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How a safe space for LGBT+ Kenyans transformed a life

A queer woman in Kenya has opened up about her experiences of being outed by a relative 10 years ago when she was in her early 20s.

Annette Atieno’s mother sent her away from the family home in the capital, Nairobi, to live in the port city of Kisumu in western Kenya.

She felt shunned, lost and lonely, and so she turned to social media for help.

A friend took her on a matatu journey through Kisumu’s suburbs to a place known as Paula’s House – one of Kenya’s first safe spaces for LGBT+ people set up by activist Paula Abuor.

It transformed Annette’s life – and a decade on, she told her story to AfroQueer, the first documentary podcast series about the lives of African LGBT+ people.

Executive producer Selly Thiam, who started the podcast in 2018, says: “We are excited to launch our new season with Annette’s story and to remember Paula and the space she provided for queer Kenyans over a decade ago.

“We started AfroQueer to ensure that our stories and our history are remembered. We exist and always have.”

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