Meet the Curator!

The Curator
Photo: John Trygve Tollefsen

Denis Nzioka is a sexual, and gender minority activist-author with a particular focus on LGBTIQ and Sex Worker communities in Kenya and in Africa. He has been instrumental in the formation of several organisations in Kenya that focus on queer and sex worker’s rights while supporting regional organising around SOGIE and sex work human rights focus.

A pioneer, he ran, albeit covertly, Kenya’s first safe house for LGBTIQ persons in 2009. At the same time, he was the first Kenyan to publicly come out on national TV. Since then, his articles and blogs have been featured by various media outlets across the world. He has also been making regular TV and radio appearances.

He also started the first – and only – LGBTI magazine in Kenya, Identity Kenya, as well as was the first, in the continent and globally in 2014, to unveil an LGBTIQ news App on Google Stores. He co-edited Gay Kenya’s book ‘My Way, Your Way or the Rights Way’ and published in March 2019 an anthology book of Kenyan allies speaking out for LGBTIQ rights titled “Rafiki Zetu: Kenyan LGBTI Stories, as told, by Allies”, that is arguably, Africa’s first and probably the world!

He founded the Denis Nzioka News Agency and Service in 2010 as the first-ever exclusive media agency and service for the LGBTQI, sex work and allied community in Kenya. It worked to transform public opinion and social attitudes through grassroots reporting and community commentary. It also provided advocacy and resource materials.

He was named as one of the World’s Top 10 Tweeters on Sexuality and Development, in addition to receiving multiple other accolades and awards. He received the Sauti Award in 2016 for ‘balanced reporting of sex work issues,’ and to celebrate their 10th year anniversary, the Feathers Awards, South Africa LGBT Awards, named him as its 2018 Africa Feather Award honouree. He was honored with the 2019 Munir Mazrui Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders in Kenya.

Currently, he is undertaking a self-sponsored research project “Waiter, umenyonga ugali: LGBTI rights and Human Rights”. He attempts to answer the question, ‘Are LGBTIQ rights part of the Kenya civil society menu?’ He hopes to investigate how – if at all – civil society’s organisations in Kenya are integrating the rights of sexual and gender minorities in their advocacy strategies, and social change programs.

He unveiled the Gay and Lesbian Archives of Kenya, dubbed KumbuKumbu, an open, online, and free repository for records documenting the history and culture of the LGBTIQ movement in Kenya from mid-1800 to present day in January 2020.

Openly gay, Denis Nzioka is also a parent. He is based in Nairobi, Kenya.

His motto remains: “Telling, differently, lesbian, bisexual, gay, trans, intersex, queer, non-conforming, and sex workers’ voices, experiences, and stories, in Kenya, and Africa.

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