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Muhsin Hendricks. Image by Courtesy the office of Muhsin Hendricks

South Africa’s Gay Imam and His Disciples

On a rainy afternoon not long ago, South Africa’s only openly gay imam was wrapping up a sermon in a candlelit room in Cape Town. A devoted congregation of a nearly a dozen lesbian, gay, and transgendered Muslims, adorned in hijabs, embroidered fezzes, and dark and glittering scarves, had assembled on the room’s floor, their limbs resting on jewel-toned pillows and on prayer rugs. Most were middle-class professionals of Cape Malay descent, an ethnic group with origins in South Asia. They belonged to the gay Muslim support organization, The Inner Circle, which is run by the gentle-mannered imam Muhsin Hendricks. The 45-year old Hendricks sat at the head of the room. With his tousled black hair, arched eyebrows, and tawny brown skin, he looked like a Bollywood actor, instead of the man whose work is called Satanic by Muslim religious leaders. After leading the group in mediation and prayer in Arabic, Hendricks switched to English to begin a familiar sermon: “Today we’re going to talk about putting your full trust into Allah,” he said. His

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Gay Ugandans Take the Law Into Their Hands

There are things many Ugandans know about Rachael Kungu: that she is a DJ who spins at clubs and house parties, that she is warm and approachable, that crowds adore her, and that, perplexingly, she is a lesbian. Kungu lives in a leafy, middle-class neighborhood in Uganda’s capital Kampala with her partner Michelle and their three-year old son. Kungu is a wiry, laid-back thirty-four years of age; when we met one bright afternoon, she was in a blue rock music t-shirt and plaid canvas shoes. A baseball cap sat on top of her skinny blonde-highlighted dreadlocks and oversized sunglasses covered her big dark eyes. “When I was a teenager, they used to not talk about homosexuality, ever,” she told me as we sat in her car, with the windows rolled down, in front of a supermarket waiting for Michelle to finish shopping. She came out to her aunt when she was a teenager, and the rest of her family has finally stopped asking when she will find a boyfriend. “It’s changed. People talk about it

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