‘I saw myself in RuPaul’: how Drag Race inspired LGBTQ+ Kenyans to find freedom.

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01/11/2022

An audience wearing face masks sits around the edges of a nondescript room in an unassuming building in the centre of Nairobi. Sparsely furnished and decorated with a few posters advertising PrEP, a drug that reduces chances of contracting HIV, there is a low hum of excited chatter. Then the speakers crackle into action, playing Sweet Dreams by Beyoncé, and in struts Toyo, a 23-year-old transgender woman, wearing a figure-hugging sparkly blue dress accessorised with bright red painted nails and the ubiqitious face mask, in black. She walks to the end of the room, strikes a pose and struts back out. Toyo is followed by Miss K – or Kelvin, when not in drag – 24, who is wearing a red strappy dress, long black wig, fake Louboutin heels, and plenty of makeup. Toyo and Miss K are in the Dolls – a group of gay, transgender and non-binary people who volunteer at Ishtar, a drop-in centre for men who have sex with men, and the venue for today’s show.

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