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Opinion

Social media providing safe spaces for oppressed Kenyan gays

With a conservative society and oppressive laws, the gay community in Kenya finds it hard to freely mingle, socialise, and congregate like other people.

Many times, members of the community have been thrown out of bars, hotels, churches, and public transport simply for being gay.

Holding physical meetings involving members of the gay community is no mean feat in Kenya.

With this punitive and outdated treatment, social media has come in handy for most gays, who have now resorted to holding online meetings instead of physical ones that expose them to danger.

Thanks to rapid internet penetration in the country, gay community members in Kenya have formed connectivity groups on different social media sites including Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, and Twitter, where they can socialise, interact, and plan meetings.

Social media spaces provide members of the community a safe environment from which they can plan and strategise without being harassed.

Video links, Zoom meetings, Google meetings, Twitter chats, WhatsApp, and Telegram have saved members of the community the public ridicule and embarrassment of being humiliated based on their sexuality.

Gay-exclusive private member groups on social media are avenues the Kenyan queer community are using to seek and establish connections, many of which have led to long-lasting love relationships and marriages.

Social media platforms are also proving critical in the mobilisation of resources, especially for gays who have been attacked or are in emergency situations.

Through these safe spaces, where most members use pseudonyms and anonymous accounts, members of the gay community get alerts whenever the police launch raids in search of suspected members of the gay community.

The spaces also communicate to members about places they can visit and those that they need to avoid for their own safety.

For the Kenyan gay community, social media has just made life bearable.

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