Kenya: LGBT Christians Writing History

Dr Adriaan van Klinken is associate professor of Religion and African Studies at the University of Leeds, and director of the Centre for Religion and Public Life. His research focuses on religion and public life in contemporary Africa, specifically in relation to issues of gender and sexuality. He is currently completing a monograph entitled Kenyan, Christian, Queer: Religion, LGBT Activism and Arts of Resistance in Africa.

Read more about this Kenyan LGBT church and the African American organisation it is linked to in: Adriaan van Klinken, ‘Culture Wars, Race and Sexuality: A Nascent Pan-African LGBT Affirming Movement and the Future of Christianity’, Journal of Africana Religions 5/2 (2017), 217-238.

In July-August 2015, I made a first fieldwork trip to Kenya for a new research project, on the relationship between Christianity and LGBT activism in the country. During that trip, several people mentioned the existence of “a gay church” in Nairobi. Obviously, my curiosity was piqued immediately. I managed to get in touch with some of the leaders, and on the last Sunday before my departure I was able to attend one of their services. That Sunday afternoon, I encountered a group of about 25 young people in the office space of an LGBT rights organization, where they had gathered for prayer, worship and preaching. When I returned in 2016 for further research, they had moved to another venue.

The current venue is a room in a building along a busy street in Nairobi’s central business district. This location is convenient, as it is easily reachable by church members coming from all parts of the city. But perhaps this location is also strategic and prophetic: in the midst of the hectic of downtown Nairobi, with all the noise of traffic, street vendors and evangelists, there is also a gathering of LGBT Christians. They meet to praise God, read the Bible, receive inspiration, pray for one another, and to discuss matters of sexuality and faith – in short, they meet to share their lives. Their presence is an anticipation of a city that is yet to come, a city with freedom not only for the expression of religion but also of diverse sexualities. Read more via Religion in Public