June is #PrideMonth. 2012 saw Kenya’s ‘First ever Pride’ event

The Curator

#PrideMonth, celebrated in the whole of June, is a month-long celebration of love, diversity, acceptance and unashamed self-pride.

Historically a US-based activity, that has now gone globally, Pride Month is meant to recognise the sweeping impact, contribution and witness that LGBTQ individuals, advocates and allies have made.

The month of June was chosen for Pride Month to commemorate the riots held by members of the LGBT community against a police raid that took place at the Stonewall Inn in New York City on June 28, 1969.

Pride in Kenya? How so?

On June 26, 2012, the US embassy in Nairobi hosted a gay pride event, believed to be the first of its kind in the country, according to multiple news coverage at that time.

According to a VOA report, the event was marked to show US Government solidarity with LGBT people. 2012 was also during Obama’s tenure where President Barack Obama’s decision to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” that kept gays from serving openly in the U.S. military, and his public endorsement of same-sex marriage earlier this month were marked.

However, the ‘Pride event’ was not without concern. Several activists and oranisations signed a petition calling out the US embassy over the event, in part due to its policies and tokenism.

However, the VoA coverage quoted Kate Kamunde, a Kenyan LGBT activist, who described her experience.

“I identify as a queer woman who is an activist.  If I had an option not to live a life that is free of being evicted from homes, facing all of these kinds of violations, if I had an option out of the situation that I live with as a lesbian, first and foremost as a woman, I would have already opted out.  There is no way I would choose to live a life that is totally discriminatory for me, one as a human being, as a woman and as a lesbian identifying individual.  If I had an option out I would definitely take it, but I don’t have that option, this is who I am.  Think about that,” she said. 

MaqC Gitau, the then general manager of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya said the event was a milestone.

“What makes this day stand out for us here in Kenya however is that more than anything else, it is about visibility,” said Gitau, the VoA further reported.

In 2018, however, foreign embassies and higher commissions were called out for their tokenism during #PrideMonth.

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