We are rioting – #PrideMonth should not be calendar month – but a living reality

June is often celebrated as Pride Month – a time to celebrate the diversity of sexualities, and gender identities. Most importantly, it is a time to bring visible the lives, stories, and experiences, of persons who identify as LGBTIQ.

In most African countries, LGBTIQ persons continue to live in hiding, out of fear of being ‘outed’, or being targeted for who they are. Stories of evictions, threats, arrests, and killings, have filled our newspapers, pointing, sadly, to a lived reality for so many of us who identify as LGBTIQ.

Pride Month was set aside to honour the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan, US. Dubbed the first gay pride, the events leading to the riots are commemorated as the tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the US.

Which is why Pride Month matters to us, Africans.

You see, that first Pride was a riot. It was a group of queer, and trans persons, fed up by constant police raids, and arrests, who decided enough is enough. The tipping point had been reached.

But why should a 1960’s American event resonate here? Perhaps, it is important to point out that LGBTIQ Africans continue to face the same challenges that these 1960’s queers were facing – an unwelcoming society, a stereotypical media, a corrupt police force, and invisibility. And shame to be themselves.

Hence, they decided to venture into spaces such as clubs, and bars, where they could be themselves, associate, talk, learn, and share their experiences as they supported one another.

But, as if that was not enough, they came to be attacked in their safe spaces – their sanctums. This was not a police raid; this was an attack on themselves. The police represented all their oppression. And they reacted to that oppression by standing their ground. No more, they chanted!

This was the tipping point.

Most LGBTIA Africans have also reached their tipping points – we have seen wonderful visible campaigns, Pride marches, and more, and more activists coming out to challenge the system – and people – that put them down. We have seen them marching on streets, we have seen them in our newspapers, we have seen them sharing with the less fortunate, we have seen them in courts, we have seen them in Kilimani Mums.

Our Pride Month is not about a calendar month – it’s a lived reality. Everyday we face our fears, challenge oppression, and seek to be more visible, and open.

We are rioting. Not noticed that yet?

Image: Revellers are seen at Uganda’s second annual gay pride parade in Entebbe, August 3, 2013. (Hilary Heuler/for VOA)

(More) gay dating apps are not the solution

 

The other day, I got called

To a meeting

With some high end entrepreneurs

Canadian

Had the solution to all gay African problems

Kenyans to begin with

Ha!

 

App

Yes, an App

To meet other gays

Like Grindr

But theirs was ‘better’

Safer

More control

 

They went meeting the people tour

Kisumu. Mombasa. Nairobi.

Bought twinks coffee, and Java – did the whole live video thingi

Fake English accents.

Some faggot called me to tell me they wanted to see me

I am the person to talk to in Kenya

About gays. About Apps. About selling cheap merchandise

 

Ha!

 

I refused.

Told my GALCK broker – if they are not selling me a business idea, they can do all they want

Kenya does not need dating Apps

Or white folks using black influencers to sell cheap merchandise

Or to change the UNAIDS leadership

I/we refuse to be used anymore

For commerce/politicking

 

We do not need more gay dating Apps.

We have dated. With or without them

Safely. Soundly. Securely.

 

Want to sell a merchandise?

Buy the gays booze, go to their bars, buy them drinks

Do Java, live-feed the croissants

Take photos – photos are important for marketing

Get on Grindr – check for dates – yes, because you not using your own bloody App

Who would have thought?

Yes, ma’faka I saw you ‘close to me’ on Grindr

What was it? 150m?

 

You have an App to sell.

Liiv on your own terms.

Yes, I love raw gay sex

Yes, I love raw sex!

Gay men enjoy condom-less sex. It is not because they do not care about themselves or their health. It is because it feels good. Quit shaming people for their right to choose, especially when you are making the same choices. Sex positivity includes understanding and accepting that condom use is not the only safer sex option.

Most gay men are missing out on a lot of chances to have sex because they do not understand why people ask for bareback sex. Those who do enjoy raw sex often ask: “How safe am I?” There are also gay men who ask: “What if I have HIV, and people keep asking me for bareback sex? Do I just keep giving it to them? Granted, I will not necessarily infect them but how do I keep them safe?”

First, there is no shame in wanting or engaging in bareback sex. Most gay profiles in dating Apps have the option of displaying one’s sexual preference: bareback, condom-sex, or ‘needs discussion.’ It is ironic, because a lot of people on these Apps want to bareback. Those who pick ‘bareback’ or ‘needs discussion’ are often seen as vectors or out to infect others. There is no truth in this.

It is time we completely removed the fear of HIV from sex. I have no issue with having sexual intercourse with HIV-positive guys. If they are on ARV medication, and with undetectable viral load, it means they are un-transmittable.

Do not judge me. I am HIV-negative and I love bare backing. It is so intense that it is almost a spiritual experience for me. I have to admit I feel kind of guilty afterwards. But then the next time I have an opportunity to go raw, I do it again.

But as a sexually active gay man, I have the option of not just condoms, regular testing, but now, with PrEP, I can make rational decisions about sex and can minimize risk.

When I first went public about using PrEP, I was met with derision and slut shaming. I won’t B.S. you. After I started taking the pill and waiting a few weeks for the meds to kick in, I was out there shagging dudes raw like crazy. Yeah, yeah – I know I am supposed to be using a rubber but I just didn’t want to.

If you go on the hookup apps like Hornet or Grindr, at least around here, most all of the guys are shagging each other without protection.

I have heard a lot of people on PrEP say they tend not to mention it to strangers. I guess some people worry that those on PrEP are having condom-less sex and so might be more likely to have other STDs, but that’s not borne out by any data.

I make sexual choices everyday – from consent, to privacy, to the kind of partners I sleep with. With PrEP, that has become a much more informed – and happier decision.

#LetsGetReal for once!