Safe spaces for free expression through Arts for LGBTI persons in Kenya

Blog by Denis Nzioka, November 2, 2018

The Out Film Festival (OFF), first held at the Goethe Institute in Kenya, in 2011, was the first ever Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ+)-themed film festival with an aim of showcasing films, documentaries, features and plays revolving around LGBTQ+ persons in Africa.

The festival featured visiting movie makers who led plenary discussions as well as give participants a chance to interact and share with them. Being the first time that queer films were screened for public viewing, public interest was triggered with subsequent annual festivals since then.

The term ‘safe space’ refers to places created for individuals who feel marginalized to come together to communicate regarding their experiences with marginalization. The Strong in Diversity (SiD) project is keen to support the creation of such alternative safe spaces using online and offline platforms.

Apart from ‘creation’ the SiD project is keen to systematize, visualize and share lessons on best practices with such safe spaces .Thus, its crucial, as the Out Film Festival approaches its 10th year anniversary, that SiD proactively supports it as a safe space for Kenyan LGBTI persons to engage in current issues and affairs, promote openness and lived realities, while at the same time, making it safe and comfortable for all forms of emerging non-hetero normative expressions.

Cognizant of this, Hivos East Africa through its SiD project, initiated dialogue on a possible partnership with Goethe Institute, the organizers and creators of the festival. This is because the OFF is a safe space for queer organizing and expression that speaks directly to SiD’s programming. In addition, the festival which is in its 10th year anniversary needs support through strategic partnerships, especially those that work on Sexual Orientation Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) issues.  Further, the SiD project is also keen to support and promote creative and uninhibited existing spaces that would be open, honest and safe for LGBTI persons to access, use and amplify.

Given that the OFF is a public event with potential media exposure and publicity for LGBTI organizing in Kenya, the festival will generate public discourse on inclusion, freedom of expression, and sexual diversity.

Under the theme: We No Longer Have the Luxury of Shame, the 2018 OFF has a very activist outlook and one about being courageous to be public and open to others. This is why this year’s festival is key to SiD which, among other things, seeks to make spaces safer to people to speak up about sex and sexuality, and being bold and courageous to differing opinions, all in mutual solidarity aimed at disagreeing to agree.

Feel free to join Hivos as we partner to bring to you the 8th edition of the Out Film Festival from 7-10 November 2010 at the Goethe Institute in Nairobi, Kenya.

Follow the conversations on Twitter using the hashtag #OFF2018.

About Strong in Diversity

Strong in Diversity focuses on engaging those who oppose LGBTI+ rights in dialogue and building alliances with them, as well as strengthening the resilience of LGBTI+ communities. Together with local organizations and supportive mentors, the program aims to achieve wider social acceptance of LGBTI+ people by constructively changing the tone and content of public discussions regarding Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE)