities and needs must steer us in other ways. We hope the new leadership, which was handpicked by the old guard of Gay Kenya, will find creative ways to steer the course to bounties. While some of the board members are also staff of the GALCK secretariat and/or core partners of Gay Kenya, they hold great promise, the conflict or lack of its appreciation thereof notwithstanding. The staff on the other hand, though lacking in independence of mind and passion, bear some sort of diluted merit to cover the multitude of blunders in the Gay Kenya baggage bag (which they haven‘t thrown out yet). The stars inform this queer watcher that Gay Kenya is in transition and might redeem itself from its lack of credibility and programmatic wiz. That being laid bare, the watcher is alive to the fact that the old guard with its corporate uncreative heads and brief case leadership style still fangs into the Gay Kenya mould. The paths of the future will tell, but so far, the performance of Gay Kenya has been dismal, lethargic and non eventful given its potential and well educated board. The score card shall be scribed at 4.5, painstakingly but tragically, generously!
A Mum’s Dream Is Seeing Her Daughter Getting Married A mother is not easily assured that her daughter is okay in the head when she admits to being gay. A mother thinks that there must be underlying psychological and emotional problems that even the daughter doesn‘t know or understand. Often the first thing that the mother proposes is that the young woman goes for counseling. She thinks that the daughter is probably more traumatized than she (the mother) is. It does not occur to a mother that pushing the girl into counseling might not help particularly much. Many counselors are not well equipped to handle issues of sexual orientation. In fact, a young woman going for counseling for the first time feels that she has been sent there because she has serious ‗issues‘. It scares her. It scared me, though I put on a brave face. I had felt perfectly ‗normal‘ till I saw my mother‘s reaction. After a while, my mother calmed down. There were many days of not talking about it and several when we did discuss it. She would ask questions and I would answer the best way I could. Sometimes she would tell me what she thought and I would listen. I felt that my mum put up a brave front both for me and herself. She said that she had acquaintances and friends who either had gay colleagues at work or gay daughters and sons. I think it gave her some comfort to know that there were numerous gay people out there and that her daughter wasn‘t the only one. Still, it must be a mother‘s big dream to see her daughter get married. I wonder why. I feel I have personally drifted away from the mainstream of hoping, expecting and planning for the day when that will happen to me. Somehow it seems so out-of-reach. But a mother never stops hoping to seeing the wedded daughter living with a good man in a decent house and having her first baby. Perhaps because she herself went through it and it seems like the natural cycle of things. A mother fears that her daughter will grow up and be lonely. She feels that other women cannot possibly give her daughter the kind of comfort, security and joy that a big, cuddly, warm man can give. She fears that her daughter may never have children and if „He said that I should she does, that the children will not be raised right or grow up missing something. Is she right? I‘m not sure. I suppose it depends a lot on circumstances and the efforts that we, as women, put into our relationbe careful how I judge ships.
others, because capital punishment is in some countries also used against people like myself. I was temporarily lost for words‟
Perhaps last but not least are the fears a mother has for her daughter‘s safety, status and general comfort in society. She probably wonders, and rightfully so, how society will treat her daughter. Will it be kind to her or mistreat her? Will her daughter be subjected to violence and discrimination on account of having chosen a different path? Will she be accorded the same respect as others? A woman‘s journey through life seems so fraught with risks and challenges. How will the young woman manage, with this added ‗disadvantage‘? Many societies lag behind in the provisions they give to single women, not to mention single lesbians or lesbian couples. And so the fears of a mother go on and on. If only mothers would stop killing themselves over-thinking the circumstances that caused the homosexual orientation, or the many important ‗opportunities‘ the young woman will miss, or the hardships to come.
Mothers should rest assured knowing that their daughters are remarkably resilient, much as they themselves were. Lesbian daughters will keep getting up every time they have fallen down. They will fight back at a society that is unjust. They will create alternative opportunities when others pass them by. They will find love in other women and they will create homes that are filled with warmth, color and laughter. Mtwapa Initiative for Positive Empowerment (MIPE) whose mission is 'Positive Empowerment for Most-at-risk communities in the Kenyan Coast' is recruiting a Female Sex Worker (FSW) and an MSM living positively with HIV to coordinate their activities in Mtwapa; preferable college students from Coast. If interested please send your CV and application letter to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
How Many Kenyan Men Have Ever Had A Same Sex Experience? BY ANGUS PARKINSON During the course of my work, I‘ve been asked more than a few times, ―So, just how many we are?‖ The question, of course, refers to the number of gay, bisexual and other MSM in Kenya. Recently, the delightful Mr. Denis Nzioka, Editor of this magazine, asked me the same question and was a bit horrified by my response. In short, I replied, ―Not many‖. I did give him an actual figure, which I‘ll come to in a bit, which horrified him even further. As a result of that conversation, I now find myself combing back through various studies to be able to give you a relatively reliable figure (although the spoiler is that I‘m going to cheat and give you a broad range at the end), but before we get there we need to briefly explore some of the inherent problems and assumptions implicit in the question and any subsequent answer. Firstly, I need to state from the outset that this brief article deals only with sex between males (and does not include transgender – a troubling mismatch in a lot of studies and policy documents). There‘s very little data on same-sex behaviour between males in Africa and even less on females. Secondly, as we all know (I hope), there‘s a big difference between identity (calling yourself ‗gay‘) and behaviour (the act of two males engaging in sexual activity). This article deals with the behaviour not the identity. Which bring us to our third caveat: What is sex? The majority of studies focus on ‗penetrative anal sex‘ as the definition of a ‗homosexual‘ or same„But just to make you sex act. I‘m going to be a little broader in my approach and use Kinsey‘s definition, which was something along the lines of ‗sexual behaviour resulting in orgasm‘; this at least leaves the door open to oral sex and all feel a little bit mutual masturbation between males. Why? Because there‘s plenty of gay, bisexual and other MSM who happier, if (and it‟s a have healthy and robust sex lives without having anal sex.
big if) 20% is an accurate figure for lifetime prevalence of same-sex behaviour between males in Kenya, then our figure is 2,156,824. Feel better?‟
There‘s also some problems with the studies we‘ll be using as the foundation for our little math question – in fact there‘s three big problems. The first is that whilst there‘s loads of data from Europe, Asia, North and Latin America, there‘s almost no data from the African continent. The second major problem is that of the studies that do exist, they have all, without exception, focused on urban areas – which means we‘ll extrapolating data from cities and applying it to rural areas (where the majority of the Kenyan population live). Thirdly, a further problem with all these studies is that males (and people in general) don‘t tell the truth about sex, especially when that sex is illegal, taboo or simply embarrassing. So all in all, we‘re dealing with very limited data on a topic that is under-researched and generally difficult for people to be honest about. That said; let‘s have a stab at reaching a figure with what we‘ve got.
First off, what do we know? Well, some of the data we can be reasonably sure about, such as the number of sexually active males in Kenya. The total population of Kenya, as reported in 2010, was 40.07 million. Of this 55.1% (21,487,118) were aged 15-64 years – we‘ll take this demographic to be our sexually active population (aware of course that some start early and other finish late!). Of those, 50.1% were male, which gives us 10,784,119 sexually active males in Kenya. Following? OK. Now to the more tricky figures – Let‘s ask two questions. Firstly, what percentage of those males, aged 15-64, have ever had a same-sex experience? And secondly, what percentages have had a same-sex experience within the last year? Let‘s deal with the second question first (the reason will become clear quite soon) – and this is where it gets difficult. Overall, studies on lifetime prevalence of sex between males yields figures of anywhere between 1% and 20% - quite a broad range, with Africa‘s figures sitting at the lower end (between 1 – 4%). To try and get a sense of whether or not this might be accurate, we can look at the percentage of male sex workers in Mombasa, aged 16 – 32 years, which is about 0.3%. That‘s right folks; 0.3% of all sexually active males aged 16-32 in Mombasa are regularly selling sex – and that figure only refers to male sex workers, not gay, bisexual and other MSM, in a tiny range of our overall age bracket. That makes 1 – 4% seemingly conservative, no? CONTINUED ON BACK PAGE
The Freedom Of Intimate Associati BY ERIC GITARI Mary and John have been dating for the last two years. They are heterosexuals. In Kenya, they can meet in almost any public place, hold hands or whatever modest expression they choose, are celebrated and supported by institutions such as their church, families and friends, can fornicate without feeling like felonious criminals and ultimately, if they so wish, marry under Kenyan law, jointly own property, share pensions, insurance covers, get tax relief by virtue of their marriage and adopt children. Michael and Austin have lived together for the last three years. They are gay, and yes, they have lots of gay sex- in Kenya, they are criminals- with prescribed legal punishment higher than that of a thief who steals relief maize, public drugs and land (section 162 of the penal code). They cannot express their love or sexuality in public- a heavy object might be thrown their way, if they don‘t end up in a police cell, that is. But that‘s not a flux for them; they are not into PDA anyway. They aren‘t really harassed by the police or their neighbours, although they live with the imminent fear that it might happen anytime—a fear which living with makes life inhumane and cruel. They DO NOT want to get married (so why am I speaking about intimate associations), reason why marriage is drab to them is, it is simply a social construct by heterosexists whose rigid gender structure is inherently problematic, stifled with sex role stereotyping and gender hierarchy which is deeply connected to a redundant male supremacy. And besides, in Kenya? Same sex marriage? Now? Really? (highlights article 45 of the constitution and imagines the creation of a moral majority, galvanization of the political opposition in parliament against ‗gays‘ and an intensification of homophobia)
„The activist who is bent on achieving equal associations for all might, for now, want to consider gradually, but steadily challenging the government and private industry to treat equally all those who share the burden of caring for each other, whether married or not‟
The rights and privileges that accrue to both couples are easy to contrast. Michael and Austin only want legal respect and recognition of their status, not stigma, not punishment, they are not an underclass. After all, one year ago, they voted in a constitution that guaranteed them of equality, dignity and respect of their worth. They care for each other-like any heterosexual-or maybe more. They are committed to each otherin a degree they choose. What is chiefly lacking is the dignity of identification as equal citizens. Behind almost every concern in all sexual orientations, lies one golden thread; the right to establish and develop relationships with other human beings based on mutual consent. It is a fundamental element of personal liberty to choose to enter into and maintain certain intimate human relationships. These intimate human relationships are considered forms of "intimate association." Examples include friendships, relationships, marriage, trade unions, fraternities, etc. Legal scholars have already established two distinct constitutional sources of the right or freedom of association (which freedom is enshrined in article 36 of the constitution of Kenya, 2010) Constitutionally, the freedom of association primarily protects intimate associations as a fundamental element of personal liberty, and secondly, as expressive associations which afford the right to associate for the purpose of engaging or enjoying liberties. Judicial decisions tend to privilege the former over the latter.
An intimate association is defined by Karst in The Freedom of Intimate Association as ‗a close and familiar personal relationship with another that is … significant …‘ Accordingly, one of the points of any freedom of association must be to let people make their own definitions of community. Further, intimate association may be realized in friendships with or without sexual intimacy or family ties and as such intimate associations can be likened to the bonds that form through deep personal interaction. But why are intimate associations so important and primal in law? When two people voluntarily enter into an intimate association, they express themselves more eloquently, they tell us more about who they are and who they hope to be than they ever could by wearing armbands or rings or carrying rainbow flags. For others, they satisfy the profound need to love and be loved. The associations afford some people the opportunity to be cared for by another human in an intimate way that is generally complemented by the opportunity for caring with personal commitment.
ion For Sexual And Gender Outlaws For most lesbians, bisexuals, transgender and gays in Kenya, intimate associations come with the risk of legal, cultural and social sanctions. The intimacy comes after years of struggling with difference, guilt, confusion and for the unlucky ones, shame and self loathe. When the self homo/transphobia battle is won, there will be the pain of finding someone to build an intimate association with and when one is found, there will be the journey of caring for the intimate which journey requires taking the trouble to know them, deal with them as a whole person, not just as the occupant of a role. All the while, most often, in discreet ways. The freedom to intimate association is legally buttressed by the right to privacy and freedom of expression. If the right to privacy means anything in Kenya, it is the right of the individual, whether queer or hetero to be free from unwarranted state and non state intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person such as the decision of who to relate with. The freedom of expression locks like a chain into the freedom of association because one needs to express the intimacy, feelings, thoughts or opinions that come from different associations. This freedom to intimate association is a preserve meant only for heterosexuals in Kenya by application of section 162-165 of the penal code which has been abused to exclude LGBTQ persons. The criminal law is further accentuated by family law which continues to privilege heterosexual marriages over all other relationships between adults. This exclusion denies LGBTQ persons opportunities, privileges and relationships they might have otherwise had. The psychological harm of exclusion may also extend well beyond the LGBTQ individuals to their families and dependants. We must as a nation question the utility of state regulation, non recognition and punishment of same sex intimate associations and gender non conforming expressions. We must acknowledge that the burden of proof as to why this regulations should continue lie squarely on those who would limit same sex associations and gender non conforming expressions. We must refuse majoritarian morality, religious rhetoric and cultural relativism smoke screens because our constitution declares we are a secular state bound by the values of inclusion, equality and dignity without any mention of morality and other divides. There is well developed legal and scientific evidence that intimate associations of any sex/gender composition cultivate and transmit shared ideals and beliefs and foster diversity, that they provide opportunities for emotional enrichment and self identification by facilitating the creation of close bonds among diverse humanity, that they engineer the full actualization of the human potential emotionally and possibly wholly. When such gains and constitutional rooting arch over the stunted dwarf of old homophobic folklores and illogical reasons, the divine standard must be clear and subtle- that the continued exclusion of LGBTQ persons from legal enjoyment of intimate associations and non conforming gender expressions must be justified by the same sort of heroic (cough cough) state interests that would be necessary to justify forbidding heterosexual intimate associations and expressions. That is the simplest test for equality and non discrimination. The activist who is bent on achieving equal associations for all might, for now, want to consider gradually, but steadily challenging the government and private industry to treat equally all those who share the burden of caring for each other, whether married or not. The radical might want to consider ways of completely dismantling of societyâ€˜s reliance on marital unions as the central organizing principle around which families and intimate associations are formed. In an age of self defined intimate associations, the state should have no sanctions in rewarding or approving one set of association or familial relation over another.
New Kenyan Bisexual Group—Purple Haze—Formed BY DENIS NZIOKA Bisexual Kenyans can now meet, interact and share with other bisexuals after a new group – Purple Haze – was formed. Purple Haze, which uses the bisexual flag with pink color on top, blue at the bottom and purple in the middle, is a group that was formed by Kat Dearham* and BiStander. BiStander is a Kenyan blogger and writer on bisexual issues and he identifies as bisexual. Kat Dearham, a Canadian-South African living and working in Kenya has been involved in LGBT activism for over 8 years. According to Kat Dearham, the reason for forming a bisexual group is because bisexual people are not well represented. ‗Whereas activists often say LGBTI, the Bs in that (bisexuals) are not represented. People always assume that bisexuals are gay or straight depending on who they‘re dating.‘ Bisexual people in Kenya are a quiet community and many do not openly identify as such. Men who are married to women but have sex with other men are commonly referred to as MSM. ‗The group was formed to create a safe space for bisexuals, sexually fluid and pansexual Kenyans to talk about their sexuality and how best to relate to other persons who identity as straight or gay,‘ said Kat. There are many myths surrounding bisexuality with many suggesting that bisexuals are homosexuals who have not ‗yet decided‘ on one orientation. Another myth is that bisexuals are promiscuous and engage in riskier sexual behaviors. ‗We want to debunk some of these myths and any misconceptions people may have. We also want to make sure that bisexuals are a visible group within the community,‘ added Kat.
„The group was formed to create a safe space for bisexuals, sexually fluid and pansexual Kenyans to talk about their sexuality and how best to relate to other persons who identity as straight or gay‟
Purple Haze is a diverse group according to Kat and membership is open to anyone who identifies as bisexual and even those willing to learn something about sexuality. ‗Purple Haze is an open space for those persons who do not fit into either ‗gay‘ or ‗straight‘ labels. But it‘s also very much open to persons willing to learn about bisexuals,‘ remarked Kat. Purple Haze has formed a Facebook Page – Purple Haze – and so far, over 30 members are in the group. Of these numbers, Kat says, half seem to be allies or persons who support the initiative though they may not necessarily identify as bisexual. According to Kat, bisexuality refers to persons who are sexually attracted to ‗same and other genders.‘
Why the name ‗Haze?‘ ‗Haze was used to convey ‗invisibility‘ ‗hard to see‘ ‗not easily identifiable‘‘ says Kat because bisexuality is not easy to understand. ‗When I date women, I am said to be lesbian. When I date men, I am said to be straight,‘ said Kat. Reactions from people have been mixed. Most persons have responded well by asking more questions on bisexuality and appreciating the initiative. ‗It has been well received. There are those persons who, on hearing of a bisexual group, ask more about being bisexual. This is the first step,‘ added Kat. The contribution of Purple Haze to the larger LGBTI movement is yet to be felt, as the group is still new and has yet to have inperson meetings. However, Kat feels that one way this group will benefit the movement is through adding nuance to Kenyans‘ understanding of sexuality. ‗People love boxes and to identify as such and such, and you find that there is little understanding to those who do not fit into these boxes. It will hopefully be a bit revolutionary,‘ said Kat. Purple Haze is unique in itself. It‘s the first ever bisexual group and already they are planning to form a strong membership base. They will do this using social media like Facebook and through word of mouth. Its membership is also unique and their future outlook seems promising. ‗We do not want to replicate what other groups are doing; so you will not see us asking for a bisexual clinic. We just want to ensure that there is a safe space for bisexual people to discuss their specific issues and be represented.‘ added Kat. *Kat Dearham is a queer activist. To contact Purple Haze or to learn more about bisexuality, please get in touch with Kat via firstname.lastname@example.org
Islam & Homosexuality BY JANE MUTHONI On Thursday, a group of Sheiks and Imams stormed into health training for MSM in Likoni and threatened participants with violence. Apparently, the clergy was said to be unhappy that ‗people could behind closed talk about two men having sex‘. Apparently, the Imams have vowed to weed homosexuality out of Mombasa. Over and over, the Muslim and Christian clergy have refused to engage with MSM and LGBT community even when sense dictates they should. A meeting with Christian and Muslim clergy last year organized by Kenya Human Rights Commission, Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya and PEMA Kenya failed to kick off after religious leaders made outrageous demands. According to one of the organizers, one of the Muslim clerics wanted a flight from Lamu to Mombasa and to be booked in the most expensive hotel for agreeing to be in a meeting ‗with homosexuals‘. Sources say had the money been paid, he would have had no problem attending the so called ‗homosexuality conference‘. The Imam is said to be among those who led the crowd of those who were baying for the blood of participants in the health training in Likoni. Observers say the hate speech is worrying since this the second time such a big mob have threatened to ‗lynch the gays‘, but point out to somewhat encouraging happenings in other Muslim countries. The debate about homosexuality in Islam is beginning. But in Muslim lands persecution — and hypocrisy — is still rife. Of the seven countries that impose the death penalty for homosexuality, all are Muslim. Even when gays do not face execution, persecution is endemic. In 2010, a Saudi man was sentenced to 500 lashes and five years in jail for having sex with another man. In February last year, police in Bahrain arrested scores of men, mostly other Gulf nationals, at a ‗gay party‘. Iranian gay men are typically tried on other trumped-up charges. But in September last year three were executed specifically for homosexuality. Lesbians in Muslim countries tend to have an easier time: in Iran they are sentenced to death only on the fourth conviction. Gay life in the open in Muslim-majority countries is rare, but the closet is spacious. Countries with fierce laws, such as Saudi Arabia, also have flourishing gay scenes at all levels of society. Syria‘s otherwise fearsome police rarely arrest gays. Wealthy Afghans buy *bachabazi* — dancing boys — as catamites. Where laws are gentler, authorities find other ways to crack down. In the Jordanian capital, Amman, several gay hangouts have been raided or closed on bogus charges, such as serving alcohol illegally. Even where homosexuality is legal as in Turkey, official censure can be fierce. Charges of homosexuality can also be used in political repression. The Malaysian opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, was twice tried for sodomy. Intolerance can unite otherwise warring factions. In Nigeria Muslims and conservative Christians alike back a proposed law banning gay marriage (and indirectly criminalizing all same-sex unions). Earlier Islamic societies were less hardliners. An 11th-century Persian ruler advised his son to alternate his partners seasonally: young men in the summer and women in the winter. Many of the love poems of the eighth-century Abu Nuwas in Baghdad, and of other Persian and Urdu poets, were addressed to boys. In medieval mystic writings, particularly Sufi texts, it is unclear whether the beloved being addressed is a teenage boy or God, providing a quasi-religious sanction for relationships between men and boys. Like liberal Jewish and Christian scholars in recent decades, some Muslim thinkers are now finding theological latitude. ―The Koran does not condemn homosexuality,‖ says Scott Siraj al-Haqq Kugle, an American Muslim convert who teaches Islamic studies at Emory University in Atlanta. The story of Lot, he argues, deals with male rape and violence, not homosexuality in general. Islamic theologians and jurists were mostly concerned with stifling lustful immorality, he says. Koranic verses describe without condemnation men who have no sexual desire for women. Arash Naraghi, an Iranian academic at Moravian College in Pennsylvania, suggests that the verses decrying homosexuality, like those referring to slavery and Ptolemaic cosmology, stem from common beliefs at the time of writing, and should be re-examined. Even Sheikh Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, the late spiritual leader of Lebanon‘s Hizbullah party-cum-militia, conceded that more research is needed in order to understand homosexuality. Unsurprisingly, the debate, such as it is, is led by gay Muslims outside the Islamic world. Though their rights are better protected, they too can suffer from intolerance. In Muslim countries activists have mostly shied away from the pitfalls of theological debate. After attacks on gay men in Iraq in 2009, Muqtada al-Sadr, a fiery Shia cleric, condemned the killings. He said that the ‗depravity‘ of homosexuality should indeed be eradicated, but through ‗preaching and guidance‘ rather than violence. Optimists would see that as progress, of a sort.
A Real Relationship Has Fights, Trust, Faith, Tears, Pa BY JOHN MAKOKHA Every year, the fourteenth day of the month of February has millions across the world presenting their loved ones with lovely gifts. Many restaurants and clubs are seen to be filled with couples or partners who are eager to celebrate their relationship and the joy of their togetherness through mouth-watering dishes and drinks. There hardly seems to be a young man or woman who is not keen to make the most of the day. I am reminded that the reason behind all of this is a kindly cleric named Valentine who died more than a thousand years ago. It is the desire and dream of every person, whether heterosexual, homosexual, transgender or intersex, to have a strong and health loving relationship. Love has to flourish so that the individuals involved can give each other a smile, and possibly a kiss from the bottom of one‘s heart. I am persuaded to believe that love comes from the heart and not the head. When love comes from the heart you do not love your partner only on Valentine day but you love her or him throughout the year-in all seasons. This makes partners to flourish. I think partners or couples should make a deliberate commitment to love each other come rain come shine. They should be willing and ready to support, encourage and respect each other. Surely, they should be there for each other during the moment of joy, especially enjoying each other‘s companion and sadness-when the going is the rough road. My experience has taught me that you can no longer be a lone ranger in relationships. A lonely person is an unhappy person.
„I am aware that when LGBTI persons also seek to belong through lasting committed love relationships, they are stigmatized, ostracized and condemned‟
My friend, who is a psychologist, told me that when a person is valued and loved, her or his self-esteem rides high in the clouds. This reminds me of a lady during my undergraduate studies at the University of Nairobi who sought counseling because she could not get a love partner throughout her three-year duration. This was a stressful moment for her since it also affected her academic performance. As human beings we were born or created to belong. This is the reason that makes us to look for partners when the right time comes. I am told even celibates have close friends as part of the wheel of relationships. It is natural that persons thrive in supportive and committed relationships, and abusive relationships can be suicidal and fatal. We have witnessed in the media reports where some women in Nyeri, a town in central Kenya have used machetes against their irresponsible husbands. When there is a disagreement or conflict, partners have to honestly talk and talk and talk. Violence and love cannot share the bed.
My understanding is that it is the responsibility of each individual in a given relationship to work towards lasting love committed relationship. It should not be hit-and-run love. All of us need to actualize and fantasize our relationships since we are naturally stakeholders in the world of love relationships. It is my prayer that we have satisfactory love relationships with our romantic partners. Did you know that when it comes to romance all of us are equal? I am aware that when LGBTI persons also seek to belong through lasting committed love relationships, they are stigmatized, ostracized and condemned. This has made majority of them to feel excluded, ignored and some even blackmailed. The consequences have been hurt feelings and depression, creating wounds and inner pain instead of the celebration of lasting love relationships. Most people today hold the view that sexual relationships need to be characterized by genuine love. This kind of love is deemed sound and honorable. When I read the Bible, there is condemnation of homosexual acts, and it no where addresses those that occur in same-sex loving committed relationships. I am strongly persuaded to think that fornication occurs when we intentionally exclude loyalty from our lasting committed love relationships. We have some individuals who are experts when it comes to ―cheating‖. Probably ―equal respect‖ is the best way to understand love relationship. All of us need to learn from this Golden Rule: ―You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart; and with all your soul, and with all your strength‖ (Matthew 10:27). It is my prayer that we use this Golden Rule as a model in our lasting, committed and enduring love relationships.
ain, Arguments, Patience, Secrets, Jealousy And Love I am reminded of the biblical narrative of Ruth and Naomi as an account of a widow who left her homeland and settled in a different culture out of intense loyalty to her mother-in-law. She said, ―Do not press me to leave you…or to turn back from following you. Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God‖ (Ruth 1: 15-17). I am reminded of another biblical narrative of David and Jonathan, an account of two men who might have fought each to death because one was a son of the king and the other is a challenger. But David the shepherd and Jonathan the prince formed a friendship due to intense loyalty that endured despite all the ups and downs. I am again reminded of the biblical narrative of Hosea and Gomer as a portrait of a man who persists in loving and compassionately caring for his wife despite her unfaithfulness. Hosea‘s painful but constant love was like that of the Lord, who ―loves the people of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes‖ (Hosea 3:1). Friends, as we celebrate this month of love, let us create lasting committed love relationships.
Enjoying Love In The Month Of Love BY KATE KAMUNDE
February is the lover‘s month and Valentine‘s Day slipped away as fast as it came. The boring displays on supermarkets and boutiques mainly comprised of gifts packages; clothing including pretty red dresses and lingerie that you could surprise your partner with are slowly being taken off windows. Florists are smiling all the way to the bank and still giving offers in advance for bouquet deliveries at a discount. Kenyans that planned to wed in February 2012 are in top gear, planning and anxious to say their ‗I do‘s‘ before the month ends. „The unfortunate thing The unfortunate thing though is that this year‘s Valentine‘s Day fell on a Tuesday and a lot of us were working. The though is that this tricky day called for creativeness, in probably considering enjoying the weekend before or after valenyear‟s Valentine‟s Day tine‘s. I was particularly disappointed to note that for a lot of us, this was the only day when we wait to fell on a Tuesday and spoil our loved ones with touchy love messages and goodies! Love should be shown all year round, whether it‘s lover‘s day or not. Break love down to how your person defines it. Could be that day you a lot of us were spend with people that mean the world to you be they family, relatives, colleagues, friends. Love during Valentine could also mean reaching out to the less fortunate members of society and putting a smile on working‟ their face. In as much as Valentine day‘s history is related to lovers, we are entirely not bound on how to utilize this day. With all the excitement and mixed emotions especially for those that have been dating and in relationships and have been going through emotional turmoil, break ups and make ups, several couples went out of their way in ensuring that Valentine‘s day was also not embroiled in war but an opportunity to, for the umpteenth time, remind their partners how much they are loved and cared for. I visited several sites that provide tips on how to make your Valentine‘s tick. Unfortunately, a lot of those were suggestions of exciting ventures that ensured that by the time you were done showing your love; your pocket was practically dented. One thing I love about Kenyans is the fact that what defines fun for us has in one way or another got to do with indulging in alcohol at the bar where one goes and has one, two, many beers. A couple of hours later they cannot focus properly. They become vulgar and start flirting with the unaccompanied ladies/gentlemen on the next table, misbehave with colleagues by making out in the restrooms and before they know it, their evening out is fucked! Your partner calls it quits and leaves you to your drama. The very next day is spent whining over a hangover and desperate attempts in trying to get your love back. CONTINUED ON PAGE 34
Have Yourself A Gay Valentines Spending a day with a loved one first requires you to be clear on what the main agenda for your day is. One of those is not to definitely end up dragging your exes, family and friends to your date and neither does it involve limiting the time you plan on spending with your partner watching movies at the next door neighbor‘s house. How the day plays out is entirely up to you. For those that do not celebrate Valentine‘s Day or the lover‘s month generally, we should appreciate and respect their opinions instead of verbally whipping them for not ‗loving.‘ There are a lot of ways one can spend an awesome day without having to necessarily spend too much money spoiling your partner. Here are some of them: Staying indoors, prepare meals and drinks together, enjoy a romantic movie whose end will most definitely take you to the next level. Eating out and take a long walk together as you nibble over snacks etc. Buying her/him a gift. You could use this time to find out what he/she has been longing to own that is, if it is within your financial bracket. There are a lot of parks where you could have a picnic and some quiet time for you and your partner to reflect on your relationship. Just think outside the box and research on other areas you could relax at besides Uhuru Park that are so congested during such times. Spending a night away from home at a serene environment where you can get to bond with your partner without having to worry about when you will clean the dishes etc. For those that are generous givers, there are lots of children‘s homes and homes for the elderly, pris„One thing I love ons where you could spend your time and being part of another person‘s life. This will however require about Kenyans is the you to plan in advance. You do not want to show up carrying bags of shopping only to be denied entry for not being in touch to organize your visit.
fact that what defines fun for us has in one way or another got to do with indulging in alcohol at the bar where one goes and has one, two, many beers‟
I consider myself a loner. Therefore spending time with me is paramount. Love is rotational and you realize that if you do not love yourself then loving others will prove to be the most challenging thing to do. This could be a time to take yourself out to dinner, buy yourself a book that you have always wanted to run your eyes through, get into that salon and do your hair, nails or have a massage, stay home and write yourself a beautiful poem etc. It‘s up to you to exactly identify what it is you would want to do. There are those who do not add any value to Valentine‘s Day. This is fine and you do not have to do what others are doing. If your day will pass without any special highlights because you do not want to, then you do not have to account that to anyone nor should you regret that you did not have anything going for you on this special day. Isn‘t ‗CHOICE‘ lovely? All you have to do is want to do something or not and the rest is history!
The other suggestion could be to host close friends, couples at home and prepare them some delicious food as well as some wine. Combine this with good background music and they will talk about it to friends for a really long time! Last but not least, this year‘s tough, and you may be battling financial stability. You would want to do something for a loved one but you cannot afford it. Well, just be informed that a single rose flower stalk goes for about Ksh.20/= You may find it such an insignificant gift but it‘s a sacrifice that I‘m sure the other person will appreciate your thoughtfulness. I may not have exhausted every one of those ideas and know you may have some in mind that have not been compounded here. Mine was to give a few tips and leave the decision making to you probably for your consideration when you need to spend quality time with those you love or make your next Valentine season memorable! I would want to mention at this point that ‗life is short‘ to spend it whining and complaining about what never happened or what could have been. Life is short to hold back the feelings you have for people to go unmentioned for whatever reason. Life is too short, the time you realize it‘s began to lapse may be too late to let the people that mean a lot to you know how you feel about them. Life‘s just too short; the time to make it happy is NOW! Page 34
Danger In Likoni After Residents Attack MSM BY IDENTITY CORRESPONDENT A crowd in Likoni Mombasa surrounded and attacked a meeting of LGBT persons that was being held at a local hall center this morning. According to a witness, the meeting was held at Likoni Youth Empowerment Centre and Library before residents surrounded the place to 'flush out' suspected homosexuals. The witness reports that some of the participants are safe at the moment after escaping; he said the police had been informed of the meeting and had no problem. He said it was the citizens of Likoni who attacked the meeting. Media houses like Citizen TV were at the scene, 'at the behest of the residents to cover the story' according to a witness. Citizen's audio report is here. Citizen TV's Twitter handle reports ''Chaos at Likoni Youth Empowerment Centre and Library as residents flush-out 20 suspected homosexuals.'' Their Facebook page post on this incident reads 'Angry Likoni residents flush-out suspected homosexuals who were receiving training on protection against AIDS and other diseases at the Likoni Youth Empowerment Centre and Library. Chaos ensued as the irate residents clashed with the suspected homosexuals.' Classic 105 reports that 'Police have rescued 24 people accused of being gays in Likoni from angry people who wanted to lynch them. Likoni OCPD Abarro Guyo says the victims were attending a seminar when people stormed the venue baying for their blood.' Michael Mambo from PEMA Kenya, a Coast based LGBT group issued a security alert on Facebook today warning ''Please exercise caution around Likoni and the Ferry areas not safe at the moment.'' There are fears that this attack will be reminiscent of the 2009 Mtwapa anti-gay riots that targeted suspected gays and led to destruction of property and evictions. The meeting was a training by the Kenya AIDS NGO Consortium (KANCO) that had called a training of over 30 MSM and gay men from Mombasa. A concerned lesbian activist from Mombasa told Identity Kenya that 'KANCO did not take into account the security of the participants and ignored consulting or referring to PEMA KENYA, which is the LGBT and MSM group in Mombasa.' Sources say that the harm reduction training, targeting 30 MSMs was a one week non-residential HIV and AIDS peer education training that was held at Likoni instead of Turdor Catholic Pastoral Center where KANCO's offices are based, according to their website. Questions are raised why KANCO did not consult PEMA-KENYA and changed the location from their otherwise safe offices to somewhere as volatile as Likoni. A gay resident from Likoni told Identity Kenya 'As a precautionary move, can the organizers not hold meetings in Likoni given the people? Likoni is not an ideal address for such meetings.' 'Likoni is not a safe place to hold such a meeting since we know the attitudes and perceptions of people there,' said the lesbian activist. A witness says that they noticed Imams and local citizens walking in the training hall during the meeting. The more effeminate participants were marked out. 'Some Imams came and sat down and looked at us without saying anything. Then more people started to come in. That is when things exploded,' said the witness. The same witness recounts being beaten by the residents and Imams and reports that one participant had his clothes torn and another is nursing a broken finger. This incident comes just as a gay man by the name of Nicholas was arrested by police in Mombasa on account of 'unnatural relations' together with his boyfriend. They both were arraigned in court. Officials from KANCO refused to comment on the story. One official showed surprise when Magazine contacted the KANCO offices saying 'I am the only one here at the office who knows this incident has occurred. No one knows even my bosses.' She added that there were two trainings targeting MSM for two weeks in Mombasa with the last one happening this week. She later added that 'KANCO Mombasa provided a car to ferry the participants to safety' though this is yet to be verified. She said she will get back to us 'once I talk to my bosses' and refused to be cited in this report.
For The Love Of People Dear To Me... Those who have had a privilege to attend a session about Identity can attest to just how heated this can be and you can only then imagine what this would mean in someone‘s development. Walking through the Harvey Milk Plaza at the heart of San Francisco‘s Castro to gracing the Edward Theatres for Pariah‘s premiere has indeed left me stung by the constant reminder of the lived realities and the malevolence we as a community has been subjected to. Seeing Brandon White, a 20 year old who was attacked outside a grocery store in Atlanta‘s south side last week, evoked fresh memories and re-stimulated past hurts and pains. I continue to struggle with over the death of a close friend and to many of us out there who‘ve continued to persecuted at the risk of their lives because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. These actions indeed continue to lead many to succumb to their fears by internalizing the hatred and prejudice of others. Loving one‘s self under these circumstances can be extremely challenging and if the negativity is left to build up in our subconscious, it would continue to have detrimental effects and this affects our social well-being and mental health. It‘s therefore of importance as a community as we celebrate the month of love, to transcend the boundaries of the different-isms and phobias and to engage in innovative targeted approaches that sharply dissects and address the nexus between different adversities that we continue to face and to nurture the spirit of peace, love and unity as our nation‘s anthem accord.
Sex Workers ARE Human Beings Too BY DAUGHTIE OGUTU February 2, 2011 was meant to be a day when members from different backgrounds came together in solidarity for a cause. In a campaign termed as ‗Ending Kanjo Brutality‘ the activists were protesting after an 11 year old boy was assaulted and his genitals mutilated by a city council askari famously known in the Nairobi slang/sheng‘ ―Kanjo―. But an entire story took a different turn when the word ―sex work‖ landed on His ―Worship‖ The Mayor of Nairobi, George Aladwa. After a meeting with representatives of street families, hawkers, matatu touts and conductors and sex workers at the City Hall with the Nairobi Mayor, councilors and the Nairobi Town Clerk, Mr Philip Kisia, the only bit that His Worship saw fit to report back to the media was that the Nairobi City Council was seeking to review some of its by „After all sex workers -laws in regards to sex work and that they were actually considering ‗legalizing‘ the trade in certain parts on Nairobi. These remarks spread like wildfire amongst the media who engaged in speculation and inacARE human beings‟ curate reporting. Some of the media ended exposing and risking the lives of people working in sex work and those supporting or advocating for the human rights of sex workers. According to a research conducted by the regional African Sex Workers Alliance (ASWA) and its Kenyan equivalent, Kenya Sex Workers Alliance (KESWA) in December 2010 on Human Rights violations against sex workers, the findings showed that sex workers face abuse, violence and other gross human rights violations in the hands of men in uniform. These include city/town council askaris, security guards, watchmen, bouncers, and even the police. One would scarcely wonder why citizens would suffer abuse, torture, rape even gang rape, in the hands of the very persons who are meant to serve and protect them? Is any one really above the law? No man is, or should be above the above the law, but in this case where by sex workers are considered to be at the lowest level of human degradation, paves way for perpetrators of human violations to get away with a series of crimes against sex workers which in every sense constitutes as crimes against humanity. After all sex workers are human beings. The kinds of laws that condone, stigma and discrimination based on sexuality and gender identity. Laws that justify human degradation, sexual assault based on choices that men and women make. Despite the reality that sex workers come from all backgrounds and inhabit the gamut of genders, races, castes and classes social movements that aim to represent the interests of socially and politically marginalized groups have rarely included sex workers as legitimate allies or members of other social formations. Rather, the interests of sex workers have been represented by other social movements as, an embodying evidence of social and political inequality. At worst, when not fighting for them social movements of all stripes have mirrored the mainstream in treating sex workers as ―Immoral Pariahs‖ Whether or on it is an issue of morality, or of choice when one has got no other choice, that‘s a story for another day. The matter at hand and that needs urgent addressing is whether it is right for laws to be put on a segregated community rendering then unable to seek health care services, and utterly helpless in seeking justice for crimes committed against them.
Deputy Director Position—MSMGF Applications are welcomed for Deputy Director position at the Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF). Under the direction of the Executive Officer, the Deputy Director is responsible for advising and guiding work related to the MSMGF‘s strategic direction and core objectives, with a particular emphasis on high-level global health, HIV, and hu-
man rights policy. The Deputy Director acts as a liaison to various stakeholder gro ups, includ ing the MSMGF Steering Committee, advocates, donors, public health and government officials, service providers, activists, media, and researchers, in close partnership with the Executive Officer.
letter of interest, short biographic sketch, updated resume or CV, two (2) recent first-authored writing samples, salary history, and the contact information of three (3) referees to: George Ayala, PsyD, Executive Director, M S M G F – email@example.com
Those interested in applying for the position should send a
Board Members Applications—Ishtar MSM Ishtar MSM is a registered Community Based Organization in Kenya founded in 1997, after the staging of the play 'Cleopatra' at the Kenya National Theatre. The play sought to create an entry point into the lives of Men Who Have Sex With Men in Nairobi and beyond, and developing an atmosphere of goodwill and general wellbeing.
Ishtar advances sexual health rights of Men that have sex with Men (MSM), Male sex workers and Transgendered men. This community is classified globally as the Most at Risk Population (MARPS) in relation to vulnerability to HIV/AIDS & STIs.
- 29th February. Eligible persons are asked to send in applications soonest.
If you‘re interested please send your applications, CV and nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org and/ or email@example.com Ishtar MSM has extended to g and a cop y the deadline for Board invita- to firstname.lastname@example.org b tion up to the end of the month y 29th February 2012.
Intern/Life Skills Coach—HIAS Refugees Trust of Kenya
HIAS Refugee Trust of Kenya ( HRTK) – Kenya Office are looking for an intern/life skills coach.
English language basic literacy and numeracy skills among other responsibilities.
on a rolling basis based on identification of suitable candidates.
Under the direct supervision of the Sexual and Gender Based Persecution Programme Manager, the incumbent will offer basic education to refugees: focusing on
The duration is six months and this position is open to Kenyan nationals only.
Please send a cover letter and resume to email@example.com Indicate Vacancy Notice No HRTK/KEN/SGBPLC/12/02 in the subject line.
Closing date is 6th March 2012. Positions will be filled
What Is Love? BY BARBRA MURUGA I'm not a lovey dovey person. So, usually this season just comes and goes as it is. I try every time to wrap my mind around the idea that the day is to commemorate love all over the world, but I always wonder why love isn't commemorated every single day. That said, I often wonder whether the concept of love is understood the same way by everyone. Definitely the answer is no. We all have our own understandings of what love is and, more often than not, that understanding is quite vague and confusing. We are also bombarded by numerous versions of what love should be and there lies the cause of the vagueness. So what really is love? I know there are numerous writers and authors who have written on the subject so my contribution will probably be like a teeny tiny strand of hair on a person‘s head! But I will do it anyway. Many of us often think that love equal sex. That sex is the only thing that shows one is loved. Some of us disagree to some degree. Others just say 'heck no!' to the idea. But the fact of the matter is that 90+% of us have sex. Period. Its equating sex to love that, for me, is a problem. I may be biased in saying this but I think it is very difficult for most men to not think about sex when they are thinking about love. It is something I don't know if I will ever come to terms with. Indeed there are some women who think the same, but I haven't met that many „Love is patient and and thus my conclusion. I don't think it is a bad thing, I simply believe that it can be done in a different kind. Love is not jealous way.
or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance‟
This is because, I think, most women (and some men) think of love and romance before sex. Therefore however the correlation of the 'love equals sex' person and the 'love/romance then maybe sex' person becomes a very dicey one. This is not to mean that it doesn't happen, it does. There is a possibility that both parties are able to come to middle ground and offer each other the balance needed. But who am I kidding? It goes both ways! What I've said up there is simply what has been fed to many of us as the SI unit for relationships. Many people get into relationships for all sorts of reasons. To them, some of the above doesn't even exist! I believe that love is many things; that the ability to love is enshrined in every one of us as human beings. That it doesn‘t have to be tied to sex or sexuality or gender or whatever. It is that one thing that bounds us together. Sure, it is true that love is blind, is jealous, and can cause harm sometimes, but true love, in my view, should always be in the best interest of the other party more than for self. I like the definition of love in the Bible. It is more or less what I believe love ought to be.
―Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.‖ – 1st Corinthians 13:4-7 Think about it. If we were a little less jealous, a little less proud and definitely not rude, wouldn‘t we live in a much more better way than we do today? Today the world is faced by a myriad of issues that, to me, a little love would go a long way in changing. We are so jealous, full of impunity that we also take this into relationships. We confuse love with infatuation, with money, with lust, with everything else but what it truly is. All around the world we see people denied to love whomever they want to love just because they happen to love someone of the same gender, someone who has a gender anomaly, someone who simply isn‘t sexual, and many other ‗reasons‘. It‘s just sad. In the end I hope we can love one another more, mean well for one another more, hate less, argue less, and all that. It seems like Utopia but it is indeed possible. Page 38
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The Number 0f Men Who Have Sex With Other Men In Kenya Is... So let‘s go with 8%. Why? Because I feel like it (I have absolutely no scientific reason or rationale for that decision) and because I‘ve broadened our definition of sex to include mutual masturbation and oral sex – and remember, this is lifetime prevalence – which means it would include a man who gave his school buddy a blow job twenty years ago and has never been near another man‘s sausage (I think that‘s the scientific term) since. So 8% of 10,784,119 is…. (Drum rolls) 862,730. So, we can state (with absolutely no confidence) that the number of males who have ever had a same-sex experience in Kenya is… really not that many. As for males who have had a same-sex experience in the last year? Well, you simply half the figure. You can do the math.
tion in Kenya (44.9%) are either younger than 15 or older than 64. And what we may (or may not) lack in numbers, we certainly make up for in presence! But just to make you all feel a little bit happier, if (and it‘s a big if) 20% is an accurate figure for lifetime prevalence of same-sex behaviour between males in Kenya, then our figure is 2,156,824. Feel better? On a more sombre note, whilst going through the various studies that I used to invent this figure, I‘m reminded that sex between men accounts for about 15% of all new HIV infections in Kenya. Whether we‘re many or few, we need to keep driving home the importance of protecting ourselves and each other. Disappointed? Surprised? Don‘t be. Remember that almost half the male popula-
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