For most travelers the country of Namibia in southern Africa seems inaccessible and remote, hardly worth the effort to go that far, and for gay and lesbian (LGBT) travelers the place might seem to be a cipher, a vacuum.
But don’t be fooled. In this huge country, the size of western Europe, the landscapes are stunning, the cities modern and clean, the main roads well paved and along the way an entertaining mix of wild animals: untamed horses, ostriches, gemsbok, springbok, zebras, lots of very dumb donkeys, exotic birds, flamingos… (see Namibia Tourism website)
One might expect such places and critters but a visitor will be surprised to find there is a modest flourishing LGBT community with no less than three national organizations. This is not just surprising; it’s a victory for gay pride, identity and community over adversity and failure.
Last year saw the collapse of the country’s only LGBT organization, The Rainbow Project, and for a while it looked as if gay rights, advocacy and participation in HIV education were finished. The situation and its remnants are complex and tangled.
However, to the delight and surprise of many nearly all gay citizens in Namibia, two ‘phoenix’ organizations have risen from the ashes to join a long-standing third to create the strongest LGBT presence Namiba has ever seen.
The new organizations are Out-Right Namibia, an activist association (logo photo left), and LGBT Network Namibia, a social group with human rights tendencies; both emerged in late 2010 and early 2011. They join the long-standing pro-gay feminist organization called Sister Namibia that has been around for 25 years. Together they represent a renaissance of gay pride in Namibia unlike anything before.