The Cosmopolitan Affirming Community is not your typical Sunday gathering. It is a fellowship of people of faith who are a part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Nairobi.
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, raising hands. 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 for people to have freedom 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.
“We formed our own church for friends and relatives of the gay and lesbian communities,” says Joji. Joji refused to disclose the location of the church for fear that irrational Kenyans might storm the place and cause havoc.
He is categorical that the church’s agenda is not to recruit more people into the gay lifestyle.