Out in Kenya: Encountering Friends Like Us

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“ARE YOU MARRIED?” That was the first question coming from one of the men seated next to me. I immediately assumed he was curious about same-sex marriage in the United States. I replied that I was not, but had a male partner and a son adopted by him. People in this part of Sub-Saharan Africa have some access to the Internet and young “gay” men visit websites where they are learning what it’s like to be homosexual in Western societies. Young gay men here are aware of the legalization of homosexual unions, and its related debates, in Europe and the U.S.

Another young man in the circle created by about a dozen young gay men asked me what differences I saw between Kenya and the U.S. Affluence, of course, is a pretty evident contrast between the two countries. A third man solicited advice on how to tell parents about one’s homosexual orientation and how to persuade others that being gay is not evil. After I had introduced myself, I invited the group to ask questions about me before I started with my own inquiry. Their queries reminded me of those I had encountered among young gay men in the U.S., Mexico, Chile, and Cuba. Being gay, or homosexual, in Kisumu, Kenya, however, presents other striking disparities.

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