Commonwealth Writers Conversations

The Pink Line: LGBTQ+ Rights Around the World

Jump to Guests
Kevin Mwachiro
Mark Gevisser
Nickita Maesela
Xeenarh Mohammed
Date & Time
3:00pm, 18 March 2021 - 4:40pm, 18 March 2021
About the event

Don’t miss this opportunity to pose questions to a panel of some of Africa’s—and the world’s—leading LGBTQ+ activists and writers.

Drawing from their wide knowledge and experience of LGBTQ+ rights and activism on the African continent and further afield, the panellists will explore:

  • the importance of writers and gay icons in shifting the narrative around queerness
  • the gains and losses of the past decade; and the impact of colonialism and globalisation
  • the ‘awkward dance’ between legal reform and social change
  • the role of the Church in the debate around issues of gender identity and sexuality in Africa

Central to this conversation is Mark Gevisser’s new book, The Pink Line: The World’s Queer Frontiers—one of Time Magazine’s Top 100 Reads of 2020.

Six years in the making, The Pink Line follows protagonists from nine countries across four continents to tell the story of how LGBTQ+ rights became one of the world’s central human rights frontiers in the second decade of the twenty-first century. The Pink Line folds intimate and deeply affecting stories of individuals, families and communities into a definitive account of how the world has changed for LGBTQ+ people, so dramatically, in such a short space of time.

Kevin Mwachiro Panel Chair
Mark Gevisser Panellist
Nickita Maesela Panellist
Xeenarh Mohammed Panellist
Panel Chair
Kevin Mwachiro

Kevin Mwachiro is a writer, journalist, podcaster, and queer activist. Kevin’s first book is, Invisible – Stories from Kenya’s Queer Community. He was part of the editorial team for Boldly Queer – African Perspectives on Same-sex sexuality and gender diversity. His first play, Trashed, was published in the anthology Six in the City – Six Short Plays on Nairobi and his poems are published in the Pan African queer anthology, Walking The Tightrope.   His most recent work is the short story, ‘Number Sita’, published in the anthology, Nairobi Noir.  In 2017 he launched a story-telling podcast, called Nipe Story, which produces audio versions of short-story fictional stories from the African continent. 

Working in collaboration with the Gay Kenya Trust and the Goethe Institut – Nairobi, Kevin is a co-founder of the Out Film Festival which is the first LGBTQI film festival in East Africa. Kevin Mwachiro currently serves on the boards of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK, an LGBQ coalition), PEMA Kenya (a grassroots LGBQTI organisation), and Amnesty International – Kenya.

Mark Gevisser

Mark Gevisser was born and raised in South Africa, where his experience of apartheid and his journalism about the transitions to democracy shaped his understanding of people’s rights, and how they are claimed, promoted or abused. The author of the award-winning A Legacy of Liberation: Thabo Mbeki and the Future of South Africa’s Dream, and Lost and Found in Johannesburg: A Memoir, he writes frequently for The Guardian, The New York Times, Granta, and many other publications. The Pink Line: The World’s Queer Frontiers is Mark’s latest book.  Mark was a contributor to Commonwealth Writers anthology Safe House: Explorations in Creative Nonfiction with a chapter about LGBT refugees in Kenya which became the genesis of one of the chapters in The Pink Line.

Mark was one of the organisers of South Africa’s first Pride March in 1990, and the co-editor of Defiant Desire, a path-breaking book about gay and lesbian lives in South Africa. He has worked on queer themes ever since, as a journalist, film-maker and curator. His research for The Pink Line took him to twenty-one countries. He was educated at Yale University and lives outside Cape Town with his life partner.

Nickita Maesela

Nickita Maesela is a South African freelance journalist who started her journey of telling stories from the LGBTIQ community just over a year ago at City Press, with her role being supported by the organisation The Other Foundation. Her work highlights stories of queer activism and events in Southern Africa, the intersections of faith, gender and sexuality and for people who use art to find healing in a world that restricts their freedom.

She completed her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Cape Town in Politics and Economic History with some courses in Gender Studies. Since learning more about the power that mainstream media has in humanising people’s experiences to the masses she has been motivated to collaborate in creating more inclusive and affirming story-telling in this life-time. She is also a Mail & Guardian Young 200 South African winner for her work and contribution to media.

Xeenarh Mohammed

Xeenarh Mohammed is the Executive Director of The Initiative for Equal Rights. She is a Nigerian lawyer, activist, community organiser and holistic security trainer with over a decade of experience working on human rights issues across sectors within and outside Nigeria.

Xeenarh has in the last few years worked with organisations such as the Open Technology Fund, Love Nigeria Foundation, Heinrich Boll Stiftung and freelanced for many other organisations on issues relating to human rights, gender and social development. She is one of the editors of the book, She Called Me Woman: Nigeria’s Queen Women Speak, published by Cassava Republic Press.

Virtual Event

After this event broadcasts via Facebook Premiere, join the Q&A on Zoom at 4.10pm GMT using the link below to pose your questions to the panel
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