Sentiments on Gay relationships in Kenya.


Eudiah Kamonjo talks to a few gay people in Kenya on a one on one basis to find out their sentiments about their sexual orientation. 

When I set out to do this story, I knew this was a potentially explosive issue that needed to be handled with a bunch of reservations. Facts and figures had already been aired before and I needed to find out the actual sentiments about gay relationships right from the horses mouth. One snag however, I did not know of any young man who was really and truly gay. I knew ladies were a lot more open compared to guys. In any case, if I did find one, would he talk as freely as I see guys in America do? 

Tattooed at the back of my mind was the fact that Kenya is still deeply rooted in both cultural and religious values, that liberalisation had just started and that everyone (including me) still lived in fear of wondering what people would say. On the other hand, it was recently announced that a new Voluntary Counselling Centre (V.C.T) was being set up to cater for homosexuals or gays (people attracted to others of the same sex)- Leading to the questions; Have Kenyans finally accepted that gays actually exist in our community or was the centre just a by the way given the alleged connection of H.I.V to homosexuality. Do gay relationships still exist even though it’s illegal or is it just some hype going around owing to the scenes people make in pubs? How do they feel now that their rights are being advocated for?

 Gay sexuality is a contemporary human rights issue and soon we just might see people approaching the law courts demanding its legalisation in Kenya. The personal law has not been amended to provide for gays nor has there been an appropriate legislation enacted to unleash homosexuality onto the public with the demand for respect, equal treatment before the law and all those issues that call for human rights provision. It therefore still remains illegal and gay people still operate ‘behind the closet’. 

I finally managed to get hold of Mark, a homosexual who was willing to talk over lunch (It’s a rather long story how I got wind of his sexual orientation but I did). The first time we were meant to meet, he cancelled and I thought he’d ‘freaked out’ or changed his mind about talking to me.

Next day though, he turned up and I must admit he was more stunning than I expected.In his early 20’s, Mark believes that gay behaviour has always been in his genes. “Ever since I was a teenager, I was always attracted to other boys. As I grew older and more expressive. I’d stare at attractive guys and sometimes infront of my friends I would say “Damn! That guy is hot! It’s something that has always been inside me.” 

The ‘Born that way’ theory on homosexuality that tries to prove that the behaviour is genetic has held no stability over the years of research it has undergone but there is no urging with him. Mark’s sexual orientation is already ‘out of the closet’. “I went open about my sexuality early this year because I was sick of doing all this behind my friends. I had a feeling they already knew or had their suspicions because of my comments. I announced it on a Satuarday when all my friends were around. I said ‘I want to let you all know that I am gay and that I do not care if any of you has a problem with being my friend because of that’. They did not seem as surprised as I thought they’d be but some began to avoid me after that,” he admits. 

According to him, Kenyans have began to accept gay relationships because nowadays gay people do not really care what people say and they believe in the phrase ‘Its my life’ therefore no one has an obligation to question another persons way of life.

“I prefer guys a thousand times. I do not like being in relationships with girls because they have too much drama, besides, I have realised guys are more faithful,” says Mark.

 Ken Ougo, a university lecturer on Sociology of Deviant Behaviour has been conducting research on homosexuality since 1998. In various studies carried out in Nairobi and Mombasa; he interviewed 173 homosexuals, 69 in Nairobi and 104 in Mombasa (where the behaviour is more rampant owing to tourism).Out of 173, 12 were between 16-20 years, 71 between the ages 21-30 and 87 between the ages 30-40 while 3 were above 40 years. Some of the reasons given were poverty/monetary gain (94 /173), peer influence (43/173), curiosity (19/173), blackmail or coercion (4/173) and (13 /173) were unsure of the reasons they got into it. Though biological theorists have tried to prove that it is genetic, it has found a stronger basis on sociological reasons. That it is highly dependent on the environment (physical and social) and that it is usually one’s choice.‘However, there are other contributing aspects like the inherent hatred of the opposite sex for various reasons like abandonment or assault as a child. The fear of failure of a normal relationship especially for people with low self esteem,” cautions Ken. 

Clara Thompson, a Psychoanalyst also once said, “People who have low self esteem have a tendency to cling to their own sex because it is less life threatening.” 

In pubs, ladies kissing is one of those common scenes but to see guys making out here is as rare as a panda in Kenya. Lesbianism is more acceptable compared to homosexuality.

Alex, a 26 year old heterosexual commented, “I can understand lesbians but homosexuals. It’s so… aww.. disgusting!!” 

Carol, a research assistant thinks that ladies are getting into it because it is fashionable or just a fad. “Its every guy’s fantasy to see girls kissing and ladies sometimes do it just to please their men. Their first time experience may have been so good they try it again and they eventually get addicted.” 

Stephanie, a 24 year old lesbian stresses that most men do not know how to please a woman, “For a man, the goal is his orgasm after which he falls asleep and starts snoring. With lesbian sex, multiple orgasms are usual. While men move from one physical task to the next as if in a marathon, a lesbian adopts the ‘We have all the time in the world’ method.” 

Its legalisation in South Africa is just the beginning.      


6 Responses to “Sentiments on Gay relationships in Kenya.”

  1. bree Says:

    your piece is really intersting and it captures a social aspect of life most of us are trying to avoid.
    i guess the scariest thing would be if as a parent yo child came and confirmed your worst fear.I.e they are gay….its much easier when its someonelse who is gay.


  2. David Says:

    Good piece. Well written and thoughtful.


  3. Kenyan Vixen Says:

    Sad that Gaetano Kagwa, Studio 53 presenter and Big Brother contestant was suspended from Capital FM Uganda for the controversial interview with the lesbian human rights activist.


  4. perminus Says:

    well researched topic.i believe a bigger percentage of the young kenyan women between 16-30 have entertained the idea of hitting on onother woman.For men i believe that its out of some event,circumstance in life,it just doesnt happen that easily.


  5. Apocalyps Says:

    Babylon system must fall. Fie burn corruption!!!


  6. Girls kissing each other Says:

    Girls kissing each other is so sexy, your site is great, i love it.


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