Kenyan, Christian, Queer

The Centre of African studies invites you to an exciting online seminar and film screening with Adriaan van Klinken, author of the book Kenyan Christian Queer (Penn State University Press, 2019) David Ochar (co-founder and senior pastor at the Cosmopolitan Affirming Church in Kenya) and community organizer Peter Odongo. In this seminar we will interrogate popular narratives that cite religion as the driving force behind homophobia in Africa, and examine the first LGBTIQ church in Nairobi, The Cosmopolitan Affirming Church (CAC).

We will screen the short documentary Kenyan, Christian Queer, about the life of CAC and its members. It explores how this community provides a space where LGBT Kenyans can be affirmed in their sexuality and faith, and how it seeks to promote an inclusive and progressive form of Christianity in a rather conservative society. Both the book and the film seek to foreground how religion, specifically Christianity, is not only a driving force of socio-political homophobia in African societies (and indeed across the world), but also serves as a site of queer activism and empowerment.

The film is directed by Aiwan Obinyan and has been selected to a range of international film festivals such as Film Africa, Africa in Motion and Out on Film – Atlanta LGBTQ Film Festival.

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Seminar programme:

  • Welcome and introduction, Karen Lauterbach, Centre of African Studies, UCPH
  • Kenyan, Christian, Queer: Religion, LGBT Activism, and Arts of Resistance in Africa, by Adriaan van Klinken
  • Screening of Kenyan, Christian, Queer, by Aiwan Obinyan
  • The life of The Cosmopolitan Affirming Church and its members, David Ochar
  • Sensitization training of religious leaders in LGBTQ+ issues, Peter Odongo.
  • Q&A

Participants:

Adriaan van Klinken is Professor of Religion and African Studies at Leeds University (UK). He is an extraordinary professor at the University of Western Cape (South Africa), where he is associated with the Desmond Tutu Centre for Religion and Social Justice. Adriaan van Klinken’s research focus is on the politicisation of homosexuality in African Christian contexts as well as the role of religion in LGBT activism in various African contexts. He is the author of a wide range of publications such as Public Religion and the Politics of Homosexuality in Africa and Christianity and Controversies over Homosexuality in Contemporary Africa (co-edited with Ezra Chitando).

David Ochar is a community organizer, a queer activist, a co-founder and an ordained minister at Cosmopolitan Affirming Church (CAC). Leading an LGBTIQ affirming faith community for the last 7 years to explore, reconcile and utilize their faith as source of agency and empowerment; David works towards providing counter-ideologies and counter-narratives to religiously driven LGBTIQphobia in Kenya and the region. David has a background in science with present interest in research and the intersections of gender, sexuality, and religion in contemporary African society.

Peter Odongo is a development practitioner, experiential writer, strategic communications practitioner and Director of the HelpHeal Foundation. He has been working closely with LGBTIQ activists in Western Kenya to address rampant instances of violence, stigma and discriminations and other forms of human rights violations directed at queer persons by the larger society, service providers, law enforcement officers and at times by family members. Peter has led efforts to support activists in Kenya to achieve a more effective communication about their work in ways that are more thoughtful of their audiences' lived experiences with a view to touching the hearts and minds of their target audiences to inspire constructive action in support of their advocacy goals. 

Front page of the book Kenyan Christian Queer