I’m looking for a new family honestly, because my family has disregarded me. They did a ceremony in the African context of when you are gay or you commit suicide, they perform a certain ritual that people don’t want to associate themselves with you. To me, they performed it. They burned my clothes. They destroyed my things. They have sold my commercial plots in town. Some of the things I have bought. They have sold my things, meaning they don’t want to associate themselves with me.
I don’t have family in Kenya. I don’t have support in Kenya. I don’t have friends in Kenya.
Being Gay in Kenya
The law of Kenya is against homosexuality. If you are gay and found having sex with a person of the same gender you are jailed for 14 years. People need to understand, you know, what we mean by sexual preference and sexual orientation. I think that is the big thing that Africans are struggling with. So if they come to the fullness of understanding what is sexual preference and what is sexual orientation I think they can distinguish that and not demonize people and I think it is just homophobic, you know.
Being brought from where—I just don’t know because people say it is a Western thing, but honestly speaking it’s not a Western thing because I have done research and I found out that in the African context we have some terms that they used to refer to people of the same sex having sex—and so it is something buried down that they don’t want to bring it up. And yet it is there.
When I came out, close friends of mine heard about my coming out and they demonized it. They started calling me—that I am evil, I am possessed—and they treat me as someone who is suffering from mental illness.
“Praying for God to lift this curse”
I can say that what Paul says, “a thorn in the flesh,” something that disturbed me for many years and so I wanted this thing to come out. But it didn’t come out. It is something that I have grown up with my entire life. The first time that I discovered that I was gay it was far away in high school. I was being attracted to men sexually—those who dress well and they look nice. It was just me.
I would go to people to ask, “I have these feelings about my sexual desires. How am I going to do it?” Most of the time people advised me to pray and fast because they were telling me that it is a demon. And so I believed maybe, you know, people who are heterosexual and they engage themselves into gay sex: it is an abomination. It is a curse.
So I was praying God to lift this curse away from me.
So it has been so difficult for me to reconcile my faith, to reconcile my culture, and my sexual orientation. People refer me to books like Leviticus: “It is wrong for people to be together, have sex with the same gender,” and then they quote so much what Paul said. But you know, they don’t look into the culture of that time. The context and the content.
Why did Paul say this? Why did the writer of Leviticus write this? They take the scriptures literally the way it is and they want to apply it. Maybe it was that time, it is not this time.
Can’t Go Home
So right now I am operating as a refugee. Not on student status, but student vis-a-vis refugee. So I can’t assure you I will be going home right now, but I do love my country and I want to go back and support my country. But I have no means of going back because of the fear that I have for my life. Sort of like, I have shifted my minds to be here and to look for the Quaker organization and work with the Quaker church to support me and to be there.
Hakuna Mungu kama wewe
Hey there, thanks for watching! I made this video during my 6 years as director of the QuakerSpeak project. Now I’m discerning my next project, and I’d love to share the journey with you! Please enter your email below to be the first to know when it launches.
In the year 2000, when I was first getting into underground hip hop, I came across this rapper from Minneapolis who blew my mind.
Edit 12.12: Eyedea was from St. Paul
Eyedea was a musical prodigy, beginning to tour at just 16 years old, and already starting to develop his signature style of fast paced delivery with mind-bending lyrics. He released his first work of genius at age 20.
As Quakers, we traditionally do not honor traditions such as Christmas, Halloween, the naming of weeks and months, swearing on the Bible.
Wait… what? Does anybody actually do this anymore?
Nobody that I know. The Quakers I know call the days of the week by their names, eat a giant turkey dinner on Thanksgiving and unwrap presents on Christmas morning.
The only difference between us and the rest of the culture is that we might participate in “Buy Nothing Day” rather than Black Friday (but then we go shopping all the same).
My question is: have we lost something?
By celebrating holidays (“holy” days?) with the rest of the culture, are we consolidating our worship of God? Are we trivializing it?
In 2006 I chose to turn to the model of Quaker ministry to inform my making music. Getting low. Being humble. Only writing songs that felt like a message from the Spirit. Knowing that the message is not my own. Attempting to be a vessel. Releasing my agenda, knowing my limited perspective. Letting go and letting God.
For the past 5 years, I have been writing songs about Quakers, blogging about Quakerism, making videos about Quakers, vlogging about Quakerism, and traveling amongst Friends, sharing my music and my thoughts.
Vital ministry is essential to vitality. Vital ministry breaks us open, stirs us up, inspires conversations, exposes us, makes us uncomfortable, puts us through the refiners fire. Ministers activate people. In short, without vital ministry, we are lost.
Over the past month or so I have been engaging in a public clearness process about how I should move forward with my music and ministry. I have publicly revealed what is working well and what isn’t. (in short: broad spiritual life and success, financial shortfalls)
I think that my sharing this may be somewhat confusing to Friends. I have heard from many folks who are concerned about me, who wanted to offer emotional support through my tough times. And then there’s the opposite reaction to the same interpretation:
Buck up. Get a job. Quit whining about not getting to live your dream and passion, we all have to give that stuff up at some point and grow up.
“Following Passion” VS Servitude
While I’m grateful for such broad engagement, I find many of these responses to be fundamentally unhelpful.
Our spiritual forefathers and mothers spoke of a “Light” that was an intense spotlight, something distinctly uncomfortable, that would shine on the the dark places inside of ourselves and reveal the things that we are trying to hide. This “Light”, honestly, sounds horrifying. It is no wonder they also called it the “refiner’s fire”.
Growing up in Liberal FGC Quakerism, I would often hear reference to “the light” as something warm and comforting. I felt comforted when someone said that they were going to hold me in the Light, and I felt comforted when I heard Friends profess to honor the Light within everyone.
After reading Early Quaker writings though, I wonder if I didn’t grow up with a Disney-esque version of “the Light”.
Our spiritual forefathers and mothers spoke of a “Light” that was more like a spotlight, intense and uncomfortable, that would shine on the the dark places inside of ourselves and reveal the things that we are trying to hide. This “Light”, honestly, sounds horrifying. It is no wonder they also called it the “refiner’s fire”.
The Early Friends believed that we must all go through the refiner’s fire before we are healed, before we are whole and before we step back from our greed, our oppression, our brokenness. We must let go of the ways that we are hiding, the things that we are using to shield ourselves. We must become naked. Continue reading “Is it Time to Strip Quakerism Naked?”
But here is my point: we spend too much of our lives feeling insignificant, feeling not-powerful, waiting for someone to tell us that its okay to use our voice now.
Stop waiting for cultural credentials to write your book. Write it now. Stop holding back from singing in the streets. Stop waiting for an “appropriate” message to stand up with in Meeting for Worship. Stop robbing us of your gifts.
Back in the 17th century, our ancestors risked a great deal to try to prove the point that God didn’t speak more or more clearly to educated clergy, that every person had equal access to Truth. In an age where church and state were the same, it was a dangerous idea. A radical idea. A revolutionary idea.
Some might say that a lot has changed since then.
I would argue that the 17th century concept of “educated clergy” is still alive and well, but has been internalized and manifests in different manners.
Culturally, we give more potence to someone with letters behind their name, if they are wealthy, or speak in an educated manner.
We relegate our gifts into one professional specialty that then becomes so strongly linked with our identity that we cease to experiment with other forms of expression.
We as Quakers often present ourselves based on “Quaker credentials” (what committees we’ve clerked, where we have membership, etc).
Sing with Me!!!
One aspect of my musical ministry is improvisation. I love to make music in the moment, using whatever is available. I find that it allows for a kind of playfulness and communication amongst Friends that silent worship or verbal dialogue does not. Continue reading “Stop Robbing Us of Your Gifts.”
I have been a bit too busy working on video editing to continually update the “press” section of my website on the fly, as coverage comes in. Most of the attention so far has come from blogs, which (luckily) leave the posts up forever. Here are some of the blogs mentioning my project since its release:
Rather than passively sitting back and being entertained, we now interact with whatever we are watching… we share it on facebook, we comment on it, and we even make response videos. It is definitely a new world of media, sharing and entertainment.
The Changing Face of Art
Listen! Can you hear it?
That’s the sound of people all over the world uploading videos to Youtube. 48 hours of footage every minute.
While that number represents an unwatchable (and perhaps unfathomable!) amount of video, what it says to me is that we are interacting online in a new way. Video has become a standard and casual medium.
“What’s important is not your emotional reaction to something, but how you hold and interact with that emotion”
It will continue to become clear that 9/11 was a turning point for our country. Not because we were attacked. Because of the way we responded to being attacked, which was far more damaging (to us) than the attacks themselves. Continue reading “How to Heal from 9/11”