New Year Issue
Identity EXTORTION | BISEXUAL, MARRIED, CLOSETED MEN SODOMIZED, SHAMED, STOLEN
BLACKMAILED When Patrick Muiru* met George* on a Facebook dating page, little did he know this was the start of his problems that will leave him naked, sexually assaulted, beaten and humiliated. Patrick is a 26 year old closeted gay man who has fallen prey to blackmailers and extortionists targeting gay men. Patrick who lives in Ngumbo estate told Identity Magazine that he met George on a Facebook profile page called ‘Nairobi Gays Dating and Sex’ and after several exchanges of messages, they decided to meet. ‘George called me one evening which was a Friday and told me to meet him in Wendani estate in Nairobi. I asked him to come to my place but he refused. I agreed to go to Wendani the following Saturday in the morning.’ Patrick agreed to go to the meeting assuming the two were going to have sex. ‘It was clear; from his SMS and tone of voice he wanted sex. But now I guess he was just using that to get me,’ said Patrick. On the fateful day, Patrick arrived in Wendani and was picked by George who took him to what Patrick assumed was his house. ‘He was hot and tall and dark. He picked me from the stage and we took several corners before reaching a house. We entered and he offered me tea and mandazis. He looked nice.’ Little did Patrick know that George had set him up. ‘Immediately after tea, he started to caress and kiss me and I responded back with removing my clothes,’ Patrick told Identity Magazine. ‘However, he soon changed and he told me that he does not have sex with someone he had just met for the first time. I was disappointed. He said we can mutually masturbate and I agreed.’ Soon after, Patrick recalls George taking his phone and texting someone. Five minutes later, they heard a knock and George went to open. Two men entered the house and locked it. The two men started questioning the two and wondered why two men were in a room locked together. One of the men asked why (pointing at George) he had no shirt on. ‘George was shirtless after the act,’ Patrick added. CONTINUED ON PAGE 10, 11, 12
EDITOR’S LETTER ‘Ruto knows that his campaign pledge to enforce ‘family values’
and ‘African traditions’ that outlaw abortion and same sex marriages, is aimed at the Church; the same Church that was thoroughly undressed when Kenyans voted for a pro-gay, pro-abortion Constitution. It is not surprising that Ruto is a protégé of Daniel Moi who was publicly anti-gay. Ruto is the new face of anti gay propaganda in Kenya. He now falls under our radar; we are watching all his moves.’
William Ruto, former Minister for Agriculture and current Member of Parliament for Eldoret North has emerged as the leader and face behind anti-gay sentiments and utterances here in Kenya. Time and time again, and most recently at the launch of his United Republican Party that will be the party he rides on to the 2013 elections, Ruto has campaigned using gays and in so doing perpetuated hate speech, stereotypes and largely unfounded fears on the more than 4 million Kenyans who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Ruto loves the gays. This is seen by his historical and personal attacks against what he considers an ‘immoral’ lifestyle. In a large part, he is a protégé of Daniel Moi, former President of Kenya who was also publicly anti-gay. During the launch of his party, and in an effort to sell his party as the ‘true Kenyan party for all people’ Ruto said he launched his presidential campaigns on ‘family values’ and ‘African traditions’ that say ‘marriage is between a man and woman’ and that ‘life begins at conception’ thus outlawing abortion. Ruto is trying very hard to please several voting blocs. One is the church which agree, albeit strongly, to his views on same sex marriages and abortion and two, Kenyans who still hold to customs and beliefs that are unfortunately challenged each day. The choice of Ruto’s party of a horn as its symbol is also symbolic. Is he trying to show he is the one who will shout out loud when he sees things go wrong? Will he be the one to summon people when danger, calamity or what he terms are ‘new perversions’ threaten his so called ‘family values’ and ‘African traditions?’
Its all too clear to ignore. When Kenyans were about to vote in the referendum for a new constitution, Ruto, who by now was fiercely opposed to it, and who knew that his opposition was waning, if not futile, tried, though unsuccessfully to claim that gays would be allowed to marry if Kenyans voted ‘yes’ to the Constitution. An in-between-the-line-reading of the Constitution does, though not explicitly, indeed allows freedom of gays and lesbians to marry and freely express themselves; however, the tone and attacks that Ruto used were unwelcome, suspicious and kicks of a dying horse. It has been found out that the more homophobic one is, the more gay one is. Men who are attracted to men and forced to follow or live ‘African traditions and ‘family values’ that say a man must marry a woman end up in frustrated, futile and failing marriages and relationships with women. Many of these men—closeted, on the down low—and who have been forced to live a lie, use their penned up emotions and decry the ‘perversion’ and ‘immorality’ of people who are openly living those same feelings they so fight hard to hide under a veil of male macho. Would it surprise me if Ruto, who is to stand trial for his crimes against humanity at the ICC, one day open up and share that he actually admires men? That he himself may be fighting feelings that he says are perverse? That he was a homophobe simply because he is homosexual? That would indeed surprise me. A little. We have seen many types like him. They always come out at the end.
New Year Issue
Few bars make history of the textbook variety. Even fewer gay bars make it to people’s lips. Most of us are familiar with the Stonewall Inn where the 1969 riots defined the gay rights movement. Here in Nairobi, Olive’s bar will go down in history as Kenya’s first and only exclusively gay bar. And none other than BAR FLY can better remedy the fact that Olive’s may risk being in lost in memory. In this third installment, read and find out more about Olive’s.
JONATHAN KALAN, founder of The (BoP) Project is an internationally published journalist, photojournalist, and blogger specializing in social business & innovation in emerging markets. Currently based in Nairobi, Kenya, and a graduate of the University of California, in just 24 years he has traveled to over 35 countries, worked in South Asia and Africa, and collaborated with nonprofits, social enterprises, technology start ups, and media companies. His photography/ writing has recently appeared in Global Post, The Boston Globe, GOOD, Financial Times, The Star (Kenya), Stanford Social Innovation Review, The Christian Science Monitor, The Guardian, and others.
‘How might these emotions be manipulated in our society to ensure that members maintain socially accepted behavior?’AKINYI OCHOLLA is our latest addition as Identity Magazine’s columnists. With a bias in psychology, law, religion and law, she writes on topical issues affecting LGBT persons as well as offering analytical hindsight on human sexuality.
NEVILLE TIRIMBA, softspoken but headstrong is an aspiring novelist and film enthusiast. His interests range from photography, literature to travelling to foreign languages. He is very outspoken about human rights. He is a past participant in the Satima Essay Contest organized by the University of Nairobi for which he emerged among the top 6 finalists. He has also received honorable mentions in “The Kenya I Live” short story contest as well as the American Association of Private Enterprise (APEE) Essay Contest. He lives and studies in Nairobi where he is pursuing a law degree.
He has been referred to as the ‘Leader of Sex Workers in Kenya’ on account of his position as the National Coordinator of the sex worker movement in Kenya. An avid HIV activist and sex worker advocate, JOHN MATHENGE travels Kenya for awareness campaigns, and HIV and AIDS sensitization. He sits in the Board of the Kenya Sex Workers Alliance.
INSIDE 6, 7 VIOLENCE—ABUSE IN LESBIAN RELATIONSHIPS All relationships, whether homosexual or heterosexual, do face the issue of abuse, power plays and balance and abuse in form of violence, assault, emotional aches and to the extreme, marital rape. Whereas heterosexual couples have help—counseling, family, religion—gay couples lack this. And the silence around it is even worse.
12, 13, 14 MEDIA—TV, GAY CHARACTERS, ACTORS Gays have had a tumultuous relationship with the media. If anything, @biggayrolemodel media has been baptized the number two anti-gay agent, after religion. Just discovered @IdentityMagazin !! Loving But there are exceptions. Hollywood is seeing an emerging crop of actors who are openly gay; scripts in real time TV, series and movies it!!!!!! are having openly gay characters and shocking, heterosexual actors are playing queens, divas and tops. Read Kenya’s adaption of this. @JarelTheArtist 1st Kenyan openly Gay magazine I 18, 19, 20, 21 have read. 3 CHEERS @Identity- PEOPLE THAT MATTER—WANJA MUGUONGO Magazin In her first and ever only authorized interview, the Executive Director of UHAI-EASHRI, East Africa’s only local grant making organization, @MaryAnneWaweru shares the history, life and work of UHAI. She speaks about the or@IdentityMagazin I don't see the ganization, impact and future outlook of UHAI, ‘the accessible and part where he's portraying them flexible fund’ for LGBT and Sex Worker groups in the East Africa. negatively. I think its a good, candid piece. 24, 25 SOCIAL, SAFE PLACES—BARFLY Bars are great places to socialize, be open, talk, dance and share with @SokuMassimo friends. No other places occupy spot as safe for the Queer community @IdentityMagazin: Expose by us than bars where we met dates, kissed the first time, fought and threw - KENYAN GAY MEN TRAFbottles, gossiped as well as shook a leg to the enchanting tunes from FICKED IN UAE AS SEX jukeboxes, a DJ or playback stereo. SLAVES 30, 31 LGBTI IN KENYA– THE SCORECARD @LGBTAsylumNews Ishtar MSM prides itself as the oldest LGBT group in Kenya and has Just did I/v with @imruradio about indeed taken its spot as the premier example of community organizing. Kenya story Even with such a pedigree, Queer Watchtower, points to obvious flaws from@IdentityMagazin and failures at the ‘oldest of them all’ The scorecard offers an in-depth, from-the-crowd-looking-in sight at LGBT organizing in Kenya. @MaqCEricGitau Of getting over an ex, et al. I will be 37, 38 addressing relationships in my Jan's DATING—TRANS WOMEN AND HETEROSEXUAL MEN article 4 @IdentityMagazin. Catch Its really confusing for an otherwise heterosexual identifying man to realize that the ‘girl’ who he has been dating is actually a ‘boy’ - to some tips there loosely and dangerously put it. Questions, including, ‘Am I gay’ are common to such men on this realization. But there is a deeper aspect @T_Revolutionary that is yet to be defined. Sexuality is fluid… and confusing. Story of men
from #Kenya trafficked 40 to #Qatar as sex slaves via @Iden- 2011 IN BRIEF—TOP 10 LGBT STORIES tityMagazin #LGBTI #LGBT We bring you the top ten stories on LGBTI that shaped 2011 for the Kenyan LGBT community. From a famous divorce to lubricants made for gays only to a Chief Justice who has a loves the gays, to a flaming @fionaodhiambo Tell me about it...literally left me old Queen running for political office, we bring you all. speechless SMDH! @IdentityMagazin Page 4
Two of Kenya’s best LGBT legal minds, ERIC MAWIRA GITARI (below) and ANTHONY OLUOCH (right) collaborated in this easy, simple guide to FAQ’s on being gay, the police, arrests condoms, and threats. A tool for advocacy, these FAQ’s will definitely go a long way in ensuring that LGBT persons better understand their rights. GITARI is the Sexuality and Gender Based Violence Programme at Kenya’s office of the Hebrew Aid Immigration Society (HIAS), while OLUOCH is the Legal and Human Rights Officer at the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK)
A diverse person, a husband to one wife, a student, social features blogger, talk show host, communicator, programs development and management specialist, lifecoach, defender of human rights is but a short description of MAQC ERIC GITAU. He sees and identifies with variety of range in everything. He has learnt to discern, appreciate and defend diversity in gender, sexualities, opinions, approaches, lifestyle and even choices. For him, variety is indeed the spice of life.
JAMES WAN is the Senior Copy-Editor for Think Africa Press. He is a Britishborn Sino-Mauritian and has particular interests in ChinaAfrica relations, human rights and social theory. He holds an MSc in Sociology from the London School of Economics and a BA in Social & Political Sciences from the University of Cambridge.
TENDAI T. THONDHLANA is a young graduate interning at African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR). He has been working diligently to put MSM and LGBT issues on the public domain. He is a Zimbabwean citizen now residing in South Africa. His own experiences growing up in his home nation where LGBTI people are discriminated and stigmatized ignited a strong desire to defend and advocate for human rights, in particular those of the LGBTI community. He graduated with a degree from the University of Fort Hare.
The Rev. JOHN MAKOKHA is the founder and senior pastor of Riruta Hope Community church. He is married to ANNE BARAZA (pictured) the Consultant Counselor Other Sheep Afrika-Kenya and the CEO of Riruta United Women Empowerment Programme. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Other Sheep Afrika Kenya, an LGBTI ecumenical organization. He runs passionately educational awareness seminars on human sexuality and gender identity programs to address religious homophobia and transphobia in Kenya.
‘ISHTAR MSM is the oldest and most senile group within GALCK’ The Scorecard is QUEER WATCHTOWER’s critical, unbiased and daring surgery on LGBT groups in Kenya. He offers a brutal, if not scandalous review of groups here in Kenya as well as solutions to the flaws, failures and faults that permeate them. Honest, courageous and blunt, he takes no prisoners. ‘ISHTAR MSM must apologize to all those MSM sex workers who got infected with HIV during the period it neglected them despite pleas from them.’
IMMAH REID is a poet, writer and activist from AFRA-Kenya, Kenya’s sophomore lesbian, transgender and bisexual women’s group. An emerging artiste and creative person, she is a volunteer with AFRA-KENYA.
With her piece, KATE KAMUNDE, tries to delve in the intricacies of abuse, violence and power balances that are common in same sex couples. She details the excruciating shame and pain that is abuse in people who are in themselves already ashamed and unaccepted by society. She brings to light the dire need for counselling and help for same sex couples. A subject not often spoken about, this piece, hopefully will break the walls of silence.
MONA KAREITHI, apart from being Secretary of the Board of Gay Kenya Trust, she is also the Assistant Programme Officer at the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC). She offers us a look at what the gay community is wanting in and tires to rectify that with a gentle heart. Ever concerned over the fate of her best buddies who happen to be gay or lesbian, she is a friend worth keeping.
‘Trans women who identify as straight are just that, straight!’ so writes BARBRA MURUGA. She writes about human rights issues with a bias towards sexual and gender minorities and with a particular focus on LGBTI issues in East Africa and Africa in general. She is also a noted blogger and Twitter-ling. Page 6
New Year Issue
GAY PEOPLE HAVE FAILED THEMSELVES For the LGBT community, 2012 was heralded as the year when the community would witness change and visibility. For many, there was a hue and cry for a fresh outlook on the way affairs were conducted. For those in advocacy this would be the time when strategies would be rolled out that are designed to propel the gay community into the public sphere and hopefully culminate in a more tolerable and inclusive society. The strategies are designed to ensure that there is participation from all the community whether in 'active' activism or those who are in other spheres of life. The general result is that everyone is involved in the uphill stuggle for recognition.
Those were the hopes dreams of the community, whether asleep or still awake as the 1st of January 2012 rolled in. However, just because the calendar dates changed, the problems that exist were not going to be dispelled by the chiming of midnight or the fireworks display. There was a need to be cognizant of the fact that the dynamics hadn't changed, the more things change and the more thay stay the same. What should be of more importance is the discovery of where and why things went wrong and how this could be mitigated in the future. There is also a need for self reflection in order to realize that in some instances, the gay community are the root of the problems that they are experiencing or that the gay community experienced last year. For the gay community, there is a need to look at themselves as the reason for some of their own suffering. Recently, I spoke to a person who gave me a very different view of the community and in as much as I was adamant and thoroughly upset, I could see the logic behind his words. This was needless to say, the most depressing part. During my enlightening but frustrating conversation, we traced the rise of activism from the beginning, we discussed the need that gave rise to the movement and some of the reasons were that the gay community wanted equal rights that were enjoyed by the heterosexuals. However, the specific right was being denied was the right to expression. The gay community wanted the right to express their own individuality and whom they love. They wanted to reserve the right to not be judged for how they chose to live their lives. Those who had more vested interests especially those who'd lost loved ones because of avoidable circumstances rose to the occasion and started to verbally challenge society and politics and the denial of our existence in society. Soon the arguments began being anchored in human rights as the activists began to draw from best practice in other countries. However the fight was not to be a battle, it ended up being a war. And just like any war, there were enormous sacrifices that were made, some people sacrificed callings, careers and for others families.
The fight was a noble one. It was designed to ensure that the gay community all had rights. For those who needed healthcare, advocates traversed the world to lobby for support for the community and challenged the government to recognize the most at risk populations. For those who didn't have spaces to work, efforts were consolidated into building free spaces for people to express themselves and thus created jobs for many. It was indeed an uphill struggle and blood sweat and tears were expended. Now, years later, those who fought are tired and so very disheartened. Those staunch defenders are all but tapped out and most are finding themselves wondering whether it was worth the sacrifices they made. The results are not those were anticipated. CONTINUED ON PAGE 19, 36
Gays In Western Kenya Blame Churches For Homophobia I travelled to Busia, Malaba, Bungoma and Chwele of Western region of Kenya near the border of Kenya and Uganda during the festive month of December. This gave me an opportunity to interact and listen to the real stories of young gay persons in small groups and as individuals from their own perspective. This was made possible with the help of my contact person who had arranged these sessions through an established discreet network. Gay youth feel insecure and live in the closet because of open public condemnation of LGBTI persons and their constitutional rights. This has contributed to individuals both in religious institutions and outside to express their prejudice and homophobia in intolerant ways. There is testimony of a gay man who was humiliated by the provincial administrator by being paraded before everybody and directed to leave or face the wrath of the community. Nobody knows where this person went to. To some extent this has affected the LGBTI community to express and create visibility since gay persons are ostracized. Many LGBT are struggling to balance between sexuality and spirituality. This is further exacerbated by hate propagated by religious and educational institutions. Last year, two prominent high schools in Bungoma County expelled four students for allegedly being gay. Students are taught that being gay is a social vice and abnormal since it is unnatural. Churches teach that homosexuality is an abomination based on the literary interpretation of the Scriptures. Gays who are in the Church have decided to live in the closet, well, is seems, till Jesus comes back. Most I talked to blamed religious institutions of being dogmatic and a stumbling block on issues of human sexuality. Churches literally avoid any open dialogue on the topic of homosexuality. Condemning messages from the clergy has instilled fear and discouragement in the LGBTI persons in the region. The Church does not acknowledge that God can speak vividly to people despite of their sexual orientation.
‘Two prominent high schools in Bungoma County expelled four students for allegedly being gay’
I learned that these gay youth have self-hatred and self-stigmatization that has led to internalized homophobia due to their hostile environment. They are unable to openly and freely celebrate their sexuality due to rejection and violence from their respective communities. Indeed they are living in prison without any sign of freedom. They requested for the possibility of some seminars on LGBTI issues and HIV/AIDS since they have never attended any in their life.—JOHN MAKOKHA
Violence ‘Prevalent’ In Lesbian Relationships Every relationship, whether heterosexual and homosexual, has challenges that come with it. Many questions have been asked about the nature of same gender loving relationships, how they work and the responsibilities that come with them among other issues. One thing that we have acknowledged as same gender loving individuals and couples, is that physical violence is very much part of our relationships however much we may not want to admit. There have been efforts to hold forums that highlight these concerns. However, talk has just remained that – talk. One evening, not long ago, on our way home from partying, my colleague and I desperately tried to stop a fight involving two women along Kenyatta Avenue in Nairobi. The two women were hurling insults at one another, and a small crowd of matatu crew quickly gathered around the spot to find out what the whole hullabaloo was about. Janet* was kicking Rose* in the face with her heavy safari boot. Rose was bleeding and trying to pick herself up to run for her dear life. After talking to them, they said they were just friends. Denial, at this point was a protection tactic since they did not even know us. Later, we found out the two were lovers. Page 8
New Year Issue
Those of us that work directly with the lesbian and bisexual women have received emails, inboxes through social networks, of reports of the continued physical and emotional violence within lesbian relationships. Most have gone out of hand due to ignorance and the embarrassment that arises from having a woman confess that her partner is battering them. This leads me to ask the obvious; do we have to get absorbed and boxed into stereotypes that define which partner is/should be dominant over the other in homosexual relationships? If the answer here is in the affirmative then what makes us any different from the male species, most of whom are wife barterers? Any loving relationship stands out in exceptional ways. If this is the case then what makes a lesbian/gay relationship stand out? I speak for a bisexual woman or man who has moved on from a physically violent heterosexual relationship and gets to date a person of the same-sex. What would make this relationship different from a heterosexual one? Women are naturally gentle in the way they treat one another, understand, analyze and tackle. Modern day obsessions over matters that mostly rotate around cheating suspicions leave lesbian women vulnerable to physical abuse. This is particularly so for women that have anger management issues end up beating up their partners. The present day insecurities and a lot more of trust issues lead them to overreact to situations and blow them out of proportion, making it difficult to salvage such relationships. Communities and organizations working for the interests of the lesbian community come in handy. In as much as projects are run with an objective to create visibility for the groups and its members, they also need to look at such specific interests, the wellness and wellbeing of the woman. Forums to address this issue may come in handy. Counselling services by competent and understanding professionals to help members better manage anger and learn how best to deal with issues that are likely to explode and result to violence. To further break this down, support groups for individuals in violent relationships to create an avenue to speak through issues and seek a way forward are necessary.
‘One thing we have acknowledged as same gender loving individuals, is that physical violence is For the lesbians that are beaten, there is a lot more you can do than sit and keep hoping that things will very much part of our get better. The trauma that comes with the fear of the severity of the next beating is one that should call relationships’ for sharing with a counsellor about because unknown to you, it does more harm than good to your person. There is need to plan the next step of action. You could for example take time away from your partner as you get the problem sorted out, engaging a neutral third party individual to help you talk things through to reduce the chances of meeting your partner in a secluded area and the likelihood that she may again become violent. Depending on how you and your partner relate, you may also consider, helping your partner seek help because if you two break up and move on, their next partner will also go through the same predicament. That said then it is vital to have to talk through issues. Communication is an entirely effective channel that would work better than over indulgence in drug and substance abuse. We have couples that fight and make up over and over again and for me my only question to them would be, for how long do they plan to engage with violent partners? I appreciate that a lot of those women have hope without a doubt that things will get better and the abuse will eventually go on the low. These women will withstand anything but still remain with their lovers. Is this acceptance that we are comfortable being our partners’ ‘punching bags’ or desperation?
To me this is similar to a situation where parents stick by each other even after long periods of violence, infidelity, alcoholism within the institution of marriage. Why? If you would ask why the other parent stays then they will most definitely reveal that it is in the interest of the children if not for the mere fact that they may not be financially independent to sustain themselves and their kids. It is my belief that those in relationships would want the very best of that piece of cake, but the distinction between that and our liability to long-term abuse is one a lot of us would really want to understandably deal with! - KATE KAMUNDE
Identity The two men began to shout and slap Patrick and George and demanded to know what they were doing. George ‘owned’ up and said that they were gay and had masturbated together only forcing the men to rain blows to Patrick as they shouted derogatorily at him. The men forced Patrick to undress and one of them took a condom and placed it on Patrick’s penis and told his colleague to take photos. Patrick by now was naked and shivering as the men took turns photographing his genitals, face and behind. They ransacked his pockets and took KShs 2,000 and a mobile phone. They told him to dress and forced him out of the house and threatened to send the photos to the contacts on his phone if he did not part with KShs 100,000. Patrick said that he left Wendani a humiliated man and has been forced to part with over KShs 20,000 so far which he sends to the men via M-Pesa. This case is a stark reminder of what closeted gay men have to go through from blackmailers who target them. Most of these extortionists are taking advantage of the fact that their victims are not open about their own sexuality. Most of their targets are either married men in heterosexual relationships or bachelors or those in high-voltage professions like priests, pastors or politicians. Risks Of Dating, Social, Networking Sites Cedric* is one such example. A married man with two children who lives in Umoja, Cedric parted with over KShs 40,000 to appease blackmailers who took photos of him while engaged in anal sex with another man from a hidden camera. Cedric told Identity Magazine by phone that he met a young lad called John* who lived in Pipeline, Embakasi estate and who set him up. ‘I went to his place and one thing led to another and we had sex. Little did I know that I was being videotaped. After sex, we heard a knock on the door and someone claiming to a cousin of John and three others came in,’ said Cedric. What Cedric did not know was that John, immediately after sex had requested to dispose of the used condom only for him to wrap it and hide it under the mattress. Cedric said he was shocked to learn that John had not disposed of it. ‘The so called ‘cousins’ started to shout at me and threatening me. John then took out the used condom from under the mattress and showed them. He said he will use this as evidence that I raped him and he said he will take me to the police.’ ‘I was afraid of the police. I work in a local NGO in Industrial Area and something like this was dangerous to my family and career,’ said Cedric. ‘I had to give them the KShs 8,000 I had with me and my phone which they took and found my wife’s number and wrote it down and said they will send the video and photos to her.’ ‘I had no choice,’ Cedric said. ‘It was either my family or career and so we went to the ATM close by and I gave them KShs 20,000 which was in my account. By now I was afraid and shaking.’ Blackmail, according to Wikipedia, is defined ‘as a crime involving threats to reveal substantially true or false information about a person to the public, a family member, or associates unless a demand is met. It may be defined as coercion involving threats of physical harm, threat of criminal prosecution, or threats for the purposes of taking the person's money or property.’ Identity Magazine talked to Anthony Oluoch, the Legal and Human Rights Officer based at the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK) who said that blackmail and extortion is the leading form of violation reported at his desk by Kenyan gay men most of whom are married. ‘It accounts for over 30% of cases we see in a year,’ said Oluoch. Oluoch said that most blackmailers are either gays or straight people acting gay in order to get targets. One avenue they mostly use is social networks and sites. ‘One of the places they often visit is Facebook and dating sites like Gay Kenya, GayRomeo, GayDar and ManJam where people put their profiles for dates, sex or mutual friendship,’ Oluoch reported. Page 10
Identity A casual visit to one of the sites - Gay Romeo - by Identity Magazine revealed that there are over 800 Kenyan profiles of gay men registered. Majority of them had photos, some graphic and other personal details like phone numbers, residence, place of work and places they like to frequent like bars and restaurants. Under a fake name, Identity Magazine was able to register and within minutes had received over three numbers from potential dates looking for, surprisingly, strictly sex. One even went further to say that a taxi can be provided for to transport us to his house. ‘Most people are free in giving their numbers to other people over the internet. This is dangerous,’ said Mona Kareithi, the Assistant Program Officer who works on LGBT in the larger equality and non-discrimination at the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC). ‘Not only are you putting your life in danger but of other persons like family members, work mates, friends and others,’ said Mona. ‘You have to be secure and private or else you become a potential candidate for extortion. Married men are more likely to be targeted since they are married and in the closet though even single gay men are targeted,’ she cautioned. Rape, Sodomy And Sexual Violence Some of the blackmailers not only extort money. Others use sexual violence and reports of rape are not uncommon. Prince Ben* works as a chef at Nairobi’s Intercontinental Hotel. He lives in Dagoretti Corner in Nairobi and fell victim to blackmailers who sodomized and raped him. ‘I met this guy on Facebook from Kisii who told me where he lives and I agreed to meet him. We met at his friend’s place in Wanyee estate since he told me his friend had left him the house,’ Prince recounted.
‘Most of their targets are either married men in heterosexual relationships or bachelors or those in high-voltage professions like priests, pastors or politicians’
‘We met at Nakumatt Prestige on Ngong road in October 2011 and after buying alcohol, we headed to Wanyee,’ Prince told Identity Magazine.
‘While we were there, some three men came to the house and closed us in and they threatened me. My date also turned on me and forced me to remove my clothes. I pleaded with them not to rape me but they overpowered me and sodomized me. They took turns,’ Prince said. ‘I had nothing I could do and I could not go to hospital to be checked or the police to report it because being gay is illegal here in Kenya so I just went home and showered and kept quiet,’ Prince concluded. ‘Homosexuality remains criminalized in Kenya, and even though there are few prosecutions in the country on the sections of the penal code (162–165), that criminalize it, LGBTI people are routinely harassed by the police, held in remand houses for long without charges being preferred against them, and presented in court, on trumped-up charge. Closely related to this, is a cartel of corrupt police officials who routinely extort and blackmail LGBTI people with the threat of arrest and imprisonment if they do not give them bribes,’ Wikipedia cites. The Kenya Penal Code, Section 300, outlaws extortion and states, ‘Any person who, with the intent to extort or gain anything from any person (a) accuses or threatens to accuse any person of committing any felony or misdemeanor, or of offering or making any solicitation or threat to any person as an inducement to commit or permit the commission of any felony or misdemeanor, or (b) threaten that any person shall be accused by any other person of any felony or misdemeanor, or of any such act; or (c) knowing the contents of the writing, causes any person to receive any writing containing any such accusation or threat as aforesaid, is guilty of a felony and the offender is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years’ and further provides that “if the accusation or threat of accusation is of an assault with intent to have carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature, or an unlawful and indecent assault upon a male person; the offender is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years; and in any other case the offender is liable to imprisonment for three years.”
Identity Ideally, the provision offers protection to any person who may be threatened with extortion by anyone who has information on any crime that the person may have committed. It means that should someone have knowledge of another person having engaged or is engaging or conspiring to engage in a crime, they cannot use this information to try and get money from them and that the person who has committed the crime should not pay any money for the other person to remain silent. Any male person who engages in same sex activities, even consensually, despite it being illegal in Kenya, should not be threatened by any person who has this knowledge. This provision ensures that should any person try to obtain money or threaten with this information, then that person is committing an offence and if found guilty , is liable to be imprisonment for three years. A Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) report ‘The Outlawed Amongst Us’ reports that ‘educated professionals are often blackmailed by a cartel of colleagues at work, security agents, who work in cohort with other LGBT persons to who know the professional’s sexual orientation.’ The report also adds ‘There were reports of blackmail within the community especially where same sex partners broke up and one of them would blackmail the other to offer him/her a substantive amount of money or other favor in exchange for their silence on the other’s sexual orientation. One respondent reported that his sexual orientation was revealed on a popular FM station after he broke up with his partner.’ Bisexual men were more at risk of blackmail. ‘Those who were bisexuals reported that they were constantly blackmailed by their heterosexual partners to give up their children and asked to part with exorbitant maintenance for their children,’ the report cites. Blackmailing is not only limited to extorting money or gifts from victims. A more subtle but also effective form of blackmail is cutting off of support to victims in order to get them to be ‘straight’. Esther* is a lesbian in Kisumu whose parents used blackmail to change her sexual orientation. She reported that her parents refused to pay her school fees for college if she did not start stop her ‘immoral’ lifestyle. Another incident reported in the KHRC reports says ‘I am quite effeminate and proud of myself. This landed me in trouble when I was in high school. I was expelled upon suspicion of being gay. My parents were enraged. My dad said no son of his was a woman and he sent me away from home saying that I was better off dead. He said I could only come back if I reformed. I wondered how I could prove I was reformed and what evil I was reforming from. I went to Nairobi to stay with my cousin then later ended up meeting gay men who took care of me financially in exchange for sexual favors. I was naïve and I used to have sex without a condom. I got infected with the HIV virus and I am now living positive and proudly gay. I hope another child won’t go through what I went through.’
‘Any male person who engages in same sex activities, even consensually, despite it being illegal in Kenya, should not be threatened by any person who has this knowledge’
The report adds, ‘These manipulative tactics have the effect of blackmailing the LGBTI persons to reform. These vulnerable situations are conducive for exploitation and child abuse or sex trafficking because most dependants are below 18 years at this stage. Criminal sanctions increase vulnerability of lesbians, gays and bisexuals persons to blackmail and extortion. The vulnerability is driven by the need to hide one’s sexuality from family, friends, work colleagues or the general public. Public stigmatization or internalized homophobia particularly forces one to remain secretive about their sexuality. Unfortunately, this deeply felt need for taciturn, even while affording reduced public censure of one’s sexuality creates a fault-line for blackmailing and extortion to thrive.’ ‘GALCK have emergency hotline numbers to report cases of blackmail. In addition, we have lawyers willing to take up cases of blackmail against LGBT persons. The emergency hotline numbers are 0202347403 and 0700422956. Likewise, they can e-mail GALCK on email@example.com. Cases of blackmail can be reported at local police stations where appropriate action will be taken,’ Oluoch told Identity Magazine. It now seems victims are fighting back. A Facebook group called ‘Nairobi Gay Blackmailers and Thieves’ has attracted over 80 members. Its aim is ‘to expose all blackmailers, thieves; by doing this you shall end up making your friends safe.’ Members post incidents of blackmail as well as names and phone numbers of suspected blackmailers. We were not able to establish if any person has been prosecuted so far. - DENIS NZIOKA
THE GRASS IS GREENER ON THE OTHER SIDE? The grass, it is said, is always greener on the other side. Few have disputed it and fewer more have given credence to it. Regardless, we have all had that face where the green monster called envy occupied us. Its human, it is intrinsic. I have observed that within the LGBT circle, as much as it is within heterosexual and cisgender relations, serial monogamy at best, and at worst, the ability to love different persons at the same time, is common place. There is always a new kid on the block and somewhere along the way, you'll find a potential partner who is more charming, totally sensitive, amazingly alluring, thoroughly thoughtful, richer, and with greater appeal. You will find someone who will need and pursue you and go all over you more than your partner ever did. Needless to say, I have also noticed that the chase can be very frustrating. That person who looked very promising also has such denting flaws. No one partner is perfect. Life sucks that way. Mostly, even the angelic of them all will only have 80% of what you're looking for. That’s where further pursuit is ignited. Adultery takes place when you start looking for the missing 20%. Let's say your current partner is gloomy or moody by nature. You may find yourself drawn to the pretty young thing that has a cherry laugh no matter what he or she says. Or because your significant other is not a particularly affluent person in line with the latest threads and trends, you may fall for a fresh-smelling (most probably designer cologne) young sales representative that is a poster child for everything designer and hip. Or because they are the quiet type, your heart may skip a beat when you meet a college flame who has the makings of a talk show host and the money to boot. Realistically, that is as far as it goes and they only qualify for a one night stand, rarely a rejoinder. In comparison, that's only 20% of what you don’t have waiting at home. Don't throw away the 80% that you already have! That's not all. Add to your devout partner’s 80% the 100% that represents all the months/years that you have been with each other, the storms you have weathered together, the unforgettable moments of sadness and joy as a couple, the many adjustments you have made to love the other, the wealth of memories that you've accumulated as lovers and the list goes on. Just like that, we remain looking over the fence standing on a lawn that is well manicured admiring the bush on the neighbour’s lawn amidst garbage and patches of grass. You never miss the water until the well runs dry. When you have lost that one person who understood you for who you are, your faults and strong points alike is when you will appreciate just how much value they added to your life. This is not only applicable in relationships; it is something that goes beyond that. I'm talking about life and about our jobs and other such commitment. The present - Are you using it to build the future or are you always complaining? Your friends - Do you appreciate the friends that you have, and how do you treat them? Your enemies (haters) - Are you always out to prove yourself to those who disapprove of you in the first place? Your partner - Do you appreciate them, despite their strengths and weakness? Your lifestyles What attitude do you hold in life? Do you always have to have it all, the glamour of getting what’s hip and trendy and knowing who is who where and why? Are you positive or negative, do you have abundant mentality or a scarcity mentality? Are you like the economy airline passenger that perennially peeks through the door of the first class cabin, obsessed with what he's missing? “They have got more leg room!” Oh my, their food is served in porcelain! Wow, their seats recline at an 80% angle and they've got personal videos!” I guarantee you'll be miserable for the entire trip! Don't live your life like that. Forget about what the world says is first class. Did you know that there are many first class passengers who are miserable in first class because they are not riding in a private Lear Jet? The main message; if you start appreciating what you have right now, wherever you are IS first class! If you stop and appreciate what you have going on with your current partner and what you mean for each other, you may not have to ever look at your neighbour’s yard.— MAQC ERIC GITAU
SHUGA II: GAY RIGHTS FROM THE GROUND UP (Pour some Shuga on me: the cast of Shuga's first series) Over the past few years, the issue of gay rights in Africa has become particularly heated with presidents, preachers and global petitioners all wading in. Kenya has been no exception to this trend. Incidents of sexual abuse and ‘corrective rape’ in Nairobi are on the increase and 2010 saw mass attacks against gay men. Meanwhile, Catholic and Islamic leaders have united in anti-gay campaigns, proclaiming that homosexuality should be “punishable by death”, and Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga recently asserted that all “homosexuals should be arrested and taken to relevant authorities” (although later claimed his comments had been misunderstood). Against this, a number of commentators, human rights groups and Western leaders have been similarly vocal in their condemnation of anti-homosexuality.
‘Numerous studies have found that watching fictional portrayals of
Amidst this sound and fury, the makers of Kenya’s teen drama Shuga have been quietly preparing for series two. The second installment of the show about young adults growing up Nairobi is set to begin on Valentine’s Day and will introduce half a dozen new characters, one of whom – Rayban – is gay. Earlyevening teen fiction may seem a minor irrelevance in the grand battle currently being played out around gay rights. But unpacking the nature of anti-gay sentiment in Kenya and examining the historical emergence of positive gay attitudes in other places suggests that it will not be top-down exertions of power and pressure that engender meaningful change, but the far subtler effects of sensitive grassroots activism, a major part of which may well be shows like Shuga.
gay people can profoundly influence viewers’ longterm perceptions of, and social attitudes towards, the entire LGBT community as well as provide invaluable sources of
A sticky situation Indeed, recent high-level pressure from the UK and US on African governments to recognize gay rights badly misfired. Ghana, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, amongst others, responded by directly flying in the face of Western criticism and publicly promising that homosexuality would never be legalized, while the Ugandan government condemned the West’s “bullying mentality” and “patronizing, colonial rhetoric”. If anything, Western pressure has galvanized anti-gay sentiment in some areas. Furthermore, activists in Kenya have noted that human rights arguments per se are usually vastly out of touch with how people actually feel and can even be counterproductive in advancing acceptance of homosexuality. We can begin to understand why this is the case by examining the nature and roots of homophobia in Kenya and much of Africa. Understanding homophobia
pride to gay viewers’ Kenya, as is the case in much of the continent, has a rich history of same-sex practices, and anthropologists believe that at least four Kenyan ethnic groups – the Kikuyu, Kalenjin, Kamba and Kisii – traditionally respected woman-to-woman marriages. Although homosexuality and homophobia are now inextricably intertwined with politics, religion and socio-economic issues, it was largely through Kenya’s experiences of colonialism and de-colonialism that homosexuality came to be seen as un-Kenyan and taboo. Kenya’s colonial masters enacted sections 162-165 of the penal code which criminalize same-sex acts. And Kenya’s anti-colonialist struggle established many of the gendered norms that continue to inform notions of masculinity and femininity today. After decades of colonial emasculation, the fight for independence was construed as an expression of African hyper masculinity while compromise was seen as innately feminine. In a sentiment shared by Kenya’s nationalists, Obed Muteza, mentor to many Zimbabwean nationalist leaders asserted “the choice before me is simple; am I am man or a woman?” Page 14
Aggressive masculinity and virility continue to be associated with notions of Kenyan independence and pride. And to these masculine ideals, homosexuality is anathema. Same-sex practices are thought to be innately Western and un-African and Western-led attempts to pressure Kenya into accepting homosexuality are considered to be colonialist and emasculating in the most profound, private and intimate of ways. Human rights – perceived by many to be Western – encounter similar resistance.
Grassroots rising Given that homosexuality is broadly associated with Western colonialism, high-level Western pressure will clearly not be the key to advancing popular acceptance of homosexuality. Nor is acceptance likely to be driven by popular African political leaders from above. The shift, it seems, will have to come from the grassroots and civil society itself. Indeed, this has been the trend with many gay rights movements across the world in which change began with the broadening of recognition of gay people on the ground. This recognition, in many cases, enabled the fostering of greater respect and acceptance of homosexuality through much time and considerable effort. This, in turn, led to the actual enactment of gay rights at the top. While there have been prominent gay figures in the US for decades, for example, it was only in 2003 that thirteen states actually decriminalized same-sex practices. In fact, even if rights were to be enacted, they would mean little if they lacked popular legitimacy and could be violated with
‘Indeed, recent highlevel pressure from the UK and US on African governments to recognize gay rights badly misfired’
impunity at the grassroots level. South Africa, for example, boasts one of the world’s most extensive charters of LGBT rights yet many areas are currently experiencing “epidemic” levels of anti-gay attacks.
Just a spoonful of Shuga… Ultimately, with or without legal rights, changing the lived realities of gay Africans requires a broad shift of popular attitudes. Altering popular attitudes in Kenya will be no mean feat. Many Kenyans very rarely encounter openly gay people and consider homosexuality to be synonymous with pedophilia, disease and
deviance. In a recent study of attitudes in a Kenyan community, 99% of the 600 surveyed believed that it was impossible for samesex partnerships to be loving or long-term. It would be naïve to think a single sympathetic gay character on television could easily change these understandings, but historical and psychological studies suggest that shows like Shuga could be a great cause of hope. Historians of the US gay rights movement, for example, emphasize the absolutely central role that fictional gay characters on television played in cultivating popular support for the movement, while numerous psychological studies point to the enormous potential for media representations to influence opinion, especially when viewers’ themselves have little direct exposure to a certain issue or group. (Edward Nyanaro, inset, who plays Rayban, a gay character in Shuga II. Edward has refused to acknowledge rumors he is gay)
(Inset, Edward Nyanaro and Brenda Wairimu) Numerous studies (albeit conducted in the West) have found that watching fictional portrayals of gay people for just a short amount of time can profoundly influence viewers’ long-term perceptions of, and social attitudes towards, the entire LGBT community as well as provide invaluable sources of pride to gay viewers. Encountering homosexual individuals on television can have a very strong humanizing effect and render gay people real, familiar and sympathetic to viewers. This exposure to the gay community, despite being fictional, can begin to counteract negative stereotypes, and some studies even suggest that seeing gay role models in the media has a more significant effect on attitudes than even explicit teaching in schools and families. None of this of course promises that the introduction of the gay character Rayban to Shuga will shift attitudes and lead to meaningful change. But, if done sympathetically and sensitively, we can be hopeful that – while the world’s presidents, preachers and activists bang their heads together over rights and grievances – the hearts and minds of Shuga’s young Kenyan viewers might be opened.— JAMES WAN First reprinted at Think Africa Press. Reprinted with permission
LGBT & Arts—‘My Name Is…’ Project AFRA-Kenya a LBT organization that aims at providing an outlet for people in our community to express themselves in all forms of art is at it again. In this particular project ‘MY NAME IS’ we want to do a book publication of articles, short stories, poems, drawings, photographs and fine art that are LGBTI themed.
You are also encouraged to send us your coming out letters, whether it is one that’s address to you family, friends, society or you heterosexual spouse, say it all in
writing. You might find it therapeutic. We wish to collect as many ‘arts’ from LGBTI members from different areas to ensure that we cover as many perspectives and experiences as possible. So even if you are in Kisumu, Mombasa, Nyeri, Nakuru…actually even if you are not in Kenya. We welcome you to submit whatever creation you may have to us at firstname.lastname@example.org feel free to make any other inquiries that you have about the project.
If your art form is a painting or a drawing send us a photo of it for the review, we shall surely communicate to you further.
GAY FILMS & MOVIES: BAD EDUCATION Starting this issue, Neville Tirimba will be reviewing gay and lesbian movies and films, albeit, as seen by a Kenyan gay audience. How ‘Western’ movies portray gay themes is critical in understanding identities and ideologies as well as politics. In addition, Neville will be rating the movies and showing you which films are worth watching. (Bad Education front poster) Oscar winning Spanish Director Pedro Almodóvar needs no introduction with his several critically acclaimed films, even though in his own words he prefers to remain an amateur. In his inimitable style, Almodóvar has written and directed yet another riveting gay interest film, La Mala Educacion (Bad Education), a fascinating psychological thriller full of secrets, forbidden desires, greed and deception. Bad Education ushers the viewer into a surreal world with its mesmerizing opening credits. The vivid red and black montage tears away in strips layer after layer, showing sexually explicit toilet graffiti, a crucifix, a drag queen in lingerie, Jesus, a priest and a drug filled syringe. It is an amoral world. The rapid tempo of the montage music is ominous, signifying a march into the brink of some calamity. The red color portends murder. The director and the writer of Bad Education is the same person and this lends a greater wholeness to the film, unlike many stillborn Hollywood films which result from their directors’ inability to exert full control over their projects, thereby failing to pursue their artistic visions to completion.
‘The characters of Bad Education, like in any of Almodóvar’s films recognize their homosexuality but don’t flaunt it nor do they hide it’
The characters of Bad Education, like in any of Almodóvar’s films recognize their homosexuality but don’t flaunt it nor do they hide it. Almodóvar, an openly gay man, is comfortable enough to have openly gay men and drag queens as characters in his films. His characters are not apologetic or sexually ambivalent as in André Téchiné’s Les roseaux sauvages (Wild Reeds). The first scene begins in the studio of a young gay film director of repute, Enrique Goded, who is undergoing a creative crisis. It is at this moment that his old childhood love interest, Ignacio (played by Gael García Benal) who is a struggling actor, visits him looking for work. But Enrique fails to recognize him since it has been many years since he last saw him. Ignacio on the other hand insists that he be called by his acting name, Angel, and hands Enrique a story he wants made into a film.
We are then thrown into a flashback; the years of innocence where Ignacio and Enrique are young students at a Catholic school awakening to romantic feelings between them. But this awakening in them stirs jealous feelings in Father Manolo who is deeply obsessed with the young Enrique. The priest succeeds in separating them. Several years later, Ignacio dressed in drag visits the priest with a proposition. This is the turning point in the film after which the lives of the characters are forever changed. The plot in Bad Education is not as linear as it appears for we soon learn that Ignacio is hiding something about who he is. Although serious in tone, the film has moments of comic relief thanks to a few oddball characters. When Ignacio storms into Father Manolo’s Catholic Church he has his cocaine snorting sidekick in tow, who quickly steals the cups meant for Holy Communion. Ignacio’s partner in crime is none other than the star of Hable Con Ella (Talk To Her), in which he played a male nurse who has sex with a comatose woman making her awaken from her vegetative state. That’s the ever controversial Almodóvar for you. Fortunately, Almodóvar doesn’t go overboard like the director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, a key artistic influence on Almodóvar. Fassbinder’s gay movie, Querelle, which has become a cult movie, is contrived and too abstruse in a way that alienates most general audiences. Indeed, the appeal of Bad Education, and perhaps that of any of Almodóvar’s films, goes beyond any preconceived gay or straight boundaries. Bad Education tackles some mores head on, but it is not a mere cause célèbre, it is authentic and has substance. Almodóvar, the perpetual amateur, has claimed that Bad Education was a story that nagged him for years before he sat down to write and direct it. The many years of cogitation certainly paid off.—NEVILLE TIRIMBA RATING: 5/5
MSMs, SEX WORKERS, GAYS LIVING WITH HIV LAUNCH GROUP Over 200 male sex workers converged in Nairobi’s Railways Club on 14 December to launch Health Options for young men on HIV/ AIDS and STIS (HOYMAS), a community based organization whose members are drawn from the sex worker community. Under the theme ‘Zero Infections, Zero Deaths’ the event attracted male sex workers living with HIV and AIDS from Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa. The organization aims to provide information, referral and ‘prevention commodities’ like condoms and lubricants to its members who are at risk of HIV infection on account of their work. In Kenya, sex work and sex among members of the same sex is illegal thus stigmatizing sex workers, MSM and more so male sex workers. The punishment for same sex activity, according to the Penal Code 162-165 is 14 years imprisonment. A 2009 Modes of Transmission study, released by the National AIDS Control Council (NACC), 15.2% of new HIV infections annually occur among MSM; preliminary studies from surveillance and hot spot mapping however indicate that the prevalence among MSM sex workers could be as high as 44%. This presents a challenge to the national response to this ‘hidden’ and highly stigmatized population since many do not readily access Health and HIV services out of shame and stigma associated with same sex activity and sex work. Most therefore, rely heavily on organizations such as HOYMAS that disseminate information and referral for these services.
‘Preliminary studies from surveillance and hot spot mapping however indicate that the prevalence among MSM sex workers could be as high as 44%’
In her remarks, Ms. Helgar Musyoki, the head of the MARPs Programme at the National AIDS and STIs Control Programme (NASCOP) urged the participants to always use protection for each sexual encounter and for those on ARVs to take medications diligently and adopt the ‘buddy system’ to help those on ARVs to adhere and develop fora to provide socio-economic and psychological support to one another. The Partnership Advisor at UNAIDS, Ms Ruth Masha congratulated the participants for forming such a unique network. She lauded the Kenya Government and NASCOP for the collaboration with MARPs groups that has helped expand the advocacy space that has enabled constituent members to be actively engaged in the national response. She cautioned the participants to be inclusive in their membership and open participation to not only MSM who are infected but to all as everyone is at risk and all are affected.
Ms Gloria Gakii, the Prevention Manager at the Sex Workers Outreach Program (SWOP) urged members to take advantage of free health services at SWOP. She said that SWOP staff members and doctors are MSM friendly and handle each client as they come. SWOP has given HOYMAS office space to operate from as well as serve as a partner in doing outreaches to MSMs. A sex worker from Mombasa by the name Mwana gave testimony during the event and said that he was infected for years and that he was taking ARV and urged those who are living with HIV to adopt positive living. Fabian who lives in Nairobi and who was recently diagnosed with HIV said that sex workers are stigmatized by the gay community and he said he was thankful that such a group for sex workers living with HIV was formed. During the launch, participants selected an advocacy ambassador who will mobilize members and disseminate information through various media including phone texts and social media. The advocacy ambassador was voted during a fashion show that included the judge’s panel asking the contestants on their knowledge of HIV. Mr Kanyeje, a sex worker from Jericho estate in Eastlands of Nairobi emerged winner. Mandully from Nairobi emerged second runners up while ‘Mama District’ from Kangemi emerged second runner’s up. They were issued with prizes. This ambassador crowned ‘Mr. Red Ribbon’ pledged his commitment to help mobilize the social movement towards Zero Discrimination, Zero infection and re-infection and Zero AIDS related deaths. Ms Peninah Mwangi from the Bar Hostess and Empowerment Program (BHESP), an organization that advocates for female sex workers and bar hostesses pledged her support for the group saying that male sex workers were often ignored. She said she has worked with male sex workers and was delighted to have been part of the event. Page 18
Identity Mr. Erastus Ndunda, the HOYMAS coordinator reminded the participants that the network was available to serve them and provide opportunity to share information and improve uptake of HIV prevention, treatment and care services. He urged all members to live positively and not contribute to new infections and/or re-infections. At the end of the meeting, participants held a candlelight memorial for all their colleagues who had passed on due to HIV related complications. Membership to HOYMAS is open to MSMs, male sex workers and those living positively. To contact HOYMAS, please use the following address.
HEALTH OPTIONS FOR YOUNG MEN ON HIV AND AIDS AND STIs P. O Box 16885-00202 Nairobi, Kenya +254 712 24 11 44 email@example.com - JOHN MATHENGE
Instead of a space where the community could express their love for one another, the situation turned out to be more the’ free love’ witnessed by the American society in the 60’s. It seems that monogamous relationships are the exception rather than the rule. The community seemed more inclined on sharing their love with everybody rather than with one select individual. Note this is not brush that has broad strokes as there are those exceptional cases where people are in serious monogamous relationships. If we were to draw comparisons in the heterosexual community and provisions for expression, it is prudent to note that the law emphasizes the family unit and by extension exclusivity in relationships. The gay community, however, have no such restrictions placed and people are quite aware of this fact. This further impacts any strategies that are being adopted on HIV and AIDS prevention. The key elements in prevention are not only protection but healthy faithful relationships where the individuals know their status and thus infection rates are reduced. In countries like Sweden, it is a crime not to inform your partner of your HIV status, even if it is only a one-night stand.
Another issue is perception. In any campaign, the person doing the campaigning has to be contentious of perception. Public image is half the battle. If the issue being discussed is the need for acceptance and inclusion then the argument waged should be that the person is able to function in society and obey the rules. Public image should not be confused with dressing; it pertains to how a person conducts his affairs. Some members of the community present themselves in the public sphere as people with questionable ethics and this perception is applied to the whole community. This is a war as I said earlier, and sometimes a war is not won on sheer number or strength, but rather on tact and strategy. If you compare other movements that began at the gay rights movement has, like the women’s movement, you’ll note that one of the strategies that was used was to ensure that the women were equally or better educated then the men. They ensured that their mannerisms were impeccable if not unquestionable. They even adopted strategies such as ‘dressing like a woman but thinking like a man’ and that ultimately helped them with their cause.
UHAI IS THE ACCESSIBLE, FLEXIBLE FUND 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: To start with, what is UHAI EASHRI and how did it start? Can you share a brief background of how it started to where it is now? UHAI is an activist fund that supports sexual minority rights organising within East Africa i.e. Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya and Burundi. We make grants and offer capacity support to LGBTI and sex workers organisations in East Africa, We prioritise support to organisations managed by and led by LGBTI and sex work individuals because our theory of change recognises that the way to create social change is to organise, build movements, create synergies and amplify voices. We therefore fund organised groups rather than individuals. We may on occasion fund non LGBTI or SW led organisations but only if they work with and NOT for LGBTI and/or sex worker populations. The idea for UHAI EASHRI came up in 2007 during a conference organised by the Ford Foundation with the assistance of GALCK and KHRC that was called the Changing Faces, Changing Spaces. That conference brought LGBTI and SW activists from all over East Africa as well as human rights activists, women’s rights activists and donors. Activists at the conference indicated that decisions on funding were not informed by them and that funding was determined in ways that that were not cognisant of the context and realities of the activists. There was, therefore, a disconnect between the universe of LGBTI and sex worker activism and the universe of funding. Further, funding was largely made available in response to emergencies and there was little investment in organising and movement building. Therefore, the question was posed, why not have a Fund that is East African, led and managed by East Africans to address this disconnect and bring resources closer to the ground? Q: Before 2007, how was funding made available? How were activists surviving or executing their activities? There have always been organisations that supported LGBTI and SW rights activities for example Ford Foundation, Open Society Initiative for East Africa (OSIEA), Hivos, women's funds such as Urgent Action Fund- Africa and others. There was however a gap because some donors found it difficult to fund small nascent movements made up of predominantly, small, unregistered groups. Most donors could easily make large grants to large well established groups but more and more the activism that was emerging consisted of smaller groups that could not access that funding. Q: You are an LGBTI and SW grant making organisation. How do you prove that applicants are truly LGBTI or sex workers? The application process allows organisations to self-identify as LGBTI and/ or sex worker. UHAI EASHRI's funding is made through a peer reviewed process with a Peer Grants Committee (PGC) whose members are nominated from the LGBTI and SW communities. The PGC forms part of the due diligence mechanisms that we use to verify the existence of applicant groups, but we also use our networks. Groups may also include in their application an endorsement from a known group or one that is well established. Likewise, before a grant is disbursed, we visit groups, sit with them, talk to them and that way we are able to establish facts.
Identity Q: What types of grants does UHAI EASHRI make and what is the process or guidelines that determine the grants? And can you share more on what the PGC does and how funding decisions are made. UHAI EASHRI has 3 funding streams; the peer grants, opportunity grants and institutional grants. The peer grants stream is competitive and, as the name would suggest, is peer reviewed and we have 2 funding cycles per year. Opportunity and institutional grants on the other hand are made throughout the year and decisions are determined at secretariat level. The peer grants process begins with a call for proposals that goes out in January and July each year. This call goes out through our networks and list serves and activists snowball the information to others. Groups then have six (6) weeks within which to apply. If they have any difficulty in writing the proposal, groups can ask for help from us. Applications may be done in either English, French or Kiswahili. A short-listing process begins after the deadline and applications that are within UHAI EASHRI's funding mandate are forwarded to the PGC for review. At the PGC level, each proposal is reviewed by 3 people – a primary, secondary and tertiary reviewer. On average, we have 60 short-listed proposals every round and each PGC member reviews around 20-25 proposals within a period of between 3 weeks to a month. A review meeting is then held during which time all proposals are discussed, scored and funding recommendations are made. UHAI EASHRI staff do not review these proposals and have no vote. The decisions on whom to fund and how much to give, is not made by the secretariat but made by the committee of activists who form the PGC. The entire process from application to grant disbursement may take upwards of 4 months. Another form of grant is the opportunity grant that is purely secretariat determined and is rapid response. It’s for activities or projects that are not easy to plan around funding cycles; there are some things that won’t wait. Opportunity grants may include emergency funds to groups, travel grants, funds for activities such as World AIDS day celebrations etc. and the grant process ordinarily lasts no longer than a week. Institutional grants are targeted and solicited grants and are also secretariat determined and are made quarterly. Q: Apart from grant making, you are an activist organization. Can you share what other advocacy areas UHAI engages in or takes part in? We have three (3) programme areas and they are: grant making (which we have discussed above), capacity building and support, and organising convening and conferences. Our convening mandate is based on our belief that people do not talk about sexuality enough and yet sexuality and sexual expression can be used to take away the rights of people. There is not enough discourse around identity, choice, body autonomy and the politics of sex and we try to facilitate this. One way is through our biennial Changing Faces, Changing Spaces conference in which we bring together activists, allies, donors to discuss pertinent issues in the movement. We also facilitate public dialogue on issues of sexuality and human rights. One of the ways in which we deliver capacity building is through our internship programme. It’s not your normal internship where you get someone fresh from college to come make coffee and answer phones and claim they have done an internship. The programme is intended to give activists within existing groups an opportunity to work within UHAI EASHRI for 3-6 months with a view to learn and take back the learnings to their organisations . At UHAI they receive mentorship and are involved in both programme and administrative work. Our internship programme is exclusively for LGBTI and sex worker identified activists who are already active in their own organisations. The Ji-Sort! programme is an organisation development programme for groups and organisations that we piloted in 2011 in partnership with Hivos. The Movement Building Boot Camp is a leadership development programme for individual activists that we also launched in 2011 in partnership with Fahamu.
Identity Q: During your time here, which have been the highs and lows? The biggest high I think was becoming independent. UHAI EASHRI was set up in 2008 and until December 2010 we were hosted by Akiba Uhaki Foundation, the human rights and social justice fund. Receiving our certificate of registration and getting our office space in January 2011 was a high for us. Lows are consistent. The continuous homophobia, transphobia and whorephobia in the region is draining. The continued criminalisation of people because of sexual orientation or because they engage in transactional sex is a constant low. The fact that people are denied jobs, denied justice, denied medical attention, evicted from houses, arrested on frivolous charges, harassed and even killed because of non-conforming sexualities and identities is a constant low. While much of the world is progressing in increasing civil liberties, in the last 3 years East Africa has seen the anti homosexuality Bill in Uganda, Rwandaâ€™s attempt to review its Penal code and criminalise homosexuality, Burundiâ€™s successful criminalisation of homosexuality, among others. There is an almost constant feeling that things regress and not progress. People get arrested, David Kato was murdered in Jan 2011; all these are consistent lows. Q: Who are your partners and donors? The first funding we got was from Ford Foundation and an anonymous donor. We have gotten funding from Open Society Initiative for East Africa (OSIEA), African Women Development Fund (AWDF), Mama Cash, The Elton John Aids Foundation, Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), Arcus Foundation. Even as we source for funds from donors we would also like to grow East African philanthropy for sexual minority rights activism and play a part in ensuring that activism is supported financially and in kind by East Africans. Q: How many groups have you been able to fund so far? In the 3 years of our operations we have made over 160 grants to between 60-70 organisations. Q: Share with us your staff composition and particulars. We are a small team of 5: Kelly Imathiu is the Programme Assistant, Barbra Muruga is our Finance and Administration Assistant, Mukami Marete is the Finance and Administration Manager while Happy Kinyili is our Programme Officer and Grants Administrator and then there is me, the Executive Director. UHAI EASHRI prides itself as an equal opportunity employer and I do not know that they are many truly equal opportunity organisations in East Africa. We provide the same work environment and befits to all staff irrespective of sexual orientation and gender identity. Final words? I am honoured to be a part of UHAI EASHRI and very proud of the great work we have accomplished in the 3 years of our existence. I am also humbled in having an opportunity to work with all the courageous and passionate activists in East Africa and we as an organisation are committed to serving the movement as best we can. We have made great strides as a movement and are have great hope for what the future will bring.
Wanja Muguongo In Pictures
‘UHAI is an accessible flexible fund; we fund whatever is of interest to our constituents. We also like innovate and emerging ideas’
Wanja Muguongo is a queer African feminist and a firm believer in human rights and social justice. Her passion and activism lie in the struggle for equality, nondiscrimination and the amplification of voice of marginalised populations and specifically the African LGBTI and sex worker communities. Wanja's position as the founding Executive Director of Africa’s first indigenous activist-managed sexual minority fund has allowed her to play a key role in supporting the growth and strengthening the LGBTI and sex worker movements in her region of East Africa.
FEAR, SHAME, GUILT & SEXUAL ORIENTATION Even though we might not want to admit it, our individual perspectives, values, and behaviors are molded by society and its guiding philosophies – good or bad. Psychologists have long studied how society influences or coerces behavior of its members. There are three main methods, it would seem, that are used – Fear, Shame and Guilt. How might these emotions be manipulated in our society to ensure that members maintain socially accepted behavior - for instance strictly heterosexual relations rather than homosexual or bisexual ones? Members of a society can be made to adhere to ways of life, if they are fed propaganda information that instills fear in them. But this method may not be effective on everyone. It works best on people of low or average intelligence. However, as much of society is composed of people of such intelligence anyway, propaganda serves its purpose to manipulate them to think in certain ways. Still the challenge that exists with this form of manipulation is that these individuals also tend to forget the information given to them. So the propaganda must be delivered over and over again for the information to stick and for certain behaviors to be inculcated and lived by over a long period of time. As an illustration, let me provide the example of a study carried out on university students in the US. First year students were subjected to a study of behavioral change based on information delivered to them in three different forms. The behavioral change was that of keeping good dental hygiene. Students had been screened prior to the study, and assigned intelligent quotients. Three sets of students were subjected to different ‘appeal’ propaganda. The first group was subjected to lurid and severe pictures of diseased gums. The emphasis of the information was on the danger resulting from lack of proper dental hygiene. This method was termed ‘strong or high-fear appeal’. Another group was subjected to ‘moderate appeal’ ‘Religious leaders use i.e. less lurid pictures and factual language. The third group was exposed to ‘minimal appeal’ which consisted of brief, entirely factual text, x-ray photographs and pictures of healthy teeth.
the ‘holy’ scripture in their propaganda to influence and manipulate society into thinking and feeling how wrong homosexual love is’
The study showed that the high-fear appeal information would get students to express intention to follow dental hygiene recommendations but it was forgotten two weeks later. Less intelligent students learned more from the ‘high fear’ or ‘strong appeal’ information but would forget it more quickly. More intelligent students learned more when the fear factor was low or absent and they remembered the information. When a counter propaganda was delivered to the students to counteract the initial recommendations of keeping high dental hygiene, the students who were receptive to the ‘minimal appeal’, resisted it. Those who had been exposed to and had accepted the ‘strong appeal’ information were more impressionable to the counter information. The maximum attitude change occurred when propaganda was accompanied with only moderate levels of anxiety inducing information.
Guilt is another way that societies regulate behavior in individuals. Individuals in ‘guilt-cultures’ are controlled by their unwillingness to suffer guilt due to having violated an internalized norm. There is emphasis on self control in the face of temptation and selfinitiated responsibility for one’s actions if transgression occurs. In ‘shame cultures’, on the other hand, the members of a society conform to social norms only when other members are present. A different study attempted to compare children from these two cultures to show that guilt cultures produced stronger consciences than shame cultures. The study showed that children from a guilt-culture were less likely to cheat on a test, had higher levels of remorse, were more willing to confess to a crime and interested in making restitution, than were children from a shame-culture. Interestingly the children from the shame-culture did not seem to feel bad at all for having cheated on the test or expressed other behavior that would have been considered more selfish and less appropriate. How, then, might we relate these kinds of propaganda to the information disseminated by groups with vested interests against sexual minorities? Looking at some examples will show that the government, the church and even lay-people use it in different ways. The government instills fear of the law in sexual minorities, by criminalizing same-sex acts. It places same-sex love-making side by side with acts such as bestiality and in the past has also equated it with pedophilia. Now bestiality is viewed by most people as vulgar and offensive for at least two reasons.
Identity One, is the fact that humans are considered far superior beings than animals – which are often viewed as mindless, dirty, creatures without self control. Visualizing a human and an animal having sex, goes against our world view of each species keeping to its own proper kind. Two, is the thought that the animal has no say in the matter and is forcefully being subjected to sex with another species which also feels completely wrong. Pedophilia is seen and felt by majority of people to be an absolute wrong because it involves helpless children, who should be kept pure, safe and innocent. To engage in either bestiality or pedophilia is viewed not just as evil, but shameful. It plays on our guilty conscience as well. So placing homosexual love next to the two, equates it to them and thereby places evil, shamefulness and guilt on the act. Religious leaders use the ‘holy’ scripture in their propaganda to influence and manipulate society into thinking and feeling how wrong homosexual love is. A lot of emphasis is placed on the responsibility we have as human beings to our creator, God, by saying that we must follow his way, which ‘incidentally’ is the heterosexual way. This propaganda starts from the cradle and on into childhood with songs, recitations, scripture stories, bible school and then attending church every Sabbath or Sunday, where prayer groups help to reinforce the information. Islam uses no less propaganda than its Christian counterpart. The guilt of having desecrated ones holy body, made in the image of God, with homosexual thought or acts and the shame of it coming to light in church or the mosque has been enough to deter many young and old persons from exploring their sexuality. Outside the prayer houses, the layperson, namely, you and I, carry with us the information we have learned from the law and scriptures. Armed with guilt, we conspire against ourselves and our birth right by resisting the temptation of exploring our homosexual nature, saying that it’s wrong. Armed with fear, which is contagious, we avoid getting into trouble with the law at all costs because we are afraid of being locked away in jail, afraid of being ‘evil’, afraid of doing something considered beastly. And oh the shame if you should get caught in the act! But then again, shame is a funny thing… What people don’t see they can’t condemn. The forbidden fruit is after all the sweetest. Those of us of slightly higher intelligence know that baseless propaganda that is overdone, loses its potency and becomes irrelevant. And eventually shame, guilt and fear fall away like rags, revealing the beautiful authentic person underneath. - AKINYI M. OCHOLLA
FROM DANIEL TO DANIELLA It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon as Daniela spread the khanga on the green grass. She was like a sister to me by now, by bond, no relations. She put some slow jams on the radio as soon as she finished emptying the picnic basket. We sat; legs crossed facing each other as we munched on the perfect sandwiches we had made earlier. As a jive song started to play she got up and started dancing. I got lost in her more than the music; her slender arms as she waved them around, her long chocolate legs that had neither scars nor marks; the translucent blouse she wore gripped on her small, firm perfect breasts. Their tiny nipples announced an appetite for sexual exploration that would arouse any human form. She jumped up and down moving her tender gentle behind that was well hosted by the tiny blue shorts she wore. I stood to dance with her as a slow song played. Holding her in my arms, her soft cheek on my neck, moving slowly to the beat, I smelt her, her sweet intoxicating scent that would have lingered in anyone’s memory for days. She started to cry and I squeezed her gently, tenderly. Not bitter painful tears, but victorious joyful ones that were long overdue. We stood there, very still just holding each other and I knew she was thinking what I was - the painful long years she had been living a lie. Back to when ‘she’ was ‘he’; when ‘his’ naked image was the prison that was her; when ‘he’ went for days without a smile on ‘his’ beautiful face. Everyday ‘he’ got a painful reminder by the accidental touch of that undesired bump between ‘his’ legs. Back when ‘he’ worked tirelessly to find content in being ‘her’ only to be given a painful reminder by the mischievous facial hair. Back when he lacked understanding and hope of complete happiness. CONTINUED ON PAGE 38
THE BARFLY CHRONICLES: PART THREE The truth about Gipsy’s and Olive’s—Nairobi’s first real and openly gay bar If walls could speak, the walls of Gipsy bar in Westlands, Nairobi would have a heck of a time telling stories and unlike many other bars in Nairobi, some of the spiciest tales would feature the gay community. I must specify here that while Gipsy today is made up of several bars, the original bar (the ground floor one whose entrance had a metal ramp for wheelchair access) was the main hangout for the gay community and so when I mention the bar; it is this one I mean. From shocking (to the straight clientele) incidents of men kissing at the bar, to gay couples who loved, fought and made up with the bar and seductions of apparently straight men and women as well as alliances between the gay men and boys and the female commercial sex workers who used the bar as their base. There were constant rumors that some of the staff were, if not out and out gay, at least gay for pay. To the best of my knowledge these remained just rumors. However, there was the story, now legend, of one now ex-staffer in particular, who was responsible for a string of broken hearts belonging to gay men who had fallen for his charms. His modus operandi was invariably the same; he strung them along and then ditched them once he had gotten what he wanted out of them - the solo use of their smart cars for an hour or two with the generally unfulfilled promise of sex in exchange. This guy was considered good looking by many of the gay men (closeted and out) who frequented Gipsy. He knew this and selectively worked his looks to his advantage. He had no time for guys who had no cars of their own and so this ruled out the majority of the young gay men who frequented the bar.
‘For a while it was the only bar in town where heterosexuals were a minority and gay guys and girls could get as outrageous as they liked with no fear of bouncers throwing them out’
He drove and presumably had a license and his work outside the bar brought him into contact with the bar patrons who had cars and he often offered these people valet parking services. Once he got their trust, very easy with gay guys who only have seduction on their mind, he then would occasionally ask if he could take the car for a spin while the bar patron sipped his drink at the bar. The guys hoping that this would lead to more, usually agreed even though ordinarily they were loathe letting anyone let alone a complete stranger, drive their cars.
One guy was once forced to hang around the bar sipping soft drinks after the cute bouncer made off with his car for over two hours. When I walked into the bar and so the fellow looking as though his mother had just died in the fire that consumed his house, I couldn't help stopping to ask him what was up. When he told me his sorry tale, I felt for him, but not enough to tell him he had more heartbreak coming. When the hot guy brought the car back, he fluttered his eyelids in apology; made a sassy remark and all seemed to be forgiven, if not exactly forgotten. He stayed behind at his post while the gay man went off to his lonely bed never to return to Gipsy bar. Meanwhile I found out what the guy was doing with the cars he "borrowed". He would use the cars to entertain his girlfriends, including some of the women who plied their trade at Gipsy, dropping them off at other pubs and clubs around the city as a sort of deluxe taxi service and getting well rewarded for his pains. Then there were the guys in the still heady days when gay men wrongly assumed that Gipsy was in fact a gay bar where they could do what they liked, who pushed the envelope a little too far for management's comfort. While the Gipsy management did not mind the gay custom and understood the so-called Power of the Pink Shilling, they also knew that their heterosexual clientele were their bread and butter and whenever anyone threatened to rock that boat, Gipsy's management could get very ruthless. There was for instance an incident in the late 1990s where two fairly out gay men met at the bar and began flirting at the bar in full view of, and without a care for the rest of the customers. Now, while most customers turned a blind eye to this sort of thing or were too busy to notice, there were some customers who had a problem with hot boy on boy action at the bar. When this particular couple got it together that one night at the bar, they forgot that they were not in some London or San Francisco gay bar, but in conservative little Nairobi where even heterosexuals kissing in public was often frowned upon. Page 26
Identity They apparently got so hot and heavy with their canoodling that before anyone could jokingly say: "Get a room, already" a fellow customer, an off duty police officer felt so offended that he not only complained to management but threatened to call in the cops, the media and start a campaign to have the bar closed for good. This last threat to the bottom line spurred management into action and the two gay guys were unceremoniously thrown out of the bar and banned. (Usually a ban from a bar can be anywhere from a day to a year or even longer. However, if the banned person grovels to management, the ban can usually be put aside after a few days.) Meanwhile, as Gipsy's fame spread far and wide as the official, but actually unofficial upmarket gay hangout in Nairobi, it began to attract the whole spectrum of LGBTIQ clientele. Some came looking for action whilst others brought their own action with them. Some came from abroad and were tentative having heard that homosexuality was criminal in Kenya but that they might find kindred souls in this corner of Westlands while the majority were local but unsure of what reception they would find from the reigning Queens (and Kings) of the bar. We all know how much attitude we gay people can have and how mean, intentionally or not, we can be to others. Many is a gay boy who came to Gipsy hoping to find friends and kindred spirits who was scared back into the closet by the fiercely intimidating fellow gays he came across at Gipsy bar. That said, there is probably an equal amount of gay people who in Gipsy bar found the acceptance they needed and found a place they could just be, without any hassle. About five years into Gipsy's existence, the (now late lamented) Pavement Club and Cafe opened up across Uhuru Highway in the back of what had once been The Westview Hotel (itself supposedly once a very discreet hangout for gay men in the 1970s and1980s). The Pavement had a nightclub and this for a while became the most popular club in Nairobi threatening old favorites such as the Carnivore's Simba Saloon.
‘There was the story, now legend, of one now ex-staffer in particular, who was responsible for a string of broken hearts belonging to gay men who had fallen for his charms’
Of course for the gays at Gipsy the Pavement was the perfect extension to a night out, after drinks at Gipsy, they could literally cross the road for more cruising and dancing at the Pavement where again the management were fairly cool about the whole gay thing. Soon Gipsy also opened a night club, Raven, which was where the Open House restaurant now stands in Centro House. For a while too this was popular with the gays but the venue did not last long. Meanwhile there were other places in Nairobi frequented by gays, such as Simmers Bar across the street from the 680 Hotel, which itself once had a reputation as a place where gay men in Nairobi went to have sex.
But it was not until 2007 that Nairobi's first official gay bar opened up. This bar was Olive's and was situated where the Fogo Gaucho restaurant now stands at Viking House in Westlands, just across the highway from Gipsy bar and on the site of the original Pavement bar before it was forced to move next door. Olive's bar became almost exclusively gay after an incident at Gipsy in January or February 2007 caused the gay community to flee their old hangout and look for a replacement. Over the years the gay crowd at Gipsy had grown and meanwhile become younger, less closeted and thus more aggressive. The management at Gipsy was having a tough time balancing the evermore outrageous antics of this new gay crowd with the rest of their clientele. After a few incidents in which some young aggressive gay boys had intimidated some straight customers by coming onto them, the management of Gipsy panicked and decided to ban most of the gay crowd from the bar. At this time, I am told, an enterprising businesswoman who had acknowledged and embraced her gay son and his friends had taken over a space in Viking House and when she realized the gay crowd had nowhere to go, opened the doors of her bar to them and Olive's bar became the first officially out and proud gay bar in Nairobi. For a while it was the only bar in town where heterosexuals were a minority and gay guys and girls could get as outrageous as they liked with no fear of bouncers throwing them out. Sadly the pink shilling was not strong enough to keep the bar running and after a few short months, Olive's closed. But briefly the LGBTIQ community had seen what could be done and though the seed of a gay bar had been planted earlier by the Q parties that had been going on discreetly for some time, the push for a proper gay bar could be said to have been planted by Olive's.—BARFLY
THE GRAY AREAS OF GAY REFUGEES NAIROBI, Kenya — The two tender, soft-spoken Ugandans shared a circle of good friends back in their hometown of Kampala. They were close with their families and they started a restaurant together. Life was good. That was before everything went wrong. They were disowned by their families. Their restaurant was burned down. Their car was stoned and set ablaze. And so they fled Uganda and came here, thousands of kilometers east with little more than the clothes on their backs. They came as brothers to live in a scorching refugee camp in northern Kenya. Surrounded by thousands of others who have fled wars and drought in neighboring countries, they came here to save their own lives. These two men are not rebel soldiers. They are not fleeing war or drought, and they aren’t really brothers. They are lovers, and they came here to escape what they feared would be certain death after being outed last year in a country where homosexuality is widely considered a mortal sin, as "unnatural" as it is "un-African." Alex and his partner Michael — whose real names cannot be used because of a continued threat of violence against them — were the target of a series of violent attacks inspired, they say, by an American evangelical campaign that began in 2009, and inspired legislation that, if passed, would have made gay acts punishable by the death penalty. “I’m not a fighter,” said Alex, a former youth and community leader back in Uganda. He is timid, unwilling to throw his elbows against hardened Somalis and Sudanese in the food line at the camp. As a result, he now shows signs of malnourishment. Today the men have been pushed to their limits, living as refugees far from their friends, family and allies. Although they had hoped for a better life in a new land, the camp has proven to be yet another dangerous place for the two polite young Ugandans. “LGBT people are perhaps the most persecuted group in the world,” said Neil Grungras, founder of the Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration (ORAM). “They are persecuted in countries of origin, but neighboring countries share similar cultural values. If you go across the border, you’re not any less likely to be persecuted.” After all, homosexuality is illegal in Kenya too. Flight over Fight David Kato, a leading young gay rights activist in Uganda, was bludgeoned to death with a hammer in his own apartment in January. Months earlier a local tabloid newspaper had published the names, photographs and addresses of Ugandans believed to be gay, including Kato. A banner on the front page read: “Hang Them.” Alex and Michael were good friends of Kato’s, but they continued to live their lives as homosexuals in private — not as activists, just as normal albeit closeted gay citizens. But even that proved untenable. They were followed, called out on the streets, and after their restaurant went up in flames in April, one of Alex’s relatives finally gave him a grave warning. “If you have any money, leave the country,” she advised. “You know, they are planning on killing you. You are putting shame on the family, and even the whole clan. They are planning for your death.” A month later, the couple entered a supermarket, and came out to find their car engulfed in flames. In one of the hardest decisions of their lives, they packed their life belongings into two suitcases, and boarded a bus to Nairobi. Only one bag actually made it, and they arrived in Nairobi desperate for help. Life as Refugees After six months in the refugee camp, Alex and Michael have become accustomed to the whispered taunting of the other refugees. “Here comes Miss Uganda ... ” is a familiar refrain. Life in the camp hasn’t been much of an improvement for either of them, and this month they marked their six-year anniversary as a couple without any kind of celebration.
The Kenyan government does not grant asylum to LGBT refugees because of its law barring homosexual acts, leaving people like Alex and Michael in legal limbo. Although the couple has been in touch with a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) counselor, they feel they are not receiving enough protection. They have been told there is little that can be done, and that their only real option is resettlement in a Western country. “Honestly, the fear is now increasing,” said Alex. Refugees from vehemently anti-homosexual societies like Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia surround them, and beliefs and attitudes don’t change by simply crossing a border. According to Alex, when they revealed to their UNHCR counselor that instances of being called “gay” in the camp were increasing, the counselor’s response was, “Well, aren’t you?” Improper handling of situations like this is widespread, says ORAM founder Grungras. “It’s not enough to treat them like every other refugee,” said Grungras, referring to the unique danger of violence for LGBTs if other refugees discover their true identities. “There are no mechanisms to protect them in the camps.” ORAM is one of several organizations that have begun to take a systematic focus towards assisting LGBT refugees and asylum seekers, such as HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), and Refugee Law Project in Uganda. Still, Grungras says, “it’s a real hodgepodge of who’s ready and able to assist in these matters.” The refugee camp has had draining physical and mental effects on both men. Alex says that Michael often cries throughout the night, and has become both extremely depressed and afraid of people. He is still slowly trying to recover, but finds it difficult with little to occupy his time in the camp aside from his own thoughts. Looking through photographs of the couple from less than a year ago, one of the few valuables they were able to bring with them, it is clear that Alex’s body has shrunken drastically. “You know this refugee life — we’ve got many problems here. The food they give you is the same for a 1-year-old. Three kilos of wheat flower, 1/2 kilo of beans, and a 1/2 liter of oil for two weeks. It’s not enough.” At one point, things got so bad that they almost considered going back to Uganda. “We ran because we feared death. But what sort of life do we have here? If we die in our country, at least it can bring to attention what’s happening. If we die here, no one will know anything,” Alex said. “We have been surviving. But it feels like we’re going to be in the camp all our life, because even here in Kenya they won’t allow us, they can’t accept us.” Roots of Hate This month, UK Prime Minister David Cameron threatened to place aid restrictions on nations that do not respect gay rights, part of a larger campaign in Commonwealth countries. Both Uganda and Nigeria, which is also considering new anti-gay legislation, are large recipients of UK aid, and were no doubt targets of Cameron’s rhetoric. Those receiving aid should "adhere to proper human rights" regarding religion and sexuality, Cameron said. In response, the BBC reported, Ugandan presidential advisor John Nagenda said Cameron was demonstrating a "bullying mentality." He added, "If they must take their money, so be it.” Nigeria and Zambia have had similar responses. Restricting aid would probably have little affect on the situation, however. In both Kenya and Uganda, it’s not simply the government, “it’s the people, the community, that is causing the problems,” said Alex. Anti-homosexual sentiments run deep across the African continent, and in most African societies, homosexuality is considered immoral, “un-African,” “un-Christian” and a threat to the traditional fabric of society. Others claim it to be an import of the West. CONTINUED ON PAGE 37, 38
LAW: FAQs ON GAYS, DRESS, CONDOMS, SEX What exactly does the constitution say about same sex relationships? Nothing; The constitution does not govern how people relate in their private spheres; such matters are left to statutes of parliament such as the penal code cap 67 of the laws of Kenya, which in section 162-165 criminalizes same sex sexual conduct and not same sex relationships. Having a homosexual sexual orientation is not an offense under Kenyan law. But when a man has sex with another man or a woman with another woman then that is an offense under section 162 of the Kenyan penal code. It is also an offense to attempt to do the same under section 163 of the Kenyan penal code. Although the constitution of Kenya 2010 does not govern relationships, the constitution in article 45 allows marriage only between members of the opposite sex. It must be appreciated that the constitution does not forbid marriage between same sex couples. Article 45 can be challenged in court by article 19, 20 (3, 4 &5), 24, 27, 28and 31. If the law illegalizes same-sex relations, what are the reasons one may find himself arrested? The law does not illegalize same sex rela-
questioned or inquired unnecessarily. Any
police station holding since the constitu-
arrest made on the basis of identity or rela-
tion in article 49 guarantees this. Usually,
tionships is illegal and arbitrary. One can
in sodomy cases, there are two common
only be arrested for engaging in same sex
ways for the police to adduce evidence;
sexual activity, soliciting clients for prosti-
one is to produce a medical report (P3
tution, living on the earnings of prostitu-
form) signed by a government doctor who
tion or operating a brothel. The criminali-
has examined the accused person’s geni-
zation of same sex applies to both gays and
talia and found evidence of penetration.
lesbians since the penal code in section 162
The genital examination by the doctor
(1) states “any person”
must be done with your full and informed consent. If you do not want undergo a
Some MSM have been arrested by the
genitalia examination, you have a right
police for being gay and when taken to
not to be forced. The results of this test
the police station, they are charged with
will be used against you in court and it is
something different. What should they
highly advised not to consent or undergo
do in such a case?
any genitalia test. The other way is to
Such arrests are arbitrary and the subse-
have the person you were having sex with
quent charges improper and trumped up.
testifying against you in court. If they do,
Should you be arrested simply for being
they will be implicating themselves in the
gay, call the GALCK lawyer. Arrests re-
crime if it was consensual.
lated to sexual orientation are mostly legal when: •
tions; it only illegalizes same sex sexual
You are caught having sex and
the police for carrying lubricants?
there are witnesses to prove that
Carrying lubricants is not a crime; such an arrest is illegal. The police are not allowed to stop and search you according to article 31 of the constitution. Call the GALCK lawyer if arrested for carrying lubricants.
they saw the sexual act.
conduct. Further, being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender is not a crime.
What happens when one is arrested by
The sexual activity was not will-
The crime is in having sex with a person
ingly consented (rape) by the part-
of the same sex. Identities are not crimi-
ners and the victim reports to the
nalized, only the same sex sexual conduct
is criminalized under section 162-165 of
What do I do when arrested and
the penal code of Kenya cap 67. It must
charged with sodomy?
however be underscored that same sex
Initial advice, stay quiet and say nothing to
relations are protected under article 31 of
the police at any circumstance even if they
the constitution of Kenya 2010 which
threaten or entice you. Secondly, you have
states that personal matters of one’s life
a right to a lawyer; call the GALCK lawyer
such as his/her/their relations must not be
or anyone who can assist you from the
The police arrest people for unnatural walk. What should they do in such cases? There is no offense like an unnatural walk; the constitution in article 39 protects the freedom of movement. Article 33 protects the freedom of expression which includes walking however you please.
Identity In the event of an arrest due to cross-
asked him to stop but continued and thus
Kenya articles 53(b, d, e) as read together
dressing, what is one to do if arrested?
occasioned you injury. This would how-
with the childrenâ€™s act section.
Article 27 (4) of the new constitution pro-
ever be very difficult to prove because it
hibits discrimination on the basis of dress-
is your word against his. Always insist
What does one do once outed by the me-
ing. Cross dressing is not a crime unless
on consensual sex and negotiate safety
you use fake identity documents and false
measures before engaging in sex.
If by outed you mean having his photos published and his identity and sexual orien-
names to deceive people and acquire How do you engage legal proceedings
tation revealed, this is absolutely legal and
in cases where you are denied your
you have no legal redress unless they said
How can I relate to the police in the
health rights? Do these legal proceed-
you were LGBTI and in truth you arenâ€™t.
event of a mistaken identity?
ings actually work in the Kenyan con-
Such would be a defamation case where you
In case of mistaken identity, politely in-
would initially demand they apologize,
form the police of your real legal names
Yes, these proceedings work in the Ken-
should they not, you can go to court but you
and use your ID or other supportive legal
yan context. Article 43 (a, 1) guarantees
must prove that they lied about you being
documents to prove it. Should you have
Such a legal proceeding
LGBTI-which is quite difficult. However,
cross dressed, remind them that article 27
would work best when the denial of
even if you are indeed LGBTI and the me-
(4) of the constitution protects cross
health services is by a government hos-
dia went ahead to publish further incorrect
dressing and that article 27(5) forbids
pital or clinic. Further, article 43 (2) for-
and defamatory info such as how promiscu-
private citizens (including the police)
bids anyone from denying another emer-
ous you are et al., then you can sue for defa-
from harassing or discriminating people
gency medical treatment- The proceed-
mation and recover damages.
on the basis of their dressing. Should they
ings are not visible in Kenya because
ask you for a bribe refuse.
hardly anyone formally complains and
How are drop-in centers (such as SASA
actually goes to court. You should if
Center) protected by the law?
Can I sue for coercion?
Articles 33 (1a) 36 and 37 adequately pro-
Any non consensual sex is a crime.
Is there a law specialization on the
tect the drop in centers. However, they must
Should there be coercion, report to the
rights of the minority/vulnerable
be registered under the law and remit rates
police, do not wash yourself or change
groups in the society?
and acquire all licenses under the city coun-
your clothes but go to a hospital within 72
There is no specialization per se but the
cil or any local government by laws.
hours for purposes of collecting the evi-
constitution protects minority groups in
dence of the perpetrator and also to get
articles 20 (b), 21 (3), 27 read together
post exposure HIV preventive drugs.
with article 260 (definition of marginal-
property or services from them.
ized groups). Can I sue my partner for injuries during sex?
What can a student do if the parents
If you consented to have sex with him,
disown him after realizing that he is
you cannot sue him. Unless you can proof
gay thus interrupting his education?
that even though you consented, you
Sue the parents through the children
withdrew the consent whilst having sex,
court arguing under the constitution of
ERIC GITARI & ANTHONY OLUOCH
ISHTAR MSM GROUP IS OLD, SENILE, LAZY In the last edition of score card for the queer movement, we delved deep into the workings of the GALCK coalition and KIPE as well as NYAWEK. A few reconciliatory words about the three groups before proceeding: GALCK’s Board might want to consider disbanding the groups and having every coalition member group competitively recruit a programme officer in charge of whatever the group does - such as P.O Trans affairs, lesbian affairs, creative art affairs and so on or simply do away with GALCK as a coalition and let the groups do some work. Such disbandment would put the groups in the spot light in terms of what they really do unlike the present situation where most groups simply do close to nothing, politic, compete, mud sling and hide under the veil of GALCK. KIPE organized a very elaborate Christmas party for the Kenyan LGBTI movement, although NYAWEK soiled the turnout with its security advisory about the party. KIPE has proven again how it is bent to creatively shift attitudes in Kisumu and beyond although their battles with NYAWEK might stifle the progress. Caution to NYAWEK; learn from Nairobi and let the green eyed monster stay, and as Solomon Wambua of GALCK keeps saying, ‘Build bridges, don’t burn them.’ That being said, this week’s review looks at the grandmother of GALCK, ISHTAR MSM. ISHTAR MSM is the oldest and most senile group within GALCK. Oldest empirically, but senile due to reasons to be articulated later in the paragraphs below. Founded in 1997 (yes, before Moi was re-elected again!), ISHTAR MSM now stoops with 15 years of institutional age. Its new website reads that ‘ISHTAR MSM (MSM meaning men who have sex with men) was registered as a Community Based Organization in 1999. Whereas ISHTAR MSM’s initial membership was male sex work‘ISHTAR MSM must ers, the organization has since developed to be deal with MSM holistically where all MSM and Transgender women (Male to Female) are included. It must be noted at this point that ISHTAR MSM does not apologize to all those deal with gay men or bisexuals. ISHTAR MSM does not limit itself to the politics of identity and profundity of sexual orientation, ISHTAR MSM is interested only in the conduct, the sex - the men who have MSM sex workers sex with men.
who got infected with HIV during the period it neglected them despite pleas from them’
The mission of ISHTAR MSM is to advance the sexual health rights of MSM and reduce stigma and discrimination. It was ISHATAR MSM that sent the first Kenyan gay male to come out on national television and use the famous line of ‘I am Kenyan and I am gay’ He must have gone to say something like ‘I want to be free to love any adult person based on free consent.’ And that was it, the homophobes rushed with their usual reaper forks and such other assorted weapons of ignorance that never evolve or upgrade. But what that move did, with a painful heroic sacrifice albeit, was tell Mwangi, Okoth, Kipkorir and Mohammed in struggling in their remote villages in hinter Kenya with guilt and lust for same sex, that they were not alone, that they were never alone, that somehow, it gets better and someday, maybe, luckier. ISHTAR MSM sent the first Kenyan gay ambassador and told him to ‘speak to the nation’. By so doing, ISHTAR MSM taught the LGBTI movement that this is a struggle, a war, and it shall not be won without casualties and collateral. ISHTAR MSM gave us the first; few have been as brave since - sissy cowards! Five years later, Kenya’s LGBTI community has a centre called GALCK - which formation was advocated for and well negotiated for by ISHTAR MSM. Five years later, because of the ground work and paving made by the foot soldiers of ISHTAR MSM, the Kenyan LGBTI movement can dare summon a Minister for Special Programmes to their HIV strategy meeting, hug her for the cameras and have her do a rendition of ‘They are here, they are queer, get used to it’ for national television. Then, start a debate with stone age thinking homophobes and angry activists furling the Minister for Justice to render ruling that, one, whatever people do in their bedrooms is their business and anyone asking or infringing therein is in breach of the constitution (by and large negating sections 162-165 of the penal code and therefore indirectly supporting decriminalization senior counsel!) and two, which was a sweet victory for ISHTAR MSM, which deals with sexual health, the justice minister reaffirmed the government’s commitment to reinforce equal access to health for all - without discrimination! While this cannot be owed to ISHTAR MSM, their ground work made it possible.
Identity These many great feathers have not been perched on ISHTAR MSM’s feather without dirt and filth glaring on other garments on her body. One of the greatest criticism that ISHTAR MSM has been facing has been facing is that of non participatory leadership, lack of creativity in programming, misplaced targets and poor planning and also lack of researched or documented scientific HIV data that can be cited from their 15 years of service. Since 2007 to the present, ISHTAR MSM has never changed guard or had any credible elections. It is a chosen few who attend international conferences ‘to do sex work’, the same few who for five years have been controlling funds and programmes, the same few who have refused to see sense in passing on the mantle and allowing fresh ideas to challenge their old stifled programmatic approaches and methodologies. The same few who will read this and loathe with self righteousness and vain anger and pride which is costing the movement sloth and cancerous tumors. While it purports to work with all MSM including sex workers, ISHTAR MSM only paved into sex workers programming only in 2010 when the National Organization of Peer Educators (NOPE) requested to partner with them with money, jobs and clinics in the package (these clinics have now closed leaving ISHTAR MSM stranded again). No self drive was there before to reach out to sex workers. ISHTAR MSM had been a group of middle class gay activists who traveled across continents to fully paid conferences on HIV and went to fancy meetings with donors and civil society in cozy resorts to discuss HIV AIDS. Somehow, they had managed to throw in the MSM name long enough for someone to take them seriously. Anyway, that was in 2007 and there was hardly any organized LGBTI group and ISHTAR MSM being the eldest girl, she got all the eyes. ISHTAR MSM must apologize to all those MSM sex workers who got infected with HIV during the period it neglected them despite pleas from them. In the inverse of this argument is criticism that ISHTAR MSM has such a low attention span that it cannot now see that self identifying gays and bisexuals are excluded by the outreach programmes of ISHTAR MSM which only target sex workers. In short, they have targeted sex workers so much that the young gay man in Embakasi who does not engage in sex work is no longer a priority of ISHTAR MSM. The programmatic genius of ISHTAR MSM is also wanting. For longer than five years now, it has been a repetition of the same programmes without any documentation or evidence of impact. While ISHTAR MSM has numbers of patients - which are outputs, ISHTAR MSM cannot tell how their work has impacted on the MSM and sex workers they serve. It short, ‘ISHTAR MSM is a they have no evidence of results. No mechagroup of middle class nisms to follow up on their clients or monitor and evaluate prevalence rates and encourage gay activists who behavioral rated risk reductions such as numtravel across ber of partners and fidelity. It was the first continents to fully former General Manager of GALCK who accused ISHTAR MSM of archaically sticking paid conferences on to biomedical interventions in isolation and HIV and go to fancy perpetuating promiscuity in its ‘sexual profilmeetings with donors ing’ test clubs! The same Manager termed these Post Test Clubs as ‘pleasure clubs.’ A and civil society in statement that now bears perfect validity without any credible evidence of reduction in HIV infections or cozy resorts to discuss risk reduction!
HIV AIDS’ While this pen does not command to be always right, it knows sure as day, that it is a crime so monstrous to be charged with telling our 18 year old gay hotties that bareback will kill you with HIV, yet we have chosen to soak in saunas abroad and sit in the office and chat hook ups on Facebok when MSMs in Meru and Garissa are using black motor oil to lubricate their condoms. We are busy sitting in clinics waiting for young men to walk in to be tested long after ignorant exposure. Where is the targeted and specific outreach to the ignorant young gay men who are not sex workers? My crystal ball tells me that despite all these stains, ISHTAR MSM will one day scandalize the nation with billboards and media adverts with a simple message that ‘Ukifanya mapenzi bila kinga na mwanamume ama mwanamuke, bado uko hatarini ya kuambukizwa virusi vya ukimwi, jikinge.’ (Whether you have sex with a man or a woman, you are at risk of HIV Infection, protect yourself… blah blah blah). ISHTAR MSM has immense potential to roll out in unreached areas within Kenya, become creative and start other targeted new programmes to pass on the prevention message and have such a monumental impact in the HIV and AIDS/ LGBTI history in this country. All these depend on whether the board and secretariat of ISHTAR MSM will heed wise counsel in the critique herein or shall walk off as hot heads. Be that as it may, they score below average of 3.2 out of a perfect score of 10. The next edition looks at Gay Kenya Trust.—QUEER WATCHTOWER
HIV & GAY COUPLES: BRIAN’S STORY A Gay Man Recounts Testing Positive After Breaking With His Boyfriend You never see it coming. You only get to watch it go. 2011 was Brian’s* year. He was fresh from university and filled with big ideas. Brian was ‘new’ on the scene and learning the ropes of what it is to be young, black and gay in a buzzing metropolitan city. It was just another house party, hanging out with friends and checking out the scene for ‘potentials.’ Then that night he met the one; the one who changed his life. The drinks were going down smoothly, but the conversation was getting a bit tired. Brian and his friends had as much in common as any group of people from France, Cameroon, Gabon and Tanzania hanging out together would have. Not much. A bunch of guys entered the yard and stood by the gate, engaged in boisterous conversation that drew everyone’s attention. No one could make out their faces, just mangled silhouettes as they stood in the dark beyond the gaze of the front porch light bulb. The host of the party made his way to welcome the mass and disappeared into the dark, his presence given away only by his distinctive, gender ambiguous voice. Interest in the newcomers subsided, and Brian and his friends made their way inside the house to dance to the beats churned out by the 6ft high speakers in the living room. Returning outside to the porch, Brian was startled by an oddly dressed, bald shaved man leaning on one of the pillars of the porch, intensively engaged with his cell phone as if performing surgery on it. He was dressed in in a black t-shirt with a silver paint pattern haphazardly ‘splashed’ on it in the way an abstract painter would impart ‘mood’ onto his work. A ‘D’ grade abstract painter at that. His t-shirt was rather taut on his body, but not around his chest, just around ‘The sad truth is that his belly and in keeping with his overall chubby demeanour. Adding to the busyness of his t-shirt, he wore grey and black checked cargo shorts and sealed the deal with a pair of black and white Chuck Taymost new cases of lors.
HIV infection occur within the bounds and assumed relative safety of a loving, committed relationship’
‘Maybe its laundry day,’ Brian thought. Brian’s disapproving gaze must have felt like a laser burning this stranger’s skin because he abruptly looked up and met Brian’s gaze. Brian defiantly looked back and studying the man’s features, his defiance was massaged into appreciation and his appreciation sublimated by a stretching of his lips and a stirring in his loins. Brian broke the lock for a second to take a long sip from his glass as he processed what he had just seen. He looked back, to find that the stranger wasn’t there any longer but now stood beside him.
‘Hello’ Morning came, Brian needed a lift home as he had so unceremoniously ditched his friends and left the party with the handsome man, whom he had later found out that night was called Edward*. Driving across town, Edward stopped to fill up the fuel tank and buy some items at the kiosk and returned with two chocolate bars. This was a violation of one night stand decorum… that he was taking him home at all made Brian realise… this is different. This can be more. Two months of courtship later Brian had moved in with him. This was getting serious so Brian took the next step; it was time to reveal his status. He sat Edward down and laid all his cards on the table. Edward confessed he hadn’t tested in a while and needed a little bit of time to psyche himself to go do it again. Brian wasn’t worried, they were playing it safe and so he duly obliged to give Edward as much time as he needed. Several blissful months went by; it was their 9th month together. Brian was unbelievably happy. You see, he had everything he wanted. He had landed an internship at law firm and was working for a cause that was close to his heart. He had a boyfriend whom he loved dearly and who loved him too. They had a routine going and had even split the chores. Edward knew of his mother’s love/ hate relationship with her sister, Brian knew about the time Edward had once soiled his pants back when he was a kid in primary school. Even though it had only been 9 months, theirs had all the makings of ‘happily ever after’
Fatefully one Friday night, they decided to stay indoors. Brian had his liquor and was keen to test out his new stainless steel Cobbler shaker by making some cocktails. They watched TV, played cards, drank and at four in the morning, went to cap the night of with some love making. A few hours later that Saturday morning, they were in pandemonium, running around town trying to find a clinic. They had had an accident, the condom had torn. They knew that they had 72 hours to get on PEP and made an appointment for Monday morning at a clinic for men. Edward still didn’t know his status, they had been safe, but they were both nervous and decided to test separately. They both tested negative and were receiving their PEP courses when the nurses discovered that they were a couple. The nurses argued that since they had both tested negative and on the premise that they had been faithful to one another over the last nine months, then there was no need for the PEP. With the doctor present, Brian and Edward both solemnly declared that they had indeed been faithful to each other, and at that, they both agreed to leave the PEP courses behind. Brian still remembers celebrating their 10th month together. “We had been together for double digit months and this was by far my longest relationship. This called for celebration! I altered our plans for a romantic evening together so our friends could join us for dinner and drinks. He wasn’t too impressed, but he played along. At the last minute most of them also cancelled and didn’t show up. Talk about poetic justice! We made the most of it with the handful that attended; little did I know this would be the last happy occasion we would share. Somewhere in between month 10 and 11 it all went down south.’’ Two weeks of fighting, silent treatment and stalemate later, Brian and Edward broke up a few days after an uncelebrated 11th month together. ‘So, was this a life changing experience for me?’ Brain asks. ‘Well, not only was it my first heartbreak, but also and more importantly because I went for an HIV test a week after the break up and was told that I am HIV positive. I know in my hearts of hearts that I NEVER cheated on Edward. I believe still in my heart that he didn’t, but the result indicated the contrary. I still do not believe it.’
‘This was a violation of one night stand decorum… that he was taking him home at all made Brian realise… this is different’
While most people have wised up to the dangers of having unprotected sex with a stranger or irregular partner, the sad truth is that most new cases of HIV infection occur within the bounds and assumed relative safety of a loving, committed relationship. I urge all couples to add getting tested together to their New Year’s resolutions and to use protection at all times. That four letter word, LOVE can lead to HIV. Protect yourself, protect your loved one, get tested early and know your status.— TERRENCE THONDHLANA TENDAI
*Not their real names
UHAI-EASHRI: Call For Proposals, Jan 2012 UHAI-EASHRI, the Kenyan based grant making and advocacy organization has launched its bi-yearly call for proposals from LGBT and sex work groups and organizations based in East Africa.
This is the sixth call for peer grants proposals since UHAI started.
LGBT groups and sex worker organizations have until February 5th to send in their proposals for consideration.
Groups can also contact UHAI for assistance in proposal writing as well as budgeting.
In the call, two kinds of grants are available. The Msingi one attracts a budget of USD 2000 while the other, Tujenge has a target of USD 10,000.
For more information, contact UHA-EASHRI on the following: firstname.lastname@example.org +254,020.233.0050
Identity The question that one is left to ponder is, why the community, if they are indeed advocating for inclusion, alienating themselves but adopting questionable moral mannerisms. I am inclined to agree with my colleagues thought process that all that has been achieved in the advocacy for gay rights, is the right to have multiple partners without consideration of the consequences. Is this then the future of the gay rights movement? Have we lost our way so much that we do not even remember what we joined for in the first place? Let us remember why we are advocating for the rights of the community. There is more to this then just ‘free love’. Let us realign ourselves this year to portraying a better image of the community and of gay persons. Reformation of ourselves and our thought process is the only way that we can start turning the war to our advantage. It is an election year, let us adopt the principles of aspirants and present ourselves in a way that would make us ultimately win the election.—MONA KAREITHI
Founder/ Editor-in-Chief/ Publisher | Denis Nzioka Assistant Editor | T.A.M Photography | Jim Muthuri Columnists | BarFly | Kate Kamunde | Queer Watchtower | Neville Tirimba | MaqC Eric Gitau | John Makokha | Mona Kareithi | Barbra Wangare | Akinyi M Ocholla | Contributors | Jonathan Kalan | James Wan | John Makokha | Immah Reid | John Mathenge | Eric Mawira Gitari | Anthony Oluoch | Tendai Thondhlana | Photos/Logos/Images | Jim Muthuri | Michael Wambua Soi | Authors | Sources | Identity Magazine © is founded, edited, published and distributed by the Denis Nzioka. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, utilized, reprinted, distributed or copied in any form, whole or in part or by any means electronic or mechanical - including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior written permission from Denis Nzioka. The mention or appearance or likeness of any person or organization in articles or advertising in this publication is not to be taken as any indication of sexual, social or political orientation of such persons or organizations. Identity Magazine P.O. Box 13005-00100 Nairobi, Kenya www.identitykenya.com
Out of 54 African nations, 38 have laws criminalizing homosexual acts to various extents — yet Uganda has been particularly aggressive in recent years. With over 500,000 gays reported to be living in Uganda, the risks of living openly are rising. The recent tidal wave of anti-gay attitudes in the country began in 2009, when a new anti-homosexuality bill — dubbed the “Kill the Gays Bill” because it would introduce the death sentence for some gay acts and a minimum of life imprisonment for all gays and lesbians — was introduced to the Ugandan Parliament. Several newspapers reported that the bill stemmed from a workshop held by three evangelical preachers from the US earlier that year, including Caleb Lee Brundidge, a former gay man who conducts “homosexual healing” sessions, and Scott Lively, a well known anti-gay activist and president of Defend the Family International. The workshop reportedly preached about the “gay agenda,” and the societal evils caused by homosexuality, comparing it to things like bestiality and rape. MP David Bahati, who introduced the bill, claimed it was to protect "the legal, religious, and traditional family values of the people of Uganda against the attempts of sexual rights activists seeking to impose their values of sexual promiscuity on the people of Uganda.” Instead, it rapidly stoked the flames of a new anti-gay movement. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill was eventually tabled for later discussion, and observers say it will likely never pass because of both internal and external pressures. However it was supported openly by President Yoweri Museveni, and recently leaked WikiLeaks cables from US Ambassador to Uganda Jerry Lanier claimed that First Lady Janet Museveni herself was behind the legislation. Dangerous Neighbors GlobalPost was specifically asked by an agency of the Kenyan government not to cover this story. The reason, speculated an official at the UNHCR, was that not only would it potentially “put at risk” Alex and Michael in the camp, but that causing a stir around their situation could give the couple unfair advantage to gain resettlement. While this has some truth to it, another reason may be more complex. Kenya has its own anti-gay sentiments — similar to those in Uganda, though they less often result in severe violence. Providing refuge to gay foreigners while ignoring the issue on the homefront could present a contradictory policy to the public. In 2007 the Pew Global Attitudes Project discovered that 96 percent of Kenyans said that homosexuality should be “rejected by society.” David Kuria, a prominent gay rights activist in Kenya and executive director of Gay Kenya Trust, an advocacy and support organization, agrees that Kenya is an extremely homophobic society, but says it differs from Uganda in that it lacks political endorsement for violence. In Uganda, high-ranking politicians often make extremely homophobic statements. James Nsaba Buturo, the former minister of state for ethics and integrity, said, when it comes to homosexuals, “We are talking about anal sex. Not even animals do that,” and “we believe there are limits to human rights." This type of speech, and in many cases worse, validates and justifies the violence, Kuria claims. “The government creates a sense of impunity for the people to act.” Ironically, anti-sodomy laws introduced under British colonial rule are the reason why homosexual acts are still illegal in Kenya and Uganda. Road to Resettlement After months of torment in Uganda and now Kenya, Alex and Michael’s journey toward a place where they can live freely under their real identities has just begun. The couple now faces a long and murky legal battle towards resettlement, entering a gray area of migration that has been hard to define — or prove. While tribal, ethnic and even religious distinctions are often traced through ancestries, regions and sometimes even physical features, sexual preference is a much more ambiguous form of oppression. Simply put, it’s hard to confirm “gay.” Alex and Michael are currently waiting out the bureaucratic process for resettlement through the UNHCR, yet for others who have landed in a country where they can attempt to claim asylum, the process can be even more painstaking. In most countries, to seek asylum gay applicants must provide proof of imminent risk and/or previous incidents, such as medical reports of abuse, affidavits from partners or police, and more. In countries where homosexuality is illegal these things are not easy to obtain. And even if refugees can prove they are gay, governments often ask questions about whether LGBTs can live their lives in secret in their countries of origin — or have been outed to such a level where they would face immediate persecution or death upon return.
Red Ribbon Award 2012: Call For Nominations On this year’s World AIDS Day, the UN and civil society partners jointly announced a global call for nominations for the 2012 Red Ribbon Award.
Red Ribbon Award 2012 poster
The award, which will be presented at the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) in Washington DC in July 2012, will be given to ten organizations
that have shown outstanding community leadership and action on AIDS. The selected community organizations will benefit from international visibility and an invitation to participate in the XIX International AIDS Conference. Additionally, each recipient of the award will receive a US$10,000 grant.
The five award categories are: Prevention of sexual transmission, Prevention among people who use drugs, Treatment, care and support, Advocacy and human rights, Stopping new HIV infections in children and keeping mothers alive; women's health. The closing date for nominations is February 29th, 2012.
International outrage fell upon the Czech Republic last year when it attempted to verify gay asylum seekers by attaching genital cuffs and monitoring their arousal when watching gay porn. Although the Fundamental Rights Agency criticized the measure, it illustrated the government’s intense concern about fraud. In 2009, Stephen and Helen Mahoney, naturalized US citizens from Russia living in Kent, Washington, pleaded guilty to charges of “conspiracy to commit immigration fraud” after coaching straight asylum seekers on how to pass themselves as gay — for fees upwards of $4,000. The odds are stacked against all refugees, gay or straight. Of the more than 10 million refugees worldwide, only an estimated 100,000 are resettled each year. Given community-led violence against gays and high-level political reinforcement of homophobia in his homeland, Alex fears he and Michael will never again be able to return to Uganda. With few options before him, and currently no help from outside agencies, Alex has relied on his faith to keep him positive and driven. Alex describes himself as a devout Christian. He says he finds great incongruity between the intense religiosity of his country and the idea of bashing gay “sinners.” He says he didn’t choose to be gay. “God did,” he said.—JONATHAN KALAN First published by The Global Post, Reprinted with permission We held our silence to the memory of all the pain that led to this success. When ‘he’ finally left ‘his’ home and past to find herself. How she knew ‘his’ mother was only too happy that she didn’t have to witness her birth. How at the age of 17, scared and alone, ‘he’ had no doubt in his mind that nobody was looking for ‘him’ or even concern for ‘his’ well being. But all those she forgave. From the family that was now a cluster of strangers she hadn’t laid eyes on for ten years, to the ‘friends’ who walked away in a blink of an eye. To the man who violently raped her, especially the one who placed those marks on her back when all she wanted was to make some money for something to eat. It was just a few months after her great escape. She was taking all possible jobs to make enough to help her achieve her goal and still be alive to see the day. Ranging from construction, delivery, prostitution, sales, e.t.c., it was on one of those days that she got a client. The pay was handsome enough to make her take the risk. Her intuition pushed her from the idea as best as it could until the gates to the luxurious mansion were opened. But his mission proved to be stronger and got her all the way to a master bedroom that looked exactly how she saw her future one in this dreams. The two hundred and fifty pound, over six feet tall black man that entered the room as she was freshening up sent danger alerts all over her body and mind. Two hours after excruciating sodomy, whips on her back and bruises on her arms and legs where the chains held she endured. She lay in a pool of semen, blood and tears. The man walked out and a beautiful hostess came to clean him up, put her in a cab and sent her away with thrice the pay she expected. As she cried her way home she became more dedicated to her mission - to erase her masculinity but also all the indignity that came with the journey of accomplishing it. So, there we stood a few surgeries and hormonal pills later. As I held the most beautiful woman I knew both in body and spirit, I could not help but tear. Silence to the death of Dan, cheers to the birth of Daniela.—IMMAH REID
Does Dating A Trans* Woman Make A Guy Gay? The obvious answer to this is NO. But, I will tell you why. Trans women who identify as straight are just that, straight! A guy who dates a trans woman is a straight man interested in a straight woman, period. The fact that the trans woman is trans is a non issue. Transgender people have a gender identity issue and not a sexual orientation issue. A trans person can have any sexual orientation in existence on this earth! We know that a straight man will be interested in a woman because of a myriad of factors. This could be their beauty, their femininity, their mannerisms among others. If a trans woman has these qualities then straight men will definitely hit on her, regardless of her being trans. Trans women don’t go around wearing labels that mark them as “trans”, right? It is pretty stupid to think that just because this woman was born anatomically male, that a man dating her will automatically become gay. It doesn’t even matter whether the trans woman is a pre-op (has not undergone bottom surgery) or is a post-op? Interesting enough, most straight men who see a woman, any woman, and are interested, will pursue them until they get what they want, or get an answer. But this is where it gets serious.
‘There are others who, upon learning the identity of the trans woman, will beat them up or even worse, kill them, out of a rage fit. They claim that they were ‘duped into thinking she was a real woman’
How stressful must it be for a trans woman? Think about it. She has to constantly remind herself that she is not, in the eyes of society, ‘fully female’. Especially if she is pre-op. The fact that she still hasn’t undergone bottom surgery poses a threat to her life in many ways. Kenya as we know it is still quite homophobic let alone transphobic. The knowledge of transgender issues is nearly non-existent. Many a Kenyan will think that trans woman is a gay man dressed as a woman because of this ignorance. Thus, a trans woman who is single and dating will definitely have major problems in her dating life. It is very difficult for a trans woman to find a man who is okay with their identity. More often than not, they will experience a myriad of problems. There are some men who actively seek out trans women, to seduce them with the aim of attacking them for who they are. There are others who, upon learning the identity of the trans woman, will beat them up or even worse, kill them, out of a rage fit. They claim that they were ‘duped into thinking she was a real woman’. These are definite threats to trans women and make their dating experience such a terrifying ordeal. When does a trans woman reveal that she is indeed trans? (Here I speak of those trans women who can ‘pass’ enough for ‘normal’ trans women. Note the quotes. I will speak of them later.) Does she reveal this during the date(s)? Before they kiss? Before they get more intimate? When?
By the time a trans woman and the man have gotten to a point they are physical, I believe the trans woman should have told the man. This is after deducting whether the man seems interested enough and has the ability to accept diversity. Unfortunately, this is never so for every man. Some men can seem to be open-minded yet be appallingly transphobic. This way, the trans woman can pull out of a bad dating experience where the man shows transphobia. The modalities of physical intimacy between trans women and cis men can be challenging too. It is a well known fact that most sexual being associate sex with the sexual organs existing between one’s legs and their use. A typical cis man knows that women have jayjays. Period. Now comes this different kind of woman who doesn’t have this, in fact, has something pretty similar to what he has. How does he reconcile his preconceived notion of sex, where a man inserts his dick into the girl’s vagina? Aside from this, how does the man reconcile his notions of gay sex when the trans woman tells him that she likes anal sex? Does he then begin to view himself as gay? CONTINUED ON PAGE 40
Identity The real question here is, why is the genitalia of the trans woman an issue? How is it that a man dating a woman who happens to have ‘male’ genitalia is deemed gay? Aren’t we then saying that the trans woman is not really a woman simply because she has ‘male’ genitals and that she is actually still a man and so any man who dates her, now him, is gay because he is dating a man? Isn’t that insensitive and transphobic? Isn’t this returning us to the same old notion that genitalia marks one gender and not their gender identity? Again, gender is between the ears, and not between the legs. This cannot be clearer than mineral water. It is a given. Therefore, a man, identified as a man, regardless of what he has between his legs, who dates a woman, identified as a woman, regardless of what she has between her legs, is NOT gay. I yearn for a time in this world when heteronormative notions of sex and gender shall be non-existent. I long for the day that we will look at each other as human beings, and not as the labels we so quickly form and stick on each other as it happens now. A day when the only label we give each other is, “human”. My qualms with identities and labels are many. For example, when one says a trans woman has ‘male genitalia’, what do they mean? Isn’t male genitalia, genitalia for a man? If this is so, then genitalia for a trans woman is the genitalia for a trans woman, and not male genitalia, right? The argument that it is male genitalia simply because it ‘looks like’ a cisgender male’s genitals does not hold water for me and quite frankly I think is an insult to trans women. But I digress. Trans women should know and understand their situation and be careful when they date. An interesting and informative guide on this can be found at http://transsexual.org/dating1.html.—BARBRA MURUGA
Job Vacancies/Positions Available PEMA-KENYA are looking for persons to fill two positions to be based at its offices in Mombasa—Legal & Advocacy Officer and Economic & Welfare Officer. Deadline is February 3rd 2012. For more information e-mail PEMA KENYA via: email@example.com The Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK) is looking for a Researcher for a 5 month research dubbed ‘The Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights Project’ The incumbent will develop research tools, help identify potential interviewees, undertake field research and collate data. For more information, e-mail GALCK via firstname.lastname@example.org
IDENTITY MAGAZINE is looking for a photographer
and design /layout officer both who will work part-time for the magazine. Those interested to interns are also welcome to send in their applications. For more details, e-mail the Editor via: email@example.com OUT in Pretoria, South Africa is currently looking for two persons to fill vacancies at OUT— Health Manager & Office Administrator. The positions are to be based in the OUT offices in Pretoria. OUT served the LGBT community is Pretoria and focus on MSM and LGBT. For application queries, e-mail OUT via firstname.lastname@example.org OPEN SOCIETY FOUNDATIONS is seeking an experienced, strategic leader committed to open society values to direct their US Programs. The Open Society Foundations
work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. For details and applications, please email OSF on email@example.com by February 13th. ST EAVE NEM ANDE, Cameroon’s leading gay rights activist is looking for a personal assistant. Send an drneemail to firstname.lastname@example.org for details. YOUTH VOICES COUNT (YVC) is seeking its full-time Coordinator with solid experience in HIV-related programs, focusing on young men who have sex with men and transgender people. Send CV and letter to email@example.com
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Be careful when meeting someone for the first time. Meet in a public place, let a close friend know where you will be and carry enough money to take care of your expenses and transport back home. Identity Magazine cannot authenticate the validity of the messages or ads that appear here. No claims or liability will imputed on Identity Magazine for any loss or risk that arises from the same.
TOP LGBT STORIES IN KENYA IN 2011 “husband”
With 2011 gone, Identity Magazine takes a look back at the most important stories of the last twelve months on LGBT in Kenya.
4. KHRC launches report on LGBT situation in Kenya In a 2011 survey, the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) launched a report on the human rights situation of LGBT Kenyans. It found that only 18% of LGBT Kenyans had told their families about their sexual orientation. Of these, 89 per cent were subsequently disowned.
Consideration was taken on the response elicited, readership, and coverage. 10. Openly gay Kenyans go into politics
2011 saw two gay Kenyans thrust themselves into politics. David Kuria, declared he was running for the Senate seat in Kiambu county while Denis Nzioka declared interest in the presidency of Kenya. 9. Famous Kenyan gay couple divorce Two years after their much highly publicized wedding in the UK, Charles and Daniel are now finalizing their divorce. The two filed divorce papers in the UK amidst speculation that the marriage was sham and used in the pretext of getting a Visa to the UK by one of them.
2011. Amidst a gaping want in lubricant provision for gay men, MSM health activist, Angus Parkinson, in collaboration with others agencies, produced, designed and are selling the lubricants targeted for MSMs and gay men. 6. Regional LGBT groups emerging 2011 witnessed a mushrooming of LGBT and MSM groups in Kenya as a consequence of LGBT persons reclaiming their space and freedom of association. Groups have emerged in places like Malindi, Lamu, Turkana, Kisumu, Kericho and Machako, places that initially were considered too high risk for gays to live or be open. Most of the groups are registered as health groups.
8. Pro-gay Chief Justice appointed Dr. Willy Mutunga was appointed as Kenya’s Chief Justice after a process that was riddled by his pro-gay sentiments and led to one MP, in a public hearing asking him out rightly, ‘Are you a homosexual?’ Mutunga has maintained he is not gay. His law firm is creidited with registering the Gay and Lesbian Coaliton of Kenya. 7. Gay men’s lube launched Glide, Kenya’s first ever lube for gay men was launched and distributed in
5. High Courts Recognizes traditional same sex marriage; gives inheritance rights The High Court in Mombasa has upheld the validity of a traditional Nandi womanto-woman marriage. Judge Maureen Odero rejected a challenge to an earlier High Court decision recognizing the legality of a traditional Nandi woman-to-woman marriage between Monica Jesang Katam and Cherotich Kimong’ony Kibserea. He also confirmed Jesang’s right to administer and inherit the estate of her late female
3. Politician Willia m Samoei Ruto emerges as leading antigay politician, personality Former Minister and MP for Eldoret North, William Ruto has emerged as the face behind anti-gay sentiments in Kenya. He has consistently said that gays are ruining Kenya and spreading immorality. In many public discourses and the run to the constitution referendum, Ruto has used the anti-gay agenda to push for his interests. 2. Kenya hosts first ever gay film festival Kenya witnessed the first ever gay and lesbian film festival that showcased gay, lesbian and trans films for the Kenyan audience. The (now annual) two day event attracted hundreds of participants as well as critical acclaim and publicity. 1. Launch of Identity Magazine, Freedom in Speech The LGBT community owned their space with the launch of Freedom in Speech termed as the ‘voice of LGBT Kenyans’ and Identity magazine that hold a place in history as the first and only exclusively LGBT and sex work magazine ever published in Kenya.