Photographer: Justin A
These erotic portraits are part of a photo series I have been doing in Kenya, telling the stories of LGBTQ folks in Kenya. Discrimination and violence against members of the LGBTQ community are common here in Kenya where the constitution is not supportive of gay rights – for example, consensual sex between two males is punishable by 5 years imprisonment. The man in these photos wanted to remain anonymous for safety reasons. However, he wanted to talk about his struggles being gay. He says:
I identify as a gay man. I live in Kenya. It is difficult to live here because it is illegal to be gay. If you are caught you will be beaten by a mob or the community. If your family finds out, they will not identify you as their kin. They will you chase you away. My family cannot find out that I am gay.
Gay men in Kenya sometimes use the situation in Kenya to blackmail each other. One time I was threatened to be outed. I went to visit a man from Grindr for a hook-up. When he saw me from his balcony, he did not like how I was dressed as he was from the upper class. He told me to go away and if I tried calling him, he would expose me.
Also, some men will meet you for sex and then after, they will go out of the room, saying that they are getting food or something else. When they return, they bring two of three friends with them, take away your clothes, photograph you and rob you, threatening that if you go to the police that they will expose you.
Homophobia effects my mental health. It causes me depression because I am constantly afraid of being exposed to my family. The fact that I always have to hide myself and not be who I am, also depresses me.
If I could talk to people who are homophobic I would tell them to mind their own business and let people live the way they want to live. Gay people do not harm straight people so they should not be harming us.
I do not believe that God hates gay people. God wants people to be treated equally.
My hope is that in the future that being gay in Kenya will be legal. If being gay was not against the law, I could marry the man of my choice. I would feel good and proud and safe.