He was the kind of guy every guy wanted to suck off.
He inspired fantasies of teabagging.
His ass inspired fantasies of rimming.
I have been thinking of ways to make evident everyday heteronormativity as an expectation linked to desire.
Initially, I wrote, “he was the kind of guy every guy wanted to fuck,” but that was too easy. Fucking is too easy. Ask the hetero-married, homo- and hetero-fucking men who live on Craigs list. And rimming, even rimming can sometimes be too easy.
But sucking off might well be the test.
Hetero-Kenya inspires crassness. Not that I have a problem with crassness. I do have a problem with hetero-Kenya. Because I am in “that stage of life’” all the news so far has been about weddings and children. I am not generous. This news does not feed me.
Hetero-Kenya is also “dominating” the news waves as a fresh scandal over priests and boys emerges. I am uninterested in the particulars. I am still waiting for the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya to issue a press statement, to hold interviews, to do something that complicates the homosexuals are pedophiles narrative that is emerging.
Right about now it would be great to have some prominent queers come out and make public statements.
Right about now is also a potentially dangerous time for queer work and queer workers: homosexuality = pedophilia is a disabling narrative. Yet, if left unchecked such a narrative will continue to hamper queer efforts, whatever they might be right now.
A crooked line can be traced from the debates on the Sexual Offenses Act in 2005 through the first instantiation of the Marriage Bill in 2007 to the current reporting on the pedophilia scandal. It’s worth remembering that the Sexual Offenses Act arose from efforts to combat child abuse.
In fact, one way to read what has happened over the past 4 years is to examine how the figure of the child dominates Kenyan discourses on sexuality, what this figure allows and what this figure makes invisible.
I’m struck, for instance, by how pg rated Kenyan gay blogs are, with the possible exception of one that displays erect penises (why these are chosen and deemed erotic is a whole other story, and I do like my porn to have narrative). It is not that I am seeking confessions—porn is a genre, and not everyone does it well. It is more that I lose the sense of queerness as embodied practice: as what we do with our hands, feet, tongues, butts, penises, vaginas, ears, fingers, breasts, stomachs. That seems so absent, and regrettably so.
Paradoxically, we might attribute this lack to a certain effect of identification: Kenyan + Gay. And the dreaded, dreaded, dreaded demand for respectability that haunts all our discussions.
Of course, it might simply be that we do, we do not speak. I have always relished both.
In the next few weeks, I get back to the Queer Kenya anthology, a project that is inching along slowly. I’m not quite sure how to define its contours yet. We are not flooded with material, despite my hopes and several promises, and this situation demands some thought. We need to decide whether to extend the open submissions period, start making vaguely threatening phone calls to people we know, or work with what we have. We also need to decide what narrative to shape, how to position the work for now and for here.
A friend told me that the project really needed to address heteronormativity in Kenya. I had forgotten, until I was in line at the airport in Amsterdam, how hetero-Kenya haunts one. The conversation, the jokes, the anecdotes, all structured around marriage and babies.
Such intimate practices and fantasies do not constitute shared ground. In fact, they leave me mostly indifferent, bored, searching for something else to say, or, better yet, buried in a novel.
As a symptom: after a few hours here, I start asking for directions to the nearest queer brothel.