It is a busy Sunday afternoon and while most churches in Nairobi are wrapping up their Sunday service, the Cosmopolitan Affirming Community is about to start theirs. This is not your typical Sunday service. It is a fellowship of people of faith who are a part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community in Nairobi. Some of them have left their churches because they had been told they couldn’t serve God and be queer so they have found a safe space where they can actually ‘come as they are’
Cosmopolitan Affirming Community started out as a young fellowship by six Kenyans in the LGBT community trying to understand God and their spirituality. According to their website, they met Bishop Joseph W. Tolton of Radically Inclusive who is an openly queer pastor. He helped teach and mentor them; growing the church to be one of Kenya’s prominent inclusive churches for people in the LGBT community. Like the regular Pentecostal church, worship music is playing as the congregation is speaking in tongues. Some of the songs are in Swahili and others are popular English worship tunes like the infamous ‘You are the Pillar that holds my life.’
For the Christians in Kenya’s LGBTIQ community, this is a safe space for them to love God and practice the faith that mainstream Christianity has said they can’t have because of their sexuality and gender identity. The church is also working with other faith leaders to fight discrimination against LGBTIQ people in religious institutions and to also fight for the rights of people to have freedom of expression, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Outspoken gay activist Joji Baro, who is also the church’s communications director, says the move to open their own church was due to the discrimination gays and lesbians face in other churches.
“Their messages are about inclusivity and giving hope which is different from other churches that use the Bible to discriminate against gay people like me or people in the LGBTIQ community. This church comforts people and it makes us understand that even though we are gay, we are loved by God and we have every right to praise God.”“Where two or three gays are gathered, God is in their midst”
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