“Oh, there you go, have a seat, Mademoiselle.” – Anonymous
Nairobi, July 10
Authors: Nje-ri, Nzioka
#PrideMonth We are tired of those Pride events in your high-walled embassies
Recently, a UK agency staff posted a picture of her, and her colleagues with a rainbow flag in their background celebrating #PrideMonth. It was captioned: ‘Celebrating love and equality British High Commission Nairobi style.”
Nothing to it, right?
The photo op was all white. “Nairobi style,” right?
The Embassy was the British High Commission in Nairobi. You, know, the same British who exported these anti gay laws to their colonies that we are now grappling with.
Fun fact! That in 1967, after leaving a legacy of anti-LGBT legal discrimination to its colonies, Britain decriminalised same sex – finding it an area of private morality, within which the law had no business. Meanwhile us guys, English Scriptures in hand, retained the laws, terming them critical to our ‘African values’.
Apart from the clear disconnect of what this photo, at its basic, was all about – #PrideSoWhite – it highlighted how race, classism, and disconnect from issues the photo highlighted. It did not help the photo was by a (privileged) white woman. I mean, I might be wrong, but Pride, Nairobi Pride certainly is not experienced exclusively, cannot be curated, presented, curated as white, privileged, cis, albeit…. It also did not help the whole line up was majorly white.
Queer Africans are typically tired of European and American embassies ‘celebrating’ Pride with their one-off photo op with local queer activists who are invited to these high walled, highly secured buildings, forced to show up at 8am for an 12pm event since its how security works, their personal details taken, fingerprinted, IDs and phones taken away, invitation copy ready in hand, have to be forced to dress up for the black tie occasion, served measly teas and biscuits, just to serve a PR stunt by the Ambassadors and their attaches.
Yes, we celebrated Pride, they claim. We got the black, African, poor, gays and lesbians, invited them – you know an invitation from us is like manna from Heaven, they washed up, put on deo, dressed in fine silk and linen, because we have to stand next to them for the photos.
Did someone hoist the rainbow flag next to ours? Oh, that must be the proverbial mama’s home-made stew in all occasions. The flag. The rainbow flag is important.
Oh, look at the time!
They must leave now. Tea and biscuits is over! We need to close down the embassy. Terrorist thing.
Did someone take a pic of the rainbow flag? Got the black faces with me in them, too? Oh, great!
Dear Embassies and High Commissions, how about funding LGBTI organisations in Kenya? How about involving yourselves in the work – the problematic, emotional, inclusive, defeatist work – that assures Pride? How about celebrating Pride by talking to us how we celebrate Pride. A pride flag at your high walled High Commission does not help us. It never has.
But hey, cheers good buddy! Happy #PrideMonth to you all foreign embassies, High Commissions, and companies who only remember that there is a gay community in Kenya during Pride Month and IDAHOT (May 17).
You invite us poor, black gay Africans to your beautiful residences, we sip on wines we cannot afford, take pictures, and you get to tick a box in your monthly deliverables then continue to deny us refuge, discard our asylum applications and ignore our asks regarding equal partnership and demand flawless audit reports for the past 5 years for us to get a measly 10USD for airtime each month for a whole year.
Yes, we see you. Happy #PrideMonth
*Nje-ri is a queer, feminist, Pan African activist. The other one is a homo.